There are two ways to experience Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and most fans are already getting the most straightforward version. That’s watching the films in theaters and the shows online as soon as they launch. Nobody can blame you for wanting to see the new adventures the minute they come out, of course. But the second way to experience the MCU is better suited for rewatching Marvel movies and shows at home because it involves seeing everything in chronological order.
Not presenting events in chronological order is one of the best things about the MCU. It allows the studio to explore all sorts of time periods simultaneously, connecting everything with clever Easter eggs and callbacks. With each new movie and TV show that launches, the timeline changes. For example, Black Widow will show us recent events in the MCU that happened between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. But some of these events will influence the MCU’s timeline after Endgame. Black Widow is the first movie in MCU Phase 4, but you’ll have to watch it right after Civil War whenever you plan to rewatch all the MCU shows in chronological order.
A Marvel fan took the MCU chronology to the next level, carving everything up into a scene-by-scene chronology that would give other fans even more granular control over the order of events in the MCU.
It goes without saying that Marvel never set out to tell a linear story when it started the MCU in 2008 with Iron Man. Despite all the careful planning, the studio always knew it would need prequels to deliver origin stories, and that its plans might be influenced by access to character rights. Disney’s acquisition of Fox brought back the rights for X-Men, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four. Those stories will now have to be intertwined with the current MCU properties.
Marvel doesn’t even want to tell a story that follows the timeline from Point A to Point Z, stopping everywhere in between. Captain Marvel is an excellent example of that. The action takes place in the mid-90s when Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) first met Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and gave him that epic pager that wouldn’t be seen again in the MCU until some 20 years later. Fury used the pager at the end of Infinity War to call reinforcements just as he was snapped out of existence. We needed to see Fury’s desperate Hail Mary before we learned where that pager came from.
But if you’re rewatching the MCU in chronological order, or if you’re watching the films for the first time from home, then Captain Marvel will be the second film you experience, right after Captain America: The First Avenger and before Iron Man.
This is where Redditor lux-in-flux’s work comes in handy, as it fixes another problem with the chronology. Some of the MCU films feature plenty of back and forth movement through time, as they include several flashbacks mixed in between the action. As a result, some of the events in one movie or TV series might overlap with the events of a different one. The Redditor put together an awesome Excel file that is available to the public via Google Docs that lists the MCU chronology scene by scene. It’s an incredible feat that must have taken a tremendous amount of time to pull off. Lux-in-flux doesn’t just cover the MCU, but everything Marvel released on TV as well.
The following example concerns only the MCU. As you can see, the Redditor broke down scenes by timecodes to give us the chronology of the MCU down to the minute. The sample below contains scenes from Avengers: Endgame, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
To watch it, you’d have to have all those films open at the same time and play the various scenes in the exact order laid out above. Some scenes will be just a few seconds long, while others will last a few minutes. In other words, as amazing as it would be to watch MCU content like this, the whole thing would be quite tiring because you’d have to constantly move back and forth between different films and TV shows to the point where the viewing experience would suffer.
Still, the work behind this gargantuan task is absolutely worth applauding. And the Excel file is undoubtedly one to keep handy if you ever need to refresh your knowledge of things. The comments on the side make remembering everything even easier. Also, we would be surprised to see some form of supercut hit the web at some point soon, now that this in-depth chronology is out there.
Marvel is about to release even more TV series and films, and the official chronology will see plenty of additional changes. The Eternals is the best example of that. The film will tell a story that spans a few millennia on Earth, and many scenes from the film will likely predate everything that happened in the MCU so far. The current MCU chronology covering the releases so far starts with a scene from the beginning of Black Panther, according to lux-in-flux’s work. The Redditor’s massive Marvel chronology project is available at this link.