A “Brief” Recap of the MCU Timeline (Part Five – Phase 4 Vol. 1: The Multiverse Saga Begins)

Click here for Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 of our MCU Breakdown!

Before we delve into Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (in chronological order), if you haven’t already, this is a great time to refresh yourself on ALL the Spider-man movies, as well as the previous entries in the X-Men franchise, before we kick off “The Multiverse Saga”! (As always with these breakdowns, spoilers ahead!)

Loki – Season 1 (2021)

The “Loki” series picks up with a variant of Loki from “Avengers: Endgame” (the one that stole the Tesseract in the past, during the ‘Time Heist’ sequence) – being apprehended by the TVA (The Time Variance Authority) – a time-travelling agency that exists outside of time! Loki’s case officer is Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson), who shows Loki what happened to him in the main timeline, and he’s distraught to find out that his life amounted to nothing. A holographic animated AI clock called “Ms. Minutes” (Tara Strong) explains that the TVA was established to avoid a multiversal war by ‘pruning’ branching timelines.

Loki and Mobius go on a series of a missions to try and track down a female variant of Loki called Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), traveling through time from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE to a Category 5 hurricane in the year 2050 to a doomed alien world in the year 2077! Loki soon comes face to face with several variants in a realm called ‘The Void’, including: Classic Loki (Richard E. Grant), Kid Loki, Boastful Loki, President Loki, and… Gator Loki?! Eventually, Loki and Sylvie confront the man behind the TVA: “He Who Remains” (Jonathan Majors), who we later learn is a variant of Kang the Conqueror!

Click here for a more thorough breakdown of each episode!

What If…? – Season 1 (2021)

The “What If…?” animated series explores the multiverse first introduced in “Loki” by showing us alternate timelines from storylines that we saw in Phases 1-3, including: Captain Carter, T’Challa and the Guardians of the Galaxy (w/ a cameo from Good Guy Thanos), Evil Doctor Strange, Marvel Zombies, and What if Ultron won?!

Wandavision (2021)

WandaVision” is a very unique show that starts out as a seemingly funny gimmick where each episode is mimicking sitcoms from each decade on each episode – but as the series goes on we quickly learn that things aren’t quite what they appear to be and by the end it becomes one of the most meta and emotionally deep contemplations on grief ever made…

It’s revealed that following the death of Vision in “Avengers: Infinity War” (and the defeat of Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame”), Wanda Maximoff’s overwhelming grief over the loss of her loved one caused her subconscious to create a “perfect world” based on the American sitcoms that she grew up watching in Sokovia before losing her family and being experimented on by Hydra – a world where Vision is still alive and they’re happily married in suburbia. Using her reality warping powers, she inadvertently trapped the entire town of Westview, New Jersey in her illusion, without even realizing it! Captain Monica Rambeau of SWORD (Teyonah Parris – last seen as a child in “Captain Marvel”), Darcy (Dr. Jane Foster’s intern – last seen in “Thor: The Dark World”), and FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (last seen in “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) all become involved in trying to untangle the mysterious phenomenon that’s trapped the town of Westview as Wanda’s magic begins to unravel.

Before Wanda can come to terms with the situation, just as she’s realizing what’s going on, her ‘neighbor’ Agnes is revealed to be Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) – an immortal witch from a coven in Salem, who is attempting to uncover the secret of the Scarlet Witch’s hex. Wanda realizes that she can’t keep living in her fantasy and is forced to say goodbye to Vision and their children (that she conjured from an alternate reality) in a heartbreaking scene. Ultimately, Wanda is able to lift the curse on the town, and stops Agatha, but can’t undo the trauma she’s caused.

