Warning: This post contains spoilers for all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
The timeline that runs through the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gotten a bit muddled. After all, our heroes have done more than simply age: they’ve traveled through time in Avengers: Endgame and across the multiverse in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It can be tricky to keep track of the order of various events when the Avengers are constantly jumping across decades or parallel universes.
If you’re a little fuzzy on how the Infinity Saga, the introduction of the multiverse, and the ground-level battles between heroes and villains on the streets of New York all fit together, we’ve got you covered. We’ve recapped every movie and dated every important event, even though Marvel hasn’t always been super specific about the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. (We did our best to estimate when everything took place.)
For the sake of brevity, we’ve left some minor characters. We’ve also skipped over movie plot points that haven’t had any impact on other Marvel films—yet. But perhaps this recap will inspire you to dedicate an entire week of your life (literally) to re-watching the films.
MCU Timeline: 1940s
Captain America: The First Avenger (released in 2011)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline officially beings in the 1940s when scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans if he were 5’4″ and didn’t have a gym membership) gets rejected by the army. So he volunteers for a dangerous military experiment that turns him into a tall, ridiculously muscular soldier (actual Chris Evans). Scientist Howard Stark (Iron Man’s dad) gives Cap a shield made of a powerful metal called Vibranium—which Stark probably stole from Wakanda. Pretty messed up.
Cap and his childhood friend Bucky Barnes fight HYDRA, a science-focused wing of the Nazi Party. Bucky dies—or does he?—and Cap crash-lands a plane into the snow with the powerful blue orb that HYDRA uses to power its weapons onboard. (Spoiler alert: This is the Tesseract with the Space Stone inside. The Space Stone can transport people across space.)
In 2012, scientists discover Captain America frozen but still alive because…science.
Important Post-Credits Scene: Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of a covert American military operation called S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) recruits Steve to join a team of superheroes called the Avengers Initiative.
MCU Timeline: 1995
Captain Marvel (released in 2019)
Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) a former fighter pilot with Tesseract-related superpowers and a bad case of amnesia, crash lands on earth. There, with the help of Nick Fury and her old friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), she discovers the aliens she’s been hanging out with for the lat few years, the Kree, are genocidal maniacs trying to destroy a shape-shifting alien race called the Skrulls. She retrieves the Tesseract for S.H.I.E.L.D. and rotects earth from a Kree attack using her ill-defined but very intense superpowers. Fly? She can do it. Shoot lasers? She can do that too. Destroy an entire spaceship by flying and shooting lasers? Yep.
Carol then gives Fury a tricked-out pager to call her if there’s an emergency on earth. Bizarrely, he doesn’t contact her when alien tries to enslave Earth or an A.I. tries to destroy all human life.
Important Post-Credits Scenes: Though Captain Marvel takes place in the 1990s, the post-credits scene is set in 2018 when Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp take place. As you will see later, Thanos makes half of all life disappear in the year 2018. Fury finally activated the pager that Carol gave him before he died during Thanos’ attack. The Avengers find it, and Captain Marvel arrives in the Avengers headquarters.
MCU Timeline: 2005-2011
The Incredible Hulk (released in 2008)
The U.S. military tries to revive the Super Soldier program that produced Captain America in the 1940s. Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, for now) agrees to the series of experiments, probably assuming he’d end up looking like Chris Evans. Instead, he turns into a big, green monster every time he gets angry. Tough break. The folks over at Marvel recast Hulk and like to pretend this movie never happened, so we’ll do the same.
MCU Timeline: 2010
Iron Man (released in 2008)
Howard Stark’s cocky son Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has made billions building high-tech weapons. He has no moral qualms about this until terrorists kidnap him using said weapons. Tony builds a gigantic metal suit to escape captivity.
Tony returns home a sort-of changed man. He realizes he’s in love with his personal assistant who he treats sort of terribly, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). And he swears he won’t build weapons anymore, except for the Iron Man suit, which only he can control. A billionaire playboy with abandonment issues is definitely more qualified than the U.S. government to decide who to kill. His business partner betrays him. They fight. Tony announces to the world that he’s Iron Man because he just can’t help himself.
