Is Watching the Entire Marvel Cinematic Universe Necessary?

Attention: spoiler alerts are ahead, please read at your own risk. Whether you’re a vivid watcher of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or not, you’ve noticed the talk about the television series’ and how they connect to the universes that Marvel creates, essentially a huge universe full of different superheroes. Do they serve as prequels? Or sequels? And how do we know which ones to watch and in what order? These are the questions going through the mind of someone who watches only a few MCU films or shows or even someone who watches every single one. What purpose do they serve, whether good or bad?

Side Note: What is similar that I will mention is Marvel Easter Eggs, in which Marvel hides clues about all kinds of things into their shows and films—sometimes indicating the MCU as a whole, or what’s to come or even how the Universes connect. They will hide certain costumes from certain superheroes either in the back of the frame, or dialogue; but, it is mostly foreshadowing that they may come in later or that they were in a different TV show. They foreshadow MCU ideas that you wouldn’t see the first time around until you watch it again and look very closely; but, there are articles on the interwebs about it as well.

Agents of SHIELD (S.H.I.E.L.D)

Agents
Agents

For starters, let’s touch on the first television series to come out. Agents can serve as a prequel or a sequel, but it doesn’t have to. You learn extra information, that is true; but, you don’t learn much that leads into the films. That is because Agents is simply another set of SHIELD, they are a smaller team that deal with the things The Avengers don’t have time to deal with. The Avengers deal with bigger, tearing apart NY incidents. The Avengers don’t deal with regular people with regular powers, they can’t save everyone, so they created a team that does something similar to that. Now, Agents does deal with HYDRA they also mention other villains and the tesseract. They actually dealt with the tesseract and/or mentioned it also in one of the episodes (possibly more than one, in the first season around the time Thor: The Dark World was coming out).

There is a pro of watching Agents, such as before you watch Avengers: Age of Ultron, (which starts in the middle of a scene). You don’t get background information on where they are or how they got there, you are simply just thrown in. While Agents doesn’t provide any new information unless you don’t know much about the Universe—for someone who does, it wouldn’t be much of a prequel or sequel. What you have with Agents is essentially extra information or information of the in-between aspect. What are the Avengers doing in-between the time the films come out? That’s essentially what you can learn from Agents, it does mention the Avengers on minimal occasions by name.

Ultron (Age of Ultron) and Coulson (Agents)
Ultron (Age of Ultron) and Coulson (Agents)

Age of Ultron is followed by Captain America: The Winter Solider but the aftermath of The Winter Solider is followed through on Agents; now, was it necessary to watch? Probably not. Is it useful information? Yes. Agents continued with the demolishment of SHIELD and how they were going to adapt with Nick Fury being “dead”; so, in order to “re-make” SHIELD they started with a minimal team, which consisted of Coulson and a handful of others that are on the show. Agents have dealt with HYDRA on many occasions and they’ve had Nick Fury on a few of the earlier episodes.

The “enhanced” storyline, where you see Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from Age of Ultron ties into Agents. They are continuing the storyline of how they began the experimentation, or how they got to have their powers in general. This is an instance where you see the back story of characters and how Wolfgang von Strucker got the tesseract to begin with. What happens with attempting to watch the show at the same time is you don’t necessarily know what episodes to watch and when. The topic of enhanced beings in the world of SHIELD has been a re-occurring theme for the majority of the season of SHIELD, so that should come as no surprise; but, the second season is really focusing on HYDRA and how enhanced people began.

SHIELD vs HYDRA
SHIELD vs HYDRA

By the time Age of Ultron starts you do know a little bit about HYDRA already, so it isn’t much of an astonishment that they are going against HYDRA (it was at the post-credit ending scene of The Winter Solider as well). The Winter Solider really focused on HYDRA and the story behind it, so seeing that you do know a little about it already. We do see certain episodes that you can say are prequels if you want, but one thing that is favorable about the MCU is that they never really throw you into a film. They always make sure you get the gist within the first five minutes; so, therefore, it is possible to watch just the films and get the storyline, most of the post-credit scenes are like mini Agents episodes. Dr. List who appears in plenty of the episodes of Agents is a semi-important character, but you don’t necessarily need to know about him. Most of everything gets implied in the movies through dialogue or backstory of HYDRA.

