The key to good storytelling is posing intriguing questions that your audience simply needs answered, and then withholding those answers until the opportune moment for revelation.
When it comes to film making, this moment can be later in the same scene (e.g. the box's contents in Se7en), much later in the film itself (e.g. the meaning of "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane), or, well, never (e.g. Pulp Fiction-- what's in the briefcase, Quentin!?).
Major movie franchises with multiple films have the added benefit of posing questions not to be answered until a later entry. The Fast and the Furious, for example, killed off Letty in the fourth film, showed audiences she was still alive in the fifth, and then finally revealed how in the sixth.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (now sixteen films deep) has posed many questions to its audiences over the years, but hasn't been as forthcoming with the answers.
While this certainly creates intrigue among fans as they wait patiently for these answers, it can also be pretty darn frustrating having to wait six years and counting just to find out what the heck happened to certain characters.
We already covered some of the MCU's unanswered questions, but plenty more have come along since then.
Here are the 15 More MCU Questions That Were Left Completely Unanswered.
15 Where the hell is Red Skull?
Most of the MCU's villains so far have met some pretty definitive ends. Aldrich Killian is blown up by Pepper in Iron Man 3, Malekith is crushed by his ship in Thor: The Dark World, and Ultron is vaporized by Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Even villains that are simply defeated at the end of their respective films are at the very least mentioned later on. The Abomination, for example, was taken into custody after The Incredible Hulk, and Vulture was shown in prison during the post-credits scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The whereabouts of Red Skull, however, remain a mystery. The former Johann Shmidt was last seen at the end of The First Avenger holding the Tesseract and seemingly being transported to another section of the universe.
The beam that comes out of the Tesseract looks awfully similar to the one that opens the portal in The Avengers, which suggests Red Skull may not be dead. So where is he?
14 Why did Iron Man come out of retirement?
Iron Man 3 is a bit of a mixed bag. Tony Stark is funny and witty as usual, but also a bit dumb. (Why would you blab your address to the media when you're being targeted by a terrorist organization?)
The Mandarin is truly chilling for the first half the film and then becomes a joke for the second. The ending, however, is fitting. Tony destroys his suits, removes the arc reactor from his chest, and declares he is Iron Man with or without his armor.
Then Age of Ultron begins and he's right back in the suit like nothing changed. Huh? Why would Tony destroy his suits just to jump back into one of them? Couldn't the Iron Legion have fought alongside the Avengers with Tony helping behind the scenes?
Wouldn't it have been more compelling for a retired Tony to be forced by Ultron to don his suit once more? Instead, Tony is back in a suit with no explanation as to why.
13 Will Black Widow and Hulk continue their relationship going forward?
The relationship between Black Widow and the Hulk kind of came out of nowhere in Age of Ultron. Heck, even Hawkeye had no idea it was happening and he's on the damn team.
Widow went from making out with Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to dating Bruce Banner in Avengers 2, and that's fine-- more power to her. The question here is what will happen next.
The end of Age of Ultron sees a sad Hulk turning his back on Widow after she forcibly changed him from Bruce into the big guy in order to, you know, save the world.
Hulk was absent from Captain America: Civil War and will return in Thor: Ragnarok but presumably won't be back on Earth until Avengers: Infinity War. Will he forgive her for trying to save the freaking world so they can pick up where they left off? Time will tell.
12 How did Tony find out Peter is Spider-Man?
Both Marvel Studios and Sony deserve immense credit for striking a deal to bring Spider-Man into the MCU. That being said, Spidey's inclusion in Civil War poses all sorts of questions regarding the omniscience of Tony Stark.
In the film, Peter tells Tony he's had his powers for about six months. Even if Peter built his suit and began fighting crime immediately after getting his abilities, it would certainly take some time for him to become popular enough to get on Tony's radar. This means Tony had less than six months to track down Spider-Man and discover his identity.
How the hell did he do that? Does Tony have cameras stashed throughout Queens? Did he send a drone to follow Spidey on the off chance he would need Peter in a fight with Captain America? Is Tony a Watcher? Who knows? We definitely don't.
