One of the strongest features on Disney+ is its inclusion of a full list of its MCU projects (at least, the Marvel Studios ones) in timeline order. Some placements have sparked considerable controversy among diehard fans. Here we’ll be discussing everything that appears to be wrong with the timeline, whether it matters, and why these problems could have come about.
Debut of the Disney+ MCU Timeline:
It all started in October 2020 when the MARVEL section of Disney+ was revamped. The MCU was organised into release order in its main section, but more importantly, a new chronological order was added. This was the first time an official source had posted an official timeline outside of reference books since Phase One!
At the time, only The Infinity Saga (excluding The Incredible Hulk and the Jon Watts Spider-Man films) was available on Disney+, and Phase Four had not yet started. The timeline order was accurate, except for one glaring issue: it placed Thor: The Dark World before Iron Man 3. This was strange, because when asked whether the film took place half a year after Avengers, Kevin Feige didn’t deny it. Also, events from ABC’s Agents of SHIELD (EXTREMIS was a factor in a plotline from the first season) only work if Iron Man 3 happens before the series’ Thor tie-in. Most likely an in-film date on a newspaper, which places it near Christmas 2013, is the primary reason many consider it post-Thor: The Dark World, but all other timeframes line up best in 2012.
There was also the matter of the Marvel Entertainment series, such as Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter and Runaways, not being placed among the Marvel Studios productions in this section. Some fans took this as confirmation that the series were not canonical to the MCU, while other fans chalked it up to these series not being produced by Marvel Studios, despite being part of the continuity, or them not adhering to any specific point in the timeline due to their long-form nature.
More “mistakes” in Phase Four:
As Phase Four expanded the universe, the films and Disney+ original series introduced were added to the timeline. One notable placement was Avengers: Endgame -> Loki -> What If…?, which is good thematically and is Geekritique’s agreed upon viewing order (Endgame creates the 2012 Loki variant, whose story continues in Loki, which creates the Multiverse that is showcased in What If…?) but does not reflect what happens in Earth-616, due to the Multiversal nature of those latter two series. It’s a small point of contention with some, but worth discussing, as technically it’s no longer on the same timeline. Furthermore, Black Widow was originally placed correctly, but then was briefly shifted after Black Panther, although the film presents itself as a very short time after Civil War. It was eventually switched back around a few weeks later.
However, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was, and still is, placed strangely. Its placement suggests it takes place in July 2024, three months after the festivals and events shown in the film suggested it took place. Plus, when Spider-Man: Far From Home was added to Disney+ in some territories, it confused the placement of Shang-Chi even more, placing itself ahead of Shang-Chi. Eternals‘ placement also contradicted what was suggested in the film, because Ajak says that it had been five years since the Snap, but the Disney+ timeline suggests it’s been six.
How Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ Disney+ release changed things for the timeline order section:
When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness released on Disney+ in June of 2022, it was placed before Hawkeye. This was odd because fans had all concluded that this film took place a few months later than that, based on a spring scene from the film. As fans became outraged about this placement, Marvel Entertainment published an article about the Disney+ timeline that same day, which said that the timeline was made “under the guidance of the Marvel Studios creative team”. What? timeline passionates thought. How could Marvel Studios make these mistakes? Were we wrong the whole time?
After this timeline bombshell, Dakota of this very Geekritique noticed that the rest of the film does back up Disney+’s placement, interestingly. Every other scene in the film matches up with autumn, and an old quote saying it was months later was misunderstood to have been said by director Sam Raimi, even though it wasn’t.
But Thor: Love and Thunder was wrong again, and contradicted a line from Captain America: Civil War! General Ross asks where Thor is in Captain America, which suggests he’s already left Earth by then, but in Love and Thunder, Thor says he broke up with Jane on Earth eight years and seven months before LaT, and the film’s placement on the Disney+ timeline, late 2025, implies he broke up after Civil War, which simply cannot be. This timeline is chaos, and a lot of its placements just don’t make sense.
What is with all these mistakes?
You can often work out the reasonings behind these placements, like newspapers which date Iron Man 3 in 2013, or signs which advertise July events in Shang-Chi. Therefore, there is a process for this timeline, but Marvel seem to use less prominent clues than the heavy dialogue clues and the logic of “which placement has more evidence?” that timeliners like Geekritique or the MCU Wiki use.
But does it matter?
These projects are all placed in positions where the characters from the incorrectly-placed projects will not be mixed up with their next big team-up, so everyone’s story is told in chronological order individually. However, this is still a timeline that appears to incorrectly chart the course of the MCU, so it would be nice for this timeline to be cleaned up. However, its current lineup doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the films if you’re completely oblivious to the order’s controversy. So, in my opinion, this timeline isn’t as catastrophic as some would make it out to be.
3 thoughts on “The MCU Timeline Order on Disney+: Its Many Controversies Explained”
Great article. A few thoughts I had after reading it:
1. The Thor the Dark World placement doesn’t necessarily mean that Iron Man 3 is in Dec 2013. Instead, Thor: TDW may be placed there simply because the beginning of the movie happens right after Avengers ends. Then, the rest of the movie is much later in Nov of 2013, which also means Iron Man 3 happens during the run time of Thor: TDW since Iron man 3 is in Dec, 2012. So Thor: TDW is being placed more on when the movie starts rather than when it ends.
2. While Shang Chi’s placement goes against the Qingming festival’s real world timing, keep in mind that Far From Home goes against the Festival of Light’s real world timing and Ms. Marvel goes against the Eid celebration’s real world timing. For some reason, the festivals/celebrations post-endgame seem to have strayed from when we celebrate them in the real world, but that doesn’t make Shang Chi’s placement wrong, per se. Plus, it lines up with the July date seen on the advertisement during the bus fight.
3. Thor: Love and Thunder’s placement isn’t wrong due to Ross’ statement in Civil War. The placement of the movie in the D+ timeline is in late 2025 (after Ms. Marvel, which is in September). The movie implies that Jane got a blood test on 4/30 (likely of 2025 due to the D+ placement) and then she heard the call of Mjolnir in New Asgard and she tells Thor this was six months ago. That places the movie in Nov 2025. So running the date back by 8 years, 7 months, 6 days, that would put the break-up around April of 2017, which was after Civil War and thus Ross’ statement is correct at the time. It seems clear Thor was on and off earth here and there, so he would have gotten Jane’s note on just such a visit.
I think the D+ timeline isn’t as off as people say, because it seems to line up pretty well. But just my take. Again, great article!
1. If this were true, Doctor Strange would be placed before Civil War.
The other two are good points.
Thanks for the support!
Regarding Doctor Strange, it’s placement doesn’t matter as much as it doesn’t tie in directly with another movie. So Doctor Strange doesn’t have to be placed before Civil War and can really be placed in a few locations due to it spanning several months in the MCU. I think the Thor: TDW placement is simply due to the direct connection between Avengers and Thor: TDW. But just my take.