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The strength of the continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has led a lot of fans to obsess about the canon timeline of the entire franchise -- but it was because of this that a good amount of confusion was generated this summer. In the opening sequence of Spider-Man: Homecoming, a title card establishes that the events of the blockbuster take place eight years after the events of The Avengers, but this doesn't really line up with the perception that the Joss Whedon movie takes place in the year 2012. This bit of trivia has been vexing Marvelites for months, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has now finally clarified the issue:
All of that debate has made us go, 'Okay, at some point, I'm not sure exactly when, we're going to publish a timeline and see what it all is.' It wasn't meant to flummox anybody exactly, and I'm not sure I'd do it again the same way, but it does all connect to where we placed it. Other than very particular instances where there's a newspaper, or verbal reference to years, we never date the films. And I think there's a presumption, 'Well if the movie came out in November 2017, it must take place in November 2017' -- which is not the case.
I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Kevin Feige today during the Los Angeles press junket for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok - and while the bulk of our conversation centered on the new Taika Waititi movie, I opened asking about Spider-Man: Homecoming. Being a Marvel fan who has been confused about the timeline, I specifically asked Kevin Feige about it, and he explained that while it may not seem to make sense now, it definitely does from a macro perspective.
As noted by Kevin Feige, there are a few moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the movies have specifically established dates -- the most significant being the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which directly set up that events are taking place in the year 2014. That being said, most of the titles don't get that specific setting, and despite the fact that Daredevil features a "Battle of New York" newspaper that features the year 2012, apparently that date isn't canon.
I specifically followed-up with Kevin Feige asking if The Avengers was or wasn't set in the year 2012, and while he evaded the question, he did dive further into the plans to actually publish the timeline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and established the one key point in time where everything completely changed in the world:
The specifics of the timeline, looking at... I've loved timelines, I love the Star Wars timeline, with the Battle of Yavin, everything is either After The Battle Of Yavin, Before The Battle of Yavin. We're doing that, and the origin point for us is Tony saying, 'I am Iron Man.' So everything will be years after that, years before that -- to the Big Bang, which is where it starts! It will look very cool and complex like Doc Brown on a chalkboard by the time it's published.
For now we still don't have the complete picture regarding how the bulk of Spider-Man: Homecoming is set eight years after the events of The Avengers -- but for now we can at least acknowledge that it's not some kind of clerical error. We will keep an eye out for further updates on this story, as well as when we can expect the publication of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline!