The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been considered one of the most cohesive interconnected franchises around for years, which is an impressive achievement considering the numerous other studios out there trying to create their own shared cinematic narratives. As is to be expected with an intricately expanded universe, after 17 films it's almost guaranteed that continuity issues are bound to surface.
To the frustration of its dedicated fandom, the MCU's tight timeline has experienced some considerable issues thanks to its most recent movies. Doctor Strange confused audiences when it came to its incredibly shifty timeframe; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directly referenced Civil War despite the fact that they're set four years apart; Spider-Man: Homecoming was revealed to take place eight years after The Avengers, which would mean it's set in 2020, even though Civil War happened in 2016...and the list goes on.
Let's face it, the universe has become a bit of a mess, and fans have been understandably worried about the usually-tight continuity eventually getting thrown out the window. Fortunately, my fellow continuity sticklers out there, we shouldn't worry about that happening because the #MCU is getting an official guidebook about this universe's timeline in regards to continuity.
An Official MCU Guidebook Is Coming Soon
During a press junket for Thor: Ragnarok, Kevin Feige sat down for an interview with Screen Rant. The producer extraordinaire was asked about the MCU's constant continuity struggles, and he reassured confused fans with a surprising revelation: Marvel Studios is going to make some sense out of the intricate superhero franchise by releasing a detailed guide about its timeline:
"All of that debate has encouraged us. We are going to be publishing an official –– and I'm not sure when, or in what format –– an official timeline. It'll probably be apart of [...] a part of a print that you can fold out and look at. But suffice to say, only in limited cases do we ever actually say what the actual years are, because we never want to be tied down to a particular year and I think people assume that whenever the movie is released, it's when the movie is taking place, and that is not the case."
Oh. Heck. Yes. Figuring out when each story takes place and what is or isn't a continuity error has been a challenge, so it'll be nice to have a guide walking us through it all. Now, some may be confused by Feige's comments regarding the year-to-film displacement, especially after it was mentioned that every #MCU film took place in the year it was released. But as stated, that's not always the case, as proven by the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and the upcoming Black Panther, which is set shortly after Civil War, despite the fact that it'll hit theaters in 2018.
Putting that aside, Feige's comments made me think about something that's been the point of contention among comic book fandoms for some time: how important it is to keep continuity intact.
Keeping Continuity Intact Is Incredibly Important
This may be a no-brainer for most fans, but I've noticed some people around the internet who just don't feel that a cohesive timeline is necessary for a successful shared comic book universe. One of the biggest examples supporting the claim has been the #XMen franchise, which has become infamous for its head-scratching timeline.
A common defense for that approach is that filmmakers are given the freedom to craft their own stories without timeline restraints, but that isn't necessarily the case. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of allowing talented minds to do their own thing, but I'm also a strong believer in the fact that keeping a tight leash on a timeline is a big factor in making a shared universe enjoyable.
Is it tiring and, at times, a difficult endeavor? Perhaps. But whether we like it or not, forming an interconnected world means abiding to a certain set of rules that work in tandem to keep a cohesive fictional environment. As a result, such rules can't just be thrown out the window whenever things start to get messy.
That's why I'm completely on board with Feige and Marvel's plan to give fans a guidebook explaining the status of the MCU. It shows us how committed the folks behind the studio are to keeping their decades-spanning continuity in line. Yes, they've made slip-ups in quite a few of their films (I'm still scratching my head at that Homecoming issue, to be honest), but they aren't just moving away from them and pretending they didn't happen. Instead, they're owning up to them and looking for a way to weave them into the narrative.
As a massive comic book fan, I'm beyond happy by seeing how Marvel Studios is taking its franchise and its cohesiveness as such a big responsibility. I'd love to see other cinematic sagas out there with loose continuity adopting that model. Will it happen? It's hard to tell, but we'll have to wait and see.
How do you feel about Marvel giving fans a detailed account of the MCU's timeline? Were you ever lost with the franchise's continuity? Let me know in the comments!
[Source: Screen Rant]