Like stated above, it could be useful to watch Agents, very useful. If you want to know another area of SHIELD and was totally gutted about Coulson “dying” and want to know what he’s up to and how he is even back alive, it is a great show. It’s a great show regardless, but as far as the MCU you could survive the Universe by not watching it and come out with minimal scratches.

If you wanted to watch Agents there is a particular order you would be advised to watch them in, in order to get the gist of events happening in the movies:

  1. After Iron Man 3, you would watch Season 1, Episodes 1-7 of Agents.
  2. Season 1, Episodes 8-15 would be watched after Thor: The Dark World.
  3. Season 1, Episodes 16-22 would be after Captain America: The Winter Solider.
  4. Season 2, Episodes 1-19 would be after Guardians of the Galaxy.
  5. Season 2, Episodes 20-22 would be after Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This is helpful if you do want to watch them in order and you feel like you might get some benefit from the entire MCU storyline. I didn’t watch them in order, I just watched them scattered and you still get the gist.

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist’s Netflix TV Shows

Daredevil is Matt Murdock, he is a blind superhero, he is a vigilante in a sense, similar to Arrow. Now, Daredevil doesn’t deal with The Avengers, but he does deal with the MCU slightly. It’s a darker universe of the MCU (and you thought The Avengers was dark). What Daredevil does is provide us with another form of the MCU on the street level view. He is saving people in the neighborhood, he’s not saving the universe or the world like The Avengers are. Jessica Jones is the same way, she is a neighborhood hero.

Daredevil
Daredevil

It is a great break from the MCU—seeing The Avengers being mentioned or seeing them in a film and that is what Daredevil is. They are that break from the MCU that you need, sometimes not everything is about saving the world, even though it is great. Sometimes people save neighborhoods as well. Daredevil saves his friends, he saves people he doesn’t know, just for the sake of himself; now, Daredevil could be connected to Agents is some aspects, more so than the MCU entirely. Murdock’s father fights a guy named Creed (The Absorbing Man) in a flashback in one of the earlier episodes and we are also going to see Creed in Agents (if you haven’t caught him already); but, so far, that’s all we are getting from Daredevil to Agents.

(Ben Urich, Daredevil=Spider-Man Easter Egg)
(Ben Urich, Daredevil=Spider-Man Easter Egg)

Daredevil does consist of plenty of MCU Easter eggs, though. Such as Urich’s office you see the paper Peter Parker works for on the wall. Daredevil’s costume at the beginning of the series, until half way through, is from the comics. Matt also met his instructor Stick at a place called St. Agnes Orphanage, Skye from Agents brought up in this orphanage as well. Josie’s Bar is also in Hell’s Kitchen, which is a famous place in the Daredevil comics. What the Netflix show consists of is many adaptations from the comics, it sticks true to what it comes from; but, as far as it being a prequel or a sequel to the MCU or Agents, it has no qualities. It stands on its own. Just like Jessica Jones and Iron Fist will more than likely do as well.

(Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist = Upcoming Netflix Series')
(Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist = Upcoming Netflix Series’)

As far as Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil being the Netflix Marvel shows, they won’t necessarily be something you see intertwining with each other anytime soon. Simply because they weren’t cast in time and then again, we don’t necessarily need them to intertwine anyway. The basis of these shows is to get a good glimpse of the non-glamorized characters of the Marvel world. That’s something that could be great about these shows because these are the nerds of the crop, these are the ones that do just as good of work as The Avengers, but it isn’t glamorized and you rarely see that. Bringing them to the surface could be a very important endeavor.

Agent Carter

The sole purpose that Agent Carter serves is watching it before or after the first Captain America. Agent Carter does prove the purpose of the back story for the entire SHIELD Universe. Not the MCU, but the SHIELD aspect of it. Agent Carter and Howard Stark created SHIELD and you really get that in-depth with the show. It is positive they are going to show her relationship with Captain America or mention it a few times as well, if not already. Since Peggy being Agent Carter is about 70 years into the past, it is separate from the MCU. It doesn’t really have much to do with it, aside from the back story; which, is why you would watch it after Captain America: The First Avenger or even before if you wanted.

Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)

It plays the role of being a back story for everything you need to know about SHIELD, but it also has a great storyline that is enjoyable and it’s such a delight to watch. It is another one of those breaks you get from the MCU that proves to be very helpful and enjoyable.

Jarvis is important as well as Howard Stark. Jarvis is Iron Man’s computer system, but in Agent Carter he’s an actual human being instead. If you wanted to see his story and how he came about, it could possibly be an aspect of Agent Carter that could be apart of the story line; so, that is something interesting about Agent Carter.

So, Do you Need to Watch All of the MCU’s Creations?

Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel Cinematic Universe

You don’t necessarily have to, it provides a good story that you can continue in-between releases of the shows, yes; but, it’s not like Assassin’s Creed, you don’t need to watch every single piece of Marvel in order to get the whole MCU. That’s not to say you can’t—by all means, it is very informal to see how it pans out and how everything works; but, if you read the comics or have read them, you don’t need to watch Agents. It tells you everything you already know, it’s neat to see it on the screen, but that’s about it. It’s similar to Grand Theft Auto, you don’t need to play all of them to get the gist of the game. You can buy GTA IV and never have played in your life and you’ll be A-ok. It then depends on the person and if you want to watch all the shows, Daredevil is a great watch, but as the creators said, it doesn’t provide anything for the MCU that’s useful. It is not going to give us insight on Infinity War, or Civil War that’s for Agents.

Not watching Agents and watching just the films, you will be fine; but, it doesn’t hurt to watch them all either. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take the time to learn the rules of the MCU.

Works Cited

  1. Petrakovitz, Caitlin. “How to Watch Every Marvel Property in the Perfect Order.” C|net. N.p., 10 Sept. 2015. Web.
  2. Overmental. “27 Daredevil Easter Eggs and Marvel Connections.” Moviepilot.com. N.p., 15 Apr. 2015. Web. .
  3. Sciretta, Sciretta. “Daredevil TV Connections: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agents Of SHIELD and Netflix.” Film RSS. N.p., 10 Apr. 2015. Web.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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35 Comments

  1. Sounds good, except Daredevil is total rubbish

  2. After just doing a marathon, I recommend watching Thor 2 before Iron Man 3. Loki is a new prisoner at the beginning of Thor 2, and Tony has been dealing with emotional problems for a while by the beginning of IM 3.

  3. Why no character movie for Black Widow? Is she not interesting enough? Seems like some Marvel girl power should be a definite top priority for the film studio!

    • scole

      totally feeling you on this one, she’s such a great character and her comics are great!

    • MyStyle
      0

      I think you’ll get over it. Black Widow has never been a lead in the comics either. Her character just isnt written that way. Marvel have their hands full as it is but I get that you want to cry foul and sexism because that’s the thing to do

      • scole

        nah, marvel will probably make the movie or one of the female lead comic movies because wonder woman is coming out in the next few years and they need an all female lead movie to counteract with that one.

  4. Jong Farrar
    1

    Eventually the public is going to get a bit weary of superhero movies just like they did with westerns.

    • I still watch almost all the westerns from the great john Wayne, clint Eastwood, and many others and I am only in my 40’s. the comic book universes, as long as they don’t go too far off canon that have been set down and loved by many generations long before this current generation and most likely by many upcoming comic fans, I do not think it will lose interest. they keep bringing in new stories and superheros at a good pace so it is not like they jam a ton of info on us at once so it is not that hard to keep track, the stories are well written, and the actors that they have in each of the rolls is perfect. this is one group of movies that has been put out just at the right time where special effects and love for comics and their super heros is perfect. hopefully greed does not take over and they start pushing too many storylines out at us and cheapen the stories just to make a buck. just wish they would not change things and kill off people that should not be, two things that if they go too far will push people away. oh and they must stop with all these damn reboots. how many spidermen, hulk, and fantastic 4 are we going to have.

