Avengers: Infinity War is here. It’s been ten years and seventeen movies in the making, but it’s finally here. Thanos has arrived for a movie event that Marvel Studios has promised will change the universe forever.
There’s simply no telling what’s in store for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy, or who will be left standing after the mad Titan unleashes the power of the Infinity Gauntlet.
In order to truly appreciate where the MCU is going, it’s important to take a look at where it’s been. Marvel has taken audiences on crazy a ride over the last decade. A ride that has included lots of laughs, tears, and all sorts of twists and turns.
In a time when surprises tend to be spoiled long before movies finally hit theaters, Marvel has done a superb job of saving its plot twists for the big screen. (For proof, just look at Infinity War, which is shrouded in secrecy.)
Unfortunately, not all of these twists have been for the best. While some have been amazing, others have been downright awful.
With that said, here are the 7 Plot Twists That Hurt The MCU (And 8 That Saved It).
15. Hurt: Loki wanted to bring the Avengers together (The Avengers)
Let’s be honest here: most of the setup for The Avengers was completed long before the movie itself hit theaters. Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America were established in their own movies, and Loki and the tesseract were both introduced in Thor.
All The Avengers really had to do was establish a threat too big for any of the titular heroes or defeat on their own, thereby forcing them to unite.
Instead, writer Joss Whedon decided to shoehorn in a twist that saw Loki purposefully bring together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes so that he could then unleash the Hulk and scatter the team. Huh?
Even all of these years later, this twist is ignored by fans of the franchise because it doesn’t make any sense.
14. saved: Alexander Pierce is a villain (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
One of the reasons why Captain America: The Winter Soldier works as well as it does is due to its suspense. Cap never quite knows who to trust and, thus, neither does the audience.
The suspense increases tenfold when Nick Fury is taken down, causing Cap to call fellow Avenger Black Widow’s motives into question.
All the while, Cap tries to learn where Secretary Alexander Pierce’s loyalties lie. We seemingly get our answer when Pierce is in his home at night and comes across the Winter Soldier sitting at his kitchen table.
Pierce initially appears distressed at the sight of Bucky, but then sits down to talk business, thereby revealing himself as the movie’s true villain. (Then he takes the life of his maid in cold blood.)
13. Hurt: T’Challa survived the fall (Black Panther)
When Black Panther hit theaters earlier this year, it was in the unique position of being a solo movie released at a time when team-ups were all the rage.
Iron Man appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hulk appeared in Thor: Ragnarok, and next up is Avengers: Infinity War (which features everyone).
Despite its lack of other Avengers, the movie was a solid entry in the MCU canon. It wasn’t without its flaws, though, and the plot twist that saw T’Challa survive his fall is one of the biggest.
After losing his fight with Erik Killmonger, T’Challa is thrown over a waterfall seemingly to his end. Then he makes his triumphant return later in the movie, having somehow survived the deadly drop.
The lackluster twist doesn’t work because no moviegoer actually believed that T’Challa’s life had ended.
12. saved: Loki is still alive (Thor: The Dark World)
Despite his nonsensical plan in The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is one of the most interesting characters to come out of the MCU so far. “Characters” being the apt word here because Loki has proven to be even more compelling than many of the heroes.
The God of Mischief is handsome, charming, intelligent, and funny, but also conniving, devious, deceitful, and dangerous.
Heck, he remains a favorite among fans despite ripping a man’s eye out in the original Avengers because Hiddleston plays the role with so much darn charisma that audiences simply can’t hate him.
This is why the twist in Thor: The Dark World that saw the seemingly-deceased Loki brought back to life by the movie’s end was so good.
11. Hurt: Tony is talking to Bruce (Iron Man 3)
This one isn’t necessarily a plot twist, but is a twist all the same, and one that damaged the MCU. Back in 2013, Iron Man 3 was in the unenviable position of being the first MCU movie to hit theaters following 2012’s The Avengers.
After seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes come together on screen, fans naturally assumed that there would be some avenger cameos in the Iron Man solo movie. Heck, the last time we saw Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, the two scientists were driving off together at the end of The Avengers.
