Arc basalts have a higher proportion of Fe in an oxidized state (Fe3+) relative to Fe2+ compared to mid-oceanic ridge basalts (MORBs), likely because slab-derived fluids oxidize the mantle wedge where subduction zone magmas originate. Yet, the time scales over which oxygen fugacity of the mantle wedge changes during subduction initiation and margin evolution are unknown. Fe speciation ratios show that magmas produced during the early stages of subduction in the Mariana arc record oxygen fugacities ∼2× more oxidized than MORB. Mantle wedge oxygen fugacity rises by ∼1.3 orders of magnitude as slab fluids become more involved in melt generation processes, reaching conditions essentially equivalent to the modern arc in just 2–4 m.y. These results constrain existing models for the geochemical evolution of the mantle wedge and suggest that oxidation commences upon subduction initiation and matures rapidly in the portions of the mantle wedge that produce melts. This further implies that sulfide or other reduced phases are not present in the mantle wedge in high enough abundance to prevent oxidation of the magmas that form upon subduction initiation. The arc mantle source is oxidized for the majority of a subduction zone’s lifetime, influencing the mobility of multivalent elements during recycling, the degassing of oxidized volcanic volatiles, and the mechanisms for generating continental crust from the immediate onset of subduction.