Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Marvel Cinematic Universe

Go To

New entries on the bottom.

For individual series, see their respective pages:

Phase One

Phase Two

Phase Three

Phase Four

Phase Five


    open/close all folders 

    S.H.I.E.L.D. Jurisdiction 

  • Just what exactly is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s jurisdiction anyways? They're implied to be a worldwide peacekeeping organization, though the "Homeland" portion of its acronym seems to imply that they're an American-run operation.
    • Pretty vague, it sounds. Even the Pentagon sounded confused as to what S.H.I.E.L.D. was, hence why they didn't back the film.
    • In a World… where the world is threatened by things from different planes of existence and the far reaches of space, the whole earth is their homeland.
    • My own take is that they are an American-originated organization that had a legacy of international involvement ( thanks to WWII and the SSR ), that various other nations have bought into. By joining the S.H.I.E.L.D. Convention or whatever it's called, they get involvement and some degree of executive say, in exchange for jurisdiction.
    • My personal belief is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a multinational peacekeeping task force/Covert Intelligence Agency created, in secret, by the United Nations, hence why they answer to the World Security Council, instead of the Department of the Defense or Pentagon. I think what we are seeing in the movie is just the American Branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. And we only see the S.H.I.E.L.D. involvement in the U.S because of all the crazy superhero stuff that happens there.
    • Someone really wanted their initials to spell out "SHIELD".
    • Given that S.H.I.E.L.D. answers to the World Council I'd imagine that they're a multinational cooperative. That said, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes that seem less likely, given the constantly seem to have jurisdiction issues with people treating S.H.I.E.L.D. as simply American.
    • Even in the comics S.H.I.E.L.D. is sometimes a purely American organization, and sometimes is the super-spy branch of the United Nations. Sometimes it changes with no explanation at all.
    • I always thought that S.H.I.E.L.D. was just like WOOHP that goes to whether it finds crime. But instead of them all having the spy gene they're full of people like Kim Possible.
  • In WandaVision, they apparently have enough resources to send in an entire actual army. I kinda assume that S.H.I.E.L.D. just trains them though and that most of them have military training.

    World Security Council 
  • In the same vein... the World Security Council. So who are they? It sounds like they were going for the UN Security Council and simply didn't get the approval to just come out and say it. Pierce is called "Secretary", implying that he's part of the President's Cabinet, which would appear to back that up since the American UN Ambassador has a permanent seat on the Real Life Security Council... but then in Civil War when discussing the accords Tony seems to differentiate between the World Security Council and the UN. So, exactly who are they? Whence cometh their authority- if Pierce isn't a Cabinet member, who decided he gets to be in charge of a huge espionage network? Same question for all the other Council members.

