The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a series of superhero movies made by Marvel Studios. The movies are based on the characters from American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The franchise also includes books, short films, digital series, and television shows. The shared universe was created by combining related narrative points, places, cast members, and characters, much like the original Marvel Universe from comic books.
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film was Iron Man, which set the stage for Phase One films that culminated in The Avengers. Phase Two began with Iron Man 3 (2013) and ended with Ant-Man (2015).Phase Three began with Captain America: Civil War (2016) and ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). The first three phases all together called the “Infinity Saga”. The fourth phase of films began with Black Widow (2021).
Marvel Television has expanded the Marvel Cinematic Universe to network television with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. On ABC in 2013, the network began to offer streaming television services on Netflix and Hulu, and it launched a cable television network, Freeform, the following year. They also produced the digital series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Disney+ is releasing their own television series, starting with Wanda Vision in 2021. This will be the beginning of Phase Four of their Marvel Studios franchise.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe includes tie-in comics, short films, and viral marketing campaigns that are all published by Marvel Comics. The franchise has been commercially successful and has generally received positive reviews. This film has inspired other studios to attempt to create similar shared universes with comic book character adaptations. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has also inspired several themed attractions, an art exhibit, and two television specials.
Marvel Studios had no long-term plan for the shared universe’s timeline at the time that some of its films’ stories were arranged in Phase One of the MCU with references to one another. According to Nick Fury’s words, Iron Man 2 takes place about the same time as Thor and six months after the events of Iron Man. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (set before the events of Thor), Item 47 (set after The Avengers), Agent Carter, and The Consultant are just a few of the Marvel One-Shot movies that take place around the events of Phase One movies (set one year after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger).
To make the in-universe timeline simpler, the Phase Two movies were loosely based on The Avengers: Iron Man 3 occurs around six months later, around Christmas; Thor: The Dark World takes place a year later; and Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years later. The phase was concluded in 2015 with the release of Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron, with real-world time equating to many months between each movie. After the events of Iron Man 3.
The Russo brothers decided to go with real time for Phase Three, thus Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War are set one and two years, respectively, after Age of Ultron. With Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming starting a week and several months after Captain America: Civil War, respectively, and Thor: Ragnarok starting four years after The Dark World and two years after Age of Ultron,
roughly the same time as Civil War and Homecoming, producer Brad Winderbaum claimed that the Phase Three movies would actually “happen on top of one another” while being less “interlocked” than the Part one movies were. Both Guardians of the Galaxy and its second part were explicitly set in 2014, which Feige believed would create a four-year gap between Vol. 2 and Infinity War, even though the other MCU films up to that point do not specify years onscreen. Ant-Man and the Wasp also takes place two years after Civil War and just before Infinity War.
There are “a lot of very inventive ways of where the story can go from here,” the Russo brothers stated following the release of Infinity War. Both Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel are set earlier in the timeline; the latter is set in 1995. After a five-year time jump, Endgame starts soon after Infinity War and finishes in 2023. The Avengers in 2012, Thor: The Dark World in 2013, Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, Doctor Strange around 2017, and Ant-Man and the Wasp in 2018 prior to Infinity War are among the other movies with confirmed release dates. Beginning in 2024, eight months after Endgame, is Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Phase Four saw the expansion of Marvel Studios into television shows, which, compared to Marvel Television’s offerings, had a stronger connection to the MCU feature films. Many of the Phase’s properties take place after Avengers: Endgame’s events.
The first season of Loki continues the 2012 events seen in Endgame, but much of the series exists outside of time and space given the introduction of the Time zones it also ties in with Multiverse of Madness. Wanda Vision is set three weeks after the events of that movie and directly sets up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
What if? Explores the numerous branching timelines of the recently constructed universe, where significant moments from the MCU occur, and is set after Loki’s first season finale. Looking into the numerous branching timelines of the recently constructed multiverse to see how key scenes from the MCU movies play out differently.
Six months after Endgame, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place. Six to eight months after the events of Endgame in 2024, Eternals takes place around the same time as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Spider-Man: Far From Home, while Spider-Man: No Way Home starts just after Far From Home and lasts through late 2024. It also takes place after Endgame in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Hawkeye occurs over the 2024 holiday season, one year after Endgame. While Multiverse of Madness takes place after Spider-Man: No Way Home, Moon Knight is set in early 2025, following Hawkeye. One to two years after Endgame, Ms. Marvel takes place after Moon Knight. Thor: Love and Thunder is likewise set in the years 2024 to 2028, post-Endgame. Black Widow primarily occurs between Civil War’s primary plot and its climactic scene, taking place in the interim between Civil War and Infinity War.