The MCU is an entertainment juggernaut that can be rather intimidating for newbies. If you want to watch WandaVision, for example, does that mean you have to sit through all 24 films that came out before it? What about the Netflix shows? Hulu shows?
You can watch all of that if you’d like, but you don’t have to.
WandaVision was the MCU’s first Disney+ show and they certainly put their best foot forward right out of the gate. It won a ton of awards, including three Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour)), two Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards (Best Streaming Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Live-Action Television Movie, Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Television Movie – Kathryn Hahn), and four MTV Movie & TV Awards (Best Show, Best Performance in a Show – Elizabeth Olsen, Best Villain – Kathryn Hahn, Best Fight – Elizabeth Olsen vs. Kathryn Hahn).
Needless to say, this is definitely something with mass appeal. I’m not surprised to see new MCU fans popping up wanting to experience this story. People want to jump in here and see what all the fuss is about. People who… may not have seen anything else in the franchise and have no idea what’s going on.
In order to understand the fuss, you should be familiar with these characters and what led them to this point. In order to do that, you need to watch some of the previous content they’ve been in. The WandaVision series is creative and fun, but also emotionally heavy and impactful. You lose some of that impact if you go in without watching anything that came before it.
That brings us to this watch order. Thankfully, you can just stick to some of the canonical MCU films and don’t need to invest a lot of time in other shows. That makes this easier than, say, Spider-Man: No Way Home or Hawkeye in that regard (watch orders for these are also in the works, so stay tuned). The tricky part is figuring out what films to watch.
As neither Wanda nor Vision have had their own solo films, you’ll need to navigate through other character’s films to understand them. Additionally, many of the side characters in WandaVision were also side characters in other films. This adds to the difficulty of navigating the story successfully.
But this is why you’re here! So let’s get on with it.
An Intro to WandaVision
WandaVision primarily focuses on two main characters. First we have Wanda Maximoff, who is a young woman with the ability to manipulate matter and control other’s minds. She’s a complicated character who has been largely secondary to other heroes thus far in the MCU. That said, she’s become a fan favorite, and actress Elizabeth Olsen has been receiving praise for the role since she was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Her part in the MCU going forward will be much bigger, to the delight of many fans.
Then there’s Vision, a synthetic humanoid artificial intelligence who has been merged with an Infinity Stone. The actor, Paul Bettany, provided the voice for a different character named J.A.R.V.I.S. prior to this. I won’t be including his appearances as J.A.R.V.I.S. as part of the watch orders as it’s ostensibly a completely different character (Tony Stark’s AI assistant). While the character of J.A.R.V.I.S. is important to the story of how Vision came into being, enough context is provided through Age of Ultron that you really don’t need to watch the other films to understand it. That said, I will include an optional “J.A.R.V.I.S. Watch” at the end for the curious.
The nine episode series primarily follows these two characters as they deal with both the emotional and physical trauma from Avengers: Endgame. Because of just how powerful Wanda is, dealing with that trauma is a rather unconventional experience. We’re led through a story framed by homages to various television sitcoms from the last 70 years. It’s an incredibly interesting premise and very well executed.
This series also has complex and thoroughly fleshed out side characters from a number of different films. Darcy Lewis, Monica Rambeau, and Jimmy Woo are all well into their own character arcs by the time they pop up here. I suspect all three supporting characters will continue on after this, too. Monica Rambeau will for sure appear in The Marvels, and the other two are so beloved that Marvel will have completely dropped the ball if they let them end here.
That said, catching up on Darcy, Monica, and Jimmy’s material is optional, though strongly recommended. Honestly, these are some of the most enjoyable characters in the MCU. You might as well give them some attention, too! They’re fantastic in their own right.
So how should you go about tackling this seemingly enormous task? Where do you begin? How much do you need to watch? I’ve arranged three different watch orders for you: Short, Medium, and Long. Let’s break each of them down so you know which watch order is right for you.
MCU Complete Watch Order
This article is part of an ongoing Phase 4 series that will highlight each property in a way that makes it accessible to newbies, and also provide a fun rewatch orders for long-time fans. We’ll be posting articles for all the Phase 4 content thus far, as well as suggested rewatch orders for upcoming properties. We also have the complete rewatch order, which will be updated throughout the year.
So stay tuned, because there’s a lot more coming after this one!
Short WandaVision Watch Order – Marvel Studios Legends
Who Should Watch: New and Old Fans With Extremely Limited Time
Approximate Run Time: 9 Minutes
I don’t recommend the Short Watch Order if you’re a new fan because it really only gives you a surface level overview of the characters and plot needed to understand the show. But it’s definitely a viable way to catch up if you are extremely limited on time. If you aren’t sure this will be your thing and just want to dip your toe in, this is an okay option. Just know that you’ll be missing a lot.
