MCU: what years are we in?! A timeline breakdown [UPDATED]
UPDATE: I made more research plus some changes.
Last week Marvel Studios delighted us with Spider-Man: Homecoming, another great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
Of course, there’s a big revelation right off the bat: this Spidey adventure takes place 8 whopping years after The Avengers. Which means Civil War takes 8 years after The Avengers. Which means Age of Ultron takes place 7 years before its predecessors.
Obviously, people on the Internet blew the F up. Everyone just screamed out saying ‘it’s a plot hole’ to ‘they screwed up the timeline’.
While I was definitely confused too, I’m not thinking it’s a plot hole. Didn’t think that for a second, actually.
Now, I spent the time to analyze some footage, and every time they bring up footage of the Avengers damages like when General Ross did before explaining the Sokovia accords in Civil War or the WHIH viral marketing campaign, none of the footage or the lines talk about a specific date. We all assumed it was the same year the movie was released, but I guess we were all wrong.
WARNING: this breakdown does not take into account Agents of Shield or Agent Carter (didn’t watch them, feel free to add up to either confirm or deny something I said), does indeed take into account the Netflix series as a bonus. I’ll consider Iron Man as year 0 of contemporary events (so not considering Odin’s wars or Cap’s past to start the timeline), as this guide wants to highlights how many years there are between movies rather than the actual years they take place. I’ll take into account the shorts, but not WHIH too much (mostly because they specify no date).
Let’s just go back in time, shall we?
PHASE ONE – Year 0
We all know the chronological order of Phase One:
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2 – The Incredible Hulk – Thor – Ending of Cap 1st movie (also very beginning)
- The Avengers
Now, let’s just assume that Iron Man takes place in year 0. At the start of Iron Man 2, we have Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, just so you know) plotting against Tony while watching the live feed of ‘I am Iron Man’ conference, and then we have ‘6 months later’ written on the screen. Considering that all the events in the four movies (Iron Man 2, Thor, Hulk, Cap) take place not only at the same time but in the same week, we should assume that they are all in year 0. Also, it’s improbable that the ‘extremis’ (sort of) issues pop up aggressively after two years of well-being. Not possible, but mostly not realistic.
We are also not given any info on how much time Steve Rogers was awakened between The First Avenger and The Avengers. However, given they spend zero time whatsoever characterizing his life back in our world, and that he basically has the same clothes he had when he woke up, we know not a lot of time has passed.
So I guess we have to assume The Avengers takes place shortly after the events of the four movies, perhaps another couple of months, maybe even less, could be even a couple of weeks. Especially considering how Loki fastly goes to Earth after his fake death in Thor (post credit scene courtesy).
In other words: Phase One takes place in the same year.
PHASE TWO – Year 0 to Year 7
Everyone remembers Phase Two first movie: Iron Man 3. More for the infamous marketing promising a dark and gritty film while the film actually being a comedy. I was pretty damn disappointed at the time, as I really wanted the dark and gritty film initially promised, with a real Mandarin.
Oh well, Mandarin exist (do you remember Marvel’s One-Shot?) but I don’t think we are going to see him ever.
Anywho, while it could have a longer timeline, Iron Man 3 (which is also the only movie with Guardians of The Galaxy to reference a year precisely) is the immediate aftermath of The Avengers, so I’d assume that it takes place in December of year 0 or at tops year 1. Tony’s dealing with PTSD, overcomes it. A line from Civil War (which again is the main source of data establishment here) states:
Tony Stark: “A few years ago I lost [Pepper], so i trashed all my suits.”
‘A few years ago’ is key. At the end of Iron Man 3, Tony literally gives up being Iron Man. Not only because he finally fixes his heart, but because he indeed trashes the suits.
Here’s the immediate following addition:
Tony Stark: “Then we had to mop up Hydra”
This is an aggressive one. We must assume that he had to come back as Iron Man to help Cap fight Hydra off, which culminates in regaining Loki’s scepter at the start of Age of Ultron. He also adds he’s on a break with Pepper, and the motivation seems to be that he is Iron Man. So he would not become Iron Man again unless it was for her or to find an alternative (which is Ultron, by the way – did not work out unfortunately for him).
So, we must assume that between The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron there could be quite some time. Since Hydra ‘infected’ the S.H.I.E.L.D. so much it was closed down, it could have taken a very long time. Especially given there were no accidents, it probably was an espionage mission rather than a classic Avengers mission. Once they individuated Hydra had Loki’s scepter, they reunite the Avengers because it is such a powerful object the mission needed to be successful no matter what.
Also, at the beginning of The Winter Soldier, Captain America is on an ongoing mission, and he seems really familiar with most of the team and the tactics, which are completely different to what we saw in The First Avenger. Now, the Wikipedia page specifies between The Avengers and this there are two years, but I’d say there are more. Yes, he still adapting to contemporary society, but who wouldn’t be after you slept for 70 years?
