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Marvel timeline: Every MCU movie and TV show in chronological order

Marvel timeline
(Image credit: Marvel)

Understanding the Marvel timeline has become something of a headache. There's a lot going on in the all-connected universe that includes both movies and TV shows, which started with Iron Man and has now gone on to introduce dozens of major comic-book characters to the big screen.

For newcomers, though, the Marvel timeline can be daunting, there's simply so much that has happened. Below, we run down the chronological ordering of the MCU, adding some explanation as to why each movie or TV show is where it is. Whether Agents of Shield and the Netflix series are still part of canon remains unknown, but until Kevin Feige gives the word, we're taking it all as part of the Marvel universe's wide net of content.

Note: A * denotes possible multiverse or timeline shenanigans and may not be part of the main Marvel timeline.

Marvel timeline: 1931-1995

Marvel timeline

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Things are relatively simple – for now. The tale of Steve Rogers does, admittedly, take place partly in 2011 thanks to the First Avenger's post-credits scene. Yet the vast majority of the story takes place during World War 2 in 1943-1945, so we've included it here for clarity's sake (this will become a running theme).

After that, the Agent Carter One Shot (which charts the foundation of S.H.I.E.L.D) begins and ends in 1944. Both season of Agent Carter take place after that. Then, some 50 years later, Captain Marvel crashes into Blackbuster and meets Nick Fury. After that, there’s a big time gap until a certain Iron Man shows up.

Confusingly, Agents of Shield season 7 saw the team travel back to 1931 and then eventually work their way back to 2019, via some pitstops in decades along the way. It still hasn't been canonically confirmed whether that's now part of the Marvel timeline or one from the multiverse, though the show seemingly cut all ties with the wider MCU in favor of a more streamlined storytelling approach. For all intents and purposes, it's essentially another multiverse running parallel to the main timeline.

Marvel timeline: 2010-2012

Here's where Iron Man fits into the MCU timeline

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)
  • Iron Man (2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (2011)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2011)
  • One Shot: The Consultant (2011)
  • One Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (2011)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Avengers (2012)
  • One Shot: Item 47 (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2012)

This is where things in the Marvel timeline begin to ramp up a bit. Iron Man, according to Marvel’s 10 Years of Marvel Studios book, actually takes place in 2010, not 2008. Iron Man 2 comes a year later, as do The Incredible Hulk and Thor, which both, incredibly, take place that same week .

Tucked in-between the Jade Giant’s solo movie and Thor’s arrival on Earth, however, are a pair of One Shots (which were very in vogue at Marvel during the early 2010s and meant to be an added incentive for fans to buy the DVDs). Of course, Avengers tops it all off with the Battle of New York in 2012. And then comes Iron Man 3, which, despite being a Phase 2 film, takes place later that same year. Still with me? It only gets tougher from here on out.

Marvel timeline: 2013-2015

Marvel Timeline

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Are you sitting comfortably? The All Hail the King One Shot comes several months after the events of Iron Man 3, firmly placing it in 2013. Meanwhile, Thor: The Dark World is directly mentioned after the eighth episode of the first Agents of Shield season. A similar thing happens with The Winter Solder (this was when Marvel TV were trying to tie their series into the movie events, something they later stopped doing). Everything from episode 17 right through to the end of the first season takes place after Hydra’s plan is uncovered in Winter Soldier.

Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, Vol. 2, take place in 2014, immediately after each other. Meanwhile, Daredevil season 1 also takes place that year.

In 2015, Agents of Shield season 2 deals with the fallout from Age of Ultron post-episode 19. From there, it’s a fairly straightforward run to the end of the year: Ant-Man, Jessica Jones season 1, Daredevil season 2, Luke Cage season 1 (as per Luke Cage actor telling it takes place “a few months” after Jessica Jones), and the first 10 episodes of Agents of Shield season 3 – because there’s a slight time-jump after that.

Marvel timeline: 2016

Marvel Timeline

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

As you can tell, 2016 was quite a wild ride in the Marvel universe. The Marvel timeline, though, is pretty easy to follow. Agents of Shield season 3’s eleventh episode has a bit of a jump, and Civil War is dealt with from episode 20 onward. Agents of Shield season 4 is only interrupted by the Slingshot web series (which is non-essential). 

