How Many Marvel Movies are There? We List All the MCU Films in Order

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In 2019, Marvel released Avengers: Endgame, bringing an end to some of Earth’s mightiest heroes. While it served as a finale to the Infinity Saga, Disney has confirmed that the MCU will continue.

But, did you know that the Marvel movies didn’t start with Iron Man back in 2008?

While Iron Man was the first film made by Marvel itself through Marvel Studios, its movie production company, it was just the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s why if you were to ask just how many Marvel movies there are in existence, it would be an incredibly complicated question to answer.

Why is it hard to know how many Marvel films there are?

Simply put, Marvel heroes have been adapted and re-adapted by countless studios and other entities.

Are you talking about movies produced by Marvel Enterprises or films produced by Marvel Studios and Disney? Or maybe you’re talking about all of the films produced since 1944 that featured a Marvel hero (because if you are, there are over a hundred). Do we count animated movies or only live-action?

Franchises like X-men, Kick-Ass, Men in Black, and Kingsman are also owned by Marvel. If we were to round up all of those films, we’d get a number that’s close to 150.

But, let’s not over-complicate ourselves. In this article, we’ll only be tackling the movies from arguably the most popular film franchise to date: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, also known as the MCU.

How many MCU movies are there?

To date, there are 23 movies in the MCU. Let’s go over each one of them, in the order, they were released.

PHASE ONE

2008

Iron Man

Image result for iron man poster

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Shaun Toub
Release Date: April 30, 2008
Running Time: 126 minutes
Box Office: $585.2 million

Based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name, Iron Man is the first film in the MCU. It tells the story of Tony Stark, a genius inventor and billionaire industrialist who gives up his business of weapons dealing after being kidnapped by terrorists. He vows to protect the world with his powerful armor suit, thwarting his power-hungry business rival.

Robert Downey Jr. is well-known for improvising his dialogues in the film, including the iconic “I am Iron Man” during the movie’s final scene. Producer Kevin Fiege revealed that the twist ending was a breakthrough for the MCU.

The Incredible Hulk

Image result for the incredible hulk poster

Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt
Release Date: June 13, 2008
Running Time: 112 minutes
Box Office: $263.4 million

Thanks to an accident involving gamma radiation, Bruce Banner transforms into the destructive “Hulk” whenever he gets mad. He finds himself on the run from people who seek to capture him and exploit his power.

2010

Iron Man 2

Image result for iron man 2 poster

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, and Mickey Rourke
Release Date: April 28, 2010
Running Time: 125 minutes
Box Office: $623.9 million

Iron Man 2 is a somewhat convoluted follow-up to the first film, with new characters and multiple villains. With the world now aware that Tony Stark is Iron Man, the billionaire inventor faces pressure from all sides to share his tech with the military. Thankfully, he has Pepper Potts and Rhodes by his side as he forges new alliances and confronts a new powerful enemy.

Interestingly enough, this film received backlash from critics. Since Marvel planned on releasing many movies, how they were going to execute all of them in the cinematic universe became a problem. Iron Man 2 presented the mess of a studio that was trying to figure out how to build a universe, while also creating a stand-alone film that provided its protagonist with character development and a strong arc.

Thankfully, the next two movies found a better balance between being a self-contained story, streamlining the narrative, and working towards The Avengers.

2011

Thor

Image result for thor poster

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, and Kat Dennings
Release Date: April 27, 2011
Running Time: 114 minutes
Box Office: $449.3 million

Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior, is exiled to Earth by his father, King Odin, and forced to live among humans. Odin also enchants Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, so that only a truly worthy individual can wield it. While on Earth, Thor falls in love with Jane (a beautiful, young scientist), learns humility, and battles with his brother Loki.

