The last decade has brought us a king’s ransom in superhero movies, especially from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or the MCU as the very busy among us call it). About as loyal to the source material as any other film adaptation has ever been, the MCU has brought to life all the colorful characters so many of us grew up reading about, updated for today’s modern world and streamlined so as to be not quite as goofy. Critics and fans alike have lined up around the block to heap praise as well as large sums of cash onto Marvel Studios for producing quality films that are fun to watch without appealing to the lowest common denominator.
Yes, but are they good movies? Despite what Ethan Hawke might think, the MCU has achieved and maintains a high standard of production, cranking out quality films the same way CBR cranks out quality lists. However, they are by no means infallible, and so they too fall prey to plot holes, slips in continuity, and other technical gaffes. Even so, a lot of this goof-ups are rather easily explained. In the old days of Marvel Comics letters pages, sharp-eyed readers would write in with not only the identification of an error but an explanation as to what could have gone wrong. They would then be awarded with a No-Prize for their valiant efforts in assisting Marveldom at large. It just so happens that we here at CBR have a lot of empty picture frames with which to fill with said No-Prizes, so you’re very welcome, Marvel!
20 THE DESTRUCTION OF BIFROST
In 2011’s Thor, Loki plots to destroy Jotunheim using the rainbow bridge Bifrost, but Thor destroys it rather than see it used as a weapon, even if it means he may never see his romantic subplot with Dr. Jane Foster proceed any further. However, before you can say Walt Simonson, the bridge is all back together with a fresh coat of rainbow just in time for 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, with nary an explanation as to how.
There were actually hours of footage shot covering all the Asgardian city council meetings and construction company bidding wars, explaining in excruciating detail how this important piece of infrastructure came to be repaired, but it was cut when it did not test well with test audiences.
19 ODIN'S INFINITY GAUNTLET
Eagle-eyed viewers of Thor spotted the unmistakable form of the Infinity Gauntlet, complete with all six Infinity Stones. However, as the events of the MCU begin to unfold and Thanos’ quest to bring the Stones together in order to free up some parking in the universe becomes more clear, viewers were like, "What gives?"
There is an attempt in Thor: Ragnarok to explain it as a fake, but there’s more to it than is shown: Odin actually bought this Infinity Gauntlet in a subway station while visiting New York City in the 1970s, from a very enterprising young man who even included a certificate of authenticity (also fake). The scene was cut when it was felt the gritty ‘70s New York sequence was “too Daredevil.” Okay, none of that is true, but it explains the situation much better than Marvel did!
18 THANOS' ONLY INFINITY STONE
In The Avengers, it is revealed that the Tesseract (or the Space Stone) and its neat little scepter is gifted to Loki from Thanos himself so that he may go to war with Earth’s mightiest heroes. If Thanos’ life-quest is to assemble all of the Infinity Stones, why would he give Loki, whose fight record is sub-average, use of the one Stone he already had?
Audiences are far too cynical these days. Avengers: Infinity War made one thing plain: Thanos is an altruist. Sure, he’s intent on wiping out 50% of the universe, but not because he’s a bad guy. He clearly saw something of himself in Loki — a young go-getter, just trying to get his first attempt at universal domination under his belt.
17 THE TESSERACT AND LOKI’S SCEPTER
After the events of The Avengers, Thor makes a big deal about taking Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard since justice works alphabetically. However, by the time we get to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the scepter Loki used in the film, a powerful weapon unto itself, had fallen into the hands of HYDRA, adding another chore to the Avengers’ to-do list.
Why didn’t Thor save himself a trip? Anyone asking that question has never worked a warehouse job before. Things get misplaced all the time, and then add S.H.I.E.L.D. getting covertly taken over by its enemy agency, there’s no way anyone was doing inventory around then. Maybe if they paid these S.H.I.E.L.D. interns more, but that’s for another list entirely.
16 EGO ALMOST DESTROYED EARTH (OR AT LEAST MISSOURI)
The events of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 take place in 2014, within months of the first film. In the climax of that film, Ego the Living Planet activates the seedlings he’s planted across the universe, and they begin to consume the planets they inhabit. A whole town in Missouri is soon in mortal danger from this giant blue blobby thing, yet why have no Avengers assembled?
It’d be too easy to say no one really cares about towns in rural Missouri. The Avengers were probably too busy trying to get S.H.I.E.L.D.’s payroll on the phone to figure out what was going on with their checks, and S.H.I.E.L.D. was too busy getting destroyed from within by HYDRA. All’s well that ends well.