For us older fans, this is a great refresher just to remind us about everything that led up to this point. We don’t always have time to watch everything again (though we would absolutely love to, of course!) and this is a decent way to gear up for the show. The Legends episodes combined are shorter than even the shortest episode of the show, so you can watch it quite easily before diving into episode one.
- Marvel Studios Legends: Wanda Maximoff & Vision
Medium WandaVision Watch Order
Who Should Watch: New Fans Who Want The Basics, Old Fans Wanting a Brief Marathon
Approximate Run Time: 10 Hours
This is it. This is the bare bones watch list. It’s the absolute minimum amount of content you need to watch to fully understand what’s happening in WandaVision.
The Medium Watch Order selection introduces you to the major characters and plots that led us to this particular story, but it doesn’t touch on the secondary characters. If you don’t have the time to add about 8 hours of movie to the list to understand the secondary characters, too, you can put a pin in that for now and come back to it later. I do recommend coming back later, though. Pretty much all the coolest secondary characters from the movies are in this show.
Also, before we get into this watch order, it’s important to note that Wanda’s first appearance is technically at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This appearance was just a tease, however. There’s really nothing important to the plot in that appearance. Anything important about the characters gets explained in Age of Ultron.
Having noted that, here’s the clip anyway.
Alright, now on with the watch order…
Both Wanda and Vision’s stories begin in Age of Ultron. While you may be a bit lost on the main plot of the film if you haven’t seen all the previous MCU films, you can still generally follow along and learn what you need to in order to understand WandaVision.
If you don’t like being confused, though, basically all you need to know is that there’s this superhero group, they’re called the Avengers, and one of them is a billionaire who lives in a huge fancy high-rise. The billionaire makes a ton of gadgets. Once you get that basic premise, everything else is pretty straight forward.
There’s also some magic stones that do stuff (yep, these are the Infinity Stones!), but at the time Age of Ultron came out we didn’t know too much about them either. They just kept popping up and doing things. You should be just fine being a little lost on that point. You’ll pick up on their importance a bit later in the watch when they become more than just arbitrary magical plot devices.
I mean, ultimately that’s what they are, but they become more central to the overarching story later. They become important magical plot devices.
Got it? Good. You’re ready to watch it!
This film is extremely straight forward and you don’t have to know too much going into it. This is that same wacky group of heroes from before, but one of them (the one that was frozen in ice for 70 years and doesn’t like curse words) has a friend who was kind of brainwashed into being an assassin. And that friend was a really good assassin. But it’s a bit of a sore spot for our heroes and, well, things happen. And everyone is big mad at each other about those things. Long story short, that’s how we end up here, in Captain America: Civil War.
That’s pretty much all you need to know. Everything else is either explained for you in the film or not important to Wanda and Vision’s stories anyway.
This is a heavy one. Buckle up. And bring some tissues, because you might cry. I certainly did.
It’s hard to explain the nervous excitement we had going into this film after going through all the movies up until this point. You might not get the same sort of energy diving right into it after only two other films, which is a major downside of doing abbreviated watches. Once you get to the end of the film, though, you may feel adequately punched in the feel and understand what we went through at the time. It’s downright tragic.
There’s really no way to give you a cliffnotes version on things you need to know before going into this one. There are a ton of characters from basically every film and you will be confused about a lot of them. Unless you want to do a full MCU watch, though, that’s just the way it’s going to be. Just remember you are watching this for Wanda and Vision, but if any of the other characters pique your interest, by all means feel free to jump to their individual films, too! The MCU is huge. There’s a lot to choose from.
I envy anyone who doesn’t have to wait over a year for Endgame, which is the direct follow-up to Infinity War. That wait was BRUTAL. Two new films came out between Infinity War and Endgame and it was damn hard to get through.
WandaVision takes place a few weeks after this film, so you really get the emotional impact coming out of this movie and jumping right into WandaVision. You will really understand the trauma. It’s the ultimate emotional gut punch. WandaVision is basically about coping with the fallout of this film.
Long WandaVision Watch Order
Who Should Watch: New Fans Who Want a Thorough Understanding of the Characters and Plot, Old Fans with Lots of Time to Kill
Approximate Run Time: 18 Hours
The Long Watch Order is the ultimate preparation you’ll need to understand WandaVision. You get to know the main characters and plot as well as the secondary characters and additional events happening in the universe. There are gods and other worlds and new scientific concepts and a ton of aliens! If you’ve never watched anything MCU before, this is a great start because it gives you a taste of other aspects of the MCU besides just the Wanda and Vision stuff.
The downside with this watch order is that it starts with two of what are considered the weaker films.
Now before long-time fans (and particularly Thor fans) jump on me for that, please know my favorite character is Loki so I obviously enjoy these films to some degree! But they were a bit rough around the edges and can be a bit tricky to really get attached to right away. It took me years to fully appreciate them for what they are. They are some of my favorites now.