    • chandlerwp

      Oh, absolutely. That’s why it is important for them to keep pushing out loveable, action packed Iron Man movies and dark, brooding Daredevils. They are stretching the genre to include way more than it used to, and hoping that that will keep the genre alive.

      I hope so as well.

  5. Fantastic, I need to get into the Marvel CU!

  6. I’d recommend all of them. If you wanna skip movies, you can do so with Hulk and GotG IMO

  7. Order is:
    Iron Man
    Incredible Hulk
    Iron Man 2
    Thor
    Captain America: The First Avenger
    The Avengers
    Iron Man 3
    Thor 2: The Dark World
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

  8. I’ll skip Agent Carter thanks, never liked her. Unless something happens that I must go see but i’ll wait and see what people say lol

    • It’s a well written show that makes her likable. I’d recommend it on Jarvis alone, as he seems like the heart of the show, but overall, it’s well written and highly enjoyable

  9. Tonie Field
    1

    In case nobody actually ran the numbers, this is nearly three days of NONSTOP viewing… As in, NO breaks in any form whatsoever! Realistically it will take an average person either a few weeks if they watch a bit every night, or a couple of weekends (roughly 72 hours total film/TV time in all) and we’ve only just begun!

    Marvel…. I LOVE/HATE YOU!!!!

  10. Each comic they make kept feeling shallower and more rushed. I’ll stick with watching NONE.

  11. There’s just too many characters, movies, and TV shows for the average person to care about. For these shows to have a wide appeal, it takes real creative talent and they’re spreading it too thin.

  12. I’d actually recommend you watch the 2 seasons of the animated series from a few years ago. “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” while a considerably different storyline, was great and would help understand the personalities and relationships more than trying to stitch it together.

  13. Cwoot Dtoson
    1

    If you’re really strapped for time you could just watch Avengers 1 and Winter Soldier. But Iron Man 1 and Thor 1 are worth a watch to really get to know the characters.

  14. Watching Daredevil on Netflix currently. That show is solid. I’m really liking it.

  15. Thanks. I needed this guide!

  16. Skip AoS S1 til the last episodes, they’re totallity predictable and bored, just the final episodes match captain america 2.

  17. I love this article. How do you think the overwhelming amount of stories and characters plays into individual character development? I love the MCU, but I personally believe that many of the characters are much more complex than the movies portray.

  18. But if you don’t watch EVERY SINGLE ITERATION of the media junk they are trying to hawk at consumers, how will you buy into their monopoly on comic fantasy???

  19. At some point this is going to all come crashing down.

  20. Also, in the Marvel comics they have identifiable separates “verse,” which are entirely separate or coexisting but not interfering universes. For all we know some of the TV shows and movies may be a use of Marvel’s separate verses and not a giant AVENGERS style franchise.

  21. It’s interesting to be a big fan of the MCU and see all these different pieces of the universe and how they all seem to fit together. And the fact that you can watch any individual without seeing the rest and it would make total sense, and Marvel is very good at doing that. However, it’s very fun to watch everything and get into all the characters personal lives and just make a connection with the different key players.

  22. VelvetRose

    Pretty good article. You could have also mentioned the planned Defenders series and if audiences need to watch all of the Netflix individual shows to watch that. You could also have touched upon watching the individual films in order to understand the Avengers team-up films. A cool thing to mention might also have been the tie-in comics/”preludes” and what they add to the story. But what you did touch upon was great. Good job.

    • scole

      I wanted to comment on (or try to) at least all of it, because the Avengers Assemble series (cartoon) is pretty rad as far as seeing the dynamic and personality between the characters, but the length of this article would’ve been out of this world haha–but, thank you!

  23. Jonathan Leiter

    I never felt compelled or required to watch the Marvel TV shows. And I feel it would be asking a bit much of the fans or general movie goers to require that. However, there are some out there who actually take issue with the movies each tying in with each other, characters and plot points being introduced in one but not being re-established in another due to the assumption that the audience saw the preceding film, and requiring the audience to wait until the end credits to see a “post-credit sequence.” But I don’t have that same issue.

