When the MCU began, it was a cinematic universe praised for how it kept its continuity consistent. By having most films take place in the year of their release, it was simple and easy to follow for most people. However, there were some hiccups in Phase Three that complicated things a bit more. The "8 years later" remark in Spider-Man: Homecoming threw a lot of people off, as did Doctor Strange's true placement in the timeline. As a result, many people begged for Marvel to release an official timeline that would clear things up for the fans.
That time has finally come. Marvel has released an official timeline detailing the years in which every single one of their films takes place. While this should've been a moment to clear up any questions, it, unfortunately, caused more problems in the process. That's not to say that there aren't things fixed by the MCU's official timeline (because there are), but it seems to ignore a lot of the bigger problems that prompted people to want such a timeline in the first place. It seems as if even Marvel doesn't understand their own continuity at this point. If they want to make it more consistent, they'll need to make some serious changes in Phase Four. Crafting a universe and making it consistent across a decade of filmmaking was never going to be an easy process, but the official MCU timeline needs a lot of work. Here are 10 MCU problems that are fixed by the timeline and 10 more issues it caused in the process.
20 FIXED: THOR: RAGNAROK AND INFINITY WAR
At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, we see the Asgardians headed towards Earth only to be intercepted by Thanos' ship during the post-credits scene. Avengers: Infinity War then begins with that sequence, as Thanos and his Children have wiped out all the Asgardians in search of the Tesseract.
However, Thor: Ragnarok supposedly took place in 2017 with Avengers: Infinity War happening in 2018. Now that both movies take place during the same year, it's easily explained how the gap between the two could've been so short. The two movies happened right after another, and poor Thor never truly saved his native people.
19 MADE WORSE: IRON MAN TRILOGY
The Iron Man details the arc of Tony Stark. Beginning with his call to humility in the first movie, it slowly moves through his identity as a superhero. Along the way, he designs plenty of more suits and uses them to defeat all sorts of dark foes. As the timeline originally stood, Iron Man took place in 2008, Iron Man 2 in 2010, and Iron Man 3 in 2013.
Effectively putting five years between the trilogy, it gives a reasonable amount of time for Tony to create all the suits we see in Iron Man 3. However, the official timeline has them take place over just two years. That's not nearly enough time to see Stark make all the technological advances that he did.
18 FIXED: CAPTAIN AMERICA'S DAY
In Captain America: The First Avenger, we see Steve Rogers get used for a lot of promotional material during World War II. Whether it be acting in plays or even starring in films, Cap was a serious icon. However, that sort of process would take years to pull off, and that length of time wasn't effectively communicated in the film.
In the MCU timeline, Captain America: The First Avenger was placed from 1943-1945. Not only does this give proper explanation to all of his theatrical appearances in that era, but it makes his switch to being a real soldier much more justified.
17 MADE WORSE: THE SPIDER-MAN TIME GAP
One problem that Marvel had the opportunity to fix with the MCU timeline was that silly "8 years later" title card in Spider-Man: Homecoming. According to that movie, The Avengers took place eight years prior to Peter Parker taking on the Vulture. However, the MCU timeline not only ignores that problem but effectively makes it worse.
Presumably, Spider-Man: Homecoming took place in 2017. Now, the timeline bumps it back to 2016, but the date for The Avengers isn't altered in any way. This means that the real gap between the two movies is just four years -- half the span of what Homecoming suggests.
16 FIXED: IRON MAN 3 AFTER THE AVENGERS
There wasn't much thought given to the placement of the MCU movies in the first two Phases. However, it's those Phases that benefit the most from the MCU timeline. Tony Stark dealt with a lot of trauma after the events of The Avengers, but the idea that it didn't surface until about a year later seems a bit farfetched.
The timeline now states that Iron Man 3 took place just a few months after The Avengers. Not only does this give a shorter gap in between Stark saving the world and being haunted by it, but it makes more sense as to why the Avengers wouldn't assemble so soon after departing.