So between The Avengers and The Winter Soldier, there must be at very least 3 years if we take everything into account. However, could be more, if we finally try to calculate how much time there’s between The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.
Here’s another line from Civil War, and this time is General – sorry, Secretary of State Ross deliver it:
Ross: “For the past four years, you’ve operated with unlimited power and no supervision.”
Given The Avengers was released in 2012, the year we also assumed the movie was taking place, the line wasn’t shocking by any means. However, it is now, because it does not work anymore as we thought.
But let’s break this down: in The Avengers, the group makes his first outing, so it was not officially formed and/or recognized until the very end of the movie when they saved the world. But when it was officially recognized, it was under S.H.I.E.L.D. judgment to whether use the group or not. In the MCU, S.H.I.E.L.D. is indeed a governmental organization managed via World Security Council, which is an organization formed by politicians of the most powerful world countries to oversight the activities.
So, the Avengers acted without any supervision for four years since the fall of the S.H.I.E.L.D. in The Winter Soldier! Yes, I know Coulson rebuilt it in some form in the TV show, but they don’t control the Avengers anymore. Consequentially, between Cap’s second film and Ultron, there are indeed 3 years.
RegardingThor: The Dark World, it’s safe to say is the only other The Avengers aftermath, as it picks up right where that movie ends. However, given Heimdall’s Bifrost is completely rebuilt, and given that there were wars raging in all 9 realms because of the ‘alignment’ (they might use another term), it could be a year (even more) of imprisonment for Loki. Also, it is said in one of the last scenes that between Thor and The Dark World two years passed.
Guardians of The Galaxy takes place in 2014, the years the titles give at the beginning of the movie is pretty clear.
Ant-Man safely happens some months after Avengers: Age of Ultron given the dialogues in the movie.
So, here’s how the timeline looks like of Phase Two:
- Iron Man 3 (December Year 1)
- Thor: The Dark World (Year 0 through Year 2)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Year 4)
- Guardians Of The Galaxy (Year 6)
- Avengers: Age Of Ultron (Year 7)
- Ant-Man (Year 7)
Until now, it’s pretty simple. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place in 2014 – or Year 6, mere months later the first one. Civil War in Year 7, Spider-Man: Homecoming as well.
Doctor Strange is the one that is actually debatable. Scott Derrickson says that the training montage is taken just months. I believe that to be true. What people did not consider is the recovery time for Strange’s injuries. Normal recovery, we might talk about 6 t0 7 months just to get rid of everything put inside the hands. In addition, he says he underwent numerous experimental surgeries, and he also completely wasted his money on that, using the last few remaining to go to Nepal. Given he was pretty darn rich, that takes a while. So I’d say Doctor Strange takes up to 2 years, and let’s say it gets on par with Civil War and ends right at the start or right before Thor: Ragnarok.
By saying that, here’s what it would look like:
- Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (Year 6)
- Doctor Strange (Year 6 to Year 8)
- Captain America: Civil War (April Year 8)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (June Year 8)
Regarding Ragnarok, I expect it to go from Year 7 to 8 (go to Earth seeking help, fall of Asgard, becoming a gladiator – lot to cover), while Black Panther will probably take place in Year 7 right after Civil War.
OVERALL – OR TL;DR
Here’s my ultimate timeline of the MCU (remember: Iron Man is Year 0):
- Iron Man (0)
- Iron Man 2 (0)
- The Incredible Hulk (0)
- Thor (0)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (0)
- The Avengers (0)
- Iron Man 3 (December 1)
- Thor: The Dark World (0 through Year 2)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4)
- Guardians Of The Galaxy (6)
- Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (6)
- Avengers: Age Of Ultron (7)
- Ant-Man (7)
- Doctor Strange (6 to 8)
- Captain America: Civil War (8, April)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (8, June)
- Black Panther (speculating – 8)
- Thor: Ragnarok (speculating – 8 to 9)
To those who are confused by the year, giving that year 3 and 5 do not happen, here’s the thing: both Iron Man 3 and The Dark World are either personal matters or they do not influence the overall landscape. Ok, maybe Thor second adventure ending actually influences it, but not as much as The Winter Soldier.
A Little bonus here.
All Netflix series all take place before Age Of Ultron and probably even before The Winter Soldier. The reason behind this speculation is that they have been very adamant in bringing up Battle of New York (New York Bulletin’s Cover) yet they don’t mention anything about big worldwide events like the S.H.I.E.L.D. fall, the Triskelion destruction or Sokovia.
Given Karen Page in DareDevil Season 1 collaborate with a journalist and in Season 2 becomes a journalist, those are news that a journal MUST cover.
That’s all folks. Again, if I got something wrong, or proofs of timeline throughout movies, just let me know!!