The timeline for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far more complicated than what Marvel Studios has done in the past, so here’s how each of the movies and TV shows fit in. When Marvel Studios first started building the MCU, they did so in a rather straightforward way. Phase 1 primarily saw the events of the movies play out close to each other, with Captain America’s mostly World War II-set film being the lone exception, as they built towards The Avengers. Phase 2 was more of the same and easy to follow chronologically, but the growth of the MCU has seen the timeline become a bit more confusing.
Phase 3’s timeline is a prime example of just how messy everything can become. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was set just a few months after the original film in 2014, Captain Marvel took place in 1995, and Ant-Man and the Wasp preceded Avengers: Infinity War despite being released after. Then, Avengers: Endgame complicated the timeline by jumping forward five years. If Marvel kept everything simple, this new setting for the MCU is where most of Phase 4 would take place. And after announcing the abundance of movies and shows that will make up Phase 4, there would be ample opportunities to progress the MCU forward.
However, it has quickly become apparent that Phase 4 of the MCU will move freely throughout the MCU timeline. They have multiple movies that will be prequels of some sort – that we know of – and a variety of TV shows that will deal with time travel or alternate realities (or both). Meanwhile, many other projects will be moving the MCU’s story and timeline forward. So where do the various movies and TV shows take place in the MCU timeline? Here’s what we know.
WandaVision kicked off Phase 4 of the MCU and Marvel’s move to Disney+ by telling a story set almost immediately after Avengers: Endgame. The setting of the series was a big question mark prior to its release, as the TV sitcom decades it emulates created a lot of confusion. Once WandaVision was released, it confirmed that this chapter of Scarlet Witch’s (Elizabeth Olsen) story takes place two weeks after Avengers: Endgame. This puts the show’s events in late 2023 based on what else is known about the MCU’s timeline. There are flashbacks to the direct aftermath of Hulk’s snap shown too, as well as glimpses into Wanda Maximoff’s past in Sokovia and Agatha Harkness’ origin in Salem in 1693. This gives the show a few different opportunities to flesh out the MCU timeline, including the uncertainty over when WandaVision‘s post-credits scene takes place in relation to the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier were previously confirmed to take place after Avengers: Endgame, but it wasn’t clear just how much time would pass between. The series primarily takes place six months after old Steve Rogers gave Sam Wilson the Captain America shield. This places The Falcon and the Winter Soldier closer to the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Tom Holland’s second solo film is set eight months after Endgame. Sam and Bucky Barnes’ story takes place in the early summer of 2024 as a result. The series does explore some other points in the MCU timeline, such as Bucky’s time in Wakanda before Avengers: Infinity War, and added to the MCU’s history by introducing Isaiah Bradley.
The first Phase 4 movie from Marvel Studios, Black Widow is a prequel in the MCU. This was inevitable for Scarlett Johansson’s solo film following Black Widow’s death in Avengers: Endgame. Natasha Romanoff’s swan song primarily takes place during the events of Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. Black Widow‘s placement in the timeline actually changes how viewers should understand the larger timeline, as it adds at least several days between Captain America and Iron Man’s fight and when Steve breaks the other Avengers out of The Raft. The movie even alters the latter event by confirming that Natasha supplied the jet to pick them up and helped Steve rescue their friends. It also begins with Natasha’s time as a child in 1995 and includes a brief flashback to her Budapest mission with Hawkeye.
Marvel’s Loki series on Disney+ messed with the timeline in its own way. Following Loki’s death at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, the show stars Tom Hiddleston as a version of the God of Mischief who escaped from the Avengers using the Tesseract in 2012, which was shown in Avengers: Endgame. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, and not the main MCU continuity, although it does impact the wider timeline in a major way. The Loki finale broke the Sacred Timeline and created the MCU’s multiverse. Other upcoming Phase 4 projects will deal with the fallout of this moment, including Loki season 2 eventually. Since the show does take place outside of the Sacred Timeline’s events, its revelations about Loki’s past and the MCU timeline are minimal.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the second MCU movie of Phase 4, but this origin story takes place almost entirely after Avengers: Endgame. The film opens by exploring Wenwu’s history and establishing the Ten Rings organization before jumping to 1996 when he first visits Ta-Lo. Outside of this opening sequence, the rest of Shang-Chi takes place after Avengers: Endgame. Its exact placement in the MCU timeline is actually right before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The movie mentions that the path to Ta-Lo only opens on Qingming Jie, a Chinese festival that will take place on April 4, 2024. Since Shang-Chi‘s main story plays out over the course of a few days, it runs from the end of March through the beginning of April. This is shortly before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place.
Marvel’s What If…? is much more complicated to place in the MCU timeline based on its premise. The animated Disney+ series tells a multiverse story where each episode shows an event from the MCU that unfolded very differently. For instance, the first episode of What If…? takes place in the 1940s after Peggy Carter takes the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers, while the Killmonger-focused episode takes place in 2008 and the Marvel Zombies episode is set in 2018. The crossover potential of the series and the possibility for live-action spinoffs might enable What If…? to play a large role in the MCU’s future. As of now, it is a self-contained, loosely connected animated series existing in the vastness of the multiverse.
Marvel’s Eternals is the third movie in Phase 4 and is unquestionably the most ambitious film of the slate in terms of what it can explore in the MCU timeline. It is confirmed that most of the story is set after Avengers: Endgame, but it is not yet known exactly how much time passes between the films. Eternals could take place almost directly after and once again change Phase 4’s viewing order. The post-Endgame world is not the only time that the movie explores, though. It spans thousands of years to properly tell its story about the Eternals living on Earth and, mostly, not interfering. Eternals can use flashbacks or memories to show what the enhanced human characters have been up to for the last 7,000 years in the MCU. This could include some massive revelations about the MCU’s past.
Other Marvel Phase 4 Movies & TV Shows Are After Avengers: Endgame
Every other movie and TV show announced for Phase 4 of the MCU not mentioned above will mostly take place in the “present-day” of the timeline. The years that these projects are set in, though, will not match up with the year that they are released. The time jump in Avengers: Endgame moved the timeline up to 2023, but even that is not the present anymore. Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place in the summer and eight months after Thanos’ defeat, firmly putting the film and the MCU in 2024 now. Either way, these movies and the remaining Disney+ shows will all advance the MCU timeline forward in some way.
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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