It all started with 2008’s “Iron Man,” but the Marvel Cinematic Universe actually stretches back millions of years.
The history includes far more than what we see on the screen. Thankfully, there’s plenty of context within the 20 movies so far to give us a sense of just how far back it goes and when important events not seen in the movies take place.
None of it would be possible, though, without Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who died on Monday at age 95. Lee helped revolutionise the comics industry in the 1960s, and co-created some of today’s most recognisable superheroes, many of which star in the MCU. Those include Spider-Man, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor, and others that have yet to appear in the franchise, like the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
We’ve put together a timeline that details the entirety of the MCU, based on the movies (we excluded events from television shows, like the Marvel Netflix series). The timeline can be confusing and isn’t entirely concrete. We’ve included year ranges with each slide below to give a decent understanding of when events took place. Specific years that we know for sure are noted, as well.
From the birth of the Infinity Stones to the Thanos snap, the MCU has built an impressive timeline of events. We hope this timeline, which puts all major events (including ones you forgot about) together will help you better understand some characters’ backstories and how specific events have shaped the universe so far.
Note: This timeline was originally published in August 2018.
Check out our in-depth MCU timeline below:
The icons in this key represent the movie that each event on the timeline occurs during or is mentioned in. The Infinity Stones are colour coded to match the colour they are in the movies.
Big Bang – 1939: Poignant events in the MCU, such as the birth of the Infinity Stones and vibranium landing on Earth, occur long before any of the movies in the MCU actually take place. But they have a lasting impact on overarching stories and events that take place in individual films.
1940 – 1950: Steve Rogers becomes Captain America, an event that jumpstarts the formation of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) and, eventually, the Avengers.
1951 – 1990: Many events are set in motion that test the heroes in the future, such as Ego finding Peter Quill’s mother on Earth and Janet van Dyne disappearing in the Quantum Realm.
1991 – 2000: The ’90s were a turning point for the stories yet to come of Iron Man, Black Panther, and Captain America. We’ll find out more about events in the ’90s in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.”
2001 – 2009: Tony Stark becomes Iron Man and Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk throughout the mid-to-late 2000s, which prompts the reveal of other heroes.
2008 – 2011: Thor is put through challenges that make him the hero he is today, like his first visit to Earth. Vanko’s deportation comes back to haunt Tony Stark, as his son becomes the villain Whiplash with a vendetta against the Stark family.
2011 – 2012: The Avengers make their debut and halt an alien invasion led by Loki. The invasion sets in motion many of the events of the present-day MCU. Thanos makes his on-screen debut.
2013: The Reality Stone is put in safe keeping … for now.
2014 – 2017: A turning point for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain America and Black Widow discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, while Peter Quill finds his father, Ego.
2015 – 2016: The Avengers face Ultron. Elsewhere, future allies experience their powers for the first time.
2016 – 2018: The Avengers are torn apart when they pick sides between Captain America and Iron Man over whether they should be forced to work for the government. Black Panther and Spider-Man make their debut in the ensuing confrontation.
2017 – 2018: Doctor Strange safeguards the Time Stone, Asgard is destroyed, and Janet van Dyne is rescued.
2018: Thanos retrieves all six Infinity Stones and successfully wipes out half of humanity. But Nick Fury has a back-up plan.
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