Post-Credits Scene: Nick Fury tells Tony about the Avengers.
MCU Timeline: 2011
Iron Man 2 (released in 2010)
This movie is mostly just Mickey Rourke mumbling in an inscrutable accent while a white bird perches on his shoulder. (Seriously.) But the sequel does introduce Don Cheadle as Iron Man’s sidekick War Machine and Scarlett Johansson as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow.
Important Post-Credits Scene: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) drives up to a crater in New Mexico and sees Thor’s hammer in the center.
Thor (released in 2011)
Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the king of Asgard, banishes his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to Earth because he thinks Thor is arrogant. Iron Man already occupies the haughty hero slot on the Avengers team so Thor is going to have to undergo a personality transplant before he can join the team.
Thor meets Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who only uses arrows because everyone has to have a gimmick. Thor’s adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) tries to have Thor killed but fails. Loki dies—or does he?
Important Post-Credits Scene: Nick Fury explains to a scientist that S.H.I.E.L.D. has recovered the Tesseract from Captain America’s plane.
MCU Timeline: 2012
The Avengers (released in 2012)
Loki survived falling through a wormhole for unexplained reasons. An evil, faceless alien named Thanos lends Loki a staff that contains the Mind Stone. The stone allows Loki to control others’ minds. It’s strange that Thanos would lend Loki this extremely valuable stone considering Loki’s short resume includes “failed to murder brother,” but oh well.
Loki steals the Tesseract (with the Space Stone inside) and kills Agent Coulson—or does he? Agent Coulson will later be resurrected in the spin-off TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but for now he’s dead so the superheroes have someone to avenge.
Loki uses the Tesseract to open a portal between Earth and space and conjures an alien army and a giant space snake to attack New York City. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo) join forces to fight Loki. But the government doesn’t have a ton of confidence in the Avengers and decide to nuke New York because you cannot trust the government in these movies.
The Avengers win by redirecting the nuke at the alien ship. Once the alien ship blows up all the aliens on earth die because…space science. Thor takes Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard.
Important Post-Credits Scene: We see Thanos for the first time. Dun dun dun.
Loki (released in 2021)
Here’s where the concept of “time” and “timelines” starts to get a little wonky. During Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers travel back in time to the Battle of New York in 2012 to try to steal the Space Stone so they can stop Thanos in the future. However, the plan goes awry and Loki winds up stealing the Space Stone, creating a split in the timeline.
Loki begins with a group called the Time Variance Authority apprehending Loki for diverging from the master timeline. Loki finds out that there are multiple possible timelines with multiple “variants” of himself across them, including a female Loki who goes by Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). Loki falls in love with her (himself?) because he’s an egomaniac.
Loki and Sylvie uncover the man behind the “master timeline,” He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors). He Who Remains defeated an unsubtly named bad guy variant of himself called Kang the Conquerer, and created one true timeline to prevent Kang from trying to rule the whole multiverse. Sylvie kills He Who Remains, and it’s a huge mistake: Loki finds himself stranded in a universe where Kang the Conquerer has taken over. It’s unclear what “year” this all happens, or whether you can really assign a year to that event at all given that the Time Variance Authority is described as being set in the “void at the end of time.” Let’s just say, “Time is mysterious,” and move on.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Loki and Time Travel in the MCU
Iron Man 3 (released in 2013)
Villain Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) kidnaps the president. Iron Man stops him. Killian then kidnaps Pepper and injects her with a serum that may kill her—or may give her super powers. This plan turns out to be as dumb as it sounds: Pepper gets superpowers and then kills Killian. Iron Man is there, too.
MCU Timeline: 2013
Thor: The Dark World (released in 2013)
Some aliens try to use Aether, a floaty red substance, to turn all matter into dark matter because they’re evil and therefore must to evil things. We learn Aether is actually a manifestation of the Reality Stone. Loki decides he’s a good guy now and helps Thor defeat the bad guys. Loki dies, again—or does he?
Important Post-Credit Scene: Thor can’t keep the Reality Stone in Asgard because The Space Stone (Tesseract) is already there. You might as well be asking Thanos to come destroy your planet. Thor’s friends bring the Reality Stone to the Collector (Benicio del Toro). Thor’s friends seem really hesitant to leave such a powerful object with the Collector, which is reasonable because the guy has Howard the Duck trapped in a cage in his office.