After three earthbound adventures, this movie introduced audiences to the cosmos of the MCU and we get our first glimpse of the Tesseract, one of the Infinity Stones. It’s also in this film that Loki reveals himself as Phase One’s main villain.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Image result for captain america poster

Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, and Dominic Cooper
Release Date: July 22, 2011
Running Time: 124 minutes
Box Office: $370.6 million

Set in World War II, Steve Rogers becomes the first and only recipient of a “super-soldier serum” that enhances his body to peak human condition, earning him the title Captain America. He uses his newfound strength and shield to battle the Red Skull – a Nazi scientist who uses the Tesseract for world domination.

During a battle, Steve loses his best friend, Bucky Barnes, as he falls off a train and down a cliff (this will be important later in the series). At the end of the film, he crashes his plane on the Arctic shelf to save the day. He awakens in the modern world after having been asleep for nearly 70 years.

2012

The Avengers

Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlettt Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smoulders, and Stellan Skarsgard
Release Date: April 25, 2012
Running Time: 143 minutes
Box Office: $1.519 billion

Loki returns to Earth, mind-controlling most of SHIELD and using the Tesseract to open a wormhole above New York City. This allows an alien race to invade the planet. The Avengers – a superhero team comprised of Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and SHIELD agent Hawkeye – to stop Loki and the alien invasion.

A post-credits scene shows that Loki’s plan was actually set up by Thanos, an alien warlord, who is the true main villain of the entire MCU.

PHASE TWO

2013

Iron Man 3

Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, and Jon Favreau
Release Date: April 24, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
Box Office: $1.215 billion

Tony suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the alien invasion in New York. His relationship with Pepper Potts deteriorates and he copes by obsessively constructing Iron Man suits. He eventually invites an elusive terrorist called “The Mandarin” to his home, where he gets attacked. Later in the movie, he reveals The Mandarin’s real identity – along with the terrorist’s plot to take control of the U.S. government with Extremis, a genetic engineering program.

Thor: The Dark World

Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Zachary Levi, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano
Release Date: October 30, 2013
Running Time: 112 minutes
Box Office: $644.6 million

Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos, but an ancient race of “Dark Elves” led by the vengeful Malekith returns to bring darkness to the universe. Faced with battle that even Odin and Asgard cannot win, Thor embarks on a perilous journey, one that reunites him with Jane and forces him to sacrifice everything to save the universe.

Thor: The Dark World is widely considered as one of the worst MCU movies, despite its fancy costumes, action set pieces, and fantasy movie trappings.

2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directors: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date: March 26, 2014
Running Time: 136 minutes
Box Office: $714.4 million

After the catastrophic events in New York, Steve Rogers starts living quietly in Washington, trying to adjust to the modern world. But it’s not long before he’s caught up in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

He joins forces with Black Widow and a new hero called Falcon to tear down SHIELD and destroy the organization’s cyborg assassin, The Winter Soldier (later revealed to be his childhood best friend, Bucky Barnes). We don’t know how many heart-wrenching MCU movie scenes there are, but the reveal of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier is certainly one of the most show-stopping ones.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista
Release Date: July 31, 2014 (U.K.)
Running Time: 122 minutes
Box Office: $773.3 million

In the 1980s, a young boy visits his mother on her deathbed before he’s abducted by aliens. Decades later, he’s adapted to life in the cosmos as a small-time space pirate going by the name, Star-Lord. He later meets a talking raccoon (Rocket), a massive tree creature (Groot), a warrior called Drax the Destroyer, and an adoptive daughter of Thanos (Gamora). Together, they stop Ronan the Accuser, a fanatical alien who uses an Infinity Stone to destroy civilization.

2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

 

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlettt Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, James Spader, and Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date: April 22, 2015
Running Time: 141 minutes
Box Office: $1.405 billion

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner create “Ultron,” an artificial intelligence meant to defend Earth from all sorts of external threats. Unfortunately, Ultron becomes sentient and vows to destroy all of humanity. The AI recruits Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, twins with supernatural powers whose parents were killed by Stark weapons. Together, the Avengers team up again to stop Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

As The Avengers was a huge success, many fans anticipated the movie release of Age of Ultron. Sadly, it turned out to be a disappointment for many critics.

