One of the most fun things to do with a universe as expansive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is to discuss fan theories with other people who are just as dedicated to this cinematic juggernaut as you are. People take the source material, vague clues from past movies, and some old fashioned intuition and turn those into fan theories that provide logical answers to questions posed by previous movies. When your theory turns out to be correct, you get instant bragging rights and everybody wants to come to you for insight into the next movie. But sometimes those fan theories turn out to be nothing more than hot air, in which case you are the one that gets made fun of and someone else gets all of the attention.
The MCU has to play a tricky game with its viewers. They have to try and lead their characters and events to inevitable outcomes while simultaneously surprising their audiences. There have been many times that fans have predicted a reveal years in advance and other times when the MCU subverted their expectations and actually surprised the fans. To recollect these instances, here are 8 MCU Fan Theories That Ended Up Happening (And 7 That Were Way Off).
15 RIGHT: PETER PARKER WAS THE KID IN IRON MAN 2
The fans actually helped make this theory a reality. In Iron Man 2, Ivan Vanko, the MCU’s version of Whiplash, stages an attack on the Stark Expo by releasing an army of drones on its attendees. One of these attendees was a kid wearing an Iron Man mask and gauntlets who the drones stupidly mistake as a threat. Tony then swoops in, kills the drone, saves the kid, makes a quip... normal Iron Man stuff. But that kid may be destined for a bright future in the MCU.
This theory posits that this kid was actually a young Peter Parker. It makes sense; Peter is a huge fan of Tony Stark and wouldn’t miss the expo for the world. The timeline also works out, as that kid would be around Peter’s age by the time Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place. On top of that Tom Holland confirmed that this theory was true.
14 WRONG: ADAM WARLOCK IS STAR-LORD’S FATHER
The mystery of Peter Quill’s parentage consumed fans the moment that the Nova Corps revealed that his father’s race was unknown, but ancient and powerful. Once James Gunn confirmed that his father would not be J’son of Spartax, all bets were off. People began theorizing that his father was Mar-Vell or Starhawk or even the Collector. However, the most prevailing theory was easily Adam Warlock.
People believed that Warlock was due to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 due to his importance to the "Infinity Gauntlet" storyline; this seemed like an easy way to introduce the powerful character. However, Adam Warlock wasn’t even born until Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. Peter’s father instead turned out to be Ego the Living Planet, who was revealed to be a Celestial instead of a just giant sentient planet.
13 RIGHT: ASGARD IS DESTROYED IN THOR: RAGNAROK
Ragnarok refers to the prophesied destruction of Asgard. Therefore, it isn’t hard to make the leap that Thor: Ragnarok would be about the prophesied destruction of Asgard. Many people didn’t believe that Disney would have the guts to go through with such an apocalyptic event; most assumed that Thor would save the day and Asgard because “that’s what heroes do.”
But the people who theorized that it would be destroyed by the end of the movie were actually right. At the end of the movie, Surtur plunged his sword into Asgard and turned it into a floating pile of rocks. Thor, Valkyrie, Heimdall, and Loki did manage to save a portion of its citizens, but they’re now all refugees drifting in space. This was a dark but refreshing change of pace for your favorite Norse god who is now the king of a race without a home.
12 WRONG: STAN LEE IS UATU THE WATCHER
Close, but no cigar. By now, it is a tradition for fans to stay behind for post credits scenes and to search for the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. These cameos have ranged from Marvel’s main man getting drunk at the Avengers party in Avengers: Age of Ultron to Lee being a bus passenger in Doctor Strange while Strange and Mordo battle outside. But people began to wonder how an old man always happened to witness these exciting events.
Fans were almost right on this one. Fan theories believed that Stan Lee was actually Uatu the Watcher in disguise. Marvel nodded at this fan theory by making Lee an agent of the Watchers who told them tales of these heroes in a Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 post credits scene. However, the fact that he was concerned about how he was getting home all but assured that he wasn’t a Watcher.
11 RIGHT: SKYE IS DAISY JOHNSON
Skye was brought onto Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in its first season as an enigmatic hactivist that joins Coulson and his team because of circumstance. However, as it became apparent that she would be a vital part of the show, fans began to wonder who Skye actually was.
