A series of marvelous events: A Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline
You know not all the Marvel movies are in chronological order, right? No? Well, here's a handy timeline to help you put things in order, from the 1940s all the way to the not-too-distant future. Yup, it's true — some of the MCU action we've already seen takes place in the future! Click ahead for the scoop.
This is known as the Project: Rebirth era, a.k.a the creation of Captain America, literally the first Avenger.
Steve Rogers becomes Captain America
As part of Project: Rebirth, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) uses a super-soldier serum to transform Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). Captain America, alongside SSR agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos, then take on the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who has possession of the space Infinity Stone, the Tesseract. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Bucky Barnes supposedly dies
In their quest to take down the Red Skull, Steve Rogers' childhood best friend James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes (Sebastian Stan) falls to his apparent death during a mission to capture Hydra scientist Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Captain America is frozen in ice
After defeating the Red Skull, who was felled after directly handling the Tesseract, Captain America crashes the Hydra plane Valkyrie into the Arctic to prevent a catastrophic attack on American soil. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
S.H.I.E.L.D. is founded
The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division was founded by Peggy Carter and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) in the wake of WWII, but Arnim Zola secretly keeps Hydra alive within its ranks. (Agent Carter Marvel One Shot, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
This decade is home to two major moments that affected our heroes in irrevocable ways.
The original Wasp seemingly dies
Suiting up as the Wasp for S.H.I.E.L.D. missions alongside husband and original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet van Dyne goes sub-atomic to disable a missile, possibly becoming lost in the quantum realm. (Ant-Man)
Peter Quill is abducted from Earth
Following the death of his mother, a young Peter Quill (Wyatt Oleff) is abducted by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the Ravagers, who are working for his Celestial father, Ego (Kurt Russell). (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Soon to be featured in the upcoming Captain Marvel, this decade has a few other notables as well.
Tony Stark is orphaned
After creating a new super-soldier serum, Howard Stark (John Slattery) and his wife Maria (Hope Davis) are assassinated by the Winter Soldier (Stan) under Hydra's orders. (Captain America: Civil War)
T'Chaka kills Prince N'Jobu
Prince N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) enlists arms dealer Ulysses Klaus (Andy Serkis) to steal Vibranium from Wakanda in order to arm the oppressed. As a result, a young King T'Chaka (Atandwa Kani) is forced to kill his brother N'Jobu and abandons his nephew Erik (Seth Carr) in Oakland. (Black Panther)
Captain Marvel rises
The upcoming '90s-set film will follow Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. And thanks to the film being set in the past, familiar faces like S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and Guardians of the Galaxy villains Ronan (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) will appear. (Captain Marvel)
Project: Rebirth comes full circle during this decade.
The Hulk is born
Bruce Banner (then played by Edward Norton) is exposed to gamma radiation and a formula derived from Dr. Erskine's serum, leading to the creation of his angry alter ego. (The Incredible Hulk)
The biggest decade for the MCU by far is divided into two very distinct sections. Starting with…
The Avengers Initiative
Spanning across the first two phases of the MCU films, the Avengers Initiative portion first established many of the heroes we've come to know and love before bringing them together.
