If done right, there will be no right and wrong in Captain America: Civil War. Both sides will have real, honest reasons for why they're fighting, and we won't walk away with the impression that an entire half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has completely gone off the rails.
That's what we hope, anyway...but the MCU road thus far is teeming with screw-ups that have caused mass face-palms in cinemas across the world. Here are some of the absolute worst.
10 Stark and Banner Make a Genocidal Robot
This list isn’t numbered, but if it was, the creation of a genocidal killbot who came within a hair’s breadth of annihilating the human race deserves the top spot. Comic Ultron was created mostly by Hank Pym, whereas the honors in the MCU go to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, who thought it was a good idea to create an all-powerful Artificial Intelligence and just sort of hope it didn't decide to destroy the world.
And why did they create Ultron in the first place? Was there a major threat that The Avengers couldn’t handle by themselves? Nope. In fact, they’d just stomped out the last major bastion of Hydra, and things were going great. Tony gets one kooky vision and as a knee-jerk reaction — he ends up creating a massively powerful supervillain (as he tends to do) because he just can’t comprehend that an Infinity Stone is maybe beyond his understanding. So in the end, it’s a combination of Scarlet Witch's brain magic, Tony's paranoia and Banner letting himself get bullied into helping.
9 Thanos Leaves Everything to the Middle-Management
Speaking of Infinity Stones, we’ve kinda got the idea by now that they’re important. One by itself can destroy an entire world, the others all possess unfathomable power — and we know Thanos’ plans are to gather all six so he can have the most fabulous piece of hand jewelry in all the universe. And also rule over time and creation, or whatever.
It’s thus unclear as to why he seems so keen on losing the ones that could quite easily be his. To aid in his conquering of Earth, Thanos gives Loki the Mind Stone. Just sort of…hands it over to the Norse god of trickery, who had an entire army at his command and probably didn’t need it. Loki’s invasion goes south and the Mind Stone ends up passing hands until finally ending up solidly welded into The Vision’s head.
Thanos then hands over the Power Stone collection duties not to a brainwashed slave, or a loyal flunkie, but to Ronan the Accuser (aided by the Mad Titan's traitorous daughter, of course). Again, this goes as well as you might expect; Ronan gets drunk on the Power Stone’s power, goes on a power trip and powerfully tells Thanos to stick it when asked to hand it over. Bear in mind that this was a fairly simple snatch-and-grab operation, as the stone was originally just sitting there in an abandoned temple for any sticky-fingered thief to swipe. And only now, after two Marvel Phases of failure, does Thanos finally declare that he’s doing things himself. That’s outsourcing for you.
8 Ultron Recruits the Twins (for some reason)
Ultron’s overall plan might've been ludicrously complicated, but it very nearly worked. No one expected him to drop an entire city out of the sky, and he would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling Avengers.
Of course, like so many supervillains before him, Ultron made his plan just that little bit more elaborate, the end result of which was the entire thing crashing down around his audio receptors. His critical error was recruiting Wanda and Pietro, who before this were knocking about and minding their own business. The two ended up siding with Ultron due to their mutual enemies, messing with the Avengers for a grand total of one scene and then switching sides because their boss’ plan was completely insane.
With an army of robots at his beck and call, Ultron didn’t need the twins. Had he gone with a mechanical option, they would’ve stayed right out of the fight, the Avengers would’ve been two powerful superhumans down in the final battle, Hawkeye would’ve been riddled with bullets (if he wasn't already overrun previously) and the casualties would’ve been far higher, since Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch greatly helped to empty the city with their speed/magic hand waving powers. Also, Ultron Prime’s heart would’ve stayed right inside his chest where it belongs, instead of it being ripped out via said magic hand waving. Again, this just proves that if you want a job done right, don’t entrust it to a couple of misguided but morally-upstanding lackeys. Do it yourself.
7 Loki Tries to Intimidate the Incredible Hulk
Loki isn’t exactly a front-lines fighter. While much stronger than your average human and sometimes in possession of an uber-powerful space staff, his abilities of illusion, manipulation and magnificent headgear are his actual strengths. Seemingly through sheer frustration, Loki totally forgets this during his invasion of New York, as he’s faced with a very angry Hulk at the top of Stark Tower.
You don’t need us to tell you what happens next, because what then happens to Loki is one of the MCU’s most beloved and iconic scenes. Still, it would’ve made every bit of sense to either trick Hulk into hurling himself off the building (one of Loki’s specialties) or just high-tail it out of there. The guy’s from Asgard, he’s seen the nine worlds teeming with ferocious beasts…and his first instinct is to intimidate Hulk with some hurtful words? Literally any other option might’ve spared Loki from becoming a humiliated smear on the floor.
Though we’re still immensely glad that it happened anyway.
6 Drax Gets Drunk, Dooms an Entire Civilization
Once the madcap group escape the Nova Corp prison in Guardians of the Galaxy, they immediately head to a massive skull floating in outer-space known as ‘Knowhere’ to get the orb off their hands; that would be the orb that Ronan wants to use to annihilate an entire world. The plan looks set to go off without a hitch, and Rocket Raccoon is about to get the biggest payday of his life. Of course, that’s when Ronan and his flying mecha-monkeys show up and everything swiftly goes downhill from there.
And who called them there? Drax, one of the supposed good guys. Being a proud warrior type and quite amazingly intoxicated, he made sure the big bad guy knew where to find him so that he could exact bloody revenge for the deaths of his family. It’s a lovely sentiment, except that Drax chose to do it at the worst possible time. Ronan brings his entire entourage, curb-stomps Drax with embarrassing ease, nabs the stone and flies off to go kill a planet…all because Drax the Destroyer was too blind drunk to wait until they dumped him on the nearest moon.