For new fans considering jumping in here, please stick it out through the Thor films. I promise you that it’s worth it. And if you end up being a hardcore MCU fan, you’ll even look back at these films fondly. Hard to imagine at the time, I know, but it’s true!
Watch Order (New Additions Marked With *)
Thor is the first new addition on the Watch Order. One of the secondary characters of the show, Darcy, is introduced in this film. The rest of the film doesn’t really play much into the WandaVision story, but it’s a fun watch anyway. Besides, Darcy is amazing so even if she’s secondary, she’s worth it. She’s a fan favorite and it won’t take long to understand why.
As this is the first Thor film, you can go in without much preamble. Pretty much everything will get explained to you, and it may even pique your interest for some other branches of the overarching MCU story. I absolutely adore the elements Thor introduced to the MCU, particularly the magic stuff. Magic is a major part of Wanda’s overall plot, so even though she’s not in the Thor films, it’s a great introduction to how magic works in the MCU world.
- Thor: The Dark World*
This is generally considered one of the weaker MCU films, but it’s still a pretty fun ride. Besides, we get a lot of character growth for Darcy, and she’s the reason this one is on the list. And while this isn’t the Loki watch list (that’ll come out later), this movie has some of the best Loki moments ever, so it’s entertaining at least.
Don’t come at me, Thor fans. I’ve explained my reasons for framing the earlier Thor films like this in the intro!
Remember that this is optional. This is Wanda’s first official appearance and I’m placing it here for chronological reasons, but you are free to skip this.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Ant-Man and the Wasp*
Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place concurrently with Avengers: Infinity War, but the end credits scene is a major spoiler. You should either watch this after Infinity War, or pause it before watching the credits scene to avoid the spoiler.
The Ant-Man films are just FUN. Even if you weren’t watching it to learn about Jimmy Woo, I’d recommend you watch them anyway. If you do this, though, keep in mind this is the second Ant-Man film. If your goal is to just learn about Jimmy Woo, though, you can just watch this one. He doesn’t have a huge role in this film, but he’s still a very endearing character. Like Darcy, he became a fan favorite.
Before jumping into this one, you should know a bit about what’s going on here. This is the second Ant-Man film, so you’re sort of jumping in partway through his story. Let me catch you up real quick.
So there’s this neat science thing called a ‘Pym Particle.’ The ‘Pym Particle’ can change the size of any object, including living beings. In the first Ant-Man film, this leads to shenanigans. The shenanigans put Scott Lang under house arrest. The friends Scott made in the first film (Hank Pym, who discovered the eponymous Pym Particle, and Hank’s daughter, Hope) still have some shenanigans to tend to, though, and wacky adventures happen.
Jimmy Woo isn’t in the first Ant-Man film, so that’s not on my watch list. That said, you should still go back and watch it because it’s just FUN.
- Captain Marvel*
Captain Marvel takes place in the 90’s so chronologically it should be first. However, like Ant-Man and the Wasp, its end credit scene is a major spoiler for Infinity War. Both these films came out between Infinity War and Endgame, and they couldn’t really ignore the major impact of what happened. The end credit scenes are a way for the MCU to remind us that they totally didn’t forget what they did to us before, but also we’re not really dealing with it at the moment.
Let me tell ya, this was absolutely TORTURE to experience in real time. People choosing to catch up now are blessed in the sense that they don’t have to deal with over a year of intense Infinity War emotions. Congrats to you!
Captain Marvel introduces a lot of helpful things in the MCU overall, but the important thing for us here in the WandaVision watch are the Rambeau’s. Maria Rambeau is Carol’s best friend, and her daughter, Monica, is an important secondary character in WandaVision. Like Darcy and Jimmy Woo, she’s secondary both in this film and in the show itself, but it’s nice to know more about her before jumping in. The emotional impact of some of her scenes will hit you a whole lot harder when you know where she came from.
Also, as I mentioned before, Monica will be part of The Marvels, so if you’ll be sticking around in MCU long term, this is a great preparation for characters that will be important in Phase 4 and beyond.
- Avengers: Endgame
Woo. Here we are. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted and I’m just writing out the list, not watching them. But hey, you made it! WandaVision is just a few hours away now!
Optional J.A.R.V.I.S. Watch Order
Who Should Watch This: People who love Paul Bettany’s voice, people who are curious about the AI that was part of Vision’s creation
Approximate Run Time: 14 Hours
This basically doubles as an Iron Man watch order as the two characters were deeply entwined before Vision came into being. As such, you don’t really need much of an introduction to the films for this watch order. Iron Man is the first official MCU film so you’ll be starting where most of us long term fans also began.
This order isn’t necessary to understand Vision, but it’s a great backstory for how he came into being.
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- The Avengers
- Iron Man 3
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
Now You’re Ready for WandaVision
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end. Whichever watch order you chose, you now have more knowledge going into the series and are prepared to appreciate it on a deeper level.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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