The MCU explained by a stressed out nerd who tried not to explain too much but did it anyways

Marvel timeline created by Jacque Mead

Click the image to download a high-resolution PDF of the Marvel timeline


Comic book lovers, movie critics, and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe patiently await the highly anticipated end to the greatest superhero movie crossover this century; “Avengers: Endgame.”

The MCU timeline started with 2008’s “Iron Man,” and since then more movies skyrocketed in the box office, including “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and many sequels to the individual superhero movies. “The Avengers was a great start for a crossover with the four main and “original” Avengers following somewhat with the Marvel Avengers comic book series. There were minor characters (Hawkeye and Black Widow) added in the MCU who are presented as major characters in “The Avengers”, but they don’t have their own individual movies… yet.

According to the MCU timeline, all of these movies are interconnected and are split up into phases leading up to the events of “Infinity War” and “End Game.” There are currently three phases in the MCU timeline, this timeline is not in order of the dates the movies were released, but chronologically of the events leading up to “The Avengers: Endgame.”

The timeline above shows the release date of each movie, but with the official MCU timeline, viewers are advised to watch the movies chronologically starting from Phase One with:

  • “Captain America: The First Avenger”
  • “Captain Marvel”
  • “Iron Man”
  • “Iron Man 2”
  • “The Incredible Hulk”
  • “Thor”
  • “The Avengers”

Even though “Iron Man” was produced first, Captain America is the “first Avenger” that takes place in the 1940s where Steve Rogers partakes in a super serum experiment to become the first “superhero” who has successfully underwent the procedure. Rogers crashes into the sea, where he was frozen in time and extracted from ice 70 years later.

After “Captain America,” the next superhero introduced chronologically is “Captain Marvel”, which takes place in 1995.

Some could argue that Captain Marvel is the strongest superhero known in the MCU, viewers have yet to see her full power against the other Avengers in “End Game.”

Iron Man” takes place about the same time it was released in 2008, and from then on, the timeline doesn’t jump between times like Captain America and Captain Marvel.

Phase One ends when the four main superheroes join together to stop Loki’s army, which is ran by the main antagonist throughout the whole series, Thanos, who is introduced in the end credits of “The Avengers.”

Phase Two introduces sequels to Thor and Captain America and the third movie to Iron Man. This Phase also introduces new characters and movies such as” Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man.”

The Phase Two chronological list:

  • “Thor: The Dark World”
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
  • “Iron Man 3”
  • “Captain America: Winter Soldier”
  • “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
  • “Ant-Man”

Phase Two is more where the heroes begin to work apart or against each other; they don’t know how to settle their differences in their new assembled team. The individual heroes like Thor and Iron Man work with personal matters.

Fans are introduced to new characters who will be important in Phase Three. “Captain America: Winter Soldierintroduces Falcon and Bucky Barnes. “Winter Soldierbegins the conflict between Stark and Rogers when Bucky comes back into Roger’s life as a brainwashed assassin.

Thor: The Dark Worldis the first to introduce the infinity stones in the mid-credit scene where Lady Sif and Volstagg take the Aether to a man known as The Collector who will be shown again, this is where they reveal that the Aether along with the Tesseract are in fact two of six infinity stones.

The mid-credit scene is also a set-up for  “Guardians of the Galaxy,where the viewers are introduced to new characters Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax, who are basically the “Space Avengers.”

There are more scenes with Thanos in “Guardians,” which is the overarching storyline forward. In “Guardians,” it is officially revealed that Thanos is after the six infinity stones when Quill fights with Gamora over the Orb, which The Collector shows the team that the Orb is the power stone and with all six stones together they have the power to destroy anything.

This is where the small unorganized group gets together to try and stop Thanos from getting any more infinity stones.

Phase Two is a big event out of the three phases where the plot starts stirring into something bigger. That’s where “The Avengers: Age of Ultroncomes in.

