Since its establishment with the release of Iron Man in 2008, The Marvel Cinematic Universe (hereafter MCU) has made film history. Ignoring its success in introducing the beloved superheroes of Marvel Comics to mainstream American pop culture and the billions of dollars the various films set in the MCU have earned at the box-office, the MCU has done something truly revolutionary. It has taken the concept of a shared universe, commonplace among comic books for decades, and applied it to an entire line of commercial and critical hit movies.
However, for all the movies in the MCU have accomplished, they are far from perfect. The movies are filled with mistakes beyond simple continuity problems or quick glimpses of a safety wire that the editors failed to erase digitally in post-production. Many things were changed for the sake of a dramatic shot, while others just don't make logical sense within the context of the universe.
With that in mind, here are 20 Shocking Mistakes In The MCU You Never Noticed.
Near the beginning of Iron Man, we see Tony Stark demonstrate The Jericho Missile – “the crown jewel of Stark Industries’ ‘Freedom’ line" and the first missile to use their repulsor technology - to a group of military brass. The Jericho Missile does create several rather impressive explosions on impact. What is truly impressive, however, is how The Jericho Missile breaks the laws of physics!
Watch the scene carefully and you will note that the sound of The Jericho Missile exploding – the distinctive series of earth-shattering kabooms – is heard before we see the light of the explosions. As any child who has ever watched a fireworks show can tell you, we should see the flash of light before we hear the pop when a rocket goes off.
Light travels faster than sound. It is basic physics, kids.
Military technical advising is a surprisingly lucrative market in Hollywood. A quick Google-search will bring up several firms devoted toward assisting filmmakers with ensuring that their movies are accurate in regards to military protocol.
Given that, it is no surprise that the makers of Captain America: The First Avenger took great pains to portray US Army life in the 1940s with as much accuracy as possible. However, they did drop the ball in one regard. Hats. Or “covers”, to use the military terminology. Specifically, under what circumstances a soldier dons or removes their cover.
We see this most prominently when Peggy Carter first leads Steve Rogers to the Strategic Scientific Reserve’s secret lab in Brooklyn. Steve fails to put his cover on before exiting the car, then puts his cover on as he is entering the building. This is the exact opposite of how Military Cover Etiquette works.
The 2008 film The Incredible Hulk saw Lieutenant General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross create a greater menace than the one he sought to destroy. Intending to give a disciplined soldier the strength to match that of The Hulk, Ross injected a combination of Super Soldier Serum and Bruce Banner’s blood into his subordinate, Emil Blonksy. This transformed Blonsky into the being known as The Abomination.
In the climactic battle of the movie, Ross is force to accept The Hulk’s help when it becomes clear that the transformed Blonksy is beyond reason. The battle ends when The Hulk, using a conveniently placed chain, chokes The Abomination into unconsciousness.
Just what is that chain made of?
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!” and Hulk is pretty strong at that point, with Blonsky having directly threatened the life of Bruce Banner’s beloved Betty Ross. Between that and The Abomination’s durability, an ordinary chain should have broken long before The Abomination lost his breath.
Near the beginning of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is called to testify before The United States Senate Armed Services Committee as part of their hearings on Weaponized Suit Defense Programs. Later, while working in his lab on a new suit design, we see Tony watching his own testimony on the C-SPAN YouTube channel.
There is a rather glaring error in the YouTube video title. One you would not expect from a professional organization such as C-SPAN. The video is titled “Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark on Capital Hill.” This should read “Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark on CAPITOL Hill.”
Capital refers to upper-case letters, prominent cities, and business assets. Capitol refers to any building in which a legislative body meets. So Washington D.C. holds The Capitol and is the capital city of the United States.
The MCU films have become famous for their post-credits Easter eggs and none of these scenes is quite as beloved as the one in The Avengers. There we see the team get together for a celebratory meal of shawarma at Tony Stark's suggestion. Funny? Yes. Whedonesque? Yes. Logical? Not a bit!
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes be damned, it seems unlikely that the restaurant would be willing to serve customers while they’re still cleaning debris from the dining area! That’s assuming that their kitchen area is undamaged.
A bigger problem is the timing of this scene and when it takes place. When Tony first suggested shawarma, Thor said their work was not done yet. They still had to secure Loki. It seems unlikely Thor would have let his treacherous brother out of his sight long enough to enjoy a meal with his allies, even if SHIELD had a facility nearby to hold Loki. Maybe he was bound and gagged off to one side of The Avengers’ table?
Even in its earliest form, Captain America’s shield is a Marvel (pun very much intended!) of military engineering. Made of pure Vibranium, Howard Stark says that it is stronger than steel with one-third of the weight and completely vibration absorbent.
What it isn’t, however, is capable of regenerating any damage that is dealt to it.
