The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a messy place. With 19 movies already released and 13 more in various stages of production, each with a different set of writers and directors, there are bound to be continuity errors. Along the way, Kevin Feige and the MCU team have tried to retcon things as they go, to various degrees of success. Here are ten times the MCU tried to retcon their characters.
10. Loki Was Never A Bad Guy
Loki's heroism in the MCU has increased in direct proportion with how much fans have become obsessed with Tom Hiddleston. So it stood to reason that, by Infinity War, he would stand up to Thanos in a classic futile-noble-sacrifice move. But his turn never sat particularly well with some of his earlier actions, particularly in The Avengers where he tears out someone's eye, murders Agent Coulson and brings about a deadly alien invasion of New York. In 2019, it was noted that the official Marvel profile for Loki now claims that all his actions in The Avengers were the result of Thanos influencing him via the Mind Stone in his scepter. It's not clear exactly when that new information was added, but the result is clear: we can view now Loki as a cheeky anti-hero, and just in time for his Disney+ TV show. Very convenient.
9. Fake Infinity Gauntlet
This one's been driving fans mad since Thor. If Odin has the Infinity Gauntlet in his collection, how does Thanos also have it? After Thanos put the gauntlet on at the end of Age of Ultron, Kevin Feige initially tried to bat away questions by claiming there were two gauntlets. "There are two different gloves," he said. "That was not Odin's vault that you see at the end [of Ultron]." Taika Waititi, writer/director of Ragnarok solved the issue in one scene, though - having Cate Blanchett's Hela knock the gauntlet off its pedestal, calling it "fake".
8. Stan Lee Is A Watcher
Kevin Feige claims it was the plan all along, but it’s hard to believe a man who releases movie trailers with intentional misdirection. Some fans decided that Stan Lee was in every Marvel movie because he was either a Watcher, or a Watcher's informant. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 decided to confirm the theory, with a very funny scene in which he chats to some other Watchers about his previous incarnation as a mail delivery guy.
7. Peter Parker Was In Iron Man 2
When Marvel made Iron Man 2, they didn't have the cinematic rights to Peter Parker or Spider-Man so it's not possible they intended the little kid who Tony Stark saves at the science expo to be young Mr. Parker. That said, there were enough connectives to create a fan theory – the expo took place in Queens, and a science geek like Parker would probably go to such an event in his hometown. This fan theory was officially confirmed almost as soon as Marvel got the rights back from Sony. Naturally, it was Tom Holland who broke the news.
6. The Mandarin Is Real
Iron Man 3 was a hit with critics and audiences alike, but there's a vocal minority who really dislike the film, with the Mandarin’s reveal as a hammy British actor called Trevor Slattery being singled out as being particularly egregious. Since Marvel is a nice company that wants to keep everyone happy, they made a one-shot short film called All Hail the King to officially get it into the canon that the real Mandarin is actually still out there somewhere, and he's not happy that Trevor impersonated him.
5. Hawkeye’s Surprise Family
When fans wondered about a potential romance between Hawkeye and Black Widow in The Avengers, Joss Whedon was quick to deny it. "[He's a] bit of a wild card and loner who keeps to himself," Whedon said. "He's playing a sniper, so naturally, he keeps his distance. He's fully engaged, but he's in his own place." This makes sense, especially for the way Hawkeye's used in The Avengers. However, in literally the next movie, all of a sudden he's not a loner who keeps to himself, he's part of a lovely family who live on a farm that the Avengers have to go hang out at in the middle of Age of Ultron. While it’s possible that he just never mentioned it before, you’d think the one person with a family would drop the line, “I’ve got a family” at some point.
4. Gamora’s People
When Guardians of the Galaxy's heroes are arrested, a list of their vital statistics is shown by the Nova Corps. On Gamora's, it is revealed that she is "the last survivor of the Zehoberei people". When Infinity War came out, we learn that her planet was one of those targeted by Thanos as part of his 'kill one, set one free' scheme. Thanos tells Gamora that things are much better now. "The children born have known nothing but full bellies and clear skies. It's a paradise." It seems very unlikely that he would claim the planet is a "paradise" when everyone is really dead. It’s possible that he’s lying, but it’s equally possible Thanos would have a living, breathing “proof of concept” for his plan.
3. Howard Stark
In Iron Man, Howard Stark is a very successful businessman who made a lot of money from being primarily an arms dealer. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he's a scientist who works for the government and builds the vibranium shield. In The Winter Soldier, it's revealed that he actually started S.H.I.E.L.D. and was killed by Hydra, via Bucky Barnes, as a result. Ant-Man gave us our first proper look at the MCU's Stark as a weird spy boss who knows all about superheroes. That's quite a story arc for a character who barely appears in most of the MCU. Some people might think that these are reveals rather than retcons, but none of it was planned from the start and his character is completely different to his first introduction.
2. Hulk Was Going To Be The Villain In The Avengers
The original plan for The Avengers involved coming together to stop the Hulk. So, it made sense for Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark to swan into The Incredible Hulk's post-credit scene to buddy up with Thaddeus E 'Thunderbolt' Ross - until it totally didn't. So Marvel smartly used one of its one-shot short films, called The Consultant, to explain SHIELD actually wanted to recruit The Abomination to the Avengers, so Nick Fury sent Stark in to make Ross hate him so much he wouldn't want to work with them on the project. We didn’t say it makes sense. Stark ended up getting thrown out of the bar, before buying the place and demolishing it as petty revenge.
1. The Entire MCU Timeline
The MCU timeline was fuzzy at best until Spider-Man: Homecoming came along with the now infamous “8 years later” line that had fans scratching their heads and second-guessing their math. So in late 2018 the MCU released the official timeline to move some dates around - most notably the eight-year time jump is now four and Iron Man is set in 2010 instead of 2008. There are still a number of glaring errors, specifically around the Doctor Strange and Black Panther movies, but maybe Kevin Feige is waiting for the events of End Game to play out before another retcon occurs.