In preparation for Avengers Endgame, here is a chronological timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dates were garnered from several websites and YouTube videos, so I will definitely correct if something is amiss.
This gives you a great idea of the scope of the Marvel Universe on screen, as well as some idea of what to expect when heading to see Endgame. Because the Infinity Stone play such a part in this entire story, I put in bold anytime the stones are mentioned. Also, I do use real names and alter egos interchangably — as in, I will call Falcon “Sam Wilson” and call Sam Wilson “Falcon” in the same paragraph.
THERE ARE SPOILERS ABOUND HERE… so use caution. However, there ARE NO SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS ENDGAME.
You can also listen to Thursday’s episode of The Magic on a Dollar Podcast, or the latest episode of The Deucecast Movie Show for another great primer!
Ancient times –
- The Universe exploded, blasting out the Infinity Stones — Reality, Space, Mind, Power, Soul, Time — across the galaxies (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- A meteor with a strange substance (Vibranium) crashes into Africa, in what will later be known as Wakanda (Black Panther)
- The Dark Elves were born. King Bor of Asgard battles Malekith and the Dark Elves, defeats them, and hides the Aether, which contains the Reality Stone
- King Bor’s son Odin, and Odin’s first born Hela, go beyond Asgard to take over the Nine Realms (which are 9 planets). Hela becomes too powerful and tries to overthrow the king. Hela exiles Odin, and then does battle with the fighting force known as The Valkyrie, which are all slaughtered except for one. (Thor Ragnarok)
- Agamatto, Earth’s first sorcerer, protects the Time Stone in a medallion called The Eye of Agamotto. (Doctor Strange)
965 AD – Odin battles the Frost Giants and finds Baby Loki (Thor)
1942 – Johann Schmidt, a HYDRA leader, marches an army into Norway and discovered The Tesseract, which contains the Space Stone. Schmidt later becomes The Red Skull. (Captain America The First Avenger)
1944 – Steve Rogers is given a serum, becomes Captain America, fights in WWII. Cap defeats and banishes Red Skull, and loses Bucky Barnes in the process. Cap disappears into the ocean with the Tesseract. (Captain American: The First Avenger)
1980 – An alien named Ego is on Earth, drives across the country with a pretty young lady named Meredith Quill, listening to the smooth tones of Looking Glass. They bore a child together that she names Peter (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2)
1987 – Hank Pym & Janet Van Dyne go on a mission, Janet gets trapped in the Quantum Realm (Ant-Man and Ant-Man & the Wasp)
1988 – A young Peter Quill is picked up from Earth and taken into space right after his mom passes away (Guardians of the Galaxy)
1989 – Hank Pym, a consultant for S.H.I.E.L.D., quits his job after they pressure him to share his secrets for the Ant Man technology (Ant Man)
1991 – Howard Stark and his wife are murdered by HYDRA assassin The Winter Soldier (Captain America The Winter Soldier)
1992 – Wakanda’s King T’Chaka visits his brother N’Jobu in Oakland, California. T’Chaka accuses N’Jobu of assisting Ulyssess Klaue of stealing vibranium from Wakanda, and kills him for his crimes, thusly orphaning his nephew Erik. (Black Panther)
1995 – While on Gamora’s home planet, her people are slaughtered while Thanos keeps the young child Gamora safe (Avengers: Infinity War)
1995 – Starforce Pilot Vers crashlands in Los Angeles while chasing the Skrulls, meets Agent Coulson and Nick Fury, who goes on to lose an eye. Vers discovers her true identity, an Earthling known as Carol Danvers, and then assumes the role of Captain Marvel. She assists the Skrulls in finding a new home, blasting into the outer reaches of space. (Captain Marvel)
1999 – Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian attempts to strike a deal with Tony Stark at a Y2K New Year’s Eve Bash, but is rejected by Stark (Iron Man 3)
2005 – Bruce Banner is subjected to a large amount of gamma rays, escapes the custody of General Thunderbolt Ross, who wants to weaponize his new alter ego, Hulk. (The Incredible Hulk)
2008 – Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons dealer, is stranded in the middle of the desert, builds a suit and becomes Iron Man, reverses the Stark weapon building program, battles and defeats Obadiah Stane, aka Iron Monger, announces to the press he’s Iron Man, and is introduced to Nick Fury (Iron Man)
The Following entries from 2009 are known as Nick Fury’s Big Week, as he begins to recruit individuals for the Avenger Initiative, and most of these happen within a very short time of each other.