In the opening scenes of Captain America: The First Avenger, we see Captain America’s shield, in perfect, pristine condition, frozen in the ice inside the plane that he heroically piloted away from a crash course with New York City. Yet when we last see Captain America’s shield after the conclusion of the final battle with The Red Skull in the climax of the film, the shield was sporting visible dents and paint chips!
Tony Stark’s unarmored confrontation with Loki is one of the high points of The Avengers. Many is the fan who can quote Tony’s “We have a Hulk” speech verbatim. What all but the most hawk-eyed of fans have failed to notice, however, is that this scene is missing something – the tell-tale blue glow of an arc reactor through Tony Stark’s Black Sabbath t-shirt.
Tony Stark’s most prominent and painful accessory can be seen glowing brightly through the fabric of his shirts in earlier scenes in the movie. For some reason, it’s missing when Tony is offering to fix Loki a drink.
He doesn’t have the excuse of wearing a particularly thick t-shirt, since Tony is wearing the same Black Sabbath shirt during the “We’re a time-bomb” discussion with the other Avengers earlier in the film and the glow is visible in that scene.
Fan's hearts were warmed by the Captain America: Civil War trailer which heralded Spider-Man’s emergence into The MCU. The scene was a picture-perfect surprise, with Spidey snaring Captain America’s shield, pulling it away from him, webbing Steve Roger’s hands together, flipping over the heads of all assembled, and catching the shield as he sticks the superhero landing.
Never before has someone simply saying the words “Hey everyone” seemed so awesome.
There is just one small problem with this scene. As any Spider-Fan will tell you, there isn’t much in The Marvel Universe that can break Spider-Man’s webbing or pull free of it. Until it dissolves after one hour, anyone or anything that has been snagged by Spidey’s web fluid will be good and stuck.
So why isn’t there a string of webbing hanging off of Captain America’s shield when ol’ Web-Head lands and makes his dramatic pose?
The plot of Iron Man 3 focuses on Extremis - a unique form of nanotechnology that grants those subjects injected with it fantastic healing abilities. Extremis also gives them enhanced strength, agility, endurance, and the power to radiate intense heat through their skin. Extremis is even shown to be powerful enough to regenerate severed limbs!
Extremis can also apparently make any item of clothing completely immune to intense heat.
Throughout the movie, we see Extremis infected AIM agents generating heat and walking through fire with no ill effects. All of their clothing, somehow, remains similarly unharmed, despite the heat that they generate being great enough to super-heat metal in seconds!
Aldrich Killian should forget his complicated revenge scheme to prove his superiority as a scientist by killing Tony Stark. The fact that he’s somehow managed to somehow overcome Newton’s Law of Cooling proves his superiority beyond any reasonable doubt.
Perhaps the most powerful moment of Captain America: The First Avenger comes when Steve Rogers is injected with The Super Soldier Serum. A 95 pound weakling with visible ribs as he's strapped shirtless into a special capsule, he emerges several inches taller with muscular arms and clearly-defined abs you could grate cheese on. Peggy Carter clearly approved of the change.
It's just a shame Steve’s lower body doesn’t seem to have been similarly enhanced.
Logically, all other things being in proportion, Steve should have ripped his snug-fitting US Army uniform pants when his glues, thighs, and calves grew with the rest of him. Perhaps this was a subtle Easter egg indicating that Howard Stark invented unstable molecules (or, at the very least, rip-proof pants) in the MCU? It would go a long way to explain why The Hulk’s pants always seemed to grow with him years later.
When the Avengers assemble to discuss the newly proposed Sokovia Accords regulating enhanced individuals in Captain America: Civil War, Vision states that it has been eight years since Tony Stark first revealed himself to the world as Iron Man. While it had been eight years since the release of the original Iron Man movie in 2008 (Captain America: Civil War was released in 2016), time in the MCU progressed at a different pace.
According to the information gathered on The MCU Wiki Time Line, Tony Stark said “I am Iron Man” at a press conference held on November 25, 2009. The meeting between Thaddeus Ross and the Avengers, where Vision makes his statement, occurs on June 19, 2016. This marks six years, six months and twenty-five days between the two events.
While Vision could arguably have rounded up for the sake of his organic counterparts, he was still off by a year.
One of the best aspects of the original Iron Man film is the pains it took to show Tony Stark rebuilding and rethinking every aspect of the Iron Man armor. Not only did this show the viewers something about Tony’s personality but it also slowly built their expectations so they could share in Tony’s triumph as he finally got the repulsor rays and boot jets to work the way he wanted them to.
It takes Tony quite a bit of time to learn how to fly at all - let alone fly well.
Shockingly, Obadiah Stane doesn’t seem to have this need to practice that Tony did. From the moment he first slides the stolen arc reactor into his Iron Monger suit and straps himself into it, he is easily able to give Tony a run for his money on maneuverability and piloting skill - despite having a far bulkier suit!