MCU Timeline: 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (released in 2014)
This one has a lot of twists, so prepare yourself. Nick Fury tells Captain America that S.H.I.E.L.D. is building a worldwide surveillance system that can kill anybody. Cap rightly points out that this sounds kind of fascist. Their political argument is rudely interrupted by HYDRA agents who have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. (Gasp! Seriously, you cannot trust the government.) A HYDRA assassin called the Winter Soldier kills Nick Fury—or does he?
Cap and Black Widow go on the run, but they can’t stay hidden for long because Captain America is very handsome and very recognizable. They track down the Winter Soldier only to discover that he is Cap’s best friend Bucky Barnes, but brainwashed. (Gasp!)
Cap and Black Widow team up with a war vet named Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who conveniently knows how to fly an army-grade winged jetpack. They find out Nick Fury faked his own death. (Gasp!) Together they publish all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets on the internet. Bucky saves Cap during the ensuing fight proving himself to be good again. The bromance lives, but S.H.I.E.L.D. disbands.
Important Post-Credits Scenes: A HYDRA scientist reveals that he has created two new mutants using the Mind Stone. We meet Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver—the only X-Men Disney could get the rights to at the time.
Guardians of the Galaxy (released in 2014)
Marvel elevates Chris Pratt—the schlubby dude from Parks and Recreation—to sex symbol status. He plays Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, an orphaned thief obsessed with 70s music. Peter steals a not-very-well-guarded Infinity Stone called the Power Stone. Bad guy Thanos sends one of his adopted daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana in green body paint) to take the stone from Peter. Thanos is extremely lazy and never gets up from his throne for the entire movie.
Peter and Gamora eventually join forces with other lovable misfits—trisyllabic tree Groot (Vin Diesel), machine-gun wielding raccoon Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and muscular blue alien Drax (Dave Bautista)—to prove that Marvel can make money on even the weirdest and most obscure comic book characters. They protect the stone from Thanos and his minions, including Gamora’s half sister Nebula. Groot sacrifices himself to save the others and dies—or does he?
Important Post-Credits Scene: Groot doesn’t die. He’s reborn as a cute baby tree. The Guardians hand over the stone to Nova Corps, the Space Police.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (released in 2017)
Peter finds out that his father is a planet named Ego (Kurt Russell), which seems cool for awhile until Ego reveals he killed Peter’s mom. The Guardians and an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff) defeat Ego. At one point, Peter turns into a giant Pac-Man because he’s kooky like that. Disney sells a lot of Baby Groot toys.
MCU Timeline: 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron (released in 2015)
The Avengers did not assemble when a terrorist kidnapped the president. They did not assemble when a sleeper Nazi organization infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. But they do assemble to go on a road trip to the ludicrously named country of Sokovia, where Loki’s scepter might be. Sure.
Tony Stark and Bruce Banner use the Mind Stone to create an artificially intelligent being called Ultron and task him with keeping peace on earth. Ultron predictably turns homicidal. Ultron recruits Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)—who is super fast—and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen)—who has vague, ever-changing mind control and levitating powers. But the mutants later abandon Ultron and join the Avengers.
The Avengers, undeterred by how badly the Ultron experiment went, create a new superhero using the Mind Stone and Tony’s A.I. assistant Jarvis. They name him Vision (Paul Bettany), and he has even vaguer powers than Scarlett Witch. He’s maybe invincible? And also a ghost who can move through walls?
Ultron develops an extremely convoluted plan to turn Sokovia into a meteor that will crash into earth. Together the Avengers destroy Ultron but also kill almost everyone in Sokovia. Quicksilver actually dies. Oh, also Hulk and Black Widow are in love now, which is outrageous and dropped immediately in the next Avengers movie.
Important Post-Credits Scene: Thanos is finally fed up with his minions failing to attain the Infinity Stones. He puts on a golden glove called the Infinity Gauntlet that can hold each powerful gem and says “Fine, I’ll do it.” This line doesn’t totally make sense since Ultron was neither a minion of Thanos nor trying to get an Infinity Stone, but don’t overthink it.
