The Avengers Viewing Order
If there’s one question I get asked other than “Is the Avengers any good?” (and of course the answer is “Hell’s yeah”) it’s “Do I need to see the previous films?”
The easy answer to this is “Of course, why haven’t you seen them in the first place?” While the film is mostly stand alone and can be enjoyed without having seen the previous films. It adds more depth to the story if you have and paid attention all along.
The viewing order for these films is flexible since some films feature flashbacks or take place at mostly the same time as each other. For purposes i’ll provide the easiest to understand viewing order.
1 – Iron Man: The First Iron Man film is essentially setting the stage. It introduces the most recurring element of the entire film series. The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Department or SHIELD. It also introduces Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and the ending scene introducing Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury gets things rolling.
2 – The Incredible Hulk: Some people are making the mistake of thinking that this film is a sequel to Ang Lee’s Hulk movie. This movie is in fact a reboot and Ang Lee’s film is best ignored (and forgotten). The film also makes references to the Super Soldier program and SHIELD. Along with a final appearance by Tony Stark.
3 – Iron Man 2: This film introduces Black Widow and develops more of the SHIELD and Avenger’s Initiative. The film also hints at developments in the south of America and develops characters. It should be noted that both Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk take place within the same time frame. In one of the final scenes featuring Tony Stark talking to Nick Fury. The events of the Incredible Hulk can be seen on one of the back TV screens. Meaning that both of these can be viewed either way and is open to the viewers discretion.
4 – The Marvel One Shots: Most likely forgotten by some, The Marvel One Shots The Consultant & A Funny Thing happened on the way to Thor’s Hammer were featured on the Thor and Captain America DVD’s and while providing some backstory also elaborate further. In particular the Consultant which explains Tony Stark’s appearance in The Incredible Hulk.
5 – Thor: This film is set directly after the events of Iron Man 2 and introduce the future villain of Loki, Asgard Technology and the post credits scene explains the beginnings of SHIELD’s work with the Cosmic Cube.
6 – Captain America: This film is something more of an anomaly. It can either be viewed first or last. Since parts of it are set before Iron Man 1 and other parts are set immediately before the events of the Avengers. On top of that, the film also introduces where the cosmic cube comes from and why HYDRA tech is on the SHIELD helicarrier in The Avengers. Again, this is left open to the viewer.
7 – The Avengers: The end of the road and where all the paths lead to.
Hopefully this little guide is of some use and I hope i’ve covered all of the relevant points and haven’t forgotten anything. I’m also interested to hear what others think since the viewing order is incredibly fluid and open to viewer discretion.