2009 – Bruce Banner returns to America, eventually fighting and defeating Emil Blonsky, aka Abomination. Tony Stark approaches General Ross in a bar and says they are putting a team together (The Incredible Hulk)
2009 – Pepper Potts hires Natalie Rushman to work for Stark Industries, and Rushman is later revealed to be Natasha Rominoff, aka, Black Widow. Tony Stark and James “Rhodey” Rhodes battle Ivan Venko/Whiplash. (Iron Man 2)
2009 – Agent Coulson calls into Headquarters from the desert, where a hammer has been found in a crater (Iron Man 2)
2009 – Thor, son of the god Odin, is cocky and arrogant, and attacks the army of Frost Giants. An enraged Odin banishes Thor to Earth, where he discovers and tries to retrieve his hammer. He is almost shot by Hawkeye, who is perched on the roof but is told stand down. Loki, Thor’s brother, takes over Asgard and sends a giant robot to kill Thor, but Thor prevails. Nick Fury brings the Tesseract to scientist Erik Selvig to try and obtain its power. (Thor)
2009 – Steve Rogers is found in the ocean floor frozen in ice and brought back to life. He’s approached by Nick Fury about The Avengers Initiative (Captain America The First Avenger)
2012 – Loki attempts to take over Earth and is beaten back by The Avengers. He’s using his scepter, which contains The Mind Stone, as a way to control Hawkeye into doing his bidding. Agent Coulson and Nick Fury recruits Natasha Rominoff (Black Widow), Stark, Clint Barton and Bruce Banner to join Captain America and Thor in Nick Fury’s “Avenger Initiative”. (Marvel’s The Avengers)
2012 – After the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) has his government salvaging contract suddenly ended, and goes into black market dealing for alien tech (Spider-Man Homecoming)
2013 – After confronting The Mandarin, what Tony Stark thinks is his enemy, he finds that Aldrich Killian has returned and is the true bad guy. Stark, with the help of a lit Pepper Potts, wins, and destroys nearly all of his Iron Man suits as a show of devotion to Pepper (Iron Man 3)
2013 – Thor and Loki team up to save the galaxy against a villainous force trying to use a substance called The Aether to take over. Loki has secreted banished King Odin and disguised himself as Odin. Thor’s fellow warriors Volstagg and Sif take the Aether, holding The Reality Stone, to The Collector. (Thor: The Dark World)
2014 – The Winter Soldier, brainwashed by HYDRA, is revealed to be Steve Rogers’ long lost friend Bucky Barnes. It’s discovered that HYDRA has slowly been infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. for many years, but both are brought down. At the end, we see two strange individuals imprisoned — one is Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) and the other is Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
2014 – Peter Quill steals The Orb from a Kree warrior named Ronan the Accuser, and then ends up in a prison with Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Gamora. They escape, and end up on the planet Knowhere, where The Collector reveals to them the existence of the Infinity Stones – Reality, Space, Soul, Time, Power, Mind. The Guardians manage to capture the Power Stone. Groot sacrifices himself to save the team but returns as Baby Groot. The Power Stone is then given to space agency Nova Corps for safe keeping. Ronan is accosted by Thanos for failing to bring him the stone.(Guardians of the Galaxy)
2014 – Happening 6 months after the events of the first Guardians, Rocket steals valuable property belonging to the Sovereign Race. Nebula is released into the custody of the Guardians. Peter Quill confronts Ego about the death of his mother back in 1980, revealing that Ego is Quill’s father. Yondu is killed, sacrificing himself to save the team, after a killer Mary Poppins impersonation. David Hasselhoff makes an appearance. (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2)
