The Marvel Cinematic Universe has weaved a grand storyline that is filled with wonder, excitement, surprises, and twists as well as incredible visual effects. The superheroes, the villains, the supporting cast and the likes are all so cool and damn awesome and have been crafted so delicately to fit the MCU timeline that it almost looks perfect from afar. But that is the thing – as long as you look at it from a distance, the MCU timeline looks like a pristine diamond. But have a look at it up close and you will know what I mean. Turns out, the official Marvel timeline has screwed up the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s flow of events.
Here are some facts – Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp occur during the events that happen after Captain America: Civil War. But if you try to construct a timeline of the movies’ events and ingratiate it into the larger plotline to create a singular continuity, it creates a lot of problems.
If you try to create a blockbuster movie in 2018 which is set two years back in 2016, then some of the Easter eggs within the movie won’t ever make sense. Black Panther is not the only movie that is riddled with such problems. Homecoming and even Doctor Strange are guilty of this crime to some extent.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a flawed and deeply troubled continuity. Fans won’t be able to get it now but as more and more movies are released, the errors will become so self-evident that there won’t be any more chances for Marvel to deflect the bullets.
The cinematic universe in question does not require any course correction for now. It has enough momentum to last itself another 5-6 years. But if the MCU intends to become larger than life itself, it should start working on the one thing that it considers its Ultimate Selling Point – its inter-movie connectivity.
Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, has decided to address that issue by releasing an official timeline that would allow for some corrective measures. But the timeline has only managed to make thing worse for the MCU.
The problems don’t begin with Marvels first 13 movies. They are well placed within the timeline. Iron Man 2 could be an exception but it too could be largely handled and dealt with. Doctor Strange is also so ambiguously placed that it attains modularity within the timeline. But the problems begin with Phase 3.
In the Civil War, Vision claims that the events of Iron Man, where Tony outs himself as the armored Avenger, happened eight years ago. Spider-Man: Homecoming also happens to be occurring eight years after Iron Man. This creates a problem. Civil War and Homecoming cannot happen in the same timeline as the former happens before the latter. This was a mistake that was admitted by the Russo Brothers themselves.
They have tried to rectify it by placing the newer Marvel movies with corrected dates. Infinity War was supposed to happen six years after The Avengers as per the movie’s official slate. But that would lead to additional problems.
The movies of Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming anAnt-Manan and the Wasp are all supposed to happen around the same time frame. But only the former two actually happen and are set after the events of Captain America: Civil War while Homecoming has a murky slate. Moreover, Black Panther has trouble connecting with its official time setting considering that the movie is claimed to be set in 2017 but the events of the previous movies clearly sets it at 2016.
Wakanda is supposed to be revealed only after T’Challa takes over the throne in 2016 after the events of the Civil War which also happened in the same year. But if the movie happened in 2017, then this does create a problem. Did it take T’Challa a year to get back to his Kingdom? What was he doing until then? Why was Wakanda left leader-less for almost a year!!!
Then there is Avengers: Infinity War to consider as well. The movie is set right after the events of Black Panther. But if you examine the movie closely, you will realize that the movie is actually set in 2017, the same year as Black Panther. Team Cap and the rest of the Avengers join the fray only after the events of Black Panther take place and only after that does Thanos raise his head over the horizon. The timeline no more makes any sense.
The timeline is now officially unfixable:
In Infinity War, we come to know that there are more than 14 million timelines in the MCU as per the claim of Doctor Strange. But none of them would be able to fix this almost beyond repair timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The most glaring errors are the tall claims of Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The eight year logic gap is actually the very thing that is destroying the continuity flow brick by brick. The other movies also have tons of Easter eggs and comic book references that do not fall in line with the timeline continuity. And frankly, they are too many to count.
Iron Man’s story arc also makes quite a strange, flawed impact. The billionaire narcissistic play boy turns into a self-sacrificing superhero into global guardian into a superhero mentor is a character development arc that makes no sense if you try to put in chronological order. Tony Stark makes his suit blow up in Iron Man 3 but during Age of Ultron, there is a whole army of them acting as cannon fodder for the Avengers.
Movies of the Marvel Universe tend to focus on the now and present rather than the grander picture. So if there is some error in the script then that is allowable. Iron Man’s arc is one of those story arcs that are bound to have some problems considering it is the most well developed arc with the maximum amount of focus and spotlight. But given the importance of Tony Stark in the MCU, we expected Marvel would do a bit better than this.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline thus needs to have this specific flow of events to ensure that there is no logic gap or continuity error in the cinematic Universe:
- 1945: Captain America: The First Avenger
- 2010: Iron Man
- 2011: Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor
- 2012: The Avengers, Iron Man 3
- 2013: Thor: The Dark World
- 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Guardians of the Galaxy
- 2015: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man
- 2016: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther
- 2016 to 2017: Doctor Strange
- 2017: Thor: Ragnarok (Doctor Strange fits in this timeline as well)
- 2018: Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp
The Official timeline in the end creates more problems than it solves. It is just rational for Marvel Studios to accept that they will not be able to do everything perfectly and leave the timeline be. A few continuity errors won’t stop its fans from flocking to the theatres. As long as they keep making good movies, we would consider Marvel is keeping good on its promise.
The MCU began in 2008 with Iron Man. The official film synopsis for the movie reads:
A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armored suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.
The next Avengers movie in line in the official Marvel movie slate is Avengers 4. The last Avengers movie to be released under the MCU banner was Avengers: Infinity War. The official film synopsis for the movie reads:
Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artefacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.