Ant-Man (released in 2015)
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are scared that their old colleague Darren Cross is going to sell shrinking technology to bad guys. For sentimental but somewhat sexist reasons, Hank won’t let Hope fight this bad guy. So they recruit a random thief they don’t know named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to wear the Ant-Man suit and fight Cross.
Important Post-Credits Scene: Hank offers Hope her own superhero suit (finally!). She will don the suit for Ant-Man 2.
MCU Timeline: 2016
Captain America: Civil War (released in 2016)
Iron Man tries to get the rest of the Avengers to agree to U.N. oversight because they’ve accidentally killed hundreds (thousands?) of civilians in the last two Avengers movies. Captain America says no because he’s watched the other Avengers films and knows you can’t trust the government. Everyone takes sides except Thor and Hulk who are off on a space road trip (more on that later).
A terrorist murders the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka, and frames Bucky. T’Chaka’s son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther) goes after Bucky, but Cap tries to protect his old friend. Iron Man recruits Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to his side and hits on Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who is young and hot now. All the superheroes fight in an evacuated airport and nobody dies because that would make these heroes anti-heroes.
Iron Man realizes Bucky was set up. He and Cap are about to reconcile when Iron Man finds out brainwashed Bucky killed his parents. Cap, Bucky and Iron Man fight each other and let the bad guy get away. Black Panther, the only competent superhero left, arrests the terrorist. The Avengers disband.
Important Post-Credits Scene: Black Panther brings Bucky to Wakanda. Wakandan scientists freeze Bucky until they can figure out how to fix his brain.
Black Panther (released in 2018)
Just days after the death of his father, T’Challa becomes the King of Wakanda, a secretive and technologically advanced African nation. T’Challa’s long-lost cousin Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) challenges T’Challa for the throne and throws him off the side of a waterfall. T’Challa dies—or does he?
Killmonger becomes the Black Panther after he drinks a special plant that also allows him to visit his ancestors in another realm. He plans to share Wakanda’s technology and weapons with oppressed people, which is actually a legitimate and surprisingly nuanced political stance for a Marvel villain.
T’Challa survives the fall. His genius sister Shuri (Letita Wright), stealth ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and badass head of his armed forces Okoye (Danai Gurira) help him defeat Killmonger. T’Challa, the only person in the modern era to be swayed by another’s political opinions, decides to open up Wakanda to the rest of the world.
Important post-credits scene: Shuri greets a seemingly recovered Bucky Barnes in Wakanda.
Black Widow (released in 2021)
Black Widow, on the run after the events of Civil War, reunites with her sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh). Pugh’s Russian accent is both totally outlandish but also utterly delightful because Florence Pugh can do no wrong. Both women grew up with fake adoptive parents in the U.S. before being forced to train as Black Widow assassins back in Russia. They team up with their fake “parents”—who totally trafficked them, but they feel bad about it so it’s fine! Let bygones be bygones!— to free the remaining women in the Black Widow program.
Important post-credits scene: Years later, after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Yelena visits her sister’s grave. There, she’s met by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who Yelena has apparently worked for before as an assassin. Val tells Yelena that Hawkeye (a.k.a. Clint Barton) is responsible for Natasha’s death. (And she’s not wrong! But more on that later.)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (released in 2017)
After the events of Civil War, Peter Parker really wants to become an official member of the Avengers. In hopes of winning a spot on the super squad, he fights a villain called the Vulture (Michael Keaton) who is selling weapons made out of alien debris to bad guys.
Iron Man scolds Peter for recklessly fighting the Vulture, but then later rewards him for fighting Vulture by offering him a spot on the Avengers. (Iron Man need to work on his disciplinary skills before he becomes a dad.) Peter turns him down to concentrate on high school because he’s 15 years old and probably shouldn’t be fighting supervillains. (Except obviously he’s going to fight Thanos, a supervillain.)
