For a quick refresher, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a pretty cohesive part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - it carefully integrated the web-slinger into a world of heroes and advanced Iron Man's multi-film arc - except in one key area. The opening sequence showing future Vulture Adrian Toomes' criminal rise began in the aftermath of The Avengers' Battle of New York then jumped forward eight years to the events of the film. However, but our understanding, the film was actually set just four years later, in the fall after Captain America: Civil War.
There were several explanations provided, but all ignored explicit dating in the movies. The best solution we could come up with was a timeline shift, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Civil War, Homecoming and all future films moved forward four years to be set in 2020. That said, it seemed more to be an isolated choice made to the benefit of Homecoming's story - either to make Peter Parker the kid in Iron Man 2 or allow Toomes' daughter to be young enough to do a rough drawing of the Avengers ahead of the film's stunning villain twist - rather than any major retcon.
Going forward, we expected the future films to ignore this. Any issue relates singularly to Homecoming so can be rather easily sidestepped going into Avengers: Infinity War, which is presumably set in its release year of 2018. Sadly, it's not going to be that simple.
Thor: Ragnarok's Timeline Contradiction
During Screen Rant's visit to the Thor: Ragnarok set, we found out from producer Brad Winderbaum when the movie will be set. Here's what he said:
"It's not like, five minutes after Ultron ends we start this movie. It's a couple years later... This movie takes place basically… You know, it’s hard. In the timeline of the MCU, things kind of happen on top of each other, especially now in Phase Three. They're not as interlocked as they were in Phase One, you know, during Fury’s Big Week and everything. So [Thor: Ragnarok] happens maybe on top of Civil War, on top of Spider-Man [Homecoming]. Somewhere in that ball park."
There's a lot to unpack, but most glaring is the contradiction in its relation to other movies. This isn't the first time we've heard "two years after Ultron" be Thor 3's setting; at SDCC, Kevin Feige revealed that Hulk had been repressing Banner for two years, meaning it has to be at least that long after The Avengers sequel's ending. This would place it in 2017, one year after the conventionally accepted setting for Civil War and Homecoming: Captain America 3 is set just one year after Age of Ultron, itself a year on from The Winter Soldier. None of these movies have explicit dating, but their spacing within the franchise is clear.
Of course, these comments come from last October, so may not reflect the current plan and, to be sure, we don't know what happens in the film's story or where it'll take the characters. But even allowing for some leeway in the wording, the inconsistency is obvious.
However, it's telling that they ignore Spider-Man: Homecoming's flub too, suggesting that it really was made for the movie at hand and has no bigger picture ramifications. And, thus, we may be able to solve the problem.
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