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Alternative Character Interpretation / Marvel Cinematic Universe

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"We’re mad scientists. We’re monsters, buddy. We’ve gotta own it."
Tony Stark to Bruce Banner, Avengers: Age of Ultron

Films with their own pages


  • Thanos, of all people, as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Seven movies since his debut (appearing in three of them), he has collected exactly zero Infinity Stones, and in fact even has one fewer Stone than he started with (as Loki's staff had the Mind Stone). Comics Alliance has called him "the Trix rabbit of supervillains.". Another is he's The Chessmaster playing the Long Game. He may not have the Infinity Stones, but he knows where most of them are (as well as figuring out the location to the Infinity Gauntlet). In the stinger of Age of Ultron, Thanos appears tired of relying on others to bring him the Stones, and resolves to retrieve them personally.
  • Some fans speculate that the Infinity Stones have some level of sentience, similar to the One Ring. Most prominently, this would mean the Mind Stone was manipulating all sides so it could get a body. This would be similar to the original Infinity Trilogy from the comics where the Gems all have a level of sentience and a desire to be with the others.
    • Seems to have been confirmed as of Avengers: Infinity War as it's revealed that the Tesseract, aka the Space Stone, sent Red Skull to the location of the Soul Stone with full knowledge of how to obtain it and knowing that he would never be capable of the necessary sacrifice. This was in punishment for Red Skull abusing the Tesseract's power.