    Avengers before the threat 
  • What was Fury even assembling the Avengers for, and who were his targets? When he asked Stark to join at the end of Iron Man, he told him he wasn't "the only superhero in the world". But according to the timeline Thor hadn't arrived yet, Cap was still frozen, Banner was still hiding in Brazil, and either S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't found him or never approached him then, and the only other supers would have been Badass Normals Hawkeye and Black Widow. Who could he have been referring to, and what?
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. was aware of Banner, according to the in-canon comic prequels, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been watching over Banner, Natasha Romanoff was even present during the Culver University attack and in the Harlem battle according to the comics. Selvig even confirms in the Thor movie, that S.H.I.E.L.D. went to look for him and Banner wasn't heard ever since then.
    • Probably Cap, at this point it's still a case of Never Found the Body, meaning there's the potential for him to still live, and Nick Fury knew Howard Stark (the foremost surviving Super Serum scientist, and was likely Cap's closest male friend save for Bucky) very well.
    • Ant-man, probably. According to The Other Wiki, the Ant-man film is supposed to be set in the 60s.
    • Confirmed. An Ant-Man was operating in the '60s and the upcoming movie will focus on the second person to pick up that mantle.
    • In case you forgot, S.H.I.E.L.D. had the Tesseract. They knew it came from somewhere, and there could be other people with comparable power or artifacts.
    • So Thor was a potential Avengers from the start? Or any of the other Asgardians? Who knew...
    • He was assembling them just in case something like what happened happened. He didn't have a specific plan so much as it was becoming increasingly obvious that several powerful beings were wandering the planet. Just in official canon (mind you some of these are dead) Loki, the Abomination, the Leader, Ironman armors (which apparently have a relatively short learning curve) and that's just what we can prove. Magneto and other mutants and Spiderman and his rogues are probably floating around and when/if the copyrights are returned to marvel they'll show. The thing about the Avengers is if it's at all possible you want to get as many of these guys on speed dial as possible BEFORE needing them. It was mostly dumb luck that the Avengers in the movie (and to be fair in the comics) just sort of all fell together.
    • But none of those existed yet when he met with Tony. Loki was in Asgard, the Abomination and Leader weren't created yet, and neither were those Iron Man armors.
    • Fair enough. Red Skull is the only canon super-villain at the time. I'm sticking to my earlier assertion that just because we haven't confirmed (again due to copyright issues) doesn't mean they aren't there. Alternatively, they could have been gathering to bring in the Hulk who did exist, who at this point a force of nature wanted by the US government. The bottom line is we'll probably never know for sure.
    • I think Hulk was, indeed, an Avengers candidate. Black Widow did say they never lost track of him. And she and Hawkeye were also probably candidates.
    • As of the first Iron Man movie, the Hulk still existed (and depending on what was canon, almost assuredly tangled with some other super-powered villain. Red Skull did exist at some point, and the Tesseract's mere existence implied that there was... something unexplained out there. Given their lack of surprise at seeing Thor, it's likely they knew of Asgard.
    • Lack of surprise? Coulson stayed fairly cool (notice he instantly gave in to Thor's demands after witnessing the Destroyer's beatdown) but S.H.I.E.L.D. clearly didn't know anything for certain about Asgard, hence their decision to build Tesseract powered weapons to try and counter them after New Mexico. The Thor stinger and Captain America's film show that most people (aside from Johann Schmidt) regarded the old Norse myths as exactly that, myths. "Legend tells us one thing, history another, but now and then we find something that belongs to both." Red Skull believed the old Norse myths, but no one else took him or the legends that seriously even with Zola's Tesseract weapons. Going from Fury's above comment to Selvig, S.H.I.E.L.D. may have believed the Tesseract was just one of Zola's inventions. It wasn't until New Mexico that Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. started realizing "Oh, Crap!, Schmidt was right, the Norse Gods do exist in some form, and they like blowing up our towns. Who knows what the hell else is out there, and how do we stop them?!"
    • Let's not forget Coulson's words at the end of the first Iron Man flick, "This isn't my first rodeo." Obviously Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself has been aware of superheroes for some time. The audience just hasn't seen everything yet.
    • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it is revealed that 1: they have interacted with and know several Super-powered beings (example: Blackout) and items (example: Gravitonium). 2: they have a prison FOR Super-powered beings and items of both known and unknown origin (the latter are called 0-8-4s, of which Thor's hammer was one). 3: They had a "dead" "alien" which they were using to extract several serums, one of which was one of the steps used to bring back Coulson, and was used to heal show character Skye (who is apparently a "gifted" 0-8-4 that was found and hidden before Iron Man 1 came around).
    • We also have a Jessica Jones (2015) series coming out. She was a superhero in the past, although it remains to be seen how long she was a hero or if S.H.I.E.L.D. knew of her.
    • It was mentioned above that Ant-Man was operating in the past, but the recent movie also confirmed that Wasp was on missions alongside him.
    • Then there's the Black Panther legacy. The Captain America: Civil War movie will have Panther and possibly his father T'Chaka. With an entire nation having superhero kings, S.H.I.E.L.D. has likely been aware for decades.
    • Confirmed MCU super-people on Earth, pre-Iron-Man, as of June 2017: Captain America, Red Skull, the Winter Soldier, Ant-Man (Hank), Wasp (Janet), Hulk, Falcon, every Black Widow, certain S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (Hawkeye in particular, considering his skill level), numerous Inhumans (S.H.I.E.L.D. was at least aware of Eva and Katya, if not others), the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj (who may or may not have been under Fury's radar), Carl Creel, possibly Blackout (depending on when he was empowered), Daredevil, Jessica Jones, possibly Luke Cage (depending on when he was empowered), every Iron Fist (including Danny Rand, though he was in another dimension until recently), various members and servants of the Hand (including Gao, Nobu, Bakuto, and Harold Meachum), Elektra (and presumably any other Black Sky), Stick (if he counts as super), Ego (though S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't have known about him), at least one Kree (the corpse in the "Guest House"), the Asgardians and Jotuns (though, other than Prof. Randolph, they had been absent for a very long time), every Black Panther, Mr. Hyde (though S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't know he had "powers"), John Garrett (though S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't know he was the first Deathlok), possibly Nuke and the other IGH-enhanced soldiers, subjects in Thunderbolt Ross's old super-soldier program, Whitney Frost, Jason Wilkes, Dr. Feinhoff (kinda), Howard Stark (via his crazy inventions). I may be forgetting some. Also, at the time of Fury's first visit to Tony Stark, three Infinity Stones were on Earth (Space, Reality, and Time), one of which was already in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s possession.
      • Additions to this list: The other Winter Soldiers who were in hibernation in Siberia, Angar the Screamer, possibly Cloak & Dagger (their powers were at least latent), and Captain Marvel (and any Kree and Skrulls who showed up with her). Subtraction: Luke Cage (he didn't have his powers yet). And I'm pretty dang sure we're about to see that the events of Captain Marvel are what inspire Fury to want to build the team.
      • Now confirmed that the events of Captain Marvel are exactly what got Fury working on the Avenger Initiative.

