When does Iron Man (2008) take place? The MCU has a notoriously messy timeline. We wanted to map it all out, but only taking into account what we learn in films. No TV Shows, no promotional material, no director comments, no comic book tie ins.
1945 – Tony says his father worked on the bomb in World War II. We will of course see this in Captain America: The First Avenger (2010).
Mid 1970s – we see some of Tony’s childhood in the awards ceremony reel. We put his ages at 4 and 6 as being mid 70s somewhere, because his parents died in 1991, but Tony was younger than 21.
Mid 1980s – following from above, Tony’s graduation is from the awards ceremony reel.
1987 – Tony makes a joke about Rhodes on spring break in 1987. We assume that at least the year was correct.
16th Dec 1991 – we see a newspaper date for the 17th, reporting the death.
2nd-4th Feb 2008 – Tony says he was kidnapped for 3 months. We take that as exactly, and those early film events play out over 3 consecutive days.
Feb-5th May 2008 – we see a news report (watched by Pepper) that gives us the 4th May 2008 date. Stark’s kidnapping was the 3 months before. We also see the next day.
May-Oct 2008 – this period bridges the gap between our known dates.
16th-23rd Oct 2008 – we see Tony’s watch gives us a Thursday 16th. The most reasonable date where this works is October 2008.
24th Oct 2008 – Coulson’s appointment is on the 24th of the month following the 16th. “I am Iron Man” is the next day.
Late 2008 – there is nothing in the film to suggest Fury sees Stark the same night, or even the next night, but we can assume it wasn’t long after.