Ant-Man

 

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Judy Greer, and Anthony Mackie
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Running Time: 117 minutes
Box Office: $519.4 million

Scott Lang is a divorced, small-time criminal. Unable to pay his child support, he breaks into a house but only manages to steal the Ant-Man suit (which imbues its wearer with shrinking and super strength abilities). The suit’s owner is Doctor Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. He let Scott steal the suit to test the crook’s thieving abilities. Hank, his daughter Hope, and Scott then plan and pull off a heist that will ultimately save the world.

It’s a bit overwhelming to know just how many Marvel movies there are in the MCU where people vow to save the world, but if it brings us good cinema, who are we to complain?

PHASE THREE

2016

Captain America: Civil War

Directors: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Emily Vancamp, William Hurt, Frank Grillo, and Daniel Brühl
Release Date: April 27, 2016
Running Time: 147 mins
Box Office: $1.153 billion

Steve Rogers leads the Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after an incident involving the heroes results in collateral damage, they need to sign The Sokovia Accords, which will monitor and control their movements. The MCU heroes take opposing sides (Captain America Team vs Iron Man Team) regarding the superhero registration. A so-called “civil war” ensues while they’re also being manipulated by a supervillain behind the scenes.

It wasn’t only the heroes who butted heads. Longtime fans of the MCU also got into heated debates over whose principles were right regarding the Accords.

Doctor Strange

Director: Scott Derickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelson
Release Date: October 25, 2016 (International)
Running Time: 115 mins
Box Office: $677.7 million

Dr. Stephen Strange is an arrogant surgeon whose life changes forever after a terrible car accident. He loses his hands and desperate for a cure, he turns to the occult. He quickly learns that the place he looked for healing was also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces. It’s not long before Strange – equipped with his newly-acquired magical powers – has to choose between returning to his life of status and fortune, or leaving it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kurt Russell
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Running Time: 137 minutes
Box Office: $863.8 million

The Guardians traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos in search of Star-Lord’s biological father, who is only known as a powerful ancient alien. His father turns out to be Ego, a living planet who wants to expand its consciousness throughout the universe. As they unravel the mysteries of Star-Lord’s parentage, the Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family alive.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Jon Favreau, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, and Robert Downey Jr.
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Running Time: 133 minutes
Box Office: $880.2 million

A young Peter Parker, who made his sensational debut as Spider-Man in Civil War, navigates his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero. Still thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, he tries to fall back into his normal routine as a teenage boy, while also distracted by wanting to prove himself as more than just the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But, when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything Peter holds dear is threatened.

In this film, Peter and Tony Stark also develop a father-son dynamic that will become one of the most touching relationships in the entire MCU.

Thor: Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, and Anthony Hopkins
Release Date: October 24, 2017 (international)
Running Time: 130 minutes
Box Office: $854.0 million

Thor’s devious brother, Loki, has taken over Asgard and they both discover that they have a secret older sister, Hela. She conquers Asgard and slaughters many of Thor’s allies. The brothers are then exiled to a junk planet where they reunite with the Hulk and a new heroine called Valkyrie. They band together to put a stop to Hela’s tyranny.

2018

Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, and John Kani
Release Date: February 13, 2018 (International)
Running Time: 134 minutes
Box Office: $1.347 billion

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’challa (aka the Black Panther) returns to Wakanda, a reclusive and technologically-advanced African nation. He soon finds that factions within his own country are trying to challenge him for the throne. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, T’Challa teams up with Dora Milaje (Wakandan Special Forces) and CIA agent Everett Ross to prevent the country from being dragged into a world war.

No matter how many Marvel movies there are, Black Panther made waves in mainstream consciousness as a defining and empowering moment for black Americans. It also fused the imaginary world of the MCU with contemporary politics, world history, and the experiences of black people in the U.S.