15 MADE WORSE: DOCTOR STRANGE'S SHORT LESSON
Stephen Strange underwent a serious life change after his car accident robbed him of the use of his hands. After exhausting all of his resources trying to fix the issue, he traveled to Kamar Taj, where he was taught the ways of sorcery to become a powerful wizard. He learned a lot of magic and faught Kaecilius and Dormammu.
However, the time frame in which this took place is a bit unclear. There's no way the movie could've happened over a few short months. According to the MCU timeline, though, Doctor Strange takes place over one year. We're expected to believe that he learned all those tricks and exhausted all his resources in just 12 months.
14 FIXED: DOCTOR STRANGE AND RAGNAROK GAP
While the placement of Doctor Strange mostly causes problems for the MCU timeline, it does provide a neat fix. At the post-credits scene, we see Strange conversing with Thor about the location of Odin. This would be a tease for Thor: Ragnarok, which would take place a year later in the real world.
However, the MCU timeline has Doctor Strange end the same year that Thor: Ragnarok begins. This makes more sense as to why Strange would be appearing only now to stop Loki and work alongside Thor and not be present prior to that point. It just makes for a smoother transition between films.
13 MADE WORSE: BLACK PANTHER AFTER CIVIL WAR
Captain America: Civil War introduced us to Black Panther so we would be prepared for his solo film just two years later. Black Panther takes place just a week after Civil War considering how it deals with the demise of King T'Chaka. That was the explanation given in the film, though. The MCU timeline complicates things a bit.
Now, Black Panther supposedly takes place a full year after Captain America: Civil War, implying that Wakanda went that long without having a king on the throne. The fact that the events directly lead between the two films, it seems like a serious oversight to split their dates apart so much.
12 FIXED: WAKANDA'S BORDERS
Instead of taking place in 2018, Avengers: Infinity War was moved back one year to take place in 2017. This was likely to coincide with Thor: Ragnarok's ending, but it was also probably to better explain an element of Black Panther. During that film's post-credits scene, we see T'Challa offering to open up Wakanda to the rest of the world.
However, in Infinity War, that hasn't fully happened yet, as only the Avengers are shown there. Had the two movies taken place with a full year in between them, there probably would've been more outside influence, thus why the date was changed.
11 MADE WORSE: BUMPING THE TIMELINE UP
Before Marvel released the timeline, the MCU canonically began in 2008 and progressively moved through the present day. However, the timeline changes that. Iron Man is pushed up to 2010, and many other MCU films are pushed up past their original air dates. In terms of making everything a streamlined process, it doesn't make much sense that Marvel would try to condense the progression of the films all of a sudden.
The MCU canonically spans only seven years, which makes a lot of references to time placement in the films no longer make any sense. It seems Marvel didn't fully think this one through.
10 FIXED: S.H.I.E.L.D.'S FORMATION
S.H.I.E.L.D. was a big part of the MCU. After bringing the Avengers together in Phase One, the organization would go on to host its own show in the form of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. According to some dialogue in the series, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s formation can be traced back to 1949, where Peggy Carter had some influence in its beginning.
This actually corresponds with the timeline, as Captain America: The First Avenger ends in 1945. That leaves four years for Peggy to work on establishing S.H.I.E.L.D. before becoming a key member of it. This is perhaps the only connection between the Marvel shows and movies that is explained by the official timeline.
9 MADE WORSE: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Take a look at the official MCU timeline, and you'll quickly notice that Marvel's newest film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, was missing from the lineup. This could be explained by the film not released at the timeline's publication, but it seemingly wouldn't be that difficult to throw it in.
Considering how the film's movies directly coincide with Scott Lang's actions in Captain America: Civil War, the film would presumably take place in 2016. However, the movie also needs to take place over a span of time, considering that the movie ends at the same time the Avengers are taking on Thanos.
8 FIXED: THE GUARDIANS FILMS
One of the big changes to the MCU in Phase Three was that the movies weren't necessarily going to take place in real time. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was said to take place right after Guardians of the Galaxy, as shown by Groot still being a baby at the time. The MCU timeline lists both movies during 2014, which lines up quite well.