    Just like we may begin to see with the Star Wars franchise, I think this systematic linking of all the MCU films together in a chronological release-date order is not only a brilliant idea, but it allows for this now already enormous universe of feature-length films to feel like a life-time experience. Not only do you get Easter-eggs from other Marvel properties showing up, but you get plot details and characters that will become pivotal later on, who show up initially in a film where they aren’t the focus, and we get to see their origins or humble beginnings of sorts.

    I like this inter-connected web that Marvel Studios has created, even if it has led to awkward script-writing changes that were mandatory due to this agenda. I like it because I love the idea of connections between media and historical events, whether they be real or fictional. It makes me feel like I’m watching something extraordinary unfolding before my eyes, and as I grow older, more and more pieces to this puzzle are falling into place, even if the puzzle was not conceived of way back when they first produced “Iron Man.”

    Some people may not enjoy the Thor or the Captain America films. Certain people like myself may absolutely hate Iron Man 2, and may act indifferent towards the first Thor film, and will either completely ignore them and/or refuse to purchase them, which leaves a gap in this massive web. But that doesn’t matter to me, because at least I’ve seen every single Marvel movie up to this point. And I really don’t consider it an impossibility for anybody else to watch all of these films eventually, especially with the use of services like Netflix and Amazon. You only have to see them each once to be able to follow everything.

    So with regards to the series, not really a requirement. Seeing each of the films at least once, a tad more so.

  24. Agents of Shield (aos) is a easy way for people new to marvel to gain access to the inhumans, which appear in season 2. I say that because there are plans for an inhuman movie at some point and unlike the current mcu heroes (minus guardians) most people won’t have any exposure to inhumans prior to the movie’s release. For the most part aos is a lighter show, in that its easier to watch then Daredevil or Jessica Jones will be. Directly comparing aos to DD or JJ is a mistake because they are made with very different audiences in mind. while both audiences overlap in places the viewership of aos has to go in with a mindset that allows a show to be campy. more people enjoyed DD because of its lack of campy-ness. its also significantly darker and i would call it dirty. DD and JJ are shows that expand on the idea of one day NYC was invaded by aliens and the entire world suddenly knows of enhanced people. this is just expanding on a more “real” world reaction. Aos characters already know aliens exist and about enhanced people. there is no huge reveal of a global change for them. (you could count inhumans but the general population doesnt know or thats more of a in-show reveal less of a global event reveal.)
    As for anent Carter. I would recommend that show far more then aos. Its set after the first cap a deals with the founders of Shield witch has a major presence in nearly all of the mcu. its also a fantastic way to get a little bit more red room black widow. since we haven’t gotten a black widow movie yet.

  25. I’m torn – I really like the way Arrow and the Flash TV shows intertwine quite a bit, with cameos from minor characters as well as the leads on both shows. But I also do want shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones to be able to stand alone.

    I guess it’s just a version of wanting to have my cake and eat it to, but I’m allowed to dream!

    I’m also biased and want Daredevil in Civil War. Because he’s great.

  26. Kristopher Purzycki

    We’re currently watching the Jessica Jones series alongside a second watching of Daredevil. As someone who has only been mildly interested in comics, I was more interested in the X-Men series – a property that Marvel/Disney is (for now?) prohibited from incorporating into the MCU.

    Because of this, the MCU seems lacking. Marvel’s done a good job in creating a cinematic/television experience that mimics the comic crossover but it’s incomplete: the Hell’s Kitchen series are fantastic but, other than cursory mentions, the Avengers’ films don’t seem to have had much impact.

    P.S. I’m predicting a huge Avengers vs. X-Men event to eventually be used to reinvigorate the super-hero genre after it gets stale in the not-too-distant future.

  27. Tatijana

    Comic based movies/shows have always been hard for me. I like to know everything about a story start to finish and in order… which is probably why I haven’t gotten into comics. It’s something I’d like, but there is just so much out there. So I tend to stick with comics that are more neat and tidy.

  28. I really appreciated the Easter Eggs you spotted in Daredevil, some of which I had missed. I like that show a lot more than SHIELD, which seems like it never really has its own story to tell.

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