Guardians of the Galaxy gives us a pretty clear answer as to the year it occurs, and also helps dispel the notion that time dilation is a factor worth considering in the MCU. This is part 10 of a 20 part video series discussing when each film in the MCU takes place. So what year does this movie take place?
“Before creation itself, there were 6 singularities.”
For those that aren’t aware of what time dilation is, don’t worry. To put it simply, the farther two objects are from one another across space, time moves at a different speed. This doesn’t appear to be the case with Guardians of the Galaxy, and thus is likely not a factor in when and where these films take place on the timeline. The film begins with Peter Quill running away from the truth that is his mother dying in front of him in 1988. He’s whisked away thanks to Yondu, which emotionally stunts him for years to come as the Peter Pan archetypal character in the MCU.
26 years later, according to this title card, which places Guardians in 2014, Peter is seen dancing his way to steal the Power Stone on Morag. While no exact dates are given in the film, Guardians is generally considered to take place after The Winter Soldier, simply due to release schedule usually dictating chronology. So let’s presume for now that it occurs mid-summer 2014 in relation to earth.
Interestingly, the film is set on the backdrop of a thousand year Kree and Xandarian war ending in a peace treaty. “I will unfurl 1000 years of Kree justice on Xandar and burn it to its core! This spurs Ronan the Accuser into action to destroy Xandar once and for all. The present day events of Guardians of the Galaxy occur over a 6 to 7 day period. The second day we see Quill attacked on Xandar. Day 3 we see the Guardians get sent to the Kyln, and the next day they break free. Day 5 they make it to Knowhere and the Power Stone blows up the Collector’s home, and Ronan takes the stone for himself. Roughly two days pass until Quill challenges Ronan to a dance-off. We can also say for a certainty that the mid and end credits scenes take place in 2014, as you’ll learn more about in part 15.
All in all, 3.1% of the runtime occurs in 1988, while the remaining 96.9% takes place in 2014.