The End To Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline Speculation Is Near

Did Spider-Man: Homecoming screwed up the MCU timeline? Or do fans just have it all wrong?
Did Spider-Man: Homecoming screwed up the MCU timeline? Or do fans just have it all wrong? Marvel

Why do fans spend so much time obsessing over when each Marvel movie takes place? I couldn’t tell you, but Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige promises to address all this MCU timeline speculation soon. The most recent debate was sparked by Spider-Man: Homecoming and the continuity of MCU Phase 3. The beginning of the film, the part featuring the Vulture’s backstory, took place eight years ago -- right after the Battle of New York in The Avengers (2012).

It’s often assumed most Marvel films take place in the year they release, unless otherwise specified. The Avengers in 2012, Captain America: Civil War in 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. But if Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place eight years after the Battle of New York, well, that doesn’t exactly make sense. It would mean Homecoming actually took place in 2020, after the events of Avengers: Infinity War (which Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige confirmed takes place in 2018).

"All of that debate has made us go, 'Okay, at some point, I'm not sure exactly when, we're going to publish a timeline and see what it all is,'" Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige told CinemaBlend. "It wasn't meant to flummox anybody exactly, and I'm not sure I'd do it again the same way, but it does all connect to where we placed it. Other than very particular instances where there's a newspaper, or verbal reference to years, we never date the films. And I think there's a presumption, 'Well if the movie came out in November 2017, it must take place in November 2017' -- which is not the case."

Likely, the confusion stems from the Marvel films following The Avengers. Marvel set the timeline straight for films preceding The Avengers with a nifty infographic (see below). The first Iron Man, released in 2008, actually takes place in 2010. Iron Man 2, Hulk, and the first Thor all take place during the same week in 2011.

Marvel clarified the timeline up to The Avengers.
Marvel clarified the timeline up to The Avengers. Marvel

Next would be The Avengers (which until now, fans were sure took place in May 2012. Then, Iron Man 3, which Kevin Feige says took place six months after The Avengers (setting it in Dec. 2012 or early 2013 depending on when exactly The Avengers took place.) It’s thought to be smooth sailing from there, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 being the only outlier, taking place just after the events of the first in 2014.

Considering Feige’s statements about not every film taking place at the time of release, this whole fan-made timeline could all be complete bullshit, or there are truly some unexplainable gaps in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll soon find out. Either way, you should probably just not care so much and enjoy the films. My head hurts.

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