Now that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” has hit theaters, Marvel has officially completed 15 movies in its growing cinematic universe. With bigger and bolder projects coming out over the next few years, fans continuously get excited at the mere mention of any future Marvel film. But in the past, not every second of every Marvel movie has been entirely perfect, charismatic, and well executed.
In the past nine years, there have been more than a few awkward points in time where a moviegoer just cringes at a piece of dialogue or plot point or generally uncomfortable moment in the course of a Marvel film. All movies face these pitfalls; no one is perfect. But luckily, the majority of the film is awesome. So Marvel, we aren’t laughing at you, we’re just laughing with you when we count down the top 15 most cringe inducing moments in Marvel movies.
15. TONY STARK TAKES MYSPACE PHOTO
In the debut picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Iron Man” puts its titular hero into more than a couple awkward predicaments. The amazing action, superb character building, and setup of a broader universe to come are all kicked off by a pretty cringe-inducing one-liner at the very beginning of the film. “I don’t want to see this on your MySpace page.” Though the line may feel right for Stark, it definitely is an awkward laugh.
MySpace was almost already a dated reference in 2008 and is even more of a head-turner upon re-watching the film nearly a decade later. Also, in the context of the film, riding with army men through Afghanistan is hardly the time to take a lighthearted photo or exchange quips. Marvel’s humor is almost always spot on. However, this exchange proves that the first film in Marvel’s slate experienced some growing pains and was not an immediate winner right away, at least as far as dialogue is concerned.
14. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING
Quicksilver was born to die. When watching “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” many die-hard fans knew that Marvel needed to kill off a character to show its guts. Much like the first “Avengers,” though, this character would not be anyone who is high profile or a draw to the franchise. Introducing Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, when Fox already had a cool and memorable Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
The actual logistics of Quicksilver’s death could have been far more memorable. Setting up the character with a cartoonish, nebulously-foreign accent was a bit much and adding in a dumb catchphrase (“You didn’t see that one coming?”) did not help. When the character is peppered with an array of bullets at the end of the sequel, it was largely underwhelming. However, the additional of the cheesy and unnecessary one-liner was pure cringe and made a possibly effective emotional moment less than impactful.
13. THOR IN THE CAVE
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” once again shows some flaws with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. The character obviously has a sequel coming in the near future (*cough* “Ragnarok” *cough*) and this storyline needed to be established beforehand. By shoehorning in a completely out of place sequence in the cave, audiences could slowly feel the forced outline of the scene setting up for something that wasn’t necessary in “Ultron.”
Additionally, the actual execution of the scene with Selvig felt completely random and like it was merely adding another character into the film in a bizarre and random way. By showcasing some of Thor’s abilities (one of which is the ability to not wear a shirt), this came off as not much more than filler. The general audience already assumed that a third “Thor” film was on its way. However, by adding in an out-of-place sequence into a film that could have used a bit more focus on its characters and less on future setup, we couldn’t help but cringe.
12. CAPE ATTACK
This scene in “Doctor Strange” shows the titular hero fighting off the big baddies in an action spectacle. With buildings turning on their sides and emotional moments building to their climaxes, the film feels like it has reached the peak of the Marvel formula. And then there was the cape scene.
The magical cape that assists Stephen Strange is intriguing. It’s like Aladdin’s flying carpet for a new generation. It was fun and whimsical and let’s be honest, a delight of a turn that we didn’t see coming. But did it need to be there? In an action sequence that is so amazingly impressive, this felt like Marvel was trying to get over a new character (probably to sell more toys) rather than tell an integral part of the story. Again, it was fun, but it was an expendiature that we felt was largely unneeded and afforded yet another bit of levity to a movie already, in many fans’ eyes, overly saturated with it.
11. MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
Tony Stark, as the man in the machine, is nothing without his signature sense of humor. The signature sarcasm and dark wit of Robert Downey Jr.’s now iconic role brings him more into the reality that we know. He is someone who feels real and expresses humor in a human way to relieve tension. That being said, tensions are still absurdly high at the end of “Captain America: Civil War,” when Stark confronts Cap and Bucky.