    Seeing Tony's face in the suit 
  • Here's something that confuses me: If Tony's head is tight inside Iron Man's armor how can he be seen moving it freely with all those holograms as if he was wearing a big helmet during the interior shots?
    • The interior is just a big ol' screen, designed to make it look like the screens aren't directly in Tony's face (which would be disorienting, claustrophobic, and hard to focus on). Because of that, in our shots we see his face looking like there's more space than there is.

    Racist HYDRA 
  • So is modern-day HYDRA still a racist organization? People like Strucker and the artificial Zola sure seem to give you that feeling, but then again they are working with ethnically different people like Sunil Bakshi and I believe during the cleansing of S.H.I.E.L.D., many black-skinned people were among those being taken in. Or are they just tools for them?
    • HYDRA might have never been a racial-supremacist organization. The founding principle of HYDRA was based around restricting people's freedom, not one people's advancement like the Nazis. Sure, it was predominantly German when it started, but Schmidt had no loyalty toward his native country, as shown when he made Berlin a planned target for Valkyrie's bombs. The First Avenger prequel comic First Vengeance even has Schmidt say he doesn't care if Erskine's wife is Jewish but is willing to use it against her if it would make Erskine work for him. Long story short, HYDRA is not so much racist and more Hates Everyone Equally.
    • Even regardless of their origin, the current incarnation of HYDRA is a different entity than what it started as. HYDRA classic was merely a Nazi science division that went rogue and tried to kill everyone, while HYDRA now is a group formed up of people who believe extremely in the idea that security and control outweigh the need for freedom and others who are brainwashed into thinking this.
    • There's a scene in The First Avenger where one of the Nazi officers ostensibly in charge of HYDRA tries to boss Schmidt around (specifically mentioning something about Nazi racial beliefs) and Schmidt basically tells him to fuck off because HYDRA's goals are bigger than Nazi goals. It's safe to assume HYDRA doesn't have racial policies in place.
    • Or, even if they did hold with supremacist beliefs when first founded, that those beliefs got binned the instant their leader's "condition" became an open secret within their own ranks. Schmidt's deformity as Red Skull would've marked him for extermination as a physical disability under the Nazi regime, after all: any HYDRA member whose affinities were more Nazi than HYDRA would've been purged at that point.
    • Between their creation in Nazi Germany and their reveal in Winter Soldier, seven decades went by. Lots of organizations have seen major changes in their policies and ideology over such a long span of time.
    • Also, the real Nazis made an alliance with Japan. Apparently some racists will work with people they're racist against.