Doctor Strange (released in 2016)
Surgeon Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) hurts his hands in a car accident and ventures to the mystical city of Kamar-Taj to find a cure. He trains under the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Mordo (a criminally underused Chiwetel Ejiofor) to jump through holes in space. Doctor Strange saves the world using the Eye of Agomoto, which contains the Time Stone and can turn time backward or forward. The Ancient One dies, but she was an extremely problematic character so nobody is that sad about it.
Important post-credits scene:
MCU Timeline: 2017
Thor: Ragnarok (released in 2017)
Thor, the bleak god who shouts his lines in faux-Shakespearean dialect, is funny now.
Odin tells Thor and Loki that their evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) is en route to Asgard to unleash the apocalypse and then immediately dies. Hela destroys Thor’s hammer, which is the space-god equivalent of setting fire to your little brother’s security blanket.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a former Asgardian, captures Thor and sells him into slavery as a space gladiator. Luckily, Thor’s first opponent is his old coworker Hulk. Valkyrie, Hulk, Loki and Thor team up to evacuate and destroy Asgard before Hela can unleash the apocalypse. Thor loses an eye, and Loki steals the Tesseract (containing the Space Stone) from the Asgardian treasure room because that guy can never decide whether he’s good or bad.
Important post-credits scene: A big ship overtakes Thor’s getaway ship. It’s Thanos coming for the Tesseract. Dun dun dun.
MCU Timeline: 2018
Ant-Man and the Wasp (released in 2018)
Scott Lang (a.k.a. Ant-Man) is under house arrest after the events of Civil War but escapes in order to help Hope Pym (now operating as superhero The Wasp) rescue her mother Janet from the Quantum Realm, a scary subatomic place where she’s been stuck for literal decades. Hope’s father Hank travels to the Quantum Realm where he finds Janet, who inexplicably has conjured up clothes, food, makeup, possibly a toilet while living in a void for literal years. Luckily she hasn’t gone insane.
Important post-credits scene: Scott enters the Quantum Realm for research purposes, but while he is there, Hope, Hank and Janet all disintegrate in Thanos’ culling (more on that below). Hopefully one of the Avengers remembers that Ant-Man exists in the next film and saves him.
Avengers: Infinity War (released in 2018)
Thanos wants to murder half of all people in the universe because of overpopulation. What an environmentally conscious baddie! To do so, he needs to acquire all six Infinity Stones, which, when wielded together, will allow him to control all life in the universe. Though nobody stops to ask Thanos why he doesn’t just use the Infinity Stones to double all the resources in the universe instead.
Anyway, considering that he’s been eyeing these stones for almost a decade and acquired none, he is able to snag all six surprisingly quickly, though at a runtime of 2 hours and 40 minutes, it may not feel that way for the audience.
Thanos’ basic strategy is threaten to kill one superhero so another superhero will give in and hand him an Infinity Stone with mostly positive results. He successfully gains the Space Stone from Loki by threatening his brother, Thor. He messes with Star-Lord by forcing him to shoot Gamora to save the Soul Stone—though he uses the Reality Stone to show Star-Lord that was all an illusion. And he forces Wanda to destroy the Mind Stone powering Vision, but then turns back time and takes it anyway.
The Avengers are too noble to kill each other in order to save the universe—which is too bad because Thanos destroys half of all life in the universe once he has all six stones. So ends the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just kidding: They have another decade of movies planned.
MCU Timeline: 2018-2023
Avengers: Endgame (released in 2019)
Avengers: Endgame opens at the same moment Infinity War ends, as Hawkeye, living with his wife and children and blissfully retired from the Avengers squad, realizes that his family has disappeared (because of Thanos). The Avengers hunt Thanos down and, after the bad guy reveals he destroyed the stones, Thor cuts off his head. It’s gnarly.
The movie picks up five years later in 2023 (gasp!) and the surviving heroes are spread across the world and galaxies. Captain Marvel has a new haircut, Captain America is running group therapy in New York, Black Widow is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But then Scott Lang wakes up and sets a new plan in motion, and the heroes finally come back together to travel through time in the hopes of saving the 50 percent of life that disappeared.
