Now that the MCU has opened up its word to everything from time travel, such as in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, to alternate dimensions, as was a central element to Spider-Man: No Way Home and the forthcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it can be something of a convoluted mess to wade through.
And although it would be nice to pinpoint the exact placement of the film with precision accuracy, sometimes the broad strokes are the best we can do in a situation such as this. So, what can be confirmed about the movie’s placement in the MCU timeline?
First of all, a synopsis from Marvel’s own website alludes to the fact that the film’s story picks up after Chris Hemsworth’s Thor attempts to find “inner peace” and retire from his long career of being an Asgardian warrior. We know from the events that took place during Endgame that his retirement plans had already gone underway by the end of that film, as was evident by his passing the torch to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie as the king of New Asgard.
What’s more, the Guardians of the Galaxy — Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, and company — are also in the film, based on the teaser. We know from the ending of Endgame that Thor soared off into the cosmic sunset with the Guardians to start fresh. Not only that, but we also see that Thor is heavyset at one point in Love and Thunder, reprising his “fat Thor” look in Endgame, as can be seen in a clip of him working out in the new promo. Further on in the story, Thor sheds the pounds. Therefore, we can safely assume the fourth Thor movie takes place after Endgame.
In case you need a refresher on your MCU lore, the fact that Love and Thunder takes place after Endgame means it takes place after “the blip,” the five-year period where Josh Brolin’s Thanos successfully eradicated half of all life in the universe. The Avengers were able to undo Thanos’ genocide by traveling back in time, gathering up the Infinity Stones, and wishing everyone who was turned to dust back to life. Since Love and Thunder takes place in a post-blip world, that would place it in at least 2023 on the MCU’s timeline.
That’s all well and good, but are there any more specifics about when the film will take place? It turns out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn indicated in an Instagram post back in 2019 that Love and Thunder would take place before Vol. 3. This came from Gunn replying to someone’s comment posing that very question in the post that celebrated Endgame, then-surpassing Avatar as the highest-grossing movie of all time, according to Cinemablend.
However, you may want to take this information with a grain of salt as we could not find the reply in which Gunn made the timeline confirmation as of press time. We don’t doubt the validity of the original reporting, but it is possible Gunn deleted the comment in the time since it was initially made. This could either be because the writer-director did not want to spoil anything or maybe even that the MCU timeline has been shuffled a bit. Considering Vol. 3 doesn’t come out until a whole entire year from now, many months after Love and Thunder, we still think it’s probably a safe bet the Thor fourthquel does indeed precede the Guardians threequel in the MCU timeline.
However, last year’s Black Widow, 2019’s Captain Marvel, and even 2011’s Captain America prove Marvel is not averse to making a prequel film every once in a while. What’s more, it’s a documented fact that last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home was originally meant to take place after the forthcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But when the latter film was delayed, the writers shuffled things around in the MCU timeline so that it is reversed: Multiverse of Madness is now set after the events of No Way Home. This proves that despite whatever Gunn may have said about the then-planned MCU timeline back in 2019, the filmmakers could still switch things up fairly last minute.
Thor: Love and Thunder bolts into theaters July 8.