Shang-Chi’s place on the Marvel timeline has been narrowed down even further.
Thanks to a minor detail in the script, we now know when the events of the Phase 4 movie takes place. We think.
You see, the MCU's weaving stories can be hard to pin down in terms of when certain things take place and what happens before (and after) Shang-Chi. The reference to a certain event (as you'll soon see) might ruin the Marvel timeline entirely. Which is a scary proposition. Below, we'll present the two possibilities and, until Marvel confirms otherwise, it'll act as a Schrodinger's Timeline for Shang-Chi fans.
Warning: Major spoilers for Shang-Chi ahead. If you have not seen the new Marvel movie then turn back now!
- How to watch the Marvel movies in order
- Marvel Phase 4: a look at the MCU's newest Phase
- New Marvel TV shows: all the upcoming Disney Plus and Spider-Man series
When does Shang-Chi take place on the Marvel timeline?
In very broad terms, Shang-Chi takes place after Avengers: Endgame. That places it at circa 2023, which is as close to the ‘present day’ as the MCU gets for the time being. How come? During Shang-Chi, there are posters that mention post-Blip support groups, so this is 2023 at the very earliest.
Katy's grandmother also makes reference to celebrating the upcoming Day of the Dead. Otherwise known as the Qingming Festival, China's answer to the day of remembrance takes place in the first week of April.
Couple that with Shang-Chi and Katy's two interactions with their friends from school making pointed reference to it being "two weeks" since they last met, and we can narrow Shang-Chi's place on the MCU timeline down to across two weeks in either April 2023 or April 2024. It's not been confirmed which yet but, for it to be the latter, it will mean Endgame took place in early 2023. We're leaning more towards the latter here.
The surprise appearance of one character more definitively zeroes in on a timeframe when factoring in Endgame.
**Another spoiler warning! Turn back now if you haven't seen Shang-Chi!**
Still here? Then you know that Bruce Banner shows up during the post-credits scene with his arm still in a sling. As a refresher, the Jade Giant suffered the injury after restoring the universe and undoing Thanos’ snap during Endgame.
Unless it’s a particularly gruesome injury – which we doubt, given Hulk’s healing abilities – we’re talking a handful of months or even weeks after Endgame. Depending on the exact month Endgame took place, that means we're looking at (as mentioned above) April 2023 or April 2024. We really need Marvel to start putting calendars in more of its movies.
Curiously, his fellow Avenger Captain Marvel has far longer hair here than at the end of Endgame. It could be a continuity error or, more than likely, reflective of her hairstyle in the upcoming sequel, The Marvels (AKA Captain Marvel 2). Either way, it potentially widens the scope of Shang-Chi’s story to a few months after Endgame.
It likely comes after WandaVision (which is set only a couple of weeks after Endgame) and runs close and maybe even parallel to Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which takes place six months after Endgame. At this point, we'll stick our necks out and say Endgame takes place in the second half of 2023 and Shang-Chi is in April 2024, with Falcon and The Winter Soldier also taking place in 2024. We just can't say for certain just yet.
Looking further afield, the crossover spectacular Spider-Man: No Way Home is definitely taking place after Shang-Chi, around the winter period in 2024. That’s due to Spider-Man: Far From Home taking place in the 2024 summer holidays and No Way Home picking up immediately after, then running through Halloween. As evidenced by the snow in the Sanctum Santorum during the trailer, the threequel will run until Christmas 2024. That means Shang-Chi is an established hero by the time Spider-Man 3 takes place. Interesting…
So, putting it all together, Shang-Chi’s place on the timeline looks a little something like this, with the caveat that this could change once things become more official.
- Avengers: Endgame (2023)
- WandaVision (2023)
- Shang-Chi (April 2023 or April 2024 – exact date TBC)
- Falcon and The Winter Soldier (2023 or 2024 – exact date TBC)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (Summer 2024)
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (Winter 2024)
That should have cleared things up (just don’t try and fit Loki in anywhere, that show’s outside of our concept of time). For more on the movie, check out the Shang-Chi post-credits scene, a breakdown of the Shang-Chi ending, and a list of all the major Shang-Chi cameos dotted throughout.