Why Captain Marvel Doesn't Break The MCU Timeline
In truth, the timeline fits together perfectly; Captain Marvel complicates it a little, but that's about it. Howard Stark is already associated with Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. thanks to Iron Man 2, so it makes sense that P.E.G.A.S.U.S. had been experimenting with the Tesseract since before Howard died in 1991. What's more, given the Red Skull had used the Tesseract's energy to power his Valkyrie bombers, it's hardly surprising that NASA and the USAF believed it could create a whole new wave of advanced vehicles.
The Avengers showed one phase of Tesseract experiments. But that doesn't mean there were no earlier phases, nor does it indicate that earlier experiments had seen absolutely no success. Captain Marvel doesn't break the timeline at all; yes, it's a surprise retcon, but it actually fits rather logically with the established continuity.
Are There Any Other Ways Captain Marvel Hurts The MCU Timeline?
Surprisingly, the MCU's continuity survives Captain Marvel pretty much intact. There are only a handful of real continuity issues, the most prominent of which lies with a photograph of Nick Fury shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The photo clearly shows Nick Fury being sworn in - most likely as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. - by Alexander Pierce. According to Pierce, he first met Fury when he was further on in his S.H.I.E.L.D. career, and was chief of Bogota Station. And, crucially, in the photograph Nick Fury clearly has both eyes intact. That photo suggested Nick shouldn't have lost his eye so early on in his time at S.H.I.E.L.D..
Other minor continuity issues - such as the question of how Nick Fury could know Howard Stark so well in Iron Man 2, or his claim in The Avengers that Asgardians were the first aliens S.H.I.E.L.D. had encountered - aren't too difficult to explain. As Tony Stark explained in The Avengers, "[Fury's] a spy, Captain. He's the spy. Even his secrets have secrets." All these other continuity issues rest solely on the idea that Nick Fury was telling the truth, but he's never been a particularly honest and up-front man, so presumably, he was lying on both occasions. The first lie would have been informed by Howard Stark's recordings, and was necessary to get Tony to listen to him; the second was an attempt to defuse an argument that was increasingly out of control and risked causing Bruce Banner to Hulk out on a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. In both circumstances, Fury would have considered himself wise not to tell the truth.
Then, of course, there's the matter of how Fury lost his eye - an event he told Steve Rogers happened "the last time I trusted someone" during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Of course, leave it to Nick Fury to lie about the fact a cat scratched his eye out and instead use the injury as a way to motivate someone to do what he wants.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019