    Why "stones" and not "gems"? 
  • Why are the infinity gems referred to as "stones"? Did Marvel really think "infinity gems" was too corny-sounding? The objects even appear gem-like, so why the need for this unnecessary term change?
    • Possibly because infinity stone rolls off the tongue better than infinity gem? Sounds better spoke, I guess.
    • Gems is more specific. You can stretch the definition of "stone" to stuff like Aether or Tesseract, but with Gem that would be trickier.
    • "Gem" also implies somebody carved the thing to have specific facets and angles. Nobody was around to carve the Stones when they coalesced from the fundamental forces of the universe.

    Captain America mask 
  • Steve Rogers' identity as Captain America has always been public in the MCU, so why does he bother with the mask at all? The helmet is one thing, but what's the point of covering the top of his face with it? Obviously, it's because it's part of the Captain America costume and audiences expect it, but what's the in-universe justification?
    • Because he wants to protect his face too from damage.
    • Considering half of the time he takes the helmet/mask off, I'm not sure I agree.
    • Well, Helmets Are Hardly Heroic.
    • He's only twice willingly taken it off during combat: once when fighting Batroc and that was just to make the fight even, and two when defending Sokovia because... actually the film doesn't say why. Must have been one of those bits cut out of the movie. Either way, after that it's either been in a situation where he wasn't fighting or because it was torn off of him.
    • Fighting killer robots for an hour is exhausting and he might've simply been overheating, taking it off to cool off a little.
    • The very first costume he had was just a piece of propaganda, so the mask was there just for him to look heroic, maybe without attaching a specific person to the "Captain America" persona. The uniforms after that probably kept the general aesthetics because Steve wanted to keep the Captain America symbol alive, and that had already become part of it.
    • Also, because it's cool.

    Avengers legality 
  • So now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has folded (which the Avengers was initially a branch of and thus had someone to hold them responsible for in the eyes of the government), what is the legal jurisdiction for the Avengers? It seems that Stark Industries has picked up a lot of the slack for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s brand of peacekeeping (even though that means global security goes from a public sector to a private one which has its own problems, especially with someone as infamously reckless as Stark), but from most of the world governments' viewpoints, the Avengers are just a bunch of friends of Stark's that he funds to run around and beat up criminals. Who's arresting and detaining the criminals the Avengers defeat (especially superhuman ones like the Abomination), or debriefing them so they aren't just killing people in droves during missions and causing tons of casualties? Age Of Ultron has Mariah Hill mention that Banner is possibly going to be arrested for the incident in Africa, but that's the only thing we get. Otherwise, the world governments seem to just let them run loose and make their own rules.
    • The Avengers aren't going after criminals. They go after world-level threats, like Hydra and Ultron. Also, yes. This is basically the plot of the upcoming Civil War movie.
    • I think it's mentioned that NATO apprehended Strucker's HYDRA men after the Avengers captured the base. So they might be one of the Avengers' overseers or affiliates.

    Status of HYDRA 

    Timeline of Ant-Man/Civil War 
  • Going by release date, Ant-Man takes place a couple of months or so after Age Of Ultron. Ant-Man ends with Scott having dinner with his family, having just stopped Darren Cross and accepted the mantle of Ant-Man before he gets a call from Falcon to recruit Scott for helping with Bucky. Okay. But Civil War takes place a year after AOU. In fact, by the time Civil War happens, Scott has already learned how to transform into Giant-Man (given the timeline it's very unlikely he learned it offscreen during Ant-Man). So does Ant-Man actually take place much later than its release date signifies?
    • It's seems that the end scene in Ant-Man with Luis wasn't meant to be them specifically calling him for help with Bucky, but just an indication that they have considered his worth and might call upon him in the future.