11 Why hasn't Tony found the Defenders?
Given Tony's omniscience, it's odd that he hasn't found the Defenders. Especially considering the fact that all four reside in New York City (the same city where Spidey lives) and three of the four have done precisely nothing to protect their secret identities.
Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand should have been on Iron Man's radar for quite a while now. And considering how easily Tony tracked down Peter, figuring out Daredevil's secret identity should've been a walk in the park.
The fact that Tony went to New York to draft Spidey to his Civil War team, but ignored the four superheroes just one borough over is utterly perplexing.
The Defenders could have assisted with Captain America's capture and any other events that required superheroes. Why Tony hasn't recruited them yet is a question we need answered.
10 Where is Nick Fury?
At one time an MCU stalwart, Nick Fury appeared in every Phase 1 film but one, and appeared twice more in Phase 2. Since then, however, he's been an absolute no-show with no explanations why.
He didn't appear in Ant-Man, Civil War, Doctor Strange, or Homecoming. Sure, nobody expected him to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but his absence in the other four films, and Civil War in particular, is disconcerting.
Where is he? He went off the grid after S.H.I.E.L.D. fell at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but immediately popped up in Age of Ultron with a helicarrier at his disposal so why hasn't he returned since?
Is he dead? Was he captured? Or is he chilling in Aruba with a coke and a smile? There's no telling for sure, and since he isn't slated to appear in Infinity War audiences aren't likely to get an answer any time soon.
9 Where was the Ancient One during Earth's other cataclysmic events?
The problem that Marvel Studios faces when adding super-powered beings to the MCU is explaining why those beings did absolutely nothing during Earth's past crises.
So far, the studio has done fairly well in their explanations for absent heroes. Hank Pym retired following the disappearance of his wife, Peter Parker only got his powers about six months before his introduction, and Thor and Hulk were likely off-world during Civil War.
Then there's the Ancient One, whose absence in cataclysmic events before her introduction in Doctor Strange is simply baffling. Marvel attempts to brush this off by having Wong declare, "we sorcerers safeguard [Earth] against more mystical threats," but this explanation doesn't hold much weight.
The Ancient One doesn't need to help when Tony's house is blown up, but should definitely have lended a hand during the battles in New York and Sokovia. So where was she?
8 When does Doctor Strange take place?
Doctor Strange is a fun film with exceptional visual effects and is overall a great addition to the MCU. That being said, when does it take place?
Up until last year, the MCU films seemed set in the year of their release (unless the film explicitly states otherwise). Iron Man took place in 2008 and The Avengers in 2012, while Captain America: The First Avenger was set during World War II.
This means Doctor Strange at least begins in 2016, which is all well and good until you factor in the events of the film. Are we supposed to believe Strange was in his accident, had the subsequent physical therapy, found Kamar-Taj, and mastered the mystic arts in under a year?
This seems highly unlikely, so once again, we are left with the question: when does the film take place?
7 Why didn't Tony use the Hulkbuster armor in Civil War?
Tony's armors are like the gadgets on Batman's utility belt: he's got one for every situation imaginable. Is an oil tanker structure about to topple over? Send in Igor to hold it up. Do you need to evacuate Sokovia? The Iron Legion will do the trick. Is Hulk running amok? Bust him up with the Hulkbuster.
This armor is particularly interesting since it is heavily fortified to stand up to, well, the Hulk, so why didn't Tony use it to apprehend Captain America in Civil War.
If the suit can take a beating from the Hulk, then it would have made easy work of Cap and Co. Heck, Tony could've removed himself from the fight entirely and just had Veronica trap Steve and Bucky the way she did Hulk in Age of Ultron.
It's highly unlikely the two could've dug underground to escape the way the big guy did.
6 What's with the time jump in Spider-Man Homecoming?
Ever since its inception the MCU timeline has been rather straightforward. Simply put, the films take place in the year of their release (with the aforementioned exception of The First Avenger). That was before Spider-Man: Homecoming came and dropped a time jump out of nowhere.
The jump occurs after the opening scene when Adrian Toomes and his crew are cleaning up after the battle of New York, which presumably took place in 2012 (the year The Avengers was released). The rest of the film then takes place "eight years later," which sets it in 2020. Wait... what?