Tony Stark becomes Iron Man
The genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist is critically wounded while being kidnapped by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, prompting Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to build the first arc reactor, which will eventually power the Iron Man suit. After going public with his superhero identity, he's approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury to join The Avengers. (Iron Man)
Black Widow infiltrates Stark Industries
Under the guise of being Tony Stark's personal assistant, former KGB agent-turned-S.H.I.E.L.D.-spy Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) keeps tabs on Tony amid fears he's dying from palladium poisoning from his arc reactor. Black Widow, along with War Machine (Don Cheadle), ultimately help Tony defeat villain Whiplash (Mickey Rourke). (Iron Man 2)
Thor crashes to Earth
Cast out by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), for courting war with the Frost Giants, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lands on Earth, befriending scientists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) while his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), tries to steal the throne back in Asgard. (Thor)
Captain America is defrosted
After spending nearly 70 years encased in ice, Steve Rogers is discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. and thawed out, not having aged due to his high metabolism as a result of the super-soldier serum. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
The battle of New York
Loki steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. to unlock a portal -- with the help of a mind-controlled Selvig and Agent Clint Barton, a.k.a Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) -- that will unleash the Chitauri to enslave Earth. But the Avengers -- with a new Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo -- team up to stop him in the wake of Agent Phil Coulson's death. Upon their victory, the Tesseract is returned to Asgard. (The Avengers)
Tony de-powers, while Pepper Potts powers up
Tony defeats the Mandarin (Guy Pearce), who had inflicted Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) with now-stabilized Extremis powers, and has surgery to remove the shrapnel near his heart, rendering his personal arc reactor obsolete. (Iron Man 3)
Thor battles the Dark Elves
Thor prevents Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) from unleashing the Reality Infinity Stone (or Aether), during the Convergence, leaving it in the care of the Collector (Benicio Del Toro). (Thor: The Dark World)
The Guardians of the Galaxy defeat Ronan
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aligns with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) to prevent Kree radical Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) from destroying Xandar with the Power Infinity Stone, resulting in the death of Groot. The Guardians subsequently leave the orb under the protection of the Nova Corps. (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Peter meets his daddy
A few months after defeating Ronan, Peter Quill's father Ego (Kurt Russell) attempts to use him as a battery to terraform thousands of planets and effectively take over the universe. Yondu (Michael Rooker) sacrifices himself to save Quill when baby Groot sets off a giant explosion, and Gamora's sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) vows to kill their father Thanos (Josh Brolin). (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Aiming to subjugate the world, Hydra finally reveals it has long infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ranks. Captain America discovers that one of their agents, the Winter Soldier, is actually a brainwashed -- but still alive -- Bucky, who tried to kill Nick Fury, forcing the S.H.I.E.L.D. boss to fake his own death. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
The birth of Ultron
With the help of the gem in Loki's scepter, which happens to be the Mind Infinity Stone, Tony and Bruce accidentally create the egomaniacal artificial intelligence Ultron (James Spader), who aims to destroy the world. Though the Avengers are aided in stopping Ultron after Tony turns his A.I. companion J.A.R.V.I.S. into Vision (Paul Bettany), their actions lead to the destruction of Sokovia. (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Scott Lang becomes Ant-Man
Hank Pym enlists well-meaning thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) to prevent Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from selling powerful shrinking tech to Hydra. (Ant-Man)
The Sokovia Accords
The MCU took a turn with the introduction of the Sokovia Accords, a registration of enhanced individuals act that came as a result of destruction caused by the Avengers. The Accords led to...
This means (civil) war
After an accident caused by Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) leads to the registration of supers with the Sokovia Accords, Steve Rogers tries to protect his friend when Bucky is framed for the death of Wakandan King T'Chaka (John Kani), leading heroes to take sides as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Tony Stark seek revenge against the Winter Soldier. (Captain America: Civil War)
Black Panther returns home
Shortly after the death of his father, T'Challa takes his rightful place as king. But he is challenged by his cousin, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who attempts to follow in his father's footsteps and arm the oppressed around the world, but is ultimately killed by T'Challa. (Black Panther)
Spider-Man says no to the Avengers
After aligning with Tony Stark during Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is desperate to prove himself, hunting down local villain the Vulture (Michael Keaton). But after saving the day, he ultimately turns down a spot on the Avengers. (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Stephen Strange defeats Dormammu
After a freak accident left arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) unable to use his hands, he seeks refuge at Kamer-Taj, unlocking great power. The Sorcerer Supreme then uses the mystical Eye of Agamotto, the Time Infinity Stone, to vanquish the world-conquering Dormammu. (Doctor Strange)
The destruction of Asgard
Following the death of Odin, his firstborn Hela (Cate Blanchett) aims to conquer the realms, forcing Thor to enact Ragnarok, but not before Loki seemingly steals the Tesseract from Asgard's vault. (Thor: Ragnarok)
It's the movie the first three phases of the MCU has been building toward as more than 20 heroes align to stop Thanos from amassing the aforementioned Infinity Stones. And here's the scoop you've been waiting for: EW can confirm that many of the MCU films take place in the not-too-distant future, though Marvel will not confirm which or how many. Hit the comments with your theories!