Unfortunately, Bruce’s only appearance in the movie is in a throwaway post-credits scene.
The revelation that Tony’s narration is actually some sort of quasi-therapy session with Bruce falls flat when audiences begin wondering where Bruce was when Tony’s life was nearly ended over and over again throughout the movie.
10. saved: Toomes is Liz’s father (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
After his MCU debut in Civil War, fans couldn’t wait for Spider-Man’s solo outing in the appropriately titled Spider-Man: Homecoming. Then Marvel delivered on the hype, producing one heck of a crowd-pleasing movie.
Tom Holland’s take on Peter Parker is grounded and believable, while Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is utterly terrifying.
The movie’s twist comes when Peter picks up Liz for the prom and realizes that Toomes (who Peter already knows is evil) is her father.
Peter’s fear upon meeting Toomes is palpable and leads to one of the movie’s best moments, as Toomes drives the pair to prom and slowly pieces together that Peter is Spider-Man.
The scene is dripping with suspense and ends with Toomes threatening, “I’ll [hurt] you, and everybody you love.”
9. saved: Obadiah is evil (Iron Man)
One major flaw that fans are quick to point out regarding the MCU is a lack of compelling villains outside of Loki. Sure, Whiplash and Malekith the Accursed were underwhelming, but Obadiah Stane (aka Iron Monger) was pretty great.
Jeff Bridge’s performance is downright menacing, and the revelation that Stane is the one who orchestrated Tony Stark’s attack-turned-kidnapping still holds up as one of the best MCU twists so far.
Fans of the comics certainly knew that Stane would eventually turn on Stark, but everyone going into the movie without this knowledge was blown away when Stane showed up in Afghanistan for a meeting with the Ten Rings (the terror organization, not the jewelry).
Stane’s transformation from friend to dangerous foe is complete later on when he paralyzes Stark and removes the arc reactor from his chest.
8. saved: Killmonger is T’Challa’s cousin (Black Panther)
One major issue that fans had with the MCU Phase 2 (in addition to aforementioned lack of team-ups) was underwhelming villains. The Mandarin, Malekith the Accursed, and Ronan the Accuser didn’t quite live up to their potential.
Phase 3 has been just the opposite with Vulture, Hela, and Erik Killmonger each proving to be interesting and formidable foes.
Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger is a fierce, smart, and highly-trained soldier; and the movie shifts into another gear once he usurps Ulysses Claue as the main antagonist.
From then on, he is presented as every bit a worthy challenger to T’Challa’s throne. Then things get even more interesting when we learn that Killmonger is T’Chaka’s nephew and T’Challa’s cousin.
The twist adds yet another wrinkle to Killmonger’s already well-established backstory, making the blood feud between he and T’Challa more personal and compelling.
7. Hurt: Black Widow’s facial disguise (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Throughout the MCU’s 17 movies, there have been a great number of fascinating technologies introduced and then quickly forgotten.
Some of these include Obadiah Stane’s paralysis device from Iron Man, Tony Stark’s “one-off” weapon from Iron Man 2 (which cut through Whiplash’s droids like butter), and, most notably, Black Widow’s face-altering technology introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
This technology comes into play during a twist toward the movie’s end, when Alexander Pierce is addressing the members of the World Security Council on the benefits of Project Insight.
Pierce is about to execute Councilman Singh when Councilwoman Hawley steps in and fights Pierce’s HYDRA goons. Then Hawley removes his disguise and reveals himself to be Black Widow.
6. saved: Thor must cause Ragnarok (Thor: Ragnarok)
Thor: Ragnarok was a huge improvement from Thor: The Dark World. The rather boring Malekith was replaced by the much more captivating Hela, a throwaway Captain America cameo was swapped for a Doctor Strange appearance that actually has relevance to the plot, and the Hulk makes an appearance because, well, why not?
The movie begins with Thor preventing Ragnarok: the destruction of Asgard at the hands of Surtur. The rest of the movie, however, sees the God of Thunder trying to stop Hela from conquering the nine realms.