Age of Ultronis where the Avengers begin to “disassemble” in a sense. This movie holds a big plot scene involving the stone in Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers movie. The stone happens to be the mind stone where two twin siblings, Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Pietro (Quicksilver) Maximoff, get their powers from after HYDRA performed experiments on them. Wanda’s powers involve telekinesis, telepathy, and energy manipulation which she uses on all the Avengers. Pietro’s powers involve moving at fast speeds.

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner work together to build an A.I. called Ultron. This A.I. has reviewed all of the Avengers’ actions in previous combat and deemed this group of superheroes a threat to the world and they are the ones who must be eliminated. This A.I. becomes a robot and can move through the Internet as it’s difficult for the Avengers to track the villain.

In the process of Ultron as an A.I. becoming a physical being, he destroys J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark’s personal A.I. computer. J.A.R.V.I.S. ends up fleeing to the Internet where he safely hides from Ultron.

Ultron has a “vision” in this movie; purging the world entirely and making his own beings in his own creation. His “vision” becomes a physical being and is created from the infinity stone that was in Loki’s scepter and Vibranium, a medal from the fictional country of Wakanda.

J.A.R.V.I.S. eventually gets uploaded into the physical being called Vision and that is where one of the key characters for the later movies comes into place.

The Scarlet Witch becomes a member of the Avengers after the death of her brother, and she is an essential character for Phase Three on the MCU timeline.

Ant-Manis more or less just a character introduction into the MCU and will be important to Phase Three as well.

After the events of “Age of Ultron,the Avengers are left with strict laws and rules regarding the public’s safety, and this goes down in “Captain America: Civil War”, where Phase Three begins.

The movies in chronological order for Phase Three are listed as:

  • “Captain America: Civil War”
  • “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
  • “Doctor Strange”
  • “Black Panther”
  • “Thor: Ragnarok”
  • “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
  • “Avengers: Infinity War”
  • “Avengers: End Game”

Phase Three has many great movies that lead up to the tragic finale of the Avengers. Take note that many of these movies are listed in order according to the MCU timeline and these events take place either before, during, or after the events of “Infinity War.


Civil Waris the movie where everything unravels and the Avengers officially disassemble, leaving Thanos to collect all infinity stones successfully, but that doesn’t happen until “Infinity War.It just happens to go over in his favor when the Avengers split off.

There is no mention of the infinity stones in “Civil Warsince it is a Captain America movie and focuses the conflict on Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. In “Civil War,viewers are introduced to the remaining new heroes who will, of course, be important to later movies in the timeline. Fans are introduced to (the Marvel Studios’ owned) Spider-Man and Black Panther, who fight with Iron Man against Captain America.

Spider-Man: Homecomingand “Ant-Man and the Wasptake place directly after the events of “Civil War.However, in the second Ant-Man movie, it also is supposed to lead up to “Infinity War.

“Black Panther” also takes place directly after “Civil War” and leads right into “Infinity War” as well as “Thor: Ragnarok.”

“Dr. Strange” is placed in the middle of the events of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Black Panther,” so it has no direct correlation to “Infinity War” yet. In “Dr. Strange,” the fifth infinity stone is revealed: the time stone.

Up to this point, fans have seen the space stone, commonly known as the Tesseract, in “Captain Marvel,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “The Avengers.”

The mind stone, which was revealed to be in Loki’s scepter in “The Avengers,” “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Civil War” (the stone on the Vision’s forehead).

The reality stone was the Aether in “Thor: The Dark World.”

The power stone was held in the Orb in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The time stone was called the Eye of Agamotto in “Dr. Strange.”

It wasn’t mentioned in any of the other movies, but was briefly shown with the Collector as he was explaining the infinity stones to the Guardians, but its name was never really mentioned or what its power was. Fans of the comics already knew what to expect, so discovering the soul stone was somewhat a surprise for fans of the MCU in “Infinity War.”

For those who have already seen “Infinity War” know what’s happened in the end of the movie. Since it’s still very recent, there’s no need to explain to readers who have yet to see it.

The final film to wrap up the “Avengers” series is expected to release April 26. It’s a movie most aren’t prepared for as fans might see their favorite superheroes come to an end.

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