Spider-Man: Homecoming did its level best to mess up the MCU timeline, but it’s definitely in 2016, as explained by the director.

On the Marvel Netflix side of things, meanwhile, Iron Fist season 1 introduces the last of the Defenders, who then team up later that year in The Defenders. The Punisher season 1 takes place after all of those street-level shenanigans have concluded. Doctor Strange, of course, isn’t bound by time. His story starts in 2016 and continues into 2017. Speaking of which…

Marvel timeline: 2017-2018

Marvel Timeline

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

This is it. The year of the Snap. 

The Marvel Netflix shows are much of a muchness at this point, though Luke Cage season 2 definitely comes before Iron Fist season 3, and Daredevil season 3 landing a little later on the timeline makes a bit more sense thematically. Then there are the Freeform shows, Cloak and Dagger along with Runaways, which also take place pre-Snap. Or, at least, they have not dealt with Thanos's reign of terror properly yet, so there remains some question over when exactly they take place.

The Black Widow movie may be part of Marvel Phase 4, but it's actually tucked in-between Civil War and Infinity War. As the third Avengers movie ends in 2018, it's a safe guess to predict that Natasha Romanoff's standalone movie takes place in 2017.

Black Panther is perhaps the hardest to place. The death of T'Challa's father in Civil War is still raw by the time his movie rolls around but, according to Marvel's own official timeline to mark the ten-year anniversary of the MCU, Black Panther is set in 2017, not 2016. Send your complaints to Kevin Feige.

Finally, when it comes to Ant-Man and the Wasp and Thor: Ragnarok, both take place immediately before Infinity War, so can be watched in either order. Ant-Man and the Wasp’s post-credits scene, though, runs simultaneously alongside Thanos’ Snap, while Ragnarok’s post-credits only take us to the beginning of Infinity War. Yes, that’s confusing. Thor: Ragnarok before Ant-Man and the Wasp is probably your best bet.

Things don't stop there, though. There's the conundrum of Agents of Shield season 6. With season 5 explicitly leading into Thanos' big moment, fans were slightly confused when season 6 failed to feature half the world disappearing. The showrunners have since reasoned that they simply couldn't deal with the Snap as they – at the time of writing season 6 – were not aware of how Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home would deal with "the Blip". In-universe, the snap takes place in 2018 even though there's absolutely no reference to Thanos wiping out half the world in Agents of Shield season 6. Try not to think about it.

Marvel timeline: 2018-2024

Marvel Timeline

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Avengers: Endgame has a clear five-year-jump after the Snap (dubbed "The Blip" in Far From Home), meaning much of the movie takes place in 2023, five years after the end of Infinity War. WandaVision sees Scarlett Witch trap an entire town in a force-field following the death of Vision. Despite the sitcom antics taking place seemingly in multiple time periods, this all happens post-Endgame. Meanwhile, Spider-Man: Far From Home is set eight months after Endgame with Peter Parker mourning the loss of Tony Stark. That places it at just before, give or take, the 2024 summer holidays, hence the European vacation.

As for Agents of Shield, which is maddeningly obtuse in its divergence of the Marvel timeline, they've pretty much given up on any semblance of being in the same universe as the MCU movies. Season 7 goes on a mad trip through time, heading back into the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The team then pop back into 2018, and it appears the finale ends in 2019, one year after the events of the sixth season (a time they're eventually able to return to). This all happens, seemingly, on a different timeline, one where Thanos never fully invaded Earth. Some fans have reasoned that this could mean the non-Disney Plus TV shows happen on a completely different Marvel timeline to the movies, which is probably the easiest way of looking at it.

The Eternals is also set to take place sometime after Avengers: Endgame according to its official synopsis, but we'll know more about that when it releases. For more superhero goodness, check out our piece on all the new superhero movies coming to cinemas and streaming over the next few years.

GamesRadar+'s Entertainment Writer. Lover of all things Nintendo, in a tortured love/hate relationship with Crystal Palace, and also possesses an unhealthy knowledge of The Simpsons (which is of no use at parties).