Upon returning to Asgard from Sakaar, Thor realizes that he is no match for the Goddess of Death and, in a brilliant twist, realizes that he must bring about Ragnarok– thereby destroying both Asgard and Hela at the same time.
5. Hurt: Ego took the life of Star-lord’s mother (Guardians 2)
Striking the right balance between drama and comedy is incredibly difficult. Filmmakers need to know when to make a joke and when to hold off, and deciding between the two isn’t always easy.
Unfortunately, Marvel Studios hasn’t always made the right decision in this regard.
Take Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for example. The movie’s second big twist (the first being the revelation that Ego is Peter Quill’s father) is the fact that Ego took the life of Quill’s mother when Quill was a boy.
The revelation comes virtually out of nowhere with Ego suddenly telling Quill, “It broke my heart to put that tumor in her head.”
This is a startling twist that should have been handled with sensitivity.
Instead, Quill almost immediately begins shooting at Ego, and the latter shape-shifts into David Hasselhoff in a moment of ill-timed comedy.
4. saved: Zemo destroyed the other super soldiers (Captain America: Civil War)
Helmut Zemo doesn’t get the credit that he deserves as one of the MCU’s better villains. While fans are quick to point toward Loki, Vulture, and Hela as some of the best villains introduced thus far, little love is given to Zemo despite his great backstory and amazing (though incredibly complicated) plan for revenge.
The plot of Civil War leads audiences to believe that Zemo is trying to awaken a team of super soldiers to wreak havoc on the world.
The twist comes when Captain America, Iron Man, and the Winter Soldier arrive in Siberia and find that the super soldiers have been shot by Zemo. Zemo then asks the heroes, “did you really think I wanted more of you?”
3. Hurt: The Mandarin reveal (Iron Man 3)
Of all of the plot twists to ruin the MCU so far, the worst comes from Iron Man 3. The reason for this is simple: it denied fans what should have been an amazing villain.
In all of the trailers (and throughout the first half of the movie), Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin is portrayed as the end all and be all of MCU villains.
He’s brilliant, relentless, cruel, and seems completely capable of bringing Tony Stark to his knees. That doesn’t even take into consideration his ten rings, portrayed in the comics as nearly all-powerful.
Then the twist reveals Kingsley as an actor named Trevor Slattery and the real villain as Aldrich Killian.
The final battle turns out to be a fight between Tony’s suits and a bunch of henchmen rather than an epic duel pitting Tony’s armor against the powers of the ten rings.
2. saved: Bucky claimed the life of Tony’s parents (Captain America: Civil War)
Critics of Captain America: Civil War claim that the movie lacked stakes, and point to the airport battle as proof. There’s no denying this claim since the nearly twenty-minute scene (while certainly entertaining) has no real sense of danger, as the heroes quip and banter between punches.
This all changes by the movie’s end, however, thanks to the incredible twist that reveals Bucky as the person who ended the life Tony’s parents 25 years earlier.
The heart wrenching revelation occurs in Siberia when Zemo shows Tony, Captain America, and Bucky footage of the dastardly deed.
Then things get real.
The ensuing fight between the three heroes is one of the best that the MCU has produced thus far because the stakes couldn’t be higher. Blinded by rage, Tony tries to take out Bucky for taking the life of his parents as Captain America tries to stop him.
1. Hurt: Nick Fury is still alive (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is widely regarded as one of the best MCU movies to date, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is flawless. In fact, one of the film’s biggest flaws has harmed the franchise overall.
Around halfway through the movie, Nick Fury is seemingly destroyed by the Winter Soldier following a gunshot to the chest (which already doesn’t make sense since Bucky had the element of surprise and could have easily shot Fury somewhere more fatal).
Captain America and Black Widow mourn Fury’s passing for a bit until he inexplicably shows back up later in the movie.
This is around the time that fans started taking demises in the MCU more lightly because supposedly deceased characters kept popping back up in later movies.
Loki did it (twice), Pepper did it, and Bucky did it. By the time Fury did it, it became a bit of a running joke from which the franchise hasn’t fully recovered.
Are there any other amazing or awful twists in the MCU that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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