15 TONY'S CAR BATTERY
In Iron Man, Tony Stark installs an arc reactor in his chest to power up his big metal suit, and he’s able to fairly quickly upgrade the reactor and subsequent playsuits. Yet in Iron Man 3, we find him hooking his suit up to a car battery in order to charge it up, which takes forever. What happened to the super efficient arc reactor from before?
Ever heard of down time? The poor guy almost died saving the planet in The Avengers, so naturally he’s in need of some R&R. Add to that the fact that Iron Man 3 finds Tony stranded in the great state of Tennessee, which is fine for vacationing in either its exciting cities or beautiful countryside.
14 TONY'S ARC REACTOR
By the end of Iron Man 3, Tony decides to surgically remove the arc reactor entirely. He can still fly around in his suits, but now he doesn’t have this chunk of metal in his chest. If this was possible, why not do this after he gets home from his forced vacation at the Ten Rings health spa?
This seems to be a pretty clear case of a metaphorical crutch. When Tony first arrives home, the arc reactor has become very close to his heart, both literally and figuratively. And even though we the audience can see that the suit is literally doing all the heavy lifting, we all need time to remove our own personal arc reactors.
13 TONY'S HOUSE PARTY
In the thrilling conclusion of Iron Man 3, we see Tony engage the House Party protocol, which sends all 30 of his Iron Man suits to the rescue. Given that he spent most of this movie maxing and relaxing while waiting for his suit to charge, many people wonder why he didn’t call at least one of his suits to come pick him up while the other one charged up on the ACDelco.
Tony clearly did that thing where you save a password for a site but then accidentally log yourself out. You try 15 different passwords, but none of them work and you can’t remember if you had to use at least one capital letter. And then the Captchas and everything, it’s a hassle.
12 TONY'S REGEN TECH
Okay, one more Iron Man one: Tony uses the new Extremis technology in Iron Man 3 to save the life of Pepper Potts, his alliterative love interest. Yet in Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Hawkeye gets a big boo-boo, they use some sort of really painful, off-the-rack tissue regeneration system. Agent Coulson even loses a whole arm, so why doesn’t he get to Extremis himself back into having a decent tennis game?
It’s not called Extremis because it’s extremely affordable. That stuff must cost well over $3 mil a rip, and you think the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical plan covers any of that? Think again: Tony Stark may be a philanthropist, but he didn’t become a millionaire by just giving these leaps in medical technology away.
11 STAR-LORD’S EVERLASTING WALKMAN
Speaking of batteries, a lot of folks were quick to point out that Peter Quill was able to get crazy-long life out of his Sony Walkman, which he’s had since at least 1988, yet it still provides high-quality sound and enjoyment of all his favorite music on the go 25 years later.
Audiences are underestimating the galaxy’s ability to meet consumer demands. Here on Earth, vinyl as a music format was thought to have died in the early ‘90s, yet here it is making a huge comeback. Star-Lord is clearly the sort of guy who is willing to go to the far reaches of the galaxy in order to get a replacement part for one of those little spoke things that turns the cassettes.
10 WHAT YEAR IS IT?
Homecoming opens right after the Battle of New York in 2012, and then we are taken to “8 Years Later.” Dr. Strange opens in 2014, yet years clearly pass before the good doctor opens shop in Greenwich. If this is the case, why was he a person of interest in 2014’s Winter Soldier? Also how is Peter Parker the same age in Civil War and Homecoming?
We never get a real hard number for Dr. Strange, and what we also don’t see is that he took some night classes at the Learning Annex to speed his magical training along a bit. As for Spider-Man, a lot of super smart kids take an extra year or two in high school — that gym credit is a real bear.
9 STRANGE BOOK-STEALING
Speaking of Dr. Strange, there was a scene that had more than a couple viewers scratching their heads. Strange sneaks into the Sanctum Sanctorum to borrow a few books that Wong is guarding. Certainly, Stephen could not have been the first person to have realized they could use magic for the five-finger discount, right?
This is pretty open-and-shut case of reverse psychology. The Ancient One spends a lot of time trying to break through Stephen’s bitterness and cynicism in order to show him that the magic he so casually dismisses as hokum lives inside him as it does us all. By placing a barrier like Wong between him and knowledge, Stephen is forced to use what he’s learned in order to learn more. It’s that simple.
8 THE RAFT BREAK-OUT
When all his friends get tossed in the pokey in Captain America: Civil War, there was certainly no way Steve Rogers was going to just let them rot there while he was out in the free world letting his beard grow in. How can even a highly trained soldier like Captain America override all the security technology of The Raft when the last technology he mastered was the rotary phone?
In this final scene, we see all the guards for The Raft knocked out because if there’s one technology that never gets old, it’s punching. So, obviously, Steve smacked the right technicians around until he could free his friends. Never underestimate the power of beating up guys.