5 Wilson Fisk Just Can't Stop Murdering People
Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk (Daredevil) might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying that he threw himself into the role and created a terrifying character. Both when standing in front of a crowd and decapitating gangsters with car doors, he was a terrifying force of destruction…and yet, it was his instability that lead to his downfall.
The aforementioned decapitation only took place because the guy interrupted Fisk at dinner with his lady friend. The problem was dealt within the space of ten seconds, but this was still his entire motive for a brutal murder. A quick spin placed the blame on Daredevil, but as the more innocent deaths begin to rack up — notably Elena Cardenas and Ben Urich, both of whom were close to those at Nelson and Murdock — it only adds masses of fuel to the fire that eventually has Fisk sent off to prison with a bruised skull.
Fisk’s infantile temper tantrums only weakened his pool of allies and motivated his enemies, especially when the deaths weren’t even necessary. If he’s ever going to truly be the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk needs to control his bouts of roid rage. Or just buy a stress ball.
4 Phil Coulson Unleashes an Evil Space Zombie on Earth
After what seemed like eighteen seasons and several thousand real-time hours, Grant Ward finally got what was coming to him in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midseason finale, "Maveth." With a closing portal only a quick sprint away and Ward no longer any threat due to having been shot, Coulson had the option of legging it and leaving Ward to the fate of being stranded on a desolate alien planet forever, which is no less than he deserved. At the very least, considering the dwindling portal, a quick bullet to the brain would’ve sufficed.
Instead, Coulson very, very slowly crushes Ward’s chest with his cybernetic hand, making sure he suffered. That’s all well and good, because Ward was just the worst, but this was neither the time nor place for drawn-out revenge. The end result? Hive (that’s the evil possessing space slug — it makes sense in context) has a fresh corpse to crawl into. It then manages to make it through the portal, and we get to spend at least half a season being terrorized by the new-and-improved Evil Outer Space Zombie Ward™, complete with sinister trench coat, centuries of memories and a bad habit of eating human flesh.
And it’s all Phil Coulson’s fault.
3 Tony Stark Invites Terrorists to His Undefended Home
Tony Stark is well known for two things: being Iron Man, and having a massive ego. Iron Man 3 gives us spades of the second thing, but doesn’t quite back it up enough with the first. Outraged by a terrorist attack that critically injures Happy Hogan, Tony issues a challenge to the Mandarin, stating his address on live television and angrily calling him out.
In a totally unexpected plot twist, his house is then attacked and razed to the ground (or the sea, as the case was). Tony barely manages to get himself and Pepper out in time, after which he’s forced to limp by with a barely-functional suit for most of the rest of the film. That he invited the Mandarin to blow up his house was already pretty dense, but leaving it utterly undefended? There’s hubris, and then there’s crippling idiocy, and Tony Stark is usually only capable of one of those things. We later see than he has a small army of suits in the basement who are fully capable of acting independently. Just a couple floating outside on guard duty could’ve solved the entire problem, and we wouldn’t have had to watch as the Mandarin’s helicopter squad demolished a perfectly nice piece of beachfront real estate.
2 Everyone Keeps Trusting the God of Trickery
Loki isn't exactly your local politician who lied about that one thing that one time; his name is synonymous with trickery. Entire legends have been composed about how good he is at pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes and getting exactly what he wants, so it’s hard to see why people keep trusting him. Ever.
As previously mentioned, Thanos handed over one of his Infinity Stones in the hopes that Loki would just do as he was told and dutifully give it back once he was done. The Frost Giants struck a deal that would see them gaining access to Asgard and finally killing Odin. Thor put his trust in his brother when in Svartalfheim, and later believed him to be dead.
If anyone’s keeping score, that’s one complete screw-up, one major backstab and one perfect fake death followed by the greatest coup in history. And those are just the big ones. This is the guy so shifty, they had to make him a fashionable mouth-guard in addition to regular restraints, just to stop him from talking. It might just be a testament to his skills how often he ends up free and on top. And we can't wait to see more.
1 Scott Lang Entrusts Major Heists to His Deadbeat Friends
Scott Lang is introduced to us in Ant-Man as a great thief, albeit one who tends to get caught a lot. As with most Hollywood thieves, he has a team behind him to help with the planning and computer side, though the ones he’s chosen are…less than helpful, at times.
While Luis (outstandingly portrayed by Michael Peña) might seem like the type of guy that everyone wants to have as a friend, it’s less clear why Scott keeps him around for the important jobs. The fact that his ragtag gang are hysterical doesn’t make them professional, and they spend the first half of the movie stumbling through misinformation and very nearly getting Scott slung back in jail; he’s only saved by Hank Pym setting them all up.
After this, Scott brings them in on the heist at Pym Technologies, which are some considerably larger stakes than breaking into some old geezer’s house. They manage to pool their skills by nearly blowing Scott’s cover and getting him diced up by lasers, while Luis’ backup plan becomes "punch everyone who gets suspicious."
Not that we don’t love these guys, but it’s somehow better for Ant-Man’s health now that he’s a member of Team Cap.
Any major screw-ups that could've made the list? Let us know in the comments!
Honorable Mention: Robyn from Jessica Jones, who — after spending the whole season generally being a shrieking harpy — whips up the anti-Kilgrave club into a frenzy, charges into Jessica's home, knocks her out and frees Kilgrave, thus racking up the death count (Hope included) and extending the plot by a good three episodes. Nice one, Robyn.