We’re almost done now.
I’ve been doing this silly project for 17 weeks now, and after a few instances of pretty drastic reshuffling, the timeline is starting to look pretty solid. I’m still worried Infinity War is gonna throw a wrench in a the last minute, but you know what movie’s not going to cause any problems? Thor: Ragnarok.
This will almost certainly be the shortest entry in this series because, though the film is pretty clear about when it takes place, it only stops to clarify any of that a small handful of times. I can’t even pad this out with nonsense about potentially anachronistic needle drops like I did on the Guardians movies, so we’re just going to breeze right through this.
But, of course, we must once again reiterate the rules…
Rule #1: Only the movies are canon.
Rule #2: Title cards are always true.
Rule #3: References to dates in spoken dialogue are always true unless they conflict with rule #2.
Rule #4: Written dates that are prominently displayed in the world are usually true, unless they disagree with rules 2, 3, or each other.
Rule #5: Props and background objects that can be tied to a specific date almost never count.
This is a Taika Waititi film, and as such the movie announces the intention of its tone right off the bat with an almost literal version of the “record scratch, freeze frame” meme. In it, Thor clarifies what most already would have assumed: this movie is taking place some time after Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Later, we revisit the mid-credits scene from Doctor Strange. We still don’t know precisely when this is beyond merely “after the end of Doctor Strange.
So, this is a bit confusing when you really stop to think about it. For Loki, weeks have passed while for Thor it’s only been a few hours. That would imply that time moves faster on Sakaar than it does elsewhere. However, the Grandmaster implies that living on Sakaar has slowed his aging. The real answer here, is that it’s silly comic book nonsense in a movie that’s sillier than most, and you’re not really supposed to think about it that hard. That said, the way it plays out in the movie seems to imply more time is passing on Asgard than on Sakaar. From Thor’s perspective, the movie plays out over just a few days, meanwhile Hela stages a coup, raises an army of undead soldiers, and ferrets out the Asgardian refugees in hiding – events which could realistically play out over weeks or even months. There’s no firm answers here, but it makes more sense for the purposes of this story if time is moving slower on Sakaar, not faster.
The events of Thor: The Dark World are acknowledged in this film, but it’s never explicitly stated how long ago they happened (which is ultimately good for us because whatever they might have said almost certainly would not have agreed with the current version of our timeline). Here, Thor phrases it as if the ending of that film happened only two days ago, but that’s obviously not what he means. It’s his understanding of what happened that’s recent, not the events themselves.
Once again, from the perspective of Sakaar, all of this has happened pretty fast.
To that point, Thor clarifies that it’s been two years since the events of Age of Ultron, but given the time relativity at play on Sakaar, from Banner/Hulk’s perspective, it might have been drastically different from that.
And that’s it. Like I said, this was a quick one. Next week we move on to Black Panther and enter the final stages of this series.