With the highly anticipated release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has concluded its Phase Four deals for the big screen. Before Phase Five kicks off next year with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it’s a great time for budding Marvel fans to catch up on the MCU. But which films are best to start with?
From Iron Man, the film that started it all, to Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that cemented its success, there are plenty of starting points for Marvel newcomers.
10/10 Iron Man (2008)
The most obvious starting point for moviegoers looking to break into the MCU would be the film that launched the cinematic universe in 2008. Iron Man established the formula that the franchise still follows, and it remains one of the strongest entries yet. in the series.
With the perfect blend of charm and wit and a long list of offhand jokes, Robert Downey, Jr.’s captivating turn as Tony Stark set the tone for Marvel Studios’ big-screen superhero adventures.
9/10 Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man is easily the most beloved and recognizable superhero in the Marvel ensemble, so it makes sense to kickstart a burgeoning MCU fandom with Spidey’s first solo film in the franchise, Spider-Man: Homecoming. .
Anchored by Tom Holland’s stellar performance as Peter Parker, Homecoming thankfully skips the character’s familiar origin story and jumps straight into the action. It’s a classic MCU adventure for a street-level superhero.
8/10 Captain Marvel (2019)
Late in the game, Marvel returned to explore the origins of Nick Fury, the SHIELD bureaucrat who created the Avengers in the first place, thanks to his connection to Carol Danvers’ origins. Captain Marvel would be a great MCU movie to start with.
It avoids the trappings of superhero origin films with idiosyncratic quirks like a ’90s setting and a non-linear narrative structure built around Carol piecing together her fragmented memories.
7/10 Doctor Strange (2016)
The first Doctor Strange film picks up all the familiar beats of a superhero origin story, from mastering superpowers to overcoming self-doubt to losing a beloved mentor figure. But as far as predictable origin stories go, it’s visually stunning.
With fingers protruding from fingers and cities folding back on themselves like a kaleidoscope, Doctor Strange is full of wacky effects that demonstrate the best of Marvel visual effects.
6/10 Thor (2011)
In addition to introducing fan-favorite icons like Loki, the original Thor movie established many now-familiar MCU tropes, like an overbearing father, a coveted royal title, and the fish-out-of-water humor of an alien character arriving on Earth. and interact with humans.
Kenneth Branagh, Hollywood’s go-to man for accessible film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, was the perfect director to bring the pseudo-Shakespearean tradition of Thor comics to the big screen.
5/10 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Though it’s been more than a decade since the franchise’s run, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might be a good MCU movie to start with. With dazzling visuals and jaw-dropping fight choreography, Shang-Chi is a Marvel martial arts film.
Shang-Chi has all the best traits of the MCU formula: an easy-to-relate dysfunctional family, an easy-to-relate likable villain, and an easy-to-eradicate “chosen” figure with imposter syndrome.
4/10 Ant Man (2015)
After the entire world was on the line for a few back-to-back films in Phase Two of the MCU, Ant-Man closed out the phase like a breath of fresh air. The film’s heist comedy storyline was refreshingly small-scale (no pun intended) after a stage full of floating cities and sprawling space battles.
With its shrinking superhero plotting to steal valuable tech from a fortified office building, Ant-Man is essentially Ocean’s Eleven meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
3/10 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
If any given viewer wants to follow the MCU chronologically, then a good place to start would be Captain America: The First Avenger, which is set during WWII. This first entry fills in Steve Rogers’ WWII-era backstory before bringing him to the present day to lead the Avengers into their first battle.
The gritty action sequences and fantasy warfare elements of Cap’s first cinematic adventure are pulled straight from the pages of pulp fiction.
2/10 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
James Gunn’s space fantasy jukebox musical extravaganza Guardians of the Galaxy is a prime example of Marvel Studios operating at the peak of its powers. With its ragtag cast of intergalactic outlaws including a talking tree and an emotionally challenged raccoon, Guardians proved that Marvel can turn any comic book property into a successful franchise.
Because it has few connections to the larger universe, Guardians offers a great introduction to the tone and style of a Marvel film without bombarding the viewer with too much information.
1/10 The Avengers (2012)
While the individual characters in the MCU are a lot of fun, the USP of this franchise is all of these superheroes interacting with each other. Marvel’s first major team-up – The Avengers, bringing together Earth’s six Mightiest Heroes – would be a great place to start for an MCU newbie.
The first act brings the team together in a nice and succinct way, the second act explores their differences and how they can overcome them, and the third act is an action-packed battle against alien invaders on the streets of New York.