With three simple words, Spider-Man: Homecoming blew up the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By stating that the events of the film take place “eight years later” – referencing the climactic battle of the first Avengers film – a wrench was thrown into the works for many fans who had been carefully tracking the chronological order of the Marvel movies. And if there’s one thing that dedicated fan bases have demonstrated a love of debating, it’s timelines!
Constructing the Marvel movie timeline is not as simple as placing the films in the order in which they came out in theaters. Some movies are set far in the past, like Captain America: The First Avenger, whereas the events of other movies like Iron Man 2 and Thor are meant to happen nearly simultaneously. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released three years after its prequel but is meant to take place only a few months later. On top of all that, there are characters like Bucky Barnes who've been alive for almost a century but were only awake for a fraction of that time. In other words, things have quickly become convoluted, which can be a major problem for those fans who like their fictional universes kept in order.
So, what year does each Marvel movie take place in? Read on to get a detailed look at the franchise's messy timeline and learn what the studio is doing (or plans to do) to rectify the situation.