A seemingly inconsequential Spider-Man: Homecoming scene left quite a few people confused, but Avengers: Infinity War managed to clear things up.
[Warning: The following contains minor spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.]
A quick title card that flashes in Homecoming states that the movie takes place eight years after the events of The Avengers. We know that The Avengers takes place in 2012, according to an infographic Marvel released years ago. As we said when Spider-Man: Homecoming first came out, “The Avengers, like Captain America: Civil War, is set in the same year it was released.” Therefore, if The Avengers is set in 2012 and Homecoming is set eight years afterward, then Homecoming is set in 2020.
It gets a little more complicated from there.
We were led to believe that the events of Homecoming take place a few months after Civil War, and we know that Civil War takes place in 2016 thanks to a calendar date that appears in the movie. The clues don’t stop there. There’s a moment in Civil War where Vision refers to Tony Stark’s announcement that he was Iron Man as something that happened eight years ago. This comes with its own problems — that would place Iron Man in 2008, not 2011, when Marvel said it took place. Even if we forgive and forget that one Iron Man event, however, Homecoming taking place in 2020 doesn’t work because of how closely it ties into Civil War.
Look, even Infinity War co-director Joe Russo called the MCU “a very incorrect eight years” in an interview with ScreenRant.
Infinity War kind of sets it straight. There’s a scene where Tony Stark is quipping with Doctor Strange. During their conversation he brings up the attack on New York that happened six years ago. If we operate under the knowledge that The Avengers takes place in 2012, that returns the MCU timeline to its rightful place. Infinity War takes place in 2018, and effectively retconned Homecoming.
It’s not a perfect solution, but nothing about Marvel’s third phase really makes sense. Even Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ co-president, told CinemaBlend that the filmmakers try to stay away from specific dates, perhaps in part because of these scenarios.
I think people like to talk about our long term plans, which we certainly have. But very rarely do those long term plans dictate the specificity of any individual film. It’s usually the opposite. It’s focusing on a story, and focusing on the individual movie that we’re making to do what’s best. And then, if something changes that we weren’t quite expecting down the line because it was made for a better movie, then we deal with it down the line.
At least now people can rest easy knowing that Infinity War takes place in 2018, The Avengers takes place in 2012 and Spider-Man: Homecoming ... takes place.
Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theaters.