MAD: Iron Man
(2008 Paramount/Watched on Blu Ray)
This is actually just an excuse to discuss the new MCU timeline, because Spider-Man: Homecoming throws a spanner in the works of what fans have been compiling for years, including an exhaustive and now erroneously dated Wiki incorporating absolutely every scrap of incident, with one title card “Eight Years Later”, after the battle of New York in Avengers.
The previous timeline had Tony Stark come out as Iron Man in 2010, Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk all taking place over a single, busy week for Nick Fury in 2011 with Avengers the following year in 2012. Then when Phase 2 hit it was generally considered that whatever film you were watching was happening around that time, aside from Iron man 3, which clearly takes place the Christmas after Avengers Assemble.
But a few things complicate that now. The “Eight Years Later” card is a device to ensure that this Peter Parker stays in High School for the time being, while he’s the wall crawler. That means the next film can come out and still be closer to the time he’s at in Homecoming than the actual year of release (which is scheduled for two years from the first MCU Spidey, almost to the day). But if it’s eight years after the Chitauri invasion then that would put Homecoming in 2020! OK, still workable.
But in Civil War, which definitely takes place a mere two months before Homecoming, Vision says that Stark came out as Iron Man eight years ago, which means that by necessity all of the Phase 1 films (aside from the 1940s majority of The First Avenger) all took place in the SAME YEAR, capped off with Iron Man 3 at Christmas… Big year! Now General Ross also states in the film that they’ve been operating without oversight for four years. I’m going to choose to interpret that as four years since the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. which means Winter Soldier happened four years after Avengers and four years before Civil War.
Also in Winter Soldier, Agent Sitwell mentions Hydra keeping tabs on Stephen Strange. Surely he wouldn’t be talking about a lowly (if gifted) surgeon in the same breath as the Hulk, so until Kevin Feige proves otherwise with the public release of his official timeline I’m saying Doctor Strange took place *before* Winter Soldier. Now one of the the Strange writers, C. Robert Cargill, has refuted that, and the Russo Brothers stated that Winter Soldier takes place two years after Avengers, but I’m having to work with what’s being said by the characters. Also stuff like this changes all the time, which is probably why no timeline has been officially released, because it is constraining for all of the creators.
However I’m writing my own sprawling sci-fi saga, and for that you need to be exact to the day. I have my own timeline for New Century and it really helps when I have to fact-check. Otherwise the world you write becomes a mess of “best not to question this” fatuousness. So, for me, even though it may not matter to a lot of people, this matters.
Guardians 2 is one of the few films that lays down a genuine year card, and that’s 2014, and it clearly takes place only a few months or even weeks after the first, considering where they all are with one another, emotionally speaking, and allegedly Infinity War takes place four years later. The Russos say that Age of Ultron occurs the year before Civil War and that all seems to fit with where Scott Lang is after Ant-Man as well. Also Cap states in the video during Homecoming that he was frozen in ice for 65 years so counting backwards from where I place the new Spidey, that’s 1944, though he could have been rounding up or down for high school kids and it might be a different amount of time, but hey, it fits with what we have here. The small boy retconned into Peter Parker in Iron Man 2 is perhaps proof of Parker’s innate bravery and ability to get himself into real trouble and way out of his depth, whilst trying to emulate Iron man. That’s if you subscribe to the *Word of God* concept, which, I have to be choosy with myself, lest one of those old frumps tell me their work is allegory-proof. But I’m a huge fan of gay Dumbledore.
So with all that back and forth, the following movies all take place throughout 2009: Iron Man / The Incredible Hulk / Iron Man 2 / Thor / the recovery of The First Avenger from the ice / Avengers Assemble and, that Christmas, Iron Man 3.
Thor: The Dark World takes place when Thor brings Loki back to Asgard to stand trial, so that would be 2010 at the latest. Then Doctor Strange at some point between 2010 to early 2013. We can only assume his chat with Thor happened several years later (having acquired some marigold gloves), and just before Ragnarok, which will need slotting in somewhere. Then Winter Soldier in 2013. Guardians Vol. 1 & 2 in 2014. Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2016, both of which introduce the new upstate Avengers headquarters and Scott’s association with Sam Wilson, the Falcon. This paves the way for Civil War in early 2017, eight years after the battle of New York, and Spider-Man: Homecoming shortly thereafter. Infinity War, unless otherwise stated, will be happening in their 2018.
“But hang on,” you say,”What about all those TV shows that supposedly take place in the same universe?” That’s unfortunately not something I have the interest in, and clearly all of those guys are *borrowing* the prestige of being in the same world. If a single one of those TV shows ever significantly effects the movies then I swear I’ll include it on this timeline, and I await the day when Mr Feige can set us all straight on the *when* of it all.
PS: Iron Man 1 is still amazing!
[ADDITIONAL] Several people have pointed out flaws in this revised timeline, including an award in Doctor Strange dated 2016, a casual reference to Rhodey’s injury in that same film, the readiness on everybody’s part to assume Sitwell was just name-checking a world famous neurosurgeon in Winter Soldier, as a commensurate threat level with The Hulk (an Easter Egg that will never not bother me). The 1999 party prologue in Iron Man 3 which Killian states as being thirteen years ago, later in the film is a problem, and there’s also a calendar in Thor: The Dark World, marking it as 2013.
What I was attempting was to push past the layers of miscommunication among the various Marvel filmmakers over the years (and it really is only a few incidences. You want to see botched and bungled continuity, check out the X-Men films) to hammer out a sensible, believable timeline, but there appear to be too many contradictions. Nobody can answer this one definitively with research, data analysis and deductive reasoning. This can’t even be left open-ended, like a final timeline will be released that will solve every riddle, because there WILL still be anomalies, most likely explained and waved away by two words “Time Gem”. So in Lieu of that, here’s my personal timeline, which defies a few throwaway statements, set dressing, etc, but conforms to 99% of the content of the movies, including the “8 Years Later” card. It also spaces out the Phase 1 films so that they aren’t all crammed into one year.
The problems will come later when Peter is STILL in High School for another couple of years if Avengers Infinity is indeed set four years after Guardians 2, because that’s 2018, not 2017 as I have it. This is not an exact chart and is contradicted by both Vision AND Ross with their statements in Civil War about Iron Man coming out eight years ago (it’s nine), and the Avengers acting without oversight for four years (it’s either eight or six,depending on whether you’re counting from their formation or the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D.) which are now both just plain wrong. If you can’t trust the military brass or an alien-intelligence-imbued supercomputer who can you trust?
Iron Man happened in early 2007, half a year before that big week which combined Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and Thor. Steve was found and thawed out the next year in 2008, and a few months later the Avengers formed. Early the next year in 2009, Thor encountered the Dark World and Loki was apparently killed. The summer after that, S.H.I.E.L.D. went down in Winter Soldier, which explains their lack of presence in Iron Man 3 that Christmas. That also means Tony has been in his workshop for two years, making suits from Mark VIII to Mark XLII, which seems a believable amount of time for such an obsessive endeavour, and for his psychological state to slowly grind him to a standstill with PTSD.
In 2014, both Guardians escapades occur, tying in with their 1988 and 1980 flashabcks, so those movies are dead locks. The year after that in 2015, and five years beyond Iron Man 3, which kind of makes sense for where Tony and the rest of the Avengers are, we get Age of Ultron, then Ant-Man.
Then comes 2016, Civil War in the spring, which is referenced in Doctor Strange, the events of which overlap with Spider-Man: Homecoming in the Autumn (which is still set eight years after Avengers Assemble). Boom! A workable timeline, which I will freely admit is Gregorian fanfic.