Members of the squad travel to different moments in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones, bring them back to the present (2023) and use them to snap everyone back into existence. A Thanos from the past finds out what they’re up to and travels forward in time to stop them. There’s a big battle. Captain America gets to wield Thor’s hammer. Iron Man sacrifices himself to save humanity. There’s a seriously cringe moment when all the ladies team up to fight Thanos and the guys just…take a water break, I guess? Anyway, the Avengers win. Thor goes off with the Guardians, and Steve—finally released from his Marvel contract—travels back in time to live out his days with Peggy. (Aww!)
MCU Timeline: 2023
Wandavision (released in 2021)
Wanda, grieving Vision’s particularly brutal death, enslaves an entire town to perform a sit-com-esque life for her and an imagined Vision. (That sounds bad, but actually—okay yeah, this is a pretty dark turn.) She even gives birth to super-powered twin boys, Billy and Tommy, using magic.
A nosy neighbor reveals herself to be a witch named Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) and pegs Wanda as the prophesied Scarlet Witch. Wanda gives up the mirage and decamps to a cabin in the woods, and the government is just kind of fine with that—or too terrified to Wanda to do anything. But before she goes she takes the Darkhold or Book of the Damned from Agatha.
Important post-credits scene: Wanda decamps to a remote cabin, studies the Darkhold, and looks for a way to reunite with her children.
Read More: Wadavision Offers Hope That Originality Can Survive the Era of the Ever-Expanding Franchise
For centuries a bunch of god-like beings have been living on earth tasked by a being called a Celestial a with protecting the planet from evil beings called deviants. If you’re wondering where the heck they were when, say, Thanos showed up, we’re told they were not allowed to interfere with any other events on earth, be it genocide or nuclear war for…cosmic declaration reasons. Despite their immense powers, the Eternals are rather boring and take way too long to figure the Celestial has been using earth as a big battery and will destroy it. They stop him, but only after the world’s longest, most contemplative road trip.
MCU Timeline: 2024
Spider-Man: Far From Home (released in 2019)
Spider-Man and his friends go on a euro trip. Peter works up the courage to confess his feelings to M.J. (Zendaya). Distracted, yearning for a father figure since Tony Stark died, and sick of the responsibilities of being a superhero, Peter hands over valuable Stark technology to Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a random guy he met just hours before. Mysterio claims he’s from another timeline but turns out to just be a grifter.
Mysterio stages a bunch of attacks to make himself look like a superhero. Spider-Man does eventually stop him, but not before Mysterio frames Spider-Man for the attacks.
Important post-credits scene: J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) reveals Spider-Man’s secret identity!
Falcon and the Winter Soldier (released in 2021)
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers bestowed the title of Captain America on Sam Wilson. Sam initially rejects the title but then the government gives it to a guy named John Walker (Wyatt Russell) who has a very punchable face and quickly proves himself to be unworthy of the shield by killing people with it. (In fairness, Steve Rogers no doubt killed a Nazi or two with that shield. I mean, that thing is heavy. How could he have not? But intent counts, I guess?)
Val picks up John Walker for whatever evil group she’s building, and Sam Wilson finally takes up the shield. Bucky is there too just kind of doing sidekick things and grimacing about his guilt from his days as a brainwashed HYDRA soldier. Oh, and Sharon Carter is maybe a villain now? In fairness, she’s probably traumatized from that time she kissed Steve Rogers who turned out to be her uncle.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (released in 2021)
Remember that terrorist group the Ten Rings that kidnapped Tony Stark? Well it turns out the head of that organization, a man named Wenwu (Tony Leung) held 10 actual, magical rings (well, bracelets, really) that gave him superpowers. Wenwu was not an amazing dad though. After his wife was murdered, he was pretty cold toward his son and daughter. The son, Shang-Chi ran way to America and adopted the name Shaun, which, as his friend Katy (Awkwafina) points out made him very easy to track. Wenwu becomes convinced that his wife is alive and being held somewhere, and Shang-Chi eventually has to fight the monster his father unleashes. And Katy becomes a master arrow-shooter after practicing for, like, 20 minutes.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (released in 2021)
Spider-Man and his friends want to go to M.I.T., but after Mysterio frames Peter Parker for the attack in London, none of them get in. Peter is so convinced that they deserved a spot at one of the most elite and selective universities on earth that he asks Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The spell goes predictably awry, unleashing a bunch of Spidey villains from the old Sony movies into the MCU.