    People Knowing About Ultron's Creation 
  • So when I saw Ant-Man, and Hank made a remark blaming the Avengers for Sokovia, I just took that for his bias against the Stark family. But I'm watching through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Netflix, and there have been multiple references to people knowing that Tony created Ultron. How do they know that? Were the Avengers really stupid enough to just outright tell the public, and why isn't Tony in jail if people know?
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. often knows things the general public doesn't. Most of season 3 is about them trying to keep the full extent of the Inhuman situation quiet because they are worried people will freak out when they realize alien-made human weapons are living among them (instead of just victims of an alien disease). That being said, it is possible that Tony publicly admitted to making Ultron and paid restitution. In Civil War it's unclear if people are blaming him for Ultron or just for his overly-destructive attempts to stop Ultron.
    • Considering Iron Man voluntarily revealed his own identity to the public early on in his career as a superhero, it's not a stretch to imagine that he at least issued a press statement admitting partial involvement in the creation of Ultron.

     Scale of MCU universe 
  • Consider the following: Most of the stuff in both Guardians movies happens in Andromeda galaxy (M31), including the war between Xandar and Kree. However, Kree, Ego, and Ravagers visit Earth, and it's apparently no big deal. Nine Realms are located in unknown parts of the universe, but apparently, access to just nine planets is enough to plunge the entire universe into darkness using Aether. Sakaar lies in an unknown part of the universe but is connected by wormholes (a limited, if large, number of them) to pretty much the entire universe. Ego, Knowhere, Chitauri space, and Thanos's flying place (IF it isn't in Chitauri space) are outside Milky Way and/or Andromeda galaxy, judging by coordinates. Specifically, Ego was located "at the edge of the known universe." Ego visited enough worlds to talk about consuming the whole universe, and so says Quill, but Rocket is instantly talking about "saving the Galaxy" — note the singular — even though they are presumably in a separate galaxy altogether. However, Ego presumably didn't visit Asgard (no blue tumor is visible in Thor: Ragnarok). Problem is, impregnating the WHOLE universe would take Ego trillions of years even with his super-fast FTL. Asgardians are known as far as Sakaar and have come in contact with Kree. Sakaarians and presumable Asgardians are aware of Xandar. This raises a question: is MCU space really small (Local Group, maybe a few more nearby galaxies (probably fictional) or M81 group), or most villains just don't care about things beyond that? Granted, extinguishing all light in Local Group would indeed make the night sky pitch black, as everything else is beyond visibility, AFAIK, and Ego might have only known about the universe as learned from other civilizations — and apart from the M81 group, everything beyond Local Group is REALLY far away. Although this in turn raises a question of how on Earth did all seven universal aspects end up in such a microscopic bit of the universe.

    Avoiding current years 
  • Why do all the MCU movies set in the year they were released or close go so hard out of their way to avoid showing when they occur? Like, even when Nick Fury "died" in Winter Soldier and we see his gravestone, the camera pans as to obscure the year of his "death". This makes no sense considering whenever they show a flashback into the past they don't shy away from showing when it was set and you can do simple math if they mention how much time had passed since. Considering these connections to the past, both fictional and Real Life events, and a clear aversion to Comic-Book Time, it's not like they're trying to make these movies "timeless" or anything.
    • Explicitly putting in dates, like the prologue taking place "Eight Years Ago" in Spider-Man: Homecoming that Marvel admitted didn't make sense and retconned in Infinity War, seems to lead to screwups. Also, while some movies take place in the year they were released, not all of them do. Thor: Ragnarok was released in 2017, but Infinity War, released in 2018, picks up immediately afterward. It is probably possible to make a coherent timeline of the MCU because they don't throw in dates all the time without the various directors consulting with each other, which would lead to a Continuity Snarl. Remember, Writers Cannot Do Math.
      • In the case of Thor: Ragnarok, it's possible that the post-credits scene leading into Infinity War is meant to take place several months after the main events of the film, so the 2017 date could still work.