Tony Stark barely has any comedic one-liners throughout the duration of “Civil War.” After being told that he was responsible for the murder of hundreds, he (understandably) isn’t in much of a jokey mood. When the film reaches its climactic airport scene and his best friend is thrown out of the air and put into critical condition, one would assume that he also would refrain from any jokes. However, Tony’s one-liner comes after all of this when referring to Bucky as “the Manchurian Candidate.” After all the suspense that the movie had built up in showcasing Tony’s character, this otherwise innocuous reference fell completely flat.
10. SIR, IT’S THE AVENGERS!
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is admittedly a fun movie. Despite it being the sequel that couldn’t possibly live up to the first one, it still had many considerably impressive moments. The opening sequence, for example, is telling of the action spectacle that will follow in the rest of the film. In an attack against Baron von Strucker in Sokovia, each Avenger shows off his or her signature moves in combat. The same cannot be said of Strucker’s team.
One particular member of the attacked mob has the nerve to say, in a cheesy Eastern European accent with a cartoony and squeaky tone, “Sir, it’s the Avengers!” Instead of worrying for his life, the character decides to make a statement that feels like it was pulled directly out of a cartoon than a comic book. Rather than retain some subtlety, this moment is absolutely awkward.
9. HULK AND WIDOW BOND
Widow and Hulk start off as an odd match from the get go in “Age of Ultron” — a big green monster and a trained superspy. Nothing odd about that. But the execution makes their entire connection seem a bit forced.
Each moment involving the two (maybe with the exception of the emotional farm bedroom scene) feels forced and unnatural. Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson are world-class actors and the two absolutely bring their talents to the MCU. Something about the two being romantically paired in “Ultron” though is just… off. The cheesy sequence where he pours her a drink at the bar is nothing but predictable and a seemingly strange one-off from the relationships that were building for Widow in the past, most of them not romantic in nature!
8. TONY STARK AND AUNT MAY
One of the more emotional moments for fans in “Captain America: Civil War” is when it is revealed that Tony Stark and Pepper Potts were “taking a break.” One of the most compelling romantic couples in comic book movies, it feels bizarre imagining a world in which the fiery red head and the sarcastic cynic aren’t together. The only thing odder would be if Tony Stark hits on May Parker.
Marisa Tomei certainly is the youngest portrayal of Aunt May that fans have seen on screen to date, but that’s not the problem as Peter Parker is younger, too. What isn’t appropriate is Tony’s flirtation. Though Stark obviously is not explicitly flirting with May and is far more focused on retrieving Peter, the two enjoying a cup of tea and May’s seeming bewilderment over the genius billionaire is very uncomfortable. Tony DEFINITELY should not be in any way creepy around the mother figure of his new child prodigy, and really should be off pining for Pepper!
7. SCOTT AND HOPE KISS
The awkwardness of Scott Lang in “Ant-Man” was actually quite charming. Something about Paul Rudd is just inherently likeable for any film in which he appears. Typically known for comedies, Rudd’s charm and awkwardness translates into his “family man” character of Scott Lang. Focusing on his daughter and new mentor/father figure, Hank Pym, a romantic interest is seemingly the farthest thing from Lang’s mind.
Therefore, it is naturally awkward for fans when Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym catches his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) locking lips with Rudd. Perhaps the two shared a couple cups of coffee off screen when they weren’t practicing violently beating each other up? It’s unlikely. This is probably just another excuse to set up our hero with an attractive, equally well-developed female co-star. The complete out of left field nature of this scene caused us to cringe and is certainly a memorable exception from the rest of the film, which (despite its absurdity) felt fairly believable.
6. JACKSON POLLOCK
If we were Peter Quill, we would hire an intergalactic cleaning crew to dust off our very used and filthy ship. When told that the Milano is “disgusting” by Gamora, Star Lord notably remarks that she really has no idea. “If I had a blacklight, this would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.” Gross, bro.
Though Quill is being established as a Han Solo type scoundrel and philanderer, not every detail of his personal life is necessary to understand the film. It becomes clear early that Star Lord will also likely be set up with Gamora, yet another forced romantic relationship nobody needs. Biological humor is additionally gross and putting an image as clear as a Jackson Pollack splatter art into your head is just nasty. It is obvious that Quill is a guy who gets around when it comes to other sentient lifeforms. But he didn’t necessarily need to brag about it, especially in front of this group of strangers he just met.