Peter has to catch them like Pokemon and then create an antidote for their evil-ness. Luckily, every single Spider-Man villain is a naturally kind, usually brilliant man who just turned evil after an accident, like falling into a big tub of eels. So all their psychological ailments are totally fixable. But before Peter can cure the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Goblin kills Aunt May.
Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men show up to help Tom Holland fight Green Goblin. A very emotionally vulnerable Andrw Garfield catches Zendaya falling off the Statue of Liberty, and it’s lovely. maybe we actually want Andrew Garfield back as Spidey after all? Holland’s Spider-Man asks Strange to make everyone forget who Peter Parker is, including his friends. Truly an orphan, he moves alone into a sad apartment with a GED book and his old, pre-Stark tech Spidey costume. Happy holidays!
Read More: What’s Next for Spider-Man After No Way Home
Hawkeye (released in 2021)
Back when Hawkeye’s family was blipped, Clint worked through his emotions by just ruthlessly murdering bad guys. It was not the best look (and I’m not just talking about that mohawk). Now, he’s repenting for his sins by helping his biggest fan, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) take down a New York crime syndicate lead by Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). They shoot a bunch of trick arrows, get bruised up, and adopt an adorable golden retriever, who at one point wears a Santa hat. Yelena shows up to avenge Natasha and kill Clint, but Kate and Clint explain it’s all a big misunderstanding. Everyone makes it home in time for Christmas.
MCU Timeline: 2025
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (released in 2022)
Doctor Strange finds himself babysitting yet another super-powered teen. This time he has to protect America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a superhero who can hop across the multiverse at will, from Wanda Maximoff, who covets America’s power. Wanda has had a pretty tough beat so far in this universe, losing her parents, her twin brother, her boyfriend, and her two children in a rather short span of time. So she is understandably struggling with some stuff. The Darkhold has corrupted her and convinced her that killing America will allow her to reunite with her sons in another universe.
She pursues America and Strange in a universe-hopping chase, killing many a superhero and turning Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards (John Krasinski) into ribbons in the process. (Take that, fan casters!) Eventually, Wanda does reach her sons, and the boys are so disturbed by what their mother has become that Wanda realizes the error of her ways. She seemingly kills herself by collapsing a mountain.
Moon Knight (released in 2022)
A museum gift shop worker with an absolutely comical British accent named Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) discovers he has a second personality named Marc. (The impulse to end every sentence with “init?” might have been a tip-off that he wasn’t really British.) Both Steven and Marc can wield superpowers granted to them by the Egyptian god of the moon Khonshu. They learn to work together with the help of Marc’s wife, the superhero Scarlet Scarab (Layla El-Faouly). They all fight bad guy (Ethan Hawke), who walks around in glass with his shoes for reasons that are never explained. He wants to free the Egyptian goddess Ammit and exact judgment on humans for crimes they have not yet committed.
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Ms. Marvel (released in 2022)
New Jersey teen and Avengers superfan Kamala Khan discovers that she has superpowers herself, like the ability to stretch and grow. It was really only a matter of time before Marvel started venturing into the tween market.
Thor: Love and Thunder (released in 2022)
Thor’s old hammer calls to his girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). She picks it up and becomes the Goddess of Thunder. Old Thor (Hemsworth) and New Thor (Portman) team up with Valkyrie to battle Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who is on a mission to, well, butcher the gods.
There are not a ton of signposts to tell us when Thor: Love and Thunder takes place. Thor himself does offer us a hint. When he runs into his old flame, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Jane asks when they last saw each other. “What’s it been, like three, four years?” she asks him. Thor quickly responds, “Eight years, seven months and six days, give or take.” Clearly he’s been missing her.
We don’t know exactly when Thor and Jane broke up. They were likely together in 2015 when Thor bragged about his genius girlfriend to Iron Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But Thor was definitely single and hurting by the events of Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. So if we assume that Thor’s pain in that movie was fresh from a breakup, we can guess that Love and Thunder is set in 2025.
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