We're in the age of cinematic universes, and the best of them extend beyond the movies themselves. Take the MCU, the forerunner of them all; the wider MCU embraces everything from films to TV shows, from tie-in comics to promotional YouTube videos. Understandably, it's a lot to keep track of; so one fan has put in a phenomenal amount of effort, and created some interactive tools to help Marvel maniacs keep track of everything!
The Ultimate MCU Timeline
I freely admit to being seriously impressed by the efforts of Redditor MrRLopez. He's created this wonderful interactive timeline of the MCU, and plotted everything he can on it. Now, it's worth noting that there are a few caveats:
- Firstly, he's only included things that can be assigned a rough date. So, for example, the two Thor films have given us a glimpse of the cosmic history of the MCU, while some flashbacks in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 took us to Hydra ceremonies at uncertain dates. Because he's trying to build an actual chronology, MrRLopez has skipped these.
- Secondly, again because MrRLopez is building a chronology, he tends to assign actual specific dates to events in order to give a sense of continuity. When using this timeline, you simply have to recognize that it's not possible to accurately date events with this sense of precision.
- Thirdly, you have to remember that there's a sense in which the MCU is a living project. As a result, things change. This year has already seen James Gunn actually erase a tie-in comic from the overarching continuity of the MCU because it contradicted Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Meanwhile, as we saw in last year's Captain America: Civil War, post-credit scenes can actually be set at any time in the next few movies. So it's a little premature to say Mordo visited Pangborn in September 2017; still, I can understand why MrRLopez has done so, as the precise dating can simply be adjusted later.
I keep an MCU chronology myself, and I have to say that I'm seriously impressed with MrRLopez's work here. He's done a phenomenal job.
A Stunning World Map
In addition, MrRLopez has also created this incredible interactive world map of MCU locations. You can filter for the movies, TV shows, or Netflix series — and again, there are a couple of provisos:
- Firstly, because of the sheer scale of the project, MrRLopez hasn't gotten round to annotating all the locations yet. For example, how many fans can remember when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. visited Kaena Point State Park, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu? Hopefully, refreshers about when exactly each of these locations were visited will be available soon.
- Secondly, again, some of these locations are subject to change. As I've discussed in an earlier article, the location of Wakanda has drifted over in the comics; comic book writers aren't cartographers, nor are they film-makers. I suspect #Marvel Studios will shift Wakanda to Africa's East Coast, in order to give the nation a coastline.
Again, though, this is a tremendously impressive project. Ironically, I suspect MrRLopez's timeline is more thorough than the one maintained by Marvel Studios. Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts recently revealed that Marvel Studios keep a timeline scroll:
"There’s an actual scroll that they unrolled for me. One of my producers, Eric Carroll, it was his first job at Marvel to work on a timeline and see where things line up and see where things didn’t quite line up. Like, ‘Oh, that’s when Captain America is born.’"
I'll be very surprised, though, if the Marvel Studios timeline includes details from the TV shows. In 2015, office politics forced a major reorganization over at Marvel, with the movie division split out as a separate sub-division of Disney. Since then, we've essentially seen the films run in their own direction, not caring to acknowledge the ever-expanding range of TV series.
I wonder if MrRLopez has any idea what he's gotten himself in for? The Marvel chronology is getting increasingly complex by the minute. This year's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was actually set in 2014, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther follow on immediately after Captain America: Civil War, and Thor: Ragnarok could conceivably span from 2015 to the present day. Meanwhile, Marvel Television is about to seriously up the ante with their TV shows, meaning MrRLopez will have to keep track of the likes of Cloak and Dagger, Runaways, and Inhumans as well as the Netflix shows and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I think he's got a job for life — and we thank him for his service!
Do you want the Marvel TV shows to cross over with the movies?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)