The Definitive MCU Checklist: What’s Canon, What’s Not

Going through the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe from beginning to end would literally take days. So with all of that storytelling, it’s easy to lose track of what’s included and what’s not.

Aaron put together a great viewing guide here, if you’re just looking for what order you should watch the movies and TV shows in. However, if you’re a serious canon junkie and find yourself needing to collect every little piece of the MCU, we’ve also got you covered.

Here is your definitive guide to everything included in the MCU, and where to find it. We’ll be keeping this page updated through the end of Phase Three (and maybe beyond?).

 

The Movies

For obvious reasons, the movies form the core canon of Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are 12 of them so far, spread over two “Phases.”

They are, in order:

Phase One:

check mark box Iron Man

Where it all began. Tony Stark invents the Arc Reactor, designs the Iron Man armor, tangles with the Ten Rings, and meets Nick Fury.

Where To Get It: Amazon, or as part of the Iron Man trilogy set.

check mark box The Incredible Hulk

Not to be confused with the 2003 Ang Lee film.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Iron Man 2

Tony Stark returns. This story also features the debuts of Black Widow, Howard Stark, and the War Machine armor.

Where To Get It: Amazon, as a Limited Edition release, or as part of the Iron Man trilogy set.

check mark box Thor

The MCU goes just a little bit cosmic with the introduction of Asgard and its inhabitants. The post-credits stinger scene is also our first look at the Tesseract.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Captain America: The First Avenger

Cap’s origin story, as well as his modern day introduction post-defrosting.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box The Avengers

Joss Whedon begins his reign. Loki returns. A second Infinity Stone. Avengers avenge.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

Phase Two:

check mark box Iron Man 3

Iron Man squares off against the Mandarin and the Ten Rings.

Where To Get It: Amazon, or as part of the Iron Man trilogy set.

check mark box Thor: The Dark World

Thor prevents the annihilation of all nine realms. We also get to see our third Infinity Stone.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Still arguably the best Marvel movie so far. HYDRA’s return calls everyone’s loyalties into question, as a mysterious figure from Cap’s past reemerges. Who could it be? In a twist that surprises no one, it’s Bucky.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Guardians of the Galaxy

A talking raccoon, a walking tree, Chris Pratt in space, what more could you ask for?

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Avengers: Age of Ultron

Joss Whedon ends his reign. We get a Vision. Iron Man leaves the team. The Hulk goes AWOL. Thor heads off in search of the Infinity Stones.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Ant-Man

Phase Two closes out with a tiny man who rides ants. Also the Falcon gets his butt kicked.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

 

All of the Phase One releases are also included in the Phase One box set. The Phase Two box set, which will include Iron Man 3 through Ant-Man, is currently available for pre-order.

Outside of these 12 releases, no other Marvel Comics movies are considered canon.

 

The One-Shots

all hail the king mcu

The MCU One-Shots are a series of short films available on the various Blu-ray releases. While none of them are absolutely essential viewing, they do add some cool connective tissue between the movies, and All Hail the King in particular sets up some very interesting possibilities for a future Iron Man installment.

check mark box The Consultant

Agent Coulson and Sitwell sit down for a short scene that explains why Tony Stark shows up at the end of The Incredible Hulk.

Where To Get It: Available on the Thor Blu-ray.

check mark box A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer

Agent Coulson has a brief misadventure on his way to New Mexico.

Where To Get It: Available on the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray.

check mark box Item 47

Civilians get their hands on a Chitauri gun from the Battle of New York, and promptly use it to rob banks.

Where To Get It: Available on the The Avengers Blu-ray.

check mark box Agent Carter

This short follows the Agent Carter TV series, showing her on a field mission to recover the Zodiac, a dangerous McGuffin, and her invitation to become the co-head of SHIELD.

Where To Get It: Available on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray.

check mark box All Hail the King

A documentarian interviews Trevor Slattery in prison, only to reveal that the Ten Rings and the Mandarin are in fact very real, and very upset.

Where To Get It: Available on the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray.

 

The TV Shows

Agents of SHIELD returns

To date, the MCU contains two ongoing TV series on ABC, and an elaborate deal with Netflix that will ultimately see four full series and a miniseries online, only the first of which has been released so far.

check mark box Agents of SHIELD

The original MCU TV series is about to get a third season inspired by the Secret Warriors comic book arc. No TV characters have so far crossed over to the big-screen end of the spectrum, but the show has certainly seen its fair share of fallout from the movies.

Where To Get It: Season One on Blu-ray here and Season Two here.

check mark box Agent Carter

Peggy Carter kicked so much butt in her One-Shot, that she got her own eight-episode miniseries. Fan reaction to that storyline was very positive, and Agent Carter will be back for a second season set in California.

Where To Get It: Season One on Blu-ray here.

check mark box Daredevil

Netflix and Marvel’s collaboration launches on a very high note, with Daredevil somehow managing to make us forget all about the Ben Affleck version.

Where To Get It: A Blu-ray release has not been announced yet, so for now, you’ll need a Netflix subscription to watch this one.

 

The Comic Books

guardians of the galaxy prelude mcu

Comics based on movies based on comics, I know, but some of these are actually pretty important additions to the MCU canon.

check mark box Iron Man: I Am Iron Man!