    Heroes and villains rarely use codenames 
  • In real life, wrestlers, authors, celebrities, and rappers use fake names and pseudonyms. Would it really be ridiculous and silly for a costumed criminal to give himself a codename in the MCU?
    • Wrestlers, authors, celebrities, and rappers do that because they want publicity. Criminals, on the whole, don't want publicity because publicity means they're going to get caught. There's one criminal who gives himself a codename — Starlord, and the best response he gets early on amounts to, "Oh, yeah, sure, it's not silly and dumb that you have a codename."
    • It'd be more typical for a criminal to use a "supervillain name" as an alias than a boast.

    Do non-powered human magicians still exist 
  • Since their universe is inhabited by sorcerers, gods, aliens, Inhumans, and mutants, does that mean regular magicians are now obsolete? In-universe, wouldn't people be less impressed with human magicians now they know that aliens and gods walk among them? Wouldn't MCU's Criss Angel be out of a job?
    • Regular magicians are entertainers that perform tricks for an audience, few people believe they have real magic powers. The presence of real magic wouldn't really affect them.
    • The sorcerers keep their existence on the down-low. The Ancient One was in business for hundreds (if not thousands) of years without the general public knowing, & she wasn't even the first Sorcerer Supreme.
    • Audiences in Real Life are impressed by magicians' ability to fake magic. MCU magicians can still impress with their performances because audiences can admire how skillfully they do so. It's just like how one can be impressed by someone doing advanced calculus in their head despite the existence of calculators and computers.
    • This is something brought up in the Sentinels of the Multiverse podcast where, in a similarly comic-book world where all those things are known entities, the superheroine speedster Tachyon loves stage magic. With her superspeed, she could easily replicate all the tricks, but she loves the presentation of it and the talent needed to pull it off, and she especially loves when a magician pulls a trick she can't immediately figure out. The writers have said that when she fights an illusionist-type villain, she sometimes stops to banter things like, "Oh wow, that was a really good trick, how did you do that?" completely unironically.
    • Non powered magicians exist. A failing one uses real magic to spice up his act in one episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

    What exactly are the Scarlet Witch's powers? 
  • In Age of Ultron, besides her telekinesis, Wanda clearly has some kind of psychic powers, as she manipulates the minds of the Avengers. And on top of that, her manipulation causes Tony to have a vision of the future, which is proven to be correct in The Infinity War and Endgame. However, in the later movies, Wanda is shown to use only her telekinesis. Why doesn't she attack enemies with her telepathy, as she did with the Avengers? And what about Tony's vision? If Wanda can make someone else see the future, shouldn't she be able to do that herself too?
    • She was only able to attack the Avengers psychically because she caught them off guard, and had to do it one at a time. Doing so leaves her vulnerable. And she did not give Tony a vision of the future at all. She gave him a vision of his own worst fears. Note that the vision has all the other Avengers dying (which doesn't happen), does not show Thanos, and depicts an invasion of only the Chitauri.
    • Answered in WandaVision - further headscratchers go over there.
    • The question about the nature of her powers was answered in that series, but there's still no explanation why she didn't use her psychic powers in the movies preceding it.

    What qualifies something or someone as a god 
  • It’s not clear what a god is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since it seems like Arishem from Eternals essentially created the Universe, yet he’s never described as a god. While the first two Thor movies clearly portray the Aesir as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens rather than gods but the last two characterize them as gods. Speaking of which in Thor: Love and Thunder Eternity isn’t considered a god but it’s not clear why. Or for that matter how Gorr determines who is or isn’t a god as part of his deicidal killing spree. Also Thanos with the Infinity Stones has the power to destroy the Universe and create a new one to replace it which raises the question of why he’s not considered a god but Thor is. Ditto for He Who Remains from Loki. With the Egyptian gods from Moon Knight they’ve got their own afterlife so it makes sense to count them as that but Rapu from Thor: Love and Thunder explicitly says that his pantheon doesn’t have an Afterlife. So I want to know in the MCU, what is a god?
    • The Asgardians are considered gods because they visited Earth, and humans worshipped them as gods and based an entire religion around them. The same doesn't apply to Arishem, Thanos, He Who Remains, etc. It seems godhood is defined by someone being worshipped as one, not by their power level.

    Sokovia Accords after the Blip 
  • Are they still in effect?
    • According to WandaVision, they are.