Marvel Studios is making up for the lack of Guardians of the Galaxy in a big way! In addition to the ragtag crew appearing in Thor: Love and Thunder, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is set to release later this year, followed by their third (and final?) 2023 film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. But that's not all. Marvel has also recently released I Am Groot on Disney+; and even though Guardians writer and director James Gunn didn't pen the series of shorts, their debut confirms their canonicity within the MCU.
To know where an MCU film or Disney+ series belongs on the MCU Timeline, Disney+ is the source. As each new project is added to the streamer, the chronological timeline changes.
And now, despite James Gunn initially saying that I Am Groot isn't canon and the fact that the animated shorts were released post-Groot's early years, the sacred Disney+ MCU Timeline suggests otherwise.
Where Does 'I Am Groot' Belong on the MCU Timeline?
I Am Groot's debut on Disney+ has confirmed its placement on the MCU timeline through the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Timeline Order section, but some episodes occur at different points in time than others.
For instance, "Groot's First Steps" takes place between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, while the rest of the episodes belong after Vol. 2.
This is due to the fact that Groot, within Phase 4 and soon-to-be Phase 5 of the MCU, is no longer a baby. In Avengers: Infinity War and then Endgame, he's confirmed to be a teenager; and according to Gunn, audiences may get a glimpse of him as adult in Vol. 3.
MCU producer Brad Winderbaum recently clarified that I Am Groot "takes place... between the end of Guardians 2 and before the tag scene in Guardians 2." Therefore, it seems that Episodes 2 through 5 of Groot's solo series occur just prior to the final post-credits scene of Vol. 2, explaining why they are technically placed after the film in the official timeline.
The full updated timeline with all 39 projects in the MCU to date can be seen below, with the exception of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Thor: Love and Thunder, the latter of which is still in theaters:
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Avengers
- Thor: The Dark World
- Iron Man 3
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- I Am Groot: Groot’s First Steps
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- I Am Groot: The Little Guy
- I Am Groot: Groot’s Pursuit
- I Am Groot: Groot Takes a Bath
- I Am Groot: Magnum Opus
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Black Widow
- Black Panther
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Doctor Strange
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame
- What If...?
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Moon Knight
- Ms. Marvel
For perspective, the graphic below includes all 39 live-action projects along with Phase 1's Marvel One-Shots:
Disney+ is Where the MCU Assembles
Releasing projects out of chronological order is nothing new for the MCU. Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Loki, and even Captain America: The First Avenger are proof of this.
But even though I Am Groot's placement near Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn't too difficult to understand, things could get complicated in the near future.
Since Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed that the current saga of the MCU is the Multiverse Saga, it will be interesting to see if that influences future films and Disney+ series and where they fall chronologically, especially with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty looming in Phase 6.
In the meantime, it appears that Disney+ will remain the definitive reference for when and where projects fall. And, no doubt, Marvel fans will need it in this ever-expanding universe.