When Marvel released Captain America: Civil War, they appeared to set in place a basic rule of thumb; that, unless otherwise indicated, every Marvel movie happens in the year of its release. That was in line with frequent statements from Marvel insiders; Scarlett Johansson once stated that The Winter Soldier was set two years after The Avengers, and Kevin Feige himself indicated that Infinity War is set in 2018. Continuity isn't perfect - especially in light of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which significantly complicates the issue. But using that approach, it's possible to create a basic timeline of the Age of the Avengers. This runs all the way from the day Tony Stark first suited up as Iron Man, to the encounter between Asgardian refugees and Thanos's ship, the Sanctuary II, just moments before Infinity War.
"I Am Iron Man" - 2008
Tony Stark had successfully transformed Stark Industries into one of the world's foremost weapons manufacturers. Unknown to Stark, though, senior partner Obadiah Stane was secretly selling weapons to terrorists. The company was actually under investigation by S.H.I.E.L.D., who were unsure whether or not Stark was implicated in his company's crimes. Stane's growing ambitions ultimately caused him to conspire with the Ten Rings terrorist organization to have Tony Stark assassinated. Instead, to Stane's fury, the Ten Rings captured Stark and attempted to force him to create weapons for them.
Injured during the Ten Rings' attack on a convoy in Afghanistan, Stark created a miniaturized Arc Reactor to keep shards of shrapnel away from his heart. He then created the first Iron Man armor, successfully escaping. Returning to the US, Stark dedicated himself to taking illegal Stark Industries weapons off the table. This led him into direct combat with Stane, who successfully created his own armor. Although S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to help Stark conceal his identity, Stark dropped the cover story in a press conference and admitted himself to be Iron Man.
The World Changes - 2008-2011
Stark's announcement effectively made him the world's first celebrity superhero. In Wakanda, T'Challa - who had just become the new Black Panther - was unimpressed. In Russia, Ivan Vanko was furious; his father had worked with Howard Stark on the first designs for the Arc Reactor, and he blamed the Starks for his father's misfortunes and death. Tony Stark, for his part, used his celebrity to launch a campaign to bring an end to war. "I've successfully privatized world peace," he bragged. The fact he sat outside the chain of command, however, made Tony Stark a dangerous loose cannon. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury assigned Black Widow to go undercover at Stark Industries and monitor Stark's mental health.
Fury believed S.H.I.E.L.D. would play an important role in the age to come. He began to redirect S.H.I.E.L.D.'s funds to two specific projects; a new headquarters, known as the Triskellion, and the so-called Avengers Initiative. Fury's pet project, the Avengers Initiative would see S.H.I.E.L.D. assemble "gifted" assets and "enhanced" individual as a combat unit against exceptional threats. The director believed the world would soon be in real danger from these threats, and an incident in Bahrain in 2009 proved him right. There, a rogue Inhuman - who had left the secretive Inhuman colony of Afterlife - took control of criminal gangs, and rejoiced in causing pain and suffering. S.H.I.E.L.D. Specialist Melinda May was forced to kill the Inhuman, a child who had undergone Terrigenesis despite lacking both emotional and physical maturity.
Fury soon recognized one major problem with the Avengers Initiative; the death of a single "enhanced" individual would effectively devastate S.H.I.E.L.D.'s defense. To that end, he initiated the secretive "Project T.A.H.I.T.I.," an attempt to use Kree technology to resurrect the dead.
Marvel originally intended this time-period to be a little shorter - dialogue in Iron Man 2 suggests it should have only spanned six months. However, that directly contradicts Civil War, which establishes fixed dates for Iron Man and The Avengers. Stretching it out only contradicts a single line of dialogue.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019