 Avengers: Infinity War

Director: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Cooper, Sebastian Stan, Letitia Wright, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Danai Gurira
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Running Time: 149 minutes
Box Office: $2.049 billion

A cinematic journey that’s ten years in the making, Infinity War brings to the big screen one of the ultimate, deadliest showdowns in modern mainstream cinema. It starts with Thanos and ends with Thanos. We can’t even talk about how heart-stopping the entire movie was. You’ll just have to watch it to believe it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Hannah John-Kamen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, and Laurence Fishburn
Release Date: July 4, 2018
Running Time: 118 minutes
Box Office: $622.7 million

After the events in Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang grapples with consequences with being a father and a superhero. As he struggles to rebalance his responsibilities as Ant-Man with his home life, he’s confronted by Dr. Pym and Hope with an urgent mission. Scott once again dons the Ant-Man suit and fights alongside The Wasp (Hope) as they uncover secrets from the past.

2019

Captain Marvel

Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Clark Gregg, Ben Meldelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, and Annette Bening
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Running Time: 124 minutes
Box Office: $1.128 billion

Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel follows the journey of Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), a super-powered warrior for the alien race Kree. While a galactic war between the Kree and shape-shifting aliens called Krulls takes place, Carol eventually winds up on Earth and meets a young Nick Fury. She discovers that she’s actually human, not Kree, and she fights back against her alien captors.

How many movies are there in the MCU that have a female superhero as the lead? Before Captain Marvel, there was none and the film was the breath of fresh air that the cinematic universe needed.

Avengers: Endgame

Director: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Cooper, Sebastian Stan, Letitia Wright, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Danai Gurira
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Running Time: 181 minutes
Box Office: $2.798 billion

The remaining Avengers (those who weren’t wiped out by Thanos) take one final stand as a grand conclusion to the 22 films. In the movie, there’s time travel, major character deaths, reunions, final goodbyes, and promises to be kept.  If you haven’t watched it yet, the 3-hour movie will keep you at the edge of your seat with every scene. Tip: have tissues ready by your side.

Avengers: Endgame is also currently the highest-grossing film in history, dethroning Avatar from its impressive 10-year reign as box office champion.

Spiderman: Far From Home

Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, and J.B. Smoove
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Running Time: 129 minutes
Box Office: $1.127 billion

Peter Parker joins his classmates on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave his superhero responsibilities during his trip is thwarted when he agrees to help Nick Fury. They plan to uncover the mystery behind several elemental creature attacks that have created havoc across the continent.

How to Watch the MCU Films in Order

 Now, that you know just how many Marvel movies there are in the MCU, you can begin planning your weekend movie marathon. If you plan on watching them all in the chronological order of the cinematic universe, here’s a complete MCU Timeline list:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (set during WWII)
  • Captain Marvel (set in 1995)
  • Iron Man (set in 2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (set after Iron Man)
  • The Incredible Hulk (time not specified, pre-Avengers)
  • Thor (time not specified, pre-Avengers)
  • The Avengers (set in 2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (set six months after The Avengers)
  • Thor: Dark World (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (set in 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (post-Guardians)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (set in 2015)
  • Ant-Man (set in 2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
  • Doctor Strange (set in 2016)
  • Black Panther (set in 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (set in 2017)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (vague time setting, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame)
  • Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2017, ends in 2022)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (post-Endgame)

Upcoming releases in the MCU

Of course, since the MCU is such a hugely successful movie franchise, the superheroes’ adventures don’t end at Endgame. Marvel and Disney have slated the following movies for release in the next couple of years:

  • Black Widow (Release date: May 1, 2020)
  • The Eternals (Release date: November 6, 2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Release date: February 12, 2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Release date: May 7, 2021)
  • Untitled Spider-Man: Far from Home Sequel (Release date: July 16, 2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (Release date: November 5, 2021)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Release date: May 6, 2022)
  • Blade (Release date: TBA)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (Release date: TBA)

Marvel Studios head Kevin Fiege announced most of the films’ releases at the San Diego Comic-Con last July 2019, so they’re definitely getting the ball rolling.

So, if you ask yourself again in the next few years just how many MCU movies there are, it’ll be a total of 32 films. That’s certainly a lot, but knowing Marvel Studios and how expansive the Marvel alternate universe is, this is probably just the beginning.

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