Marvel Phase 4: Watch the Movies and TV Series in the Perfect Order – CNET

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness poster

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’s February trailer promises a large cast of characters.

Marvel Studios

Caught the recent Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer? X-Men cameos, big mummy creatures, minotaurs, a lot of camera tilts to indicate timey-wimey-ness, loads of locations — including what looks like a Jurassic Park set — and the robots from 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron are just some of the elements featured. Don’t take notes, there won’t be a test.

At least, let’s hope Marvel isn’t expecting everyone going into the latest film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be 100% up to date with all 27 movies and 11 TV shows (not including the ABC Marvel series). Things have gotten, to quote Doctor Strange’s evil variant The Necromancer who famously comes from Counter-Earth (according to the Marvel Database) — “out of hand.”

If you’ve dropped the ball in keeping up to date with Marvel’s “Phase Four” films and Disney Plus TV series, refer to this handy guide for all the titles in order of release. Apparently, that’s the perfect order to watch them in — I’ve been informed by CNET’s Marvel experts that it doesn’t matter what order you watch Phase Four in. Thanks to Phase Four’s exploration of multiple universes, it isn’t necessary to watch everything in chronological (not release) order. That might just end up being more confusing.

1. WandaVision

Disney Plus

The Disney Plus series follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), aka Scarlet Witch, and Vision (Paul Bettany) in the suburban town of Westview. Thanks to the combination of dark magic, Kathryn Hahn and Wanda’s love of sitcoms, idyllic life turns upside down. WandaVision directly sets up Doctor Strange 2, so it’s lucky the series is at the top of this watch list.

2. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier


I’ll cut you a little slack if you choose to skip this one. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a buddy action Disney Plus series, pairs The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and — checks notes — the Winter Solder (Sebastian Stan) in a plot to stop a terrorist organization known as — checks notes — the Flag Smashers. I’ll cut you a lot of slack if you choose to skip this one.

3. Loki


Put this on the high priority list. The Disney Plus series starring Tom Hiddleston as the god of mischief or, as he otherwise loves to be known, “Thor’s adopted brother,” will go to some lengths to explain the multiverse. It’s also got a smashing original score.

4. Black Widow

Kevin Baker/Marvel Studios

The long-awaited Black Widow movie digging into Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlet Johansson) past doesn’t have much baring on the multiverse-related events of Phase Four. Don’t skip it, though. Watch for Florence Pugh’s scene-stealing performance as assassin Yelena Belova, aka the unofficial cousin of Killing Eve’s Villanelle.

5. What If…?

Marvel Studios

I never once doubted Marvel knew what it was doing with the What If…? Disney Plus series. Never doubted where the question mark and ellipses should go. Never doubted that it’s an animation or its connection to the rest of the MCU. Each episode of What If…? helps explore the idea of the multiverse, with the best episode (No. 4) introducing evil Doctor Strange.

6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel Studios

A martial arts superhero film? Shang-Chi might not have much baring on the multiverse, but the first third involves plenty of cool martial arts themes, before delving into more fantastical elements. It also introduces a wonderful new hero in Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) to the Avengers.

7. Eternals

Marvel Studios

One of Marvel’s most divisive movies hit Disney Plus in January, so there’s no excuse not to give it a watch. Not because you’re already paying for Disney Plus, but to see what all the fuss is about. On second thoughts, it likely won’t help you understand Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so you have permission to skip.

8. Hawkeye

Marvel Studios

Hawkeye brought Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) to the small screen and introduced young archer Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). For all intents and purposes, it’s a Christmas TV series, filled with multiple buddy partnerships (look out for a character from Black Widow), loudly dressed thugs who don’t understand the concept of not drawing attention to their activities and a dog named Pizza Dog. It’s not essential viewing, but all of those elements sound good, don’t they?

9. Spider-Man: No Way Home


No Way Home can thank Loki (and Sony’s 2018 hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) for getting people used to the idea of the multiverse. No Way Home is a must-watch, though be warned, it might also involve some homework viewing of previous Spider-Man films.

In short, the essential titles to watch before Doctor Strange 2 are Loki, WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home, in any order. There are plenty more Marvel films to watch, so if you’re willing to dive into the other three phases, head here.

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