The series ends with an ominous scene where Wanda is summoning black magic with an ancient forbidden book known as The Darkhold…

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)

At the end of “Avengers: Endgame”, after traveling through time to return the Infinity Stones, Steve Rogers decided to stay behind in the past to live out his life with Peggy Carter, and (as an old man) gave his shield over to Sam Wilson aka “The Falcon”. Sam and Bucky (Cap’s best buds) team up on for a mission to take down a super-powered terrorist cell, with the help of the villainous Baron Zemo (last seen in “Captain America: Civil War”), and US Agent, John F. Walker (Wyatt Russell). The series ends with Sam officially taking on the mantle of Captain America!

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi (Sim Liu), a Chinese-American living in San Francisco is drawn into a family feud with his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), and his father, Wenwu (Tony Leung) aka “The (real) Mandarin” – the leader of the enigmatic Ten Rings terrorist organization (see: “Iron Man”), which gets its name from the ancient powerful artifacts that Wenwu weilds!

The movie also stars Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and Fala Chen, with a surprise appearance of Ben Kingsley’s hilarious character from “Iron Man 3” – Trevor Slattery! In addition to a predominantly Asian cast, its also directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, a Japanese-American from Hawaii, and (in addition to being a great martial arts movie) is praised for its depiction and representations of Asian cultures.

After confronting his father in the mythical realm of Ta Lo (and stopping a soul-eating CGI dragon), Shang-Chi gains control over the Ten Rings themselves, while his sister takes over the “Ten Rings” organization. The movie ends with Shang-Chi meeting with Wong, Captain Marvel, and Bruce Banner – who inform him that the rings are acting as a beacon for… something…

Eternals (2021)

The “ETERNALS” is basically Marvel’s take on DC’s god-like characters. The story follows a group of immortal beings who have helped shape human history from the shadows, defending against a sinister force known as ‘The Deviants’. The story introduces some of the larger cosmic forces from the Kirby-era comics, namely ‘The Celestials’.

The movie stars: Angelina Jolie as Thena, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Barry Keoghan as Druig, and Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh.

Timeline / History Flashbacks: 5,000 BCE – The Eternals first arrive on Earth, 400 CE – Ikaris and Sersi’s wedding, 1521 – The Siege of Tenochtitlan / the Fall of the Aztec Empire (Mexico), and 1945 – The Bombing of Hiroshima (Japan, WWII).

Spider-man: Far From Home (2019)

In “Spider-man: Far From Home”, Peter Parker is still struggling with the ramifications of “Avengers: Endgame”, with the death of his mentor, Tony Stark (Iron Man), and having vanished for five years. Peter and his friends are on a class trip to Europe, when Nick Fury approaches him to help Quentin Beck aka ‘Mysterio’ (Jake Gyllenhaal), on a mission to save the world from four elemental creatures invading from an alternate universe.

However, it all turns out to be a ruse by Beck to trick Peter into handing over control of Stark’s drone tech. Mysterio is revealed to be a master of illusions using holographic imagery, and Spidey must learn to trust his spider sense to overcome his tricks. At one point, Peter and MJ reveal their feelings to one another, and she reveals that she already figured out he was Spider-man. Happy Hogan shows up in a Quinjet in London to help Peter out, and gives him one of Stark’s 3D printers, allowing him to make a new red and black suit, with a built in web glider.

After Mysterio seemingly dies by his own hand, the movie ends with J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons) announcing Peter’s secret identity to the world with a video left behind by Mysterio, implicating Spider-man in the attack on London!

During the movie, Fury is also revealed to be a shape-shifting Skrull (see: “Captain Marvel”), while the real Fury was off planet!

Spider-man: No Way Home (2021)

“Spider-man: No Way Home” picks up immediately after “Far From Home”, with Peter’s identity being revealed to the world by Mysterio and J. Jonah Jameson, which causes ramifications for everyone close to him: MJ, Ned, Aunt May, and Happy Hogan. At one point, Matt Murdock aka Daredevil shows up to represent Peter as his lawyer. In desperation, Parker turns to Doctor Strange for help.