  • In Thor, Loki has inspired a lot of this discussion because the film leads the audience to potentially doubt everything he says since he's such an effective Manipulative Bastard: Did he always hate Thor or was it a simple grudge from Sibling Rivalry that grew to Cain and Abel levels only after he found out he was a Frost Giant? And does he really still consider himself a son of Odin, or was he just saying that as another manipulation?
    • And it could go either way. As notoriously having a "silver tongue" he could be manipulating both the characters in the film and the audience. On the other hand, however, he genuinely comes across as a "Well Done, Son!" Guy Unfavorite who wants nothing more than to move out from under the shadow of his older brother and receive some recognition for what he has done. The more popular opinion is that he is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and this is the more likely possibility. If one just considers how much it would break a person to have always been The Unfavorite all his life and then discover that he is in fact one of the creatures he was raised to hate and that is the reason why he was The Unfavorite, then it is not shocking what Loki did. He set up a situation where he would have saved his father from an assassination attempt, an event that his father could not ignore. He attempted to destroy the creatures (which he was one of) that were threatening war upon his land in the hopes that it would finally make him Thor's equal. But his attempt failed, as did his attempt to explain to his father why he had done such a thing. And... it's also more popular because girls do love their Draco in Leather Pants.
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    • One could also argue whether his fall at the end of Thor was a suicide attempt or an escape route to plan more evil deeds. Depending upon the character interpretation, whether Loki is a Manipulative Bastard or a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Odin's telling him that what he did would not make him proud could either have been the final straw that drove him to suicide or that drove him to full out, irredeemable evil.
    • Speaking of which, did Laufey really abandon Loki? Or did he leave him near the Casket for safekeeping and spend the last millennia thinking Odin murdered his infant son?
      • If Loki really was left near the Casket (which I doubt) then putting a baby you want to protect next to your most powerful weapon that the other forces are probably going to go looking for is a terrible' plan and in no way going to ensure that he'd stay safe. Besides, if Loki wasn't abandoned then why wasn't he being watched over by a civilian or something? We didn't hear anything about Odin slaughtering Loki's guards and then just happening to find an "abandoned" baby. Although Odin would probably realize that part of the story makes him look less sympathetic.
      • In a scripted, but unfilmed scene Laufey admits that he believed Loki to be dead, and had no intentions of keeping him.
      LAUFEY: Ah, the bastard son. I thought Odin had killed you. That's what I would have done. He's as weak as you are.
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    • Thor: The Dark World throws even more wrenches into the mix, especially regarding Loki's death scene. Did he really mean it when he apologised to Thor, or was it just a ploy to gain Thor's sympathy after his 'death?' Or did he not mean it but said it anyway because he does care about his brother somewhat? It doesn't help that the audience doesn't know whether he actually faked his death, or actually died and it didn't take, which would massively change the meaning and motivations of his words.
    • Everything said in the final scene between Thor and Odin once it is revealed that Odin is actually Loki in disguise.
  • Captain America: Civil War:
    • Because of the story's government versus anti-government plot, people are already politicizing the story and thus the characters. Following Cap's actions in Winter Soldier (in which he entirely shut down a government agency when half of it proved corrupt and the other half inept to stop it), MCU Cap has already been branded a hardcore libertarian icon.
    • The initial trailers implied that Tony was fighting against Cap simply over different approaches to heroism, while the film shows that they really come to blows over Bucky. Regardless, it's disputed whether their conflict was also fueled by whatever grudges the two have had since the first Avengers flick.
    • A lot of the parts revolving around Bucky have this trope in-universe as well as out. Steve believes Bucky is an innocent victim while others see him as dangerous due to his brainwashing, which can be activated by anyone who knows the proper trigger phrase.
    • Sebastian Stan has suggested that Bucky is lying when he says he remembers killing Tony's parents, because he would rather tell Tony what he wants to hear in order to make his death as quick as possible.
    • Iron Man's morality can certainly be called into question in regards to his ties to Spider-Man. Is Tony trying to help an Ascended Fanboy make a difference in the world with his powers, or is he simply trying to exploit the abilities of a Naïve Newcomer for the sole purpose of advancing his own goals? Furthermore, the fact that Peter Parker is a minor being brought into the conflict also raises a completely different set of questions about Tony's moral compass.
    • Is Vision keeping Scarlet Witch company because he genuinely cares about her, or is he just following Tony's orders to make sure she stays put? And is Tony trying to keep her in his mansion because it's for her own good, or because he's scared of her and her powers? The fact that neither Vision or Tony is doing anything to help a clearly distressed Wanda in captivity towards the end of the film really makes you wonder.
    • Is Helmut Zemo an Anti-Villain whose actions is somewhat justified and even somewhat tragic? Or is he a Manipulative Bastard who wants to see The Avenger's destruction, and gladly crosses the Moral Event Horizon in order to see it happen? This incarnation of him doesn't seem to care about Hydra, saying that they deserved to be taken down. All he cares about is avenging the his family's deaths in the Battle of Sokovia - which The Avengers are partly responsible for - and when he finally accomplishes his goal, he sits down and prepares to commit suicide. Further complications: T'Challa/the Black Panther is Pro-Reg not because of any moral stance, but simply because he wanted a chance to kill Bucky - and actually admits that he is Not So Different; he would have killed an innocent man out of misplaced vengeance if circumstances had been otherwise. Zemo even tells T'Challa he feels sorry about killing T'Chaka during the bombing in Vienna.
    • Is Black Widow betraying Iron Man's team and letting Steve and Bucky escape because she honestly thinks Steve is in the right while Tony is mostly motivated by his own ego and flawed logic? Or is her allegiance biased herself because of her closer relationship with Steve than Tony, considering what they had gone through together in The Winter Soldier? She's also established in the beginning of the film that she supports Tony's decision to sign the Sokovia Accords but she also tries her hardest to convince Steve to change his mind without being too antagonistic, so the reason she lets him go at the airport might be because she really doesn't want to bring him in. And finally, at the ending of the film, she's gone into hiding when the government agents come to arrest her, but let her other compatriots behind to be imprisoned in The Raft until Steve breaks them out. Is this the sign of the "doing whatever it takes to survive, even by playing both sides" mindset that Tony accuses her of, or she genuinely cannot find a way to break them out on her own, considering the nature of the prison itself? Or is it because she knows all too well what the Winter Soldier really is (because she was similarly used as a tool and living weapon by nasty people), so she is actually more or less neutral in the whole conflict and willing to see that both sides have very good reasons for their actions? Hawkeye probably did something similar for her way back when, and saved her from possible execution or a life sentence in jail. So, she's acting out of loyalty to both Steve and Clint, and out of sympathy for Bucky while still agreeing with Tony's point that there needs to be safeguards against people like her?
    • Is Steve really fighting the Accords because he genuinely thinks that the Accords are wrong? Or is he fighting against them for more personal reasons that he can't, or won't, admit to himself?
    • Is Steve using Sharon as a Replacement Goldfish for Peggy? His interest in her does seem to increase once he finds out Sharon's parentage, and as his dedication to Bucky throughout shows, Steve tries to hold on to whatever he can from the past.
    • Did Steve leave his shield behind because he agreed with Tony's claims that he didn't deserve it or as a bitter "are you happy now?" gesture?
  • Black Panther (2018)
    • Does Killmonger actually care about helping oppressed minorities, or is he just using their plight as an excuse to take revenge on a world he feels has wronged him personally? Support for the latter comes near the end of the film when he admits that he doesn't care so long as the world share his pain. Despite his entire mission statement about using Wakandan technology to improve the world, and T'Challa offering him a chance to repent, he kills himself rather than swallow his pride for the sake of actually helping people. It's also pointed out his burning of the source of the Black Panther's powers was a tactic to destabilize Wakanda itself, bringing into question if he actually even wanted to create a new world superpower or if he instead wanted to ravage the world and destroy Wakanda. However, if Killmonger really cares more about venting his rage, was he always motivated by selfish revenge or did he start out with genuinely selfless intentions only to give up because of his anger and despair?
    • Is Killmonger is a Death Seeker? Besides refusing medical help after his defeat, he always chooses the self-destructive path. He kills his girlfriend and burns the sacred garden, implying that he isn't interested in having an heir or leaving a legacy for himself even though he's a prince with a legitimate claim to the throne. Furthermore, despite having the skills and connections, Killmonger also chose not to follow a more heroic career like becoming a costumed vigilante (in a universe where that is possible and acceptable career path), entering politics or starting his own company, thus denying himself the chance to help others and live a life of luxury without the needless deaths. The fact that Killmonger pursues self-defeating atrocities implies that he doesn't care about what happens to himself so long as everyone experiences his suffering. This only makes his evil plan more horrifying in hindsight, since it amounts to a murder-suicide as he intentionally wants to start a race war that will cause millions to die alongside him.
    • Wakanda itself. A paradise just trying to defend itself? Or a nation of self-righteous xenophobes willing to let the rest of the world suffer? Even ignoring Killmonger's point about how Wakanda could've alleviate the suffering of Africans using their tech and resources, keep in mind that at the time that this film takes place, there had been three alien invasions of the planet.



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