5. THE MANDARIN IS TREVOR
In one of Marvel’s biggest twists in history, fans felt betrayed. Though “Iron Man 3” had plenty of excellent qualities with Shane Black’s stylistic direction and Robert Downey Jr.’s traumatic performance, many fans still couldn’t get on board with the true villain. Rather than doing a rendition of fan favorite villain The Mandarin, British actor Trevor was instead hired as a mouthpiece of evil. However, he was just an actor. The real villain was Aldrich Killian, a jealous admirer of Tony Stark from years before.
Instead of revealing this in a suspenseful way, Trevor makes a poop joke. Fans couldn’t help but cringe when they initially saw this obviously inaccurate representation of an icon. In fact, we were blown away by just how comedically ineffective the character was; memorable only in the worst way possible.
4. STAN LEE IS HUGH HEFNER
The Stan Lee cameo has become a tradition of every new MCU movie. In addition to Easter Eggs of continuity to the other films, it is one of the signature ways to distinguish a Marvel movie from the pack. Though he had appeared in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and its sequel, as well as a couple of “X-Men” movies, the MCU made the legendary appearances something quirky and unique.
However, the first step in the walk to iconic stature was a little bit questionable. Many fans recognized who Stan Lee was, but when he appeared as Hugh Hefner, it caused an awkward titter (at best). This blatantly obvious appearance lacked the subtlety of Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” Additionally, those who were not familiar with Stan Lee couldn’t help but cringe upon seeing a more wrinkly knock-off of Hugh Heffner appear at a star-studded event at the beginning of “Iron Man.” These senses of playful disgust and confusion luckily still paved the way to what is now Marvel’s most playful tradition.
3. I’M GONNA BUILD SOME WEIRD SHIT
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” received generally positive reviews from critics. It was a fun movie with lots of neat action spectacles and a plentiful amount of one-liners. Though some reviews criticized a lack of story and a few plot holes, the comedy was almost entirely spot-on. Almost.
Though a few one-liners missed throughout the film, one was especially noticeable. The setup on Ego’s planet of who he is and what he stands for is a little suspicious from the get-go. However, things get even stranger when Quill discovers that Ego’s brain created the entire planet on which they are standing and that Quill himself has that power too. When realizing that he can build things of infinite stature, Quill responds, “I’m gonna build some weird shit!” Sure, it was cute, but it felt like odd-fitting filler for a character who has already experienced an incredible amount in terms of growth. This among other characters also makes “Guardians 2” a bit less family friendly and certainly more bizarre than the first.
2. NAKED SELVIG
Up until 2013, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was entirely clean. Though a few swear words were comedically dropped here and there, it was still enough to shrug off and show the kids. However, the “Thor” movies certainly love to set themselves apart from the rest of the MCU. That’s precisely what “Thor: The Dark World” did when released in November 2013.
The humor in the “Thor” movies has always been a bit different than the rest of the MCU, especially when Dr. Selvig is wandering around naked at Stonehenge. It is the cherry on top of the sundae of awkwardness that is “Thor: The Dark World.” In addition to this bizarre humor for the standalone, it also goes against the cleanliness that was previously a trademark of the MCU. Anytime you see an older gentleman naked on screen, it is bound to get some cringes. However, adding this into a Marvel movie when it is completely unexpected and unnecessary deserves far more cringes than almost any other scene in the MCU.
1. TONY STARK PEES IN HIS ARMOR
“Iron Man 2” is definitely a suspicious entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released only two years after the first “Iron Man,” the film felt a little shaky and rushed, not paying full attention to characters. The introduction of Black Widow and enlarged role of Nick Fury were neat but a little bit shoehorned in.
Speaking of shoehorned, much of the humor in the film is forced and not as original as the first “Iron Man.” One of the more notoriously bad scenes in the film is the single most cringe-worthy moment in the MCU to date: Tony Stark peeing in his armor. The inclusion of jokes regarding bodily functions is uncomfortable in any movie and definitely does not work for this setup to the larger universe. “Iron Man 2” was definitely a movie of growth for the MCU, so we can forgive some of it. However, the cringe-inducing scene of Tony Stark peeing in his armor just exemplifies this discomfort and solidifies “Iron Man 2” as a film that many Marvel fans push to the back of their heads.
Which MCU moments made you cringe? Let us know in the comments section down below!