On top of that, that puts three years between those movies and Avengers: Infinity War. That time passage properly explains why Groot aged into a teenager; there was a hefty gap between the two movies. The two also take place after Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
7 MADE WORSE: TWO YEARS AFTER CIVIL WAR
There is a bit of a problem by shifting Avengers: Infinity War back a year. There are some lines both in that film and Ant-Man and the Wasp that suggest two years had passed since the events of Captain America: Civil War. With the timeline condensing the gap, that can no longer be possible.
Infinity War happens just a year after Civil War now. This would also present problems with the placement of Ant-Man and the Wasp, as that movie's actual time frame will be much more difficult to pinpoint. When it is added to the timeline, we're sure there will be some continuity with it as well.
6 FIXED: IRON MAN, HULK, AND THOR
The MCU timeline has cleaned up Phase One for the most part. After Iron Man takes place in 2010, 2011 sees the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor, as opposed to them happening over a few years respectively. This brings a greater sense of connection between them, as there are subtle cameos in those movies that reference each other.
It wouldn't make much sense for them to be so closely connected if they didn't happen in the same year. This gives proper explanation as to why Agent Coulson has to go straight to Mexico after the events of Iron Man 2.
5 MADE WORSE: NO TV SHOWS
The MCU's big draw when it introduced new TV shows was that everything was connected. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and even The Runaways all take place in the MCU. However, if you were expecting there to be a placement of these shows in the MCU's official timeline, you would be sorely mistaken.
Apart from cleaning up a reference in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it does little to place any of the shows in the timeline. This presents some serious problems, as there is no real way to pinpoint when these shows take place. Then again, it might've created more problems than it solved to add them to the timeline anyway.
4 FIXED: DOCTOR STRANGE DATE
One of the trickiest films to place in the MCU was Doctor Strange. There was no way the movie could've taken place in less than a year considering all of the events that happened. While some just assumed it happened after Captain America: Civil War, others were sure it occurred earlier because of the reference to Stephen Strange in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The fact that the MCU timeline places Doctor Strange at all fixes a lot of problems. It takes place after Civil War and bleeds into the movies that take place in 2017. It does line up with the director's statement that the movie happened over the course of one year.
3 MADE WORSE: EIGHT YEARS SINCE IRON MAN
While condensing the Phase One movies seems like a good idea in terms of explaining them chronologically, it does present some problems in later films. While the Avengers are discussing the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War, Vision gives his thoughts. He refers to it being eight years since Tony Stark revealed that he was Iron Man to the world.
The problem with this is that such a statement would be incorrect according to the timeline. There are now only six years between the events of Iron Man and the events of Captain America: Civil War. Thus, the timeline just made Vision a liar.
2 FIXED: CHRONOLOGICAL PHASES
Before the timeline, it was largely believed that each MCU movie took place in the year that it was released in. However, with movies referencing each other or having events that directly led from one to the next, the idea that it was all chronological started to become problematic. In a general sense, the MCU timeline throws that idea out, instead carefully placing the movies in years where they would make sense.
Having The Winter Soldier and both Guardians of the Galaxy movies take place in 2014 lines up. Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2 in 2011 makes sense -- it dispels the natural belief that most people had about the timeline.
1 MADE WORSE: DOCTOR STRANGE AND INFINITY WAR
While Doctor Strange's placement does come with its fixes, it comes with some serious issues. Recall that at the end of the movie, Strange was not yet the Sorcerer Supreme, nor was he worthy of wielding the Eye of Agamotto. However, by the time we see him again in Thor: Ragnarok, he has embraced his title and wields the Eye, the same going for Avengers: Infinity War.
The problem with this is that, according to the timeline, Doctor Strange now takes place in the same year as both of those other movies. We are expected to believe that in, at the very least, a few months were all it took for Strange to suddenly master the mystic arts and wield an Infinity Stone.