When viewers got a glimpse of Skye’s father, they began to connect the dots. Her father was an underground doctor who had serious anger issues, and super strength from an unspecified source. This sounded like Calvin Zabo, the supervillain known as Mr. Hyde who fathered a powered child named of Daisy Johnson, a S.H.I.E.L.D agent. This fan theory believed that Skye was Daisy Johnson, or Quake. Skye eventually underwent terrigenesis and gained seismic powers and her father revealed her name was Daisy, confirming that she was the MCU’s version of Quake.
10 WRONG: ADAM WARLOCK WAS IN THE COCOON
MCU fans have been waiting for Adam Warlock’s appearance on the big screen for some time. People have been searching for easter eggs and signs that he will come. Warlock was an integral part of the Infinity Saga in the comics, prompting fans to expect to expect him to appear in time for Avengers: Infinity War.
There was a fan theory spawned by eagle-eyed viewers who spotted a cocoon in one of The Collector’s cases in his shop. Fans theorized that this cocoon contained Adam Warlock. This would be similar to the way he was made in the comics. However, James Gunn threw hot water on that rumor by stating directly that the cocoon wasn’t Adam Warlock’s. If that wasn’t confirmation enough, it was revealed that Ayesha, queen of the Sovereign created him after the events of the movie in a Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 post credits scene.
9 RIGHT: THE ORIGINAL GUARDIANS WILL BE IN VOL. 2
When it was revealed that Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone had a part in Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, fans went into a frenzy trying to figure out who they would play. One popular theory was that these two would play members of the original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy and that the original Guardians would appear all together in the movie.
While Sharon Stone didn’t make it into the movie, Sylvester Stallone did as Stakar, aka Starhawk, one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. And in one of the post credits scenes (they had a lot in this movie), he reunites with his old team and plans to do something crazy. This team consists of: himself, his sister Aleta, Charlie-27, Krugarr, and Mainframe. This group, along with Yondu make up the members of the original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
8 WRONG: PEPPER POTTS DIED AFTER IRON MAN 3
This was a particularly dark theory that turns everybody’s favorite genius billionaire playboy philanthropist into either a delusional man unable to cope with grief or a mad scientist who is determined to conquer the death of a loved one. In Iron Man 3, Pepper is injected with the Extremis Virus which grants superhuman powers, but had also proven to be fatal in the majority of cases. After Tony and Pepper defeat Aldrich Killian in the conclusion, Tony synthesizes a cure for Extremis to save Pepper. But what if he didn’t?
In this theory, Pepper actually died from the Extremis Virus and Tony has been hiding it from the world. This would explain his irrational behavior and why he just went back to being Iron Man like the end of the movie never happened. Thankfully, Spider-Man: Homecoming proved without a doubt that Pepper was alive and well.
7 RIGHT: KILGRAVE WILL RETURN FOR JESSICA JONES SEASON 2
While the Marvel Netflix universe has lost some of its shine recently, it sure started with a bang. Each of the first three series could lay claim as the best of the MCU Netflix projects. Fans of Jessica Jones enjoyed it as a terrific character study disguised as a superhero show. And with her facing off with a villain as dynamic and engaging as David Tennant’s Kilgrave, it’s inevitable that people will want him to return.
To that end, many fan theories popped up stating that Kilgrave would return in season two despite his death by Jessica’s hands at the end of season one. The theory’s supporters rationalized it with him returning as a mental projection as a result of the trauma he put her through. Turns out that the fans were right, as David Tennant was officially cast to reprise his role in Jessica Jones season two.
6 WRONG: CLAIRE TEMPLE WILL UNITE THE DEFENDERS
It would only make sense that the woman who served as connective tissue between these four shows would be the one to unite the defenders. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple served as the MCU’s version of Night Nurse. In all of the Netflix series, she was a good-natured nurse who used her medical knowledge to help all of the superhumans she came across whenever they needed to be saved. Since she actually knew all of the characters, that were to be in the Defenders, it made sense that she’d be the one who brought them all together.
