The Absurdly Complicated Timeline Of The ‘Sin City’ Movies, Explained

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Sin City: A Dame To Kill For makes no sense whatsoever. If it’s a sequel, why is Mickey Rourke still alive? If it’s a prequel, why is Nancy all upset after what happened in the last movie? So, for your sanity, here’s the definitive timeline of how the movies work.

Part of this is due to how Sin City, as a comic book, was published; each story moves around in time as Frank Miller felt like telling it, and some stories even happen on the same night. Making things even more obnoxious, the script actually pulls out sections of different comics to use as monologues, there are two stories that are completely original to the franchise, and this movie was in the works for so long, several cast members actually died.

But here is, as best we can lay out, the chronology of Sin City. Needless to say, there are lots of spoilers here, but the comics have been out for years now and the movie’s nearly a decade old, so really, it’s your own fault.

Sin City: That Yellow Bastard

Hartigan, the only decent cop in Sin City, saves 11-year-old Nancy and severely injures Junior Roarke, the aforementioned Yellow Bastard. Being as Roarke is the son of Senator Roarke, Hartigan is framed on child molestation charges and rots in jail for eight years.

He’s paroled and the rest of the story plays out. But while Hartigan is teaching a Roarke kid the value of insuring your penile reconstructive surgery…

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: Just Another Saturday Night

Marv sees Nancy run to Hartigan and starts drinking because he’s basically never going to get any, and wakes up a few hours later next to some dead bodies and a car. He has to go back and figure out what happened. All this unspooled during the rest of That Yellow Bastard. Confused yet? It gets worse!

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: A Dame To Kill For

Yeesh, strap in because this is going to take some explaining. Dwight, who you might remember was Clive Owen in the last movie, is currently Josh Brolin, who works as a private eye taking blackmail photos. He’s contacted by his ex, Ava Lord, begging him to save her from the abusive Damien.

Dwight, being pretty much a total moron at this point, recruits Marv to raid the Lord compound. Marv squares off with Manute, played by Dennis Haysbert, and beats him down so hard he not only loses an eye, he turns into Michael Clarke Duncan.

Afterwards, Dwight finds out that Ava has double-crossed him, and it’s Manute’s turn to beat a casting change into someone, pounding Dwight like a veal and chucking him out a window, where the scarring and damage is so extensive he turns into Clive Owen. Also this is where Dwight meets all those hookers with guns that will come up later.

Dwight gets his revenge, and starts dating Shellie, who presumably will be played by another actress since Brittany Murphy has passed away, and may or may not wind up getting beaten up, as vicious beatings seem to be this franchise’s preferred method of communicating casting changes.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: The Long Bad Night

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also tries to find and kill Senator Roarke. This is the only one we’re genuinely unsure of. It might actually be happening at the same time as Nancy’s Last Dance, or it might be separate, but supposedly it bridges a few plot points between the two movies. Also, JGL is brutally beaten, so he may turn into Justin Bieber or something.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: Nancy’s Last Dance

A completely new story written for the movie, Nancy and Marv team up to avenge Hartigan by killing Senator Roarke, because that’ll solve anything. This is a little spotty because of….

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye

Marv drops out of A Dame To Kill For in order for this party to get started, which ends with the death of Marv. Granted that Marv may or may not be a hallucination in our previous entry; Nancy seems to be losing her mind just a bit, and we would not put it past modern Frank Miller to have an M. Night Shyamalan twist in his stories.

Sin City: The Big Fat Kill

Dwight and hookers shoot Manute and cops after blowing up Benicio Del Toro’s head. Like you do.

Oh, and did we mention that there may also be some of the Blue Eyes strips mixed into this, which have nothing to do with the rest of the movie, but are featured as part of the timeline anyway? And that Miller and Rodriguez want to do a third one? They’re going to have to introduce time travel at this rate.

Anyway, as you can see, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is mostly a prequel. Sort of. It may have some sequel elements. Where’d we leave that aspirin?