The following timeline describes the major events of Earth-616 in the 20th. Only major fictional historical events are listed here. Please note that few exact dates have been given for these events, so approximations are used instead. Note also that a Sliding Timescale applies to Earth-616, so that events involving its inhabitants can only be determined as having happened a certain number of years before whatever the current date is.
On the morning of the 30th June 1908 a mysterious explosion over Tunguska in the sparsely populated Eastern Siberian Taiga flattened 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) of forest it caused no known casualties among humans.
World War I
The first group of costumed heroes of this century were the Freedom's Five, a group of international heroes who gathered to fight the Germans during World War I. One of their number was the first hero to be called Union Jack; his brother was the German agent called Baron Blood, who had been transformed into a vampire by Dracula. Another member of the Five was the Phantom Eagle, whose ghost would be laid to rest in the modern era with the assistance of Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Jack Fury, father of Nick Fury, fought the Red Baron during the Great War.
World War II
Several costumed characters appeared in America before the United States entered World War II. The first was the Atlantean half-breed prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, whose dual surface-dweller and Atlantean heritage granted him superhuman strength and flight, and allowed him to breathe both air and water. However, this same heritage made him both a savior and enemy of mankind. Though often portrayed as a hero, he also waged several wars on Earth's above water populations. It was later discovered that Namor needed to have a specific amount of time under water in order to not go temporarily insane.
The second costumed character to arrive prior to WWII was the android Human Torch. These two heroes came into conflict with each other, but later became steadfast allies in the face of the Axis threat. Other heroes of this time included Red Raven, the original Ka-Zar, the Patriot (Jeff Mace), and the Hurricane (actually the Eternal Makkari).
The US Government secretly developed a project to create super soldiers to fight in the war, but it was sabotaged by a Nazi agent and the full formula was lost. An early prototype was used on a platoon of African American soldiers, all but one of whom (Isaiah Bradley) died. Only one soldier, Steve Rogers, was given the full super soldier treatment. Rogers was given the secret identity of Captain America to be a morale-boosting symbol. He would become one of the world's most influential heroes. Meanwhile, Isaiah Bradley was rendered brain-damaged following a near-fatal escape from a Nazi concentration camp after an apparent suicide mission, and Rogers would not learn of his existence for decades.
When America entered the war, Winston Churchill himself arranged for several heroes to form a team called The Invaders, to perform missions against the Axis Powers and their super agents. Several costumed villains had important roles among the Nazis. These include the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Baron Strucker, Arnim Zola, Agent Axis, Master Man, and others. Most of them survived the war to plague the heroes of the modern era.
In 1945, shortly before the Allies captured Berlin, the Red Skull was accidentally placed in a state of suspended animation, and in a separate incident Captain America was frozen in ice and his teenage sidekick Bucky was seemingly killed. Both men were soon secretly replaced by the US government to avoid lowering morale among the Allies. Soon after, the Allies advanced to Berlin, and the Invaders broke into Hitler's bunker. Although history would record it as suicide, Hitler was actually killed in self-defense by the Human Torch. Not long after the war ended, the first replacement Captain America was killed in action and was replaced by a post-war Captain America. The original Captain America and the Red Skull would both be revived in the modern era.
Post-World War II
A young man who would later assume the identity of Erik Lehnsherr was interned in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp alongside his future wife Magda. The pair escaped, married, and had a daughter, Anya. When Anya was killed in an arson attack on their home, Erik used his mutant powers to kill the attackers, frightening away Magda, who was actually pregnant with twins at the time. The twins were born in the "1950s" on Mount Wundagore, and were placed into suspended animation for several decades by the High Evolutionary. They would eventually be given to the Transian gypsy Django Maximoff, who would raise them as his own. Erik would later become the super-villain called Magneto, and his children would become Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Neither Magneto nor his children would learn of this relationship until the modern era.
After the war, most of the Invaders remained active as a group called the All-Winners Squad, though they eventually disbanded and, with Citizen V and several of their allies in the Liberty Legion, formed the core of the new V-Battalion. The Human Torch was rendered inert for decades after the "1950s", and the Sub-Mariner was rendered an amnesiac following the destruction of much of Atlantis by the Set-controlled mesmerist Paul Destine ("Destiny").
During the "mid-1950s", a new Captain America and Bucky appeared. These men were devoted anti-Communists who took the real names of their namesakes as their own. They fought a new Soviet-sponsored Red Skull and various other threats from beyond the Iron Curtain. The experimental super-soldier process that had created them made them mentally unstable, so they were placed in suspended animation until the modern day, where they were revived by the original Captain America. This Captain America would later become the Grand Director of the Secret Empire, while this Bucky would recover and become the superhero Nomad.
Several new heroes were active during the "1950s", including Marvel Boy, the 3-D Man, and the goddess Venus. In an alternate reality, some of them formed a short-lived team known as "The Avengers". This reality was wiped out by Immortus before it progressed into the 1960s. That particular grouping may have also existed in the main Marvel Universe, but if so, they were never called "The Avengers".
There was also a team of heroes active some time after World War 2 until 1985, known as the First Line, but their existence was mainly kept secret from the general public. Most of them died battling Skrulls. Another team active during this period was the Monster Hunters, who battled monsters of alien and Deviant origins across the globe. However, their exploits are not well known today because a conspiracy called CONTROL tried to keep the existence of aliens and the supernatural from the general public, and succeeded for many years.
During the Cold War, a joint US/Canadian task force that was later code-named "Team X" was formed. This group of spies and assassins included the men who would become Wolverine, Sabretooth, Maverick, and others. Subsequently, the Weapon Plus Project, which had supported the creation of the Super Soldier Project that had created Captain America, started a new iteration of its Weapon program. The Tenth Weapon program (Weapon X) resulted in the implantation of adamantium in Wolverine's body and the creation of many false memories in him and the other Team X/Weapon X agents.
About ten years prior to the modern era, six couples were teleported to the lair of the demonic Gibborim, who offered six of the twelve a chance to gain power and immortality should all twelve assist the Gibborim in destroying humanity in the future. All agreed, and became The Pride. When one of the couples discovered that they were pregnant, the other couples decided to follow suit and have one child apiece, with each couple granting their eventual power and immortality to their sole offspring. In the modern era, these children would rebel against their parents and become the Runaways.
- ↑ In general, most recent sources place Fantastic Four #1 (the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, and of the modern Marvel Universe) as having occurred 13 years ago as of Indestructible Hulk #3 (January 2013). Alternately the sliding time scale can be fixed at the millennium if historical events in the 20th and 21st century do not take place at the same they do in the real universe. See Marvel Time and also Marvel Universe Reading Order.
- ↑ Fantastic Four #13