Strange casts a spell to erase everyone’s memory of Parker, but something goes wrong and instead of erasing everyone’s memory of Peter being Spider-man, it pulls in several villains who knew Spider-man’s identity from across the multiverse: Otto Octavius aka ‘Doctor Octopus’ (Alfred Molina), Norman Osborn aka ‘The Green Goblin’ (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church), and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans)!

After learning that each of them died fighting Spider-man in other realities, Peter tries to cure each of them before sending them back, against Strange’s warnings. In order to save them, Peter temporarily traps Doctor Strange in the Mirror Dimension, before recruiting help from MJ and Ned.

Peter manages to fix Octavius’s inhibiter chip – putting him back in control of the AI in his mechanical arms, and finds a way to drain Electro’s powers, but Osborn suddenly turns the tables on them! The Goblin convinces the other villains to fight back. Electro manages to steal one of Stark’s Arc Reactors, amping him up, and blasts Doc Ock out of a window! During a brutal fight between Peter and the Goblin, Aunt May is fatally stabbed before Norman pumpkin bombs the hell out of the place! Her last words to Peter are “With Great Power, there must also come Great Responsibility.”

It then turns out that two Spider-man variants: Tobey Maguire (from the Sam Raimi trilogy) and Andrew Garfield (from the Amazing Spider-man movies), also crossed over into this universe – they find Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and convince him to not give up, sharing their own tragic backstories. Together, the three Spider-men concoct a plan to take down the four villains, determined to cure them all and send them back to their own timelines.

After an epic fight at the Statue of Liberty, the trio of Peters manage to subdue Electro, Lizard, and Sandman, curing each of their conditions, with the help of Doc Ock, but Tom Holland loses it and goes after the Green Goblin with a vengeance for killing Aunt May, but Tobey and Andrew manage to talk him down from killing Osborn. Instead, Peter injects Norman with the anti-serum, vanquishing his darker half, leaving him horrified as he realized what he had done as the Goblin.

Meanwhile, Doctor Strange shows back up from the Mirror Dimension and manages to finish the spell to set things right, and send everyone back to their respective universes, and erase the memory of Peter Parker from everyone on the planet, including those closest to him, leaving him truly on his own for the first time. Peter decides that MJ and Ned are safer without him in their lives and sets out creating a new classic red and blue spider suit, before swinging through the snowy streets of New York City!

The mid-credits scene of “No Way Home” gives us a random cameo of Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock briefly crossing over into the MCU at a hotel in Mexico and leaving a piece of the Venom symbiote behind…

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

The second “Doctor Strange” movie (this time directed by Sam Raimi), picks up after the events of “WandaVision” and “Spider-man: No Way Home”, with the Scarlett Witch breaking bad! Strange and Wong must protect a multiversal traversing teenager named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) from Wanda who is determined to use the Darkhold to bring her children back, regardless of how many universes are destroyed in the process!

Note: In one of the alternate universes, Doctor Strange encounters ‘The Illuminati’ – a cabal of super-powered beings formerly led by a variant of his, whose ranks include: Captain Carter (see: “What If…?”), Black Bolt of the Inhumans (portrayed by Anson Mount of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”), an alternate Captain Marvel (Maria Rambeau instead of Carol Danvers), Dr. Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four! (portrayed by John Krasinski), an army of reprogrammed Ultron bots, and Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart) of the X-Men?!

Next on Part 6 (Phase 4 – Vol 2): Hawkeye, Moon Knight, Wakanda Forever, Echo, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Thor: Love and Thunder, Werewolf by Night, and… The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special?!

For more Marvel content, check out the Comic Zombie podcast!

Erik Slader

Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the co-author of the Epic Fails middle grade book series, including The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving Into History and The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff. His latest book, “2299” is a sci-fi / noir novella. Erik is also an editor on Podcasters Assemble and a co-host on 2 Young 4 This Trek, as well as a contributor to Geek to Geek Media and ComicZombie.net! He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee as well as retro video games, and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.

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