Things That Don’t Make Sense in the Marvel Universe

The best films have a way of sweeping viewers off their feet, immersing them in a new world of spectacle that often distracts from plot holes that would seem obvious in a lesser film. The films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are adept at doing just that, putting an emphasis on colorful CGI action and witty banter between heroes rather than their often confused motivations and the inconsistent villains they square off against. Let’s put aside all the high-octane fun that MCU offers to look at the egregious leaps in logic they’ve made so far.

1. Zemo’s plan in Captain America: Civil War

Chris Evans in Captain America Civil War

Chris Evans in Captain America: Civil War | Marvel Studios

Though the primary conflict in Captain America: Civil War is between Captain America and Iron Man, the film spends a lot of time on Daniel Brühl’s Zemo, a mysterious villain whose plan pits the two ideologically-opposed heroes against each other. But his is a plan similar to many other movie villain’s (cough*Lex Luthor*cough), in that it makes no damn sense. He bombs a building dressed as Bucky Barnes in the hope that Captain America will take the side of his old friend and Tony Stark the side of the government pursuing him — a strange leap in logic that luckily coincides with their disagreement about administrative oversight.

Of course, he gets captured only so he can flee again and lure the pair (luckily Cap and Tony come alone) to the tundra to reveal security footage of Bucky killing Tony’s mother (where did he get that footage?) so Tony will snap. It’s a convoluted revenge plan that logically should have gone wrong dozens of times.

2. Captain America’s USO tour in Captain America: The First Avenger 

Hugo Weaving in Captain America The First Avenger

Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger | Marvel Studios

After upgrading from a morally upright shrimp from Brooklyn to a government-engineered super soldier, Steve Rogers is forced to endure a cheesy montage of USO show appearances in a goofy version of his iconic costume, presumably to raise morale among the troops. But why would the government experiment on him and give him all sorts of actual superpowers if they had no plans to use him in battle? It’s World War II, so the U.S. is in constant need of new soldiers — and yet they decide to use their best warrior, who they presumably spent thousands of dollars on creating, as a morale booster rather than putting him in the fight.

3. Thor’s return to Earth in The Avengers

Chris Hemsworth in Thor

Chris Hemsworth in Thor | Marvel Studios

The Bifröst bridge that connects Earth to Asgard is destroyed near the end of Thor, permanently separating the titular hero from our planet and his beloved Jane Foster. Or wait — nevermind, I guess it wasn’t, because somehow Thor shows up on Earth out of nowhere in the first act of The Avengers while pursuing his brother Loki. Thor: The Dark World later shows that the bridge was reconstructed, but The Avengers offers no explanation for its sudden return. This flies in the face of Thor‘s ending, which made it seem like the Bifröst’s destruction would have actual consequences.

4. Tony’s heart surgery in Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man | Marvel Studios

Since the first Iron Man, Tony Stark has had pieces of shrapnel in his chest that would kill him if allowed to reach his heart. That’s why he needs an arc reactor (which also powers his suit) embedded in his chest, to powers a magnet that keeps the shrapnel at bay. That reminder of his past as a selfish warmonger is suddenly removed without explanation in Iron Man 3, when Stark undergoes surgery near the end of the film to remove the reactor and shrapnel without issue. Wait, what changed? Certainly nothing that’s made clear in the film, suggesting the surgery was included in the film simply to offer some resolution, whether or not it was consistent with what we’d been told previously.

5. The Extremis technology in Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3 | Marvel Studios

In the climax of Iron Man 3, Tony manages to use the unstable Extremis technology to save Pepper Potts’s life, while also endowing her with the power to breathe fire. Tony’s discovery effectively means he can use the substance as a cure-all to regrow severed limbs and human tissue. The technology is so powerful that, it seems, the other movies in the MCU thought it best to forget all about it.

Several times since Iron Man 3 Tony has watched as other characters struggled through injuries and tried out regenerative processes not half as effective as the Extremis method he perfected.

6. Most things in The Avengers

The Avengers, Marvel

The Avengers | Marvel Studios

It’s easy to get swept up in the witty banter and bright spectacle of the first Avengers film, so you might not notice how few things in the film make narrative sense. A few questions that ought to be clarified: How does Selvig know how to make a portal with the Tesseract? Isn’t it a little convenient he builds it with a fail-safe when he was supposedly mind-controlled? Why does Loki allow himself to be captured, or have the mind-controlled Hawkeye blow up the helicarrier while he’s still aboard? How do the scattered Avengers find each other to reunite for the final battle in New York City? Why does Loki choose to set up shop in Stark Tower, of all the less conspicuous places on Earth he could have chosen to avoid the only people who can stop him? Why do the Chitauri all fall as soon as Tony nukes their mothership, when there was no indication they operated via some kind of hive-mind? The list goes on, unfortunately.

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