The timeline was doing so well. Especially since Vision mentioned in Civil War that Tony had announced he was Iron Man eight years before. The two films were released eight years apart so the math works out perfectly. Then Homecoming threw us all for a loop. What gives?
5 What's the deal with Tony and Pepper's relationship?
Tony and Pepper have the best relationship in the MCU by far, but that doesn't say much considering theirs is the only relationship to last more than one or two films. Bruce Banner and Betty Ross: broken up. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter: divided by time. Even Thor and Jane Foster won't make it to Thor: Ragnarok. Hawkeye and his wife are still together, though, so that's nice.
Tony and Pepper have experienced their fair share of ups and downs though. Pepper was briefly mentioned in Age of Ultron so fans could assume she and Tony were still together. Then it's implied in Civil War that the two of them are on the outs.
However, then she pops back up in Homecoming and the two of them are canoodling like everything is hunky dory. What gives? Did they separate and then reconcile? Will Pepper appear for more than two minutes in a future film to let us know? Hopefully, she will.
4 Will Aunt May factor into Infinity War?
The one consistent aspect of the first five Spider-Man films is this: Aunt May doesn't know Peter is Spider-Man. Peter is forced to keep his secret to protect the people he loves.
Then Spider-Man: Homecoming comes along and says, "to hell with that," and the films ends with Aunt May discovering Peter is underneath the mask. This got a good laugh from audiences at the time and should have major impact on Spidey going forward.
Aunt May will more than likely disapprove of Peter going out as Spider-Man. So how will this impact his role in Avengers: Infinity War, especially considering the fight will likely bring the Avengers to space.
Will Peter's fighting be limited to Earth? Will he sneak out and fight behind her back? Will she understand the gravity of the situation and tearfully agree to let him do what needs to be done? Only time will tell.
3 Where is Odin?
The Allfather made his first appearance in Thor, then followed that up with at least a mention in The Avengers, and another appearance in Thor: The Dark World.
Since then he has been missing in action entirely. Unlike Nick Fury, however, who seems to have vanished by choice, Odin's last MCU appearance was a bit more complicated.
In fact, the last time we saw Odin he wasn't Odin at all but Loki in disguise. Loki had a conversation with his brother as the Allfather, and then revealed his true form after Thor left.
So what does this mean? Did Loki kill his adoptive father? Banish him? Did Loki (as Odin) relinquish the throne to himself? There are plenty of questions surrounding the Allfather. Hopefully Ragnarok will clear some of them up.
2 How will Ant-Man and the Wasp fit into the timeline?
When it comes to the MCU film slate, the spit is about to hit the proverbial fan. Following Thor: Ragnarok later this year and Black Panther early next year, will be Avengers: Infinity War, set for release in May 2018.
With Thanos finally set to arrive and duke it out with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, it's safe to say the MCU will never be the same again. So, what does that mean for the next film on deck, Ant-Man and the Wasp?
Captain Marvel at least has the luxury of being set in the 90's, which means it avoids the repercussions of Infinity War entirely. Ant-Man 2, however, has no excuse.
It must directly address whatever chaos ensues upon Thanos' arrival. Will the film focus on the aftermath of the war, or will it be an intimate picture centered around Scott, Hope, Hank, and Janet? Will an intimate film work? We'll have to wait until next year to find out.
1 Is Hela the MCU's equivalent of Death?
Let's just get this out of the way: Cate Blanchett's Hela looks like she is going to be an incredible MCU character.
Her look, as well as the fact that she will not only manage to conquer Asgard but also catch and destroy Mjolnir, means she will be a force to be reckoned with in Thor: Ragnarok and beyond. This, of course, begs the question: is she the MCU's equivalent of Death from the comics?
In the latest trailer for the film, Hela proudly declares herself as the Goddess of Death, which means it's entirely possible she'll be the one for whom Thanos longs when he finally arrives.
After all, Thanos snaps his fingers and kills off half the universe in an attempt to impress Death in the comic. What's to stop him from doing the same for Hela in the MCU? If the Mad Titan appears in the film later this year, it will tell fans everything they need to know.
What do you think of our list? Are there any other MCU questions you want answered? Let us know in the comments!
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