Instead, it was Stick, Daredevil’s mentor, who united the Defenders in their fight against the Hand. He served as a leader for much of the season, providing necessary insight into the Hand. Claire did actually bring Iron Fist and Luke Cage together, but it was Stick who really united the four of them.
5 RIGHT: THE QUANTUM REALM WILL BE IN DOCTOR STRANGE
It’s doubtful that many people expected Ant-Man to touch on the cosmic side of the MCU; it’s just about a guy who can shrink on command and talk to ants. However, the introduction of the Quantum Realm changed that sentiment. In the movie, it was revealed that shrinking too much would send you into the Quantum Realm, a place where “all concepts of space and time become irrelevant”.
Not only was the description of the realm trippy, but its visuals caught the audience’s attention as well. The vast nothingness filled geographic shapes endlessly folding in on themselves seemed like it belonged in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie, prompting people to theorize that we would see it in that movie. Fans were correct this time. When The Ancient One sent Stephen Strange on a journey through realms to teach him a lesson, the Quantum Realm was one of the destinations.
4 WRONG: THE SOUL STONE WILL BE IN THOR: RAGNAROK
Everybody whiffed on this one. With only two movies remaining before Avengers: Infinity War, people were all but certain that the final Infinity Stone, the Soul Stone, would appear in Thor: Ragnarok. With a villain who is implied to be extremely powerful and is literally the Goddess of Death, it wasn’t a huge leap to make. Most theorized that Hela would either possess the Soul Stone or would be out to get it.
How wrong we were. The Soul Stone made no such appearance in the movie. It wasn’t in Mjolnir, it wasn’t the source of Odin’s power, it wasn’t with Heimdall, and Hela didn’t possess it or seek it. There was no McGuffin in Thor: Ragnarok, just Thor discovering the true source of his power and trying to save his people against an impossibly powerful Hela.
3 RIGHT: MISTY KNIGHT WILL GET HER BIONIC ARM
This fan theory was more of a fan wish that everybody was clamoring for. Ever since the introduction of Simone Missick Misty Knight in Luke Cage, people have been waiting for her to get a bionic arm like her comic book counterpart. In the comic books, Misty Knight is in a team with Colleen Wing and possesses a bionic arm with enhanced strength.
People have been waiting for an opportunity for Misty to get her arm and it finally came in The Defenders. In the finale, Colleen and Claire were facing off against a revived Bakuto, but were defeated. Misty, who snuck onto the scene, comes to help but loses an arm in the process, paving the way for her bionic arm. This was confirmed when promotional photos of Luke Cage season 2 showed Misty sporting the iconic appendage.
2 WRONG: CAPTAIN AMERICA WILL DIE IN CIVIL WAR
This one made so much sense. In the comic book version of Civil War, Captain America ends the conflict by asking everyone on his side to stand down. While he’s being arrested and is defenseless, he is assassinated by Crossbones. This caused many readers to theorize that the MCU’s Captain America had the same fate in store for him.
But it didn’t happen. Cap survived all the way through the movie and even managed to defeat Iron Man and walk away with his buddy, Bucky, by his side. Cap’s death would’ve fit in with both his and Iron Man’s overall story arcs with Cap dying for something he truly believed in and Iron Man causing even more tragedy with his decisions. This also would’ve added a heavy gut punch in a very light cinematic universe that had avoided any meaningful deaths up to that point.
1 RIGHT: THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO HOUSED AN INFINITY STONE
Ever since the first mention of the infinity stones in Guardians of the Galaxy, fans have been speculating about where all of the Infinity Stones are located. Easily the most popular theory is the THANOS theory which states that all of the objects that house infinity stones form an acronym that spells out Thanos. The Tesseract, the Aether, the Orb, and the Scepter already spell out TAOS, so people theorized that the next stone was in Doctor Strange and would be the Eye of Agamotto, his Necklace.
Infinity Stones had always been housed in extremely powerful objects and the Eye of Agamotto certainly fits that bill. Throughout the movie, Strange is shown to be able to manipulate time with the Eye and in the movie’s final scenes, Wong refers to it as an Infinity Stone, proving that the fans were correct on this one. Now the stones spell out TANOS.