7 WHERE ARE THE LOVE INTERESTS?
After The Incredible Hulk, General Ross pops up every now and again, but there is nary a mention of his daughter Betty, nor her budding romance with Dr. Banner. After the first Thor movie, we never get to see that tense love triangle between Thor and Lady Sif and Dr. Jane Foster. What is the point of raising these characters’ stakes with romantic interests if they’re just going to fizzle?
Kids, this is the biggest spoiler of them all: romance fades. It is really a drag, but that’s just the way it goes. These are fantastical movies about all kinds of super-powered beings, but a romance that can survive all the stress and turmoil of the Marvel universe? That’s just nuts!
6 BANNER DOESN'T REMEMBER THOR?
In Thor: Ragnarok, we find that the Hulk has spent the previous two years on the planet Sakaar as a gladiator. When he finally reverts back to Banner, the doctor has zero recollection of the time that’s passed since Age of Ultron. At the beginning of Infinity War, after Thanos thrashes Hulk good, Banner returns to Earth to warn of the coming of the Mad Titan. How does he remember that?
Simply put, Thanos beats you up, you don’t forget it anytime soon. It’s one thing to be a very large Russell Crowe for the masses, smacking around sundry aliens while wearing a brush helmet. But when Thanos sends you packing, it’s like that scene in The Limey: “Tell them I’m coming.”
5 THE DORMAMMU TRICK
At the end of his solo film, Dr. Strange ends the threat of the dread Dormammu by trapping him in a time loop where they have to talk about their relationship for all eternity; truly a fate worse than death. So then why didn’t he pull the same trick on Thanos, especially after Star-Lord’s plan goes ker-flooey on everybody?
That’s the thing about magic, it’s unpredictable. Since Dormammu is a purely magical being, it only makes sense that Strange was the man to beat him using his mastery of sorcery. But, by the time Strange tries to reason with him, Thanos already has a bunch of Stones, and not just metaphorically. Tricks might work on elder gods who don’t know better, but Thanos is a fighter.
4 WHERE IS THE LEADER?
At the end of The Incredible Hulk, we see Samuel Sterns begin to really get a swollen head, a sure sign that his transformation into the Leader was imminent. Yet here we are, a decade later, and still have not seen what many consider the Hulk’s ultimate nemesis in the MCU.00
A powerful being like the Hulk is quick to rush into any battle, smashing willy-nilly. But if you were the Hulk’s opposite number, a being powered by intellect rather than brute strength, would you go leaping into the fray without taking AT LEAST 10 years to develop a foolproof plan of attack? If you answered no, that is why you’re a follower and not the Leader.
3 CHILD ENDANGERMENT
Captain America: Civil War pits our heroes one against the other, and the catalyst is that Tony Stark feels guilty that a young man died when Sokovia got picked up and then fell back to Earth like a coaster stuck to a cold beverage. But then in the exact same film, he recruits young Peter Parker into fighting against the original Avenger.
Spider-Man’s powers aside here, the obvious fact of the matter is that Stark has a selfish streak a mile wide. Sure, he has enough heart to be emotionally manipulated into betraying his friends and comrades-in-arms, but the man would endanger anyone he had to in order to prove a point. If anything, this is the purest characterization yet of anyone in the MCU.
2 M’BAKU AND HIS MAGIC SNOW
In Black Panther, Erik Killmonger comes home to Wakanda and proceeds to usurp the throne true to form by shellacking King T’Challa and tossing him off a waterfall. Happily, the good king is found by M’Baku and his mountain tribe, who claim the snow is what healed T’Challa and saved his life.
This sounds a bit kooky until one considers just how in shape snowboarders are. Even if you don’t buy that, you do realize that T’Challa is the Black Panther, right? Throw him off all the waterfalls you want, it’s going to take a lot more than that to counteract a lifetime of training and heart-shaped herb smoothies. Let M’Baku think it was the snow, it’s not hurting anyone.
1 WHERE IS HAWKEYE ALREADY?
Even before Thanos snapped his fingers, audiences were concerned for the disappearance of Hawkeye in Infinity War. It’s briefly mentioned that he and Ant-Man agreed to sit this out, as though it’s a pee-wee football game. While we knew that Ant-Man would have his own solo movie coming up, where in the ding-dong heck is one of the founding Avengers?
Face front, true believers, do you really think Hawkeye was playing house the whole time? The only reason he did not appear in the film at all is because he spent the entire time doing pull-ups and sharpening up arrows. If he doesn’t show up in the next Avengers film and put an arrow right into Thanos’ eye, this writer will eat his hat.