Release Date Order is Fine
Watching the films in the order they were released gives viewers a good sense of how the chronological order of things pan out. But if you want to be really right in the way things should go, start off with the third move, Rise of the Lycans, then with Underworld, Evolution, and then Awakening. Either way, seeing Lycans won’t spoil anything major in either of the first two.
One of the best things we love about Underworld is that it depicts a massive culture of vampires and werewolves, and that it is said that the two sides are fighting each other constantly in battle. The first film openly states that the war has been going on for a few hundred years –hidden from the eyes of normal human beings. But despite that, agents of both the vampires and Lycans are actively finding ways to defeat each other.
The Werewolf Vampire War (Rise of the Lycans): Originally, the Lycans (werewolves) were used by the vampires as slaves, workers, and soldiers. They were an entire lower class when compared to the all powerful vampires. And the vampire lords used them to terrorize humans in some overblown protection (or maybe we can call it extortion) racket that had human nobles paying tributes to the vampires.
However, when Sonja, the daughter of the vampire elder Viktor, meets and falls in love with Lucian (the first lycan), things start to fall apart. Viktor demands that Lucian be captured and upon learning that Sonja is pregnant with Lucian’s child, he orders her and the unborn child to be executed by sunlight while Lucian is forced to watch. This triggers the start of a centuries long blood feud between Lucian and Viktor.
The Hybrid (Underworld): Selene is a former human that has been turned by Viktor into a vampire, for hundreds of years she has served the vampires loyally as a Death Dealer –one of their specialist agents. Unknown to her, her family was actually killed by Viktor, not by Lycans as she was led to believe. Now, in the modern age, Selene manages to defeat a group of Lycans chasing after a man named Michael Corvin. As it so happens, Michael is the descendant of the first immortal, and is from the only bloodline that is neither vampire nor werewolf. It is said that his blood is the key to creating a hybrid. Michael is later bitten by Lucian, given him werewolf powers, and then much later in the movie, by Selene. This transforms him into a true hybrid.
Selene’s rescue, and eventually affection for Michael puts her quickly at odds with Viktor, and they are forced to fight the old vampire lord. While Selene and Michael are victorious they realize that they need to quickly disappear as they have now become enemies of both vampires and Lycans alike.
The Ancient Brothers (Evolution): Selene and Michael manage to hide successfully from the vampires and the Lycans. However, since they possess a pendant that belongs to Lucian, they are being hunted down by Markus, the very first vampire. Apparently, the pendant also functions as half of a key that will unlock the prison of William, the very first werewolf. Markus intends to free William so the two of them can rule over the world.
The two protagonists later find their way to Alexander Corvinus, the immortal father of both William and Markus. Alexander reveals many key facts of the narrative to both Selene and Michael (and also to the audience). However, they are ambushed by Markus –who manages to fatally wound Alexander. Alexander then asks Selene to drink from him, and his blood increases her power, allowing her to become as strong as Michael (who, as a hybrid, is much stronger than vampires and werewolves).
The two fight their way towards William’s prison, but are unable to stop Markus from reuniting with his brother. Left with no other choice, Selene and Michael attack and manage to kill the vampires with their superior strength.
The War Against Humans: For many years, it has been Alexander’s personal mission to hide the existence of vampires and Lycans (and their war) from the humans. However, with him dead, it does not take long before humanity learns of the two powerful races and decides to take matters into their own hands. With superior technology and firepower, the human forces manage to quickly kill or capture vampires and werewolves. Both Michael and Selene are captured as well.
Selene is put into a cryogenic sleep and is awakened and mysteriously freed 12 years later. She manages to escape and learns of the outcome of the war –the humans have emerged victorious with the result of almost wiping out all the vampires and werewolves from the planet. Selene experience visions, which she follows and ends up meeting a young girl named Eve. As it turns out, Selene was pregnant when she was captured, and Eve was raised by humans. After Selene aids the vampire resistance movement prevent the humans from creating more powerful Lycans, she discovers that Michael is still alive. Together with Eve, she plans to reunite her family once again.