10 years ago, Marvel introduced moviegoers to a unique, innovative movie universe with a shared timeline. That story is about to come to a head with Avengers: Infinity War, which will celebrate the last decade's worth of big-screen action and adventure. But there's a lot more to the MCU than just the movies. The wider MCU has come to embrace a wide range of mediums; from comics to YouTube videos, from one-shots to Netflix shows. All of these comprise a single, continuous narrative that delights fans.
But how do you weave this ongoing story into a single, cohesive narrative? That's the fundamental challenge facing Marvel visionary Kevin Feige, in the face of an ever-expanding canon. He's promised an official timeline will eventually be published, and claims it will answer every fan's questions. But this timeline is unlikely to resolve all the issues, and if it's published by Marvel Studios, it may not even include the TV shows and tie-in comics.
Given that's the case, here at Screen Rant we've decided to work through the MCU's labyrinthine continuity and create our own timeline. We've tackled this endeavor in the past with our chronological MCU guide, but six new Marvel movies and an equal number of TV series have graced the screen since then, meaning we're sorely due for an update. This first section takes a thematic approach, trying to draw common threads together in order to help readers understand the MCU's ongoing narrative. It would take weeks of (highly recommended) viewing and reading to consume all the material, but as a (somewhat) brief overview, here's The Complete History of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—broken down into palatable explanations of important plot points.
Last updated: September 11, 2018
- This Page: The Dawn of Time
- Page 2: Extraterrestrial Societies
- Page 3: Ancient Societies
- Page 4: WWII, Hydra, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Page 5: Plans for Domination
- Page 6: The World Needs Heroes
- Page 7: The Age of Heroes
- Page 8: Furys Big Week and The Avengers Initiative
- Page 9: Avengers Fallout
- Page 10: A New Kind of Hero
- Page 11: Hydra, The Hand, and... The Avengers Fall
- Page 12: A Galaxy on the Brink of Destruction
The Dawning Days of Creation Itself
The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to follow the so-called "cyclic model," with an eternal cosmos locked in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. According to the Collector, the Infinity Stones come from the universe before our own. As he told the Guardians of the Galaxy:
"Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots... Infinity Stones."
The Infinity Stones weren't the only thing to survive the previous universe. The dying days of the universe before ours were ruled by the Dark Elves, some of whom also somehow made their way into this cosmos. They were used to a reality that was in the last stages of heat death, an infinite darkness. They settled on the realm of Svartalfheim, and would forever seek to restore their dark universe.
The Age of the Celestials
The powerful race known as the Celestials were born in the earliest days of the universe. These beings were forged from so-called "living light," which they used to manipulate matter itself and create their own bodies. It's possible these were the beings who "forged" the Infinity Stones into their current form. They certainly took possession of the Power Stone, and the Collector showed footage of the Celestials using it to judge entire worlds and civilizations.
The final fate of the Celestials is unclear, but it seems likely that other races rose up to wage war against them. The Celestials were rendered virtually extinct, with just fragments of their bodies left behind; one gigantic skull would ultimately become the mining installation Knowhere. Only one last Celestial was left, the newborn being who would come to call himself Ego.
According to the Collector, the Power Stone was briefly acquired by a group of lesser beings, who used its power for moments before being consumed. It's possible they used it against the Celestials, and that these monstrous alien beings were destroyed by their own weapon. The Power Stone was ultimately secreted on the planet Morag.
Sources: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Founding of Wakanda
2.5 million years ago, a Vibranium meteorite impacted East Africa. The entire area was transformed by Vibranium dust, with the energies emitted from the rare metal leading flora and fauna to evolve in a unique way. Humans settled in the area over 10,000 years ago, and warring tribes battled it out. The tribal conflict ultimately came to an end when one warrior-chieftain, Bashenga, received a vision from the Panther God. He was guided to the rare Heart-Shaped Herb, and ingesting this granted Bashenga tremendous superhuman powers. Bashenga used these powers to unite the tribes, and formed the world’s first civilization – Wakanda. He became the first Black Panther.
Wakanda was mostly dedicated to worship of the Panther God, Bast, although the Jabari tribe continued to worship Hanuman. It seems likely Bashenga was the one who first guided the Wakandans to begin tapping into the secrets of Vibranium, as they named the Vibranium mound after him. The Black Panthers became ancestral defenders of Wakanda, with successive Black Panthers protecting their nation from any threats. Wakanda became increasingly isolationist over the millennia, distancing itself from the rest of the world.
Sources: Black Panther; The Art of Black Panther
Page 2: Extraterrestrial Societies
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019