This one is more or less a retelling of the first Iron Man movie, but it does include some scenes that aren’t a part of the film.

Where To Get It: It’s a bit hard to find new, but used copies are available on Amazon.

check mark box Iron Man 2: Public Identity

This three-issue miniseries is actually one of the more important non-movie additions to the canon. It sets up a number of narrative threads explored in Iron Man 2, including the US military’s interest in Tony’s suit tech, and the involvement of Senator Stern and Justin Hammer in those plans (bonus cameo by General “Thunderbolt” Ross), the arrest of Anton Venko, some Ten Rings setup, and a bit on Tony’s relationship with his dad and Edwin Jarvis. All-in-all, a surprisingly substantial bit of storytelling.

Where To Get It: Again, good luck finding it new, but there’s used copies on Amazon.

check mark box Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This one-shot is a collection of shorts starring Agent Coulson, Nick Fury, and Black Widow, set just before and during the events of Iron Man 2.

Where To Get It: This one can be really difficult to track down. We did see a couple of copies floating around eBay though, and if you’re just interested in reading it and not adding it to your shelf, it’s available on Marvel Unlimited.

check mark box Captain America: First Vengeance

This eight-issue miniseries acts as a prequel of sorts to The First Avenger. It jumps around in time quite a bit, giving us a look at Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes’ first meeting, the Red Skull’s role in the early Nazi movement, and how Dr. Abraham Erskine was rescued from Germany and recruited by the SSR.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box The Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week

The first release to feature the “red sticker,” a logo signifying that it’s an official MCU comic, Fury’s Big Week is basically what Nick Fury was up to in the background of all of the Phase One movies. It shows him hunting down Cap’s frozen body, formulating a plan to cure Tony Stark’s Palladium poisoning, sending Black Widow to monitor Bruce Banner, and assigning Hawkeye to New Mexico. It also reveals what happened to Dr. Samuel Sterns, one of the big hanging plot threads from The Incredible Hulk.

Where To Get It:  Amazon.

check mark box The Avengers – Prelude: Black Widow Strikes

This is a solo Black Widow adventure (with a cameo from Agent Coulson) set in between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Aside from another appearance of the Ten Rings, Black Widow Strikes isn’t a particularly essential story, and isn’t referenced again in the MCU.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Iron Man 3 Prelude

These “Prelude” miniseries become an MCU staple from here on out, although they’re usually so short that they’re bundled with a couple of non-MCU issues for the trade paperback release. Iron Man 3‘s brief prequel doesn’t add too much, but it does explain why War Machine was nowhere to be found during the Battle of New York.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Thor: The Dark World Prelude

This comic jumps way back to the first Thor movie, showing the aftermath of the destruction of the Bifrost. It also explains how Thor knew Loki was back in The Avengers, how he got to Earth without the Bifrost, and who those guys attacking the villages were in The Dark World. It’s also the first in-universe mention of Ragnarok.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Captain America: The Winter Soldier Prelude

This “Prelude” is a bit of a misnomer, as it only includes one issue’s worth of original MCU material, the first “Infinite” release (a line of digital-first MCU tie-ins). That story features the return of the Zodiac, the substance that Peggy Carter was tracking down in her One-Shot short film. Aside from that, Winter Soldier Prelude contains an adaptation of The First Avenger, and a couple of non-MCU comics.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude

This one features a standalone Rocket and Groot adventure, some of Gamora and Nebula’s training under Thanos, as well as an Infinite issue explaining how Gamora knew about the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude

Another shorter Prelude, it includes an Infinite issue explaining how HYDRA got Loki’s scepter, and how it led to the Maximoff twins gaining their powers.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

check mark box Ant-Man Prelude

The Ant-Man Prelude issues feature Hank Pym’s first mission for SHIELD, including the source of his inspiration for riding on flying ants. It also includes a Scott Lang-centric Infinite issue, showing the how and why of the heist that lands him in prison.

Where To Get It: Amazon.

 

Outside of these, none of the other comics are confirmed canon, even the ones featuring MCU characters. Marvel has gone on record as stating that these are stories “inspired” by the MCU, but do not actually take place in it.

 

The Rest Of It

check mark box Stark Expo 2010

An in-universe promotional campaign for Stark Expo 2010, the big event featured in Iron Man 2.

Where To Get It: The website has been taken down, sadly, but one of the promo videos is still live here, as is the Facebook page. There’s also this “retro” ad for the 1974 version.

check mark box The Rising Tide

WeAreTheRisingTide.com used to be an in-universe blog for Skye’s whistleblower organization. Sadly, it’s since been turned into a generic Agents of SHIELD page.

rising tide website mcu

Where To Get It: The old version of the website is no longer online, but you can see what it looked like in the image above. The site also had a YouTube channel, which posted three short videos… blurry clips from The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. A for effort though.

check mark box WHiH Newsfront

Marvel’s most elaborate “viral” storytelling so far. WHiH News (featured in the backgrounds of a bunch of Marvel movies and TV series) comes to life in this in-universe YouTube channel launched to coincide with Ant-Man. It features news updates by Christine Everhart (the reporter from Iron Man 2), an exclusive with Scott Lang, and a WIRED interview with Darren Cross.

Where To Get It: The YouTube channel is still online here. The videos are also rumored to be included on the Ant-Man Blu-ray, but we don’t have confirmation on that yet.

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