For the most part, every single Marvel Studios movie up to and including Ant-Man, has taken place chronologically. The one exception is the World War II set Captain America: The First Avenger. Now, Marvel president Kevin Feige teases there could be another flashback origin story in the works.
Speaking with io9, Feige says the following, when asked whether any of the upcoming Marvel origin stories (which include Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans) could be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s past.
Certainly we could [set another one in the past]. There are no rules. I think the majority of them will be chronological, but not all of them necessarily.
Which, obviously, doesn’t mean this is definite. Nor does it mean, if it is true, that any of the films would be a period piece, like The First Avenger was. Maybe one of them, while a part of Phase Three, could also have elements that take place in the past.
If this is true, though, two of Marvel’s upcoming films make more sense than the others. Doctor Strange was referenced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so he has probably been operating for a while. Black Panther has been on the other side of the world, so he could potentially have ruled Wakanda for years before he’ll appear on screen. On the other hand, Inhumans are in space—so time isn’t really a factor there. On the other hand, Captain Marvel feels like a character whose existence would change the world. Not something that could be happening in the background.
There’s also Spider-Man, but we’re pretty sure that’s not going to be an origin story, and he’ll already be in Captain America: Civil War. So I’d guess that’s out, too.
According to Feige, the general rule when it comes to Marvel movies is that their time frame relates to their original theatrical release. So if Avengers: Age of Ultron was released in May, and Ant-Man is being released in July, about three months have lapsed between the stories.
We’ll have more from Feige over the coming days.