2015 – Tony Stark seeks to use Artificial Intelligence as a means of protection, and accidentally creates Ultron. From the Mind Stone, Vision is created, and they battle over the European City of Sokovia. Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) is killed in the battle, while Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) joins the Avengers. Tony Stark chooses to step away from Avenger duty, while Thor goes to Asgard to learn more about the Infinity Stones. After the battle, Bruce Banner chooses to fly away to protect himself and others. Steve Rogers and Black Widow assemble a new group of Avengers, including War Machine (Rhodey) and Falcon (Sam Wilson). Thanos puts on the Infinity Gauntlet, declaring “I’ll do it myself”. (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
2015 – Scott Lang, newly paroled, is brought on by scientist Hank Pym and Hank’s reluctant daughter, Hope Van Dyne, to wear a technologically advanced shrinking and enlarging suit. Scott must steal tech from Avengers Headquarters, and ends up fighting Sam Wilson/Falcon. (Ant Man)
2016 – Stephen Strange, a world renowned surgeon, gets into a car accident, destroying his hands in the process. He depletes his fortune and his credibility to find a way to rehabilitate, ending up learning the mystical arts (Doctor Strange)
2016 – The government has pushed the Sokovia Accords on the Avengers, which will force them to register their powers and identities with the government. Villain Helmot Zemo plans to destroy the Avengers from within, using the brainwashed Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) to do his dirty work. He frames Bucky for the bombing death of Wakanda’s king, T’Chaka, sending T’Challa (Black Panther) after him. Iron Man, Black Widow, Vision, Rhodey, Black Panther are in agreement with the Accords, while Captain America, Wanda, Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Falcon and Ant Man do not agree, and the two factions battle in an airplane hanger. Tony Stark introduces Spider Man to the fray. The battle leaves Rhodey nearly paralyzed. Tony Stark discovers that Bucky (Winter Soldier) killed his father in 1991, and fights both Captain America and Bucky before discovering it was Zemo behind the whole thing, including the death of T’Chaka. (Captain America Civil War)
2016 – After the death of his father, T’Challa returns to Wakanda to be anointed king, and soon after, his cousin Erik Killmonger lays claim to the throne. Killmonger witnessed the escape of T’Chaka in 1992, after T’Chaka killed Erik’s father N’Jobu. Eric kills arms dealer Ulysses Klaue and brings his body to Wakanda. Erik defeats T’Challa in battle, becoming the new king and Black Panther. A small civil war breaks out in Wakanda, but is resolved when T’Challa kills Killmonger and becomes the true Black Panther. (Black Panther)
2016 – Bucky has decided to go into hypersleep and be buried in a Wakanda lake until there is some way his brainwashing can be removed. T’Challa tells Steve Rogers that Wakanda will defend Bucky. (Captain America Civil War)
2016 – Months after the Avengers battle in the airplane hanger, Peter Parker is trying to continue to prove his worth to Tony Stark by doing small missions on his own, ultimately biting off more than he can chew. He runs up against The Vulture, who Parker discovers is actually his girlfriend’s father Adrian Toomes. Toomes has been dealing in alien technology salvaged and stolen from the Battle of New York in 2012. Tony Stark offers a spot on the Avengers to Peter Parker who declines, so he can just be a teenager for a little while. (The title card for this movie declares it 8 years after the events of the Avengers film, though this seems to be a mistake on Marvel’s part, as it should be “4 Years later”) (Spider Man Homecoming)
2017 – Now a master of the mystical arts, Dr Strange uses the Time Stone, in a necklace around his neck, to defeat Dormammu. Strange meets with Thor and agrees to help him he and Loki in search of their father, Odin. His friend and mentor Mordo walks away bitterly, then visits Pangborn, a former sorcerer. Mordo steals Pangborn’s mystical powers from him. (Doctor Strange)
2017 – Thor ends up on the planet Sakaar, where he is imprisoned and forced to fight for the entertainment of the citizens and for the Grandmaster, who Loki is assisting. Thor finds Hulk, who turns back to Bruce Banner after a gladiator style fight. They end up returning to Asgard, along with aliens Korg and Meil, to battle Hela, who destroys Thor’s hammer. Hela is killed but also ends up destroying Asgard, but not before Loki manages to steal the Tesseract with the Space Stone. Thor, Banner, Loki and 142 Asgardians escape but are intercepted by a large spaceship (Thor Ragnarok)
