A fan-made Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline is better than Marvel’s own official one. Marvel comics have rarely concerned themselves too much with a concrete timeline, but the MCU is different; it purports to be set in a world very similar to our own, and there’s a major focus on the passage of time. For years, the MCU’s official timeline was something of a mystery, with fans eagerly debating the subject, until finally Disney+ provided a chronological viewing order for the movies. Unfortunately even this isn’t perfect, and as a result, some films have switched place over the last few months, as Marvel identified errors and tried to correct them. Matters are made even more awkward when the old Marvel Television shows are included; their canonicity is disputed, but they were certainly intended to be part of the mainstream MCU. The introduction of the multiverse in the MCU’s Phase 4 has added another level of complexity, as new timelines interweave with the MCU’s own — and these aren’t represented on Disney+. The MCU timeline is complex, cumbersome, and sadly difficult to navigate.
Geekritique has produced a much-improved MCU timeline, one that incorporates all the official MCU movies, one-shots, and Disney+ TV shows, carefully placing them in a chronological viewing order. The timeline corrects many of the Disney+ timeline’s mistakes, identifies any points of controversy, and provides justifications for every placement. It then adds on the additional timelines that have intersected with the MCU to date, followed by the Marvel Television shows — including the problematic Agents of SHIELD seasons 6 and 7. The complexity of the MCU timeline is perfectly indicated by the fact the video runs for over 36 minutes, but Geekritique has done an admiral job representing it in an easily-digestible, easy-to-navigate format — and he offers a downloadable copy of the timeline in addition to the video explaining it. In his view, continuity and chronology are essential for navigating a shared universe, and the number of errors and mistakes in the MCU are unfortunate. It’s great to see many of these problems both acknowledged and resolved — although in some cases, such as in Spider-Man: Homecoming’s infamous “Eight Years Later” continuity blunder — the only way to deal with them is to ignore contradictory statements.
Films and TV shows in Phase 4 are particularly difficult to place in the timeline, probably because Marvel is putting out more content than ever before. This lack of continuity may well be contributing to the overall lack of direction in Phase 4, with many complaining the MCU feels as though it has lost a sense of narrative flow. Geekritique’s timeline helps, and hopefully Marvel Studios will learn from his work — and begin tweaking content to make the MCU timeline work more effectively going forwards.