There once was a time where binge-watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the start and in chronological order was an exciting endeavor that would fill up no more than a couple of afternoons of your time. Fast forward a decade, and we’re now 30 movies in, with the 31st coming very soon when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania premieres in February. And that’s not accounting for the canonical eight Disney Plus shows, and all the others who, despite questionable ties to the MCU, are still very much a part of the Marvel revival of the 2010s.
If you’re looking to start your MCU journey, it’s hard to avoid watching a large portion of these films and series as they all usually have repercussions that ripple across the franchise, making most projects necessary watches in order to be fully in the loop with all the heroes’ shenanigans. However, if you’re feeling nostalgic or fancy a refresher on the universe’s earlier outings, opting for partial rewatches of each hero’s individual storyline might be a better option at this point.
If you’re thinking about starting with the First Avenger himself, we’ve put together a list of every Marvel movie where Captain America appears, ordered chronologically to make things easier.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), dir. Joe Johnston
Steve Rogers’ origin story is one of sacrifice, loss, and perseverance, as one of the MCU’s most upstanding citizens. In The First Avenger, we get to see how he went from a skinny Brooklyn kid to the Nazi-fighting Captain, donning the stars and stripes during World War II. It’s hard not to immediately root for Steve, whose charm and integrity never falter thanks to an inspired performance by Chris Evans.
2. The Avengers (2012), dir. Joss Whedon
The first time the original Avengers teamed up is still as exciting to watch today as it was in 2012. Now in the 21st Century — and after being found frozen in the Arctic — Steve is asked by Nick Fury to join his Avengers initiative when a new Alien threat lead by Loki arises. In all honesty, Marvel has yet to surpass or even match the amount of chemistry that the original cast had, and especially Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., who plays fellow Avengers leader Tony Stark.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), dir. Anthony and Joe Russo
The Winter Soldier is a turning point for the character of Steve Rogers as he begins adapting to the normal world. Things are no longer as black and white as they used to be in the past, and it’s not as easy to tell enemies and allies apart. The second solo Captain America film features a number of big names from the rest of the franchise, like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. The Winter Soldier also marks Anthony Mackie’s debut in the MCU as Sam Wilson, Steve’s eventual successor as Captain America.
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), dir. Joss Whedon
The Avengers team up again, this time to deal with the dangers of artificial intelligence and the menacing sentient android named Ultron. Age of Ultron is a bit of a stagnant film for Steve when it comes to his character development. In a way, he’s once again back to square one as the life he had built since waking up from ice was torn apart by the falling of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bucky’s reappearance. As one of the leaders of the team, Steve features heavily in the film, especially as he warns Tony Stark against trying to stop wars before they even happen.
5. Captain America: Civil War (2016), dir. Anthony and Joe Russo
Although not the most consensual of Marvel films, Captain America: Civil War is definitely one of the most complex and trickiest in its themes, discussions, and character paths. Some have criticized the 2016 movie for not really being a Captain America movie, but rather another Avengers film in disguise, considering all but the Hulk and Thor come back for it. However, this film does incredible things in advancing and defining Steve’s character. As the title hero and his best frenemy Tony Stark fall out and fight over the issue of regulating the Avengers, the mantle of Captain America is officially detached from any kind of government’s puppet image, to instead signify an ideal of freedom that the country, and the world, has long deviated from.
6. Avengers: Infinity War (2018), dir. Anthony and Joe Russo
Avengers: Infinity War is the beginning of the end for the first big overarching storyline of the MCU: the Infinity Saga. Thanos’ long-teased threat is finally consummated in what was, at the time, the most epic film in the franchise. A threat that is all the more serious because of the state the Avengers are left in by the end of Civil War. Steve’s big return after going into hiding at the end of the previous film was much anticipated, as the danger the world was facing was far too great for the United Nations to keep Captain America from lending a hand.
7. Avengers: Endgame (2019), dir. Anthony and Joe Russo
After seven films, Endgame is finally the goodbye for Steve Rogers as Captain America — and what a goodbye it was! Thanos is successful in wiping off half the planet in Infinity War, so, in Endgame, the remaining Avengers come together to formulate a plan that can undo what has been done. As one of the original leaders of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Steve has one of the film’s most memorable scenes, that we’ll keep unspoiled here, just in case. His journey ends with retirement as he chooses to go back to the life he always dreamed of. Some fans approved of this ending, some say he wouldn’t leave his friends behind as easily, but regardless — no one can dispute that Steve’s is one of the best and most complete arcs in the MCU.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), created by Malcolm Spellman
With Steve gone, and his successor already picked by the U.S. government, the Captain’s closest friends Sam and Bucky are set on preserving his memory and legacy, as they fight their own battles and attempt to make Steve proud. Although it shows us a lot more sides of Bucky and Sam that we hadn’t previously seen, this show is essentially a vehicle to ease the transition from Steve to Sam in the role of Captain America. It’s worth the watch for the deconstruction of what it means to carry the shield and represent a country that, unlike Steve Rogers, didn’t always stand up for the little guy.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), dir. Jon Watts
There’s plenty of tidbits and references to Steve across a bunch of MCU films, but none more worth your time than his hilarious school PSAs in Spider-Man: Homecoming. If there is one cameo you should add to your list, it should be this one.
Captain America: New World Order (2024), dir. Julius Onah
There are no plot details for the fourth installment in the Captain America series yet, besides the fact that Anthony Mackie will be returning as Sam Wilson. Joining him will be Harrison Ford as Thaddeus Ross, Tim Blake Nelson as Doctor Samuel Sterns, Carl Lumbly as Isaiah Bradley, Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres, and Shira Haas as Sabra. New World Order is expected to enter production in March, 2023, and has its release date scheduled for May 3, 2024.
All of the movies and shows mentioned above are available to stream on Disney Plus.