2018 – Scott Lang, now on house arrest following the Avengers airplane hanger battle, is kidnapped by Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, as they want him to help in the search for Janet Van Dyne, who has been trapped in the Quantum Realm since 1987. (Ant Man & the Wasp)
2018 – Buckle in, this is going to take a minute… Thanos, with his henchmen Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proximo Midnight, and Glaive, are now on the hunt for all of the Infinity Stones to place into the Gauntlet (glove) that he wears. He’s already wiped out Nova Corps on the planet Xandar, and is in possession of the Power Stone. His ship overtakes the ship holding Thor, Loki, Banner and the Asgardians. Thanos kills both Loki and Heimdale, the Asgard protector and obtains the Space Stone. Banner is blasted out into space, where he falls into the New York Sanctum, where Wong and Doctor Strange protect the Time Stone. Ebony Maw and Obsidian attack the Sanctum, and kidnap Doctor Stranger, as Tony Stark and Peter Parker end up on spaceship, rescuing Strange and killing Ebony Maw..
Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda and Vision, who are off the grid. Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson and Black Widow rescue them and bring them back to Avengers HQ. The team travel to Wakanda to try and retrieve the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head so they can destroy it. They meet up with Bucky, Black Panther and the Wakandans. The Guardians rescue Thor from space, and Groot, Rocket and Thor head off to try and create a weapon to defeat Thanos (since Thor’s hammer was destroyed). Peter Quill, Drax, Mantis and Gamora find Thanos on Knowhere, where Thanos takes the Reality Stone from The Collector. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, taking her to the planet Vormir, where he sacrifices her (at the instruction of Red Skull, who has been trapped on Vormir since Captain America defeated him in the 1940s) in order to get the Soul Stone. Nebula escapes Thanos’ clutches and meets the Guardians on the planet Titan, and they intercept Tony, Parker and Doctor Strange. Thanos arrives, explaining once he gets all the stones on his Guantlet, he intends to snap his fingers, thereby killing 1/2 of all living creatures, controlling the population. Stark, Parker, Strange, Nebula, Mantis, Drax all work to subdue Thanos, but when Quill discovers Gamora is dead, he lashes out at Thanos, allowing him to escape. Tony is nearly killed, but is spared when Strange gives the Time Stone to Thanos, who disappears.
T’Challa’s sister Shuri works feverishly to remove Vision’s mind stone. while Thanos’ army attacks Wakanda. The Wakandan armies, Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Bruce Banner (wearing Iron Man armor, as he is unable to become Hulk), and Bucky all engage in the battle. Wanda eventually joins the fight, as Vision tries to flee into the forest to protect the stone. Thor, Groot and Rocket arrive to fight. Thanos arrives, and takes the last remaining stone, the Mind Stone, needed for the Gauntlet, killing Vision in the process. Thor attacks Thanos with his newly crafted Axe, but Thanos is still able to snap his fingers before he teleports away. In the process, Bucky, Sam Wilson, Wanda, T’Challa, Groot, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Strange, Peter Parker, and many Wakandans fade away into dust. SHIELD Agent Maria Hill and Nick Fury also are dusted, but Fury manages to click a pager, calling upon Captain Marvel. (Avengers Infinity War)
2018 – While Ant Man is deep in the Quantum Realm, Hope, Hank, and Janet are all dusted, as a result of the Snap (Ant Man & The Wasp)
2019 – Steve Rogers, Black Widow and others are working on Fury’s pager he dropped when he was dusted. They have been unable to dicipher not only the symbol on the pager, but where who the pager is contacting. Captain Marvel appears, asking where Nick Fury is. (Captain Marvel)
2019 – We are in the Endgame now.