When does Black Panther take place, and how does it fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline?
After a brief animated prologue explaining the origins of Vibranium and Wakanda's lineage of protectors known as the Black Panther, the movie starts in 1992 in Oakland, California.
During this time, the only superhumans we know to be active are Black Panther (Wakandan monarch T'Chaka, played by Atandwa Kani), and possibly Captain Marvel (a yet-to-be-introduced Brie Larson).
Her debut film, out in 2019, is set sometime during the 1990s — decades after Captain America (Chris Evans), Ant-Man (Michael Douglas), and Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) gave rise to the current crop of Earth's mightiest heroes operating in modern day.
Of course, a brash and bratty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is somewhere off world, not yet the hero he would come to be in 2011's Thor.
The 1992 prologue sees a radicalized N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) come into conflict with his brother T'Chaka before Black Panther jumps to one week after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which introduced T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as a vengeful king-to-be seeking justice for his murdered father.
A news report on T'Chaka's death confirms Black Panther takes place just one week after the bombing of the Vienna International Center.
By the time the bulk of Black Panther takes place, an on-the-run Captain America has already entrusted a brainwashed Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in the care of Wakanda's top minds: T'Challa's 16-year-old genius inventor sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) mentions fixing "another broken white boy," referring to Civil War's mid-credits scene.
That also puts Black Panther taking place before last summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming. A title card early on in the movie has us catching up with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) "two months later" after his scuffle with the Avengers at a German airport.
Thor: Ragnarok, if you're wondering, takes place roughly around the same time as Homecoming.
Ragnarok executive producer Brad Winderbaum explained Marvel Studios' Phase Three installments mostly happen "on top of each other," adding the movies aren't "as interlocked as they were in Phase One."
"So [Ragnarok] happens maybe on top of Civil War, on top of Spider-Man," Winderbaum said. "Somewhere in that ball park."
For your recommended eventual Marvel Studios chronological marathon, you would follow Civil War with Black Panther, Homecoming, and then Ragnarok, with the mid-credits scene of the latter heading directly into Avengers: Infinity War.
Black Panther is now playing. Avengers: Infinity War opens May 4.