We’re a week out from Captain America: Civil War if you managed to get in to any of the preview screenings!
If you didn’t, then you’re close to a fortnight away from a film that promises to change up the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
So with that in mind, I thought it fitting to supply you with what I find to be the best way to watch the MCU, so you can fill your head with all the crazy back-story that has lead us toward Civil War!
- Bold are movies that should be viewed / Italics are one-shot short films or TV shows to consider watching to expand the universe even further (One-Shots are on DVD/Blu-Ray editions of feature films)
The film that started it all!
Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau put in work on the foundation of success that was required to kick this all off.
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson is introduced and becomes an important role for connecting everything MCU, while it’s also the first and last film we see Terence Howard in as James Rhodes.
The Incredible Hulk
This is actually part of the MCU!
While Ed Norton plays Banner for the first and last time, what the film does is start connecting more of the main players with Tony Stark’s cameo in the film.
With the reintroduction of General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), this film is about to become relevant again due to Civil War…
Iron Man 2
While at the time regarded as the weakest film to hit the MCU, once watched as part of the overall universe, it’s a pretty great Stark story that introduces us to the new Jim Rhodes, Don Cheadle.
Oh…and to WAR MACHINE.
Taking place after The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, The Consultant is a short-film starring Agents Coulson and Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández), who meet to discuss the World Security Council’s wishes to have Emil Blonsky released from prison.
This of course ties in to the post-credits scene between Stark and Ross in The Incredible Hulk and points out that SHIELD may have their hands in more pies than we thought.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer
Agent Coulson returns in a One-Shot that takes place before Thor.
While we know he’s an Agent in one of the best forces in the world, this short film finally shows us why…AND IT’S FANTASTIC.
The expansion into the wider universe begins with Thor!
Chris Hemsworth comes from space to Earth and helps set up the craziness coming for the MCU that requires a certain set of people to be tasked with avenging the world.
Captain America: The First Avenger
A film that plays around with the timeline slightly, we follow Chris Evans as Steve Rogers during World War II and his fight to stop HYDRA who have the first MCU Infinity Stone, the Tessaract.
While the majority of the film takes place in the 40’s, it finds itself ending in the modern age as it connects itself to The Avengers.
Phase 1 comes to its end with the first ensemble film, The Avengers!
As our main players finally meet, Thor’s mischievous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) causes trouble for the world with a little help from a certain powerful alien.
A cool little one-shot about the fallout of the Battle Of New York, Item 47 follows a couple who discover a Chitauri weapon and may not use it for the right reasons.
Item 47 is a playful little nod and set-up for Agents of SHIELD.
Iron Man 3
The conclusion of Iron Man’s trilogy that touches on the effects of the Battle Of New York, Iron Man 3 finds Stark fighting a terrorist while he toils over his own identity as ‘Man’ and ‘Iron Man’.
With more Iron Man suits than the previous films combined, it closes out Stark’s solo stories with an armory of “cheap tricks and a cheesy one liner”.
All Hail The King
Is Iron Man 3‘s Mandarin THE Mandarin?
This short-film about Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) raises more questions as to who The Mandarin really is and why symbols of that character have been showing up since Iron Man 1…
Thor: The Dark World
With Loki in custody and the Bifrost restored, the young God confronts a universal threat drawn to Earth.
Fighting Dark Elves across realms, Thor: The Dark World also introduces the second Infinity Stone, the Aether, to the MCU.
Agents Of SHIELD – Episodes 1 to 15
With Coulson returning after the events of The Avengers, the show finds itself as a bit of a slow-burner until the conclusion of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Agent Carter (One-Shot)
Taking place one year after the events of The First Avenger, Agent Carter follows Peggy (Hayley Atwell) who is stuck at the desk doing paperwork instead of being out in the field.
Cleverly weaving the story around how she’s tied to both Steve and the Starks, this also sets up the television series.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Is SHIELD really SHIELD?
Who can Cap trust?
Tasked with answering this, The Winter Soldier rips apart the MCU with the revelation that SHIELD may not be the good guys after all.
Agents Of SHIELD – Episodes 16 to 22
Exploding out of The Winter Soldier‘s revelations, Agents Of SHIELD takes a dramatic turn and improves exponentially to become a must-watch!
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Diversifying its roster with a rag-tag group of intergalactic “losers”, Guardians is a surprise stand-out in amongst a well-established roster of films.
With Chris Pratt playing Star-Lord, Guardians finally introduces the character Thanos (Josh Brolin), who was briefly introduced in the Avengers post-credits scene and brings us the third Infinity Stone, the Orb.
Agents Of SHIELD Season 2
Continuing the story of Coulson and his team, Season 2 introduces us to Inhumans, which means the world is about to see a lot more enhanced people.
Kind of like the enhanced who are going to show up in Avengers: Age Of Ultron…
Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 1
While only 8 episodes long, this picks back up from the one-shot and shows us Peggy’s life as she helps setup the foundation for what would one day become SHIELD!
Marvel’s Daredevil Season 1
The introduction of a grittier TV serial, Daredevil bring us Hell’s Kitchens hero in his battle to save the city and his soul.
While not needed to enjoy the MCU, it’s tone and street-level activity humbles the scope of the Avengers work and shows that even when you save the world, you still haven’t cleaned it up.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron
The second ensemble film, Age Of Ultron shows off the team’s success as a unit while touching on each of their flaws that could potentially implode upon them.
Building further upon the divisive opinions between Steve and Tony, Age Of Ultron gives us our fourth Infinity Stone, the Mind Stone, that was hidden in Loki’s scepter and is now part of The Vision (Paul Bettany).
Marvel start to introduce what some may see as their “wackier” characters, but as it turns out that means they’ve introduced a fantastic heist film to their franchise that finds its footing amongst a powerhouse stable of films.
With Paul Rudd playing Scott Lang, be prepared for this character to bring his lighter-nature to a Phase where it might just get a little more dark.
Come Ant-Man‘s conclusion, the Phase 2 series of films from Marvel end and Phase 3 begins.
If you wanted to go REALLY BIG for your love of Marvel, you can also squeeze in season 1 of Jessica Jones and season 2 of Daredevil on Netflix, and season 3 of Agents Of SHIELD, with each bringing their own stories to the larger universe before the release of Civil War.
Because when the Civil War arrives, get ready to clash shield with repulsors as the MCU is divided.