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There are so many movies that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, it can be tough to figure out which ones to watch when, even for established fans. If you’re new to the MCU or to Marvel in general, knowing where to start is next to impossible.
Marvel knows that new people are coming to the movies all the time, so you can pick nearly any movie, jump in, and not be totally lost. Still, if you’re looking to find out whether the MCU movies are for you or not, we recommend starting with a few of the movies we’ve gathered here.
1. Iron Man
The first movie in the MCU saga is, unsurprisingly, a great place to start. This movie not only revitalized Robert Downy Jr.’s career, but kicked off a decade-long string of successes for Marvel.
While the sequels are by no means bad, they don’t have the same balance of action, drama, and humor as the first film in the series. Watch Iron Man, then move on. You can always come back to its sequels later.
The earliest film in the entire MCU so far, chronologically speaking, Captain America: The First Avenger sets up some themes that will recur through the next several movies in the series. That said, it isn’t as key to the chronology as you may think.
Then why did it make the list? Because it’s a great movie! Even if it existed outside of the rest of the MCU, this would be a great movie, showcasing much of what is so captivating about the entire MCU in one film.
Immediately following Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel released the Joss Whedon-directed Marvel’s The Avengers, almost singlehandedly kicking off the superhero that we’re still seeing the effects of now. There’s a reason this film got so many people interested in superhero movies.
First, this movie—as the name implies—finally gets the titular team together. That combined with the spectacular set pieces, smart dialog, and sheer bombast makes it a movie that demands your attention. It’s also surprisingly rewatchable.
Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t have much bearing on what happens in the rest of the MCU, at least early on, but this is still essential viewing. There was a time when fans could have never imagined that Guardians of the Galaxy would have a chance of getting its very own movie, but now it’s impossible to imagine the MCU with this film.
Director James Gunn nails the same blend of action and humor that makes the best MCU movies work, then cranks the dial a little further toward the funny side of things. This works perfectly, as the movie never gets too dark or too heavy.
In moving further toward being a straight-up comedy, Guardians of the Galaxy paved the way for the best Thor film to date. While the Norse god turned Avenger and What We Do In The Shadows‘ Taika Waititi don’t necessarily seem like a match made in Asgard, the pairing worked perfectly.
The Thor movies already leaned further toward humor than the rest of the early MCU catalog, and this feels like the logical next step in where the series would head. This also pays off a joke that started way back in Marvel’s The Avengers.
More on the MCU
If you’re a fan of Marvel comics but haven’t gotten into the movies yet, you may be wondering where some of your favorite characters are. How come there isn’t a Nova movie? Where is the Silver Surfer?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ve wondered that too, which is why we’ve got a list of Marvel superheroes who deserve MCU films but haven’t yet got them.