At the end of The Avengers, there's a montage of all of the heroes parting ways as Thor returns to Asgard, with Loki in tow. Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov leave in one car. Tony Stark and Bruce Banner leave in another. And Steve Rogers, looking not unlike Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, rides off alone on his motorcycle.
Ignoring the fact that a straight arrow like Steve Rogers would almost certainly wear a motorcycle helmet because it is the law in New York City, this scene contains a revealing mistake. Despite the background behind Steve indicating that he’s moving at a decent speed, there doesn’t seem to be any wind whipping around him. His hair doesn’t budge an inch nor do his clothes billow in the breeze. Maybe Steve just uses a very strong hair gel?
Vibranium is an impressive element. Bullet-proof and capable of absorbing nearly every form of kinetic energy, we see Captain America’s Vibranium shield manage all manner of impressive feats in The Avengers. It absorbs the blast of one of Iron Man’s repulsor rays and it sends Thor flying when he attempts to “bring the hammer down” on top of it. This is even more impressive considering Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is made of Uru – a magical metal unique to the realm of Nidavellir.
Sadly, Captain America’s shield doesn’t seem quite as impressive in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In that film, we routinely see Captain America being pushed back and thrown around like a ragdoll – not only by The Winter Soldier and his bionic arm, but by ordinary criminals like Batroc The Leaper!
The chief villain of Iron Man 2 was Ivan Vanko - a Russian physicist with a grudge against The Stark Family. Determined to prove that Iron Man was not as invincible as he claimed, he infiltrated the Grand Prix de Monaco as a mechanic and began using his "Whiplash" armor to cause chaos in an effort to call out Iron Man.
Vanko was lucky in three chief regards. First, while Stark Industries did have a car in the Grand Prix, there was no way of knowing that Tony Stark would be in attendance, much less that he would be driving his own car.
Secondly, even if Stark were present for the race, there's no way Vanko could have known that he would have the Iron Man armor with him.
Finally, given the limited range of his own whip-based weapons, Vanko was incredibly lucky that Stark, once armored, didn't fly to a safe distance and neutralize him with one of the many long-range weapons at his disposal.
Thor makes a dramatic entrance in The Avengers, taking Loki from a SHIELD jet in mid-flight. Tony Stark, still clad in his Iron Man armor, is able to give chase almost immediately. Captain America needs to take the better part of a minute to locate and strap-on a parachute to join the pursuit.
Not to deny the sheer awesomeness of Captain America attempting a parachute jump in the middle of a thunderstorm, but there’s no way he should have been able to catch up to Iron Man and Thor.
Even if the speed of the jet relative to the gravitational pull of the Earth weren’t enough to develop a considerable distance from where Thor eventually landed, Steve Rogers had no means of tracking Loki and Thor. Tony, at least, had boot-jets and the scanners in his suit to rely on. Steve would have been miles away with only a rough idea which direction to head.
At one point in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers visits The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and examines the exhibit devoted to his life, The Howling Commandos and his best friend, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. It’s a poignant scene, showing us how the characters from Captain America: The First Avenger have come to be viewed in the world of The MCU and silently affirming Steve Roger’s status as a man out of time, forever separated from the world he knew.
It also shows that even historians can have an off-day at work.
The first paragraph on the display detailing the life of Bucky Barnes opens with the words “Born in 1916, Barnes grew up the oldest child of four.” It concludes by giving Bucky’s birth year and death year as 1917 and 1944 respectively. One would think someone would have caught that difference in birth years before it was etched on the glass.
It is frequently said, when noting the more difficult time women have in professional settings, that dancer Ginger Rogers did everything her partner Fred Astaire did “backwards and in high heels.” Pepper Potts would likely agree with the sentiment, having a similarly challenging job managing Tony Stark’s life and business affairs – first as his personal assistant and then later as CEO of Stark Industries.
She also manages an impressive athletic feat of her own in the first Iron Man movie.
Joining a team of SHIELD agents in their search for Obidiah Stane, Pepper quickly discovers that Stane has taken refuge inside the now fully operational Iron Monger suit. Pepper makes a break for the exit, managing to outrun Stane despite wearing stiletto heels… and running across a grated floor with rather sizeable squares!
While not technically impossible, this would require an unlikely level of timing and precision under fire. Then again, given some of Tony’s explosive experiments, Pepper may have a lot of experience running away down that hallway.
When Hawkeye and the other mind-controlled SHIELD agents attack the Helicarrier in The Avengers, there is a nice moment of dramatic irony. Moments earlier, Steve Rogers questioned just what good Tony Stark was without his Iron Man suit. When both are knocked to the ground by an unknown threat, a clearly distressed Captain America tells Tony Stark to “put on the suit.” It’s a sentiment that Tony agrees with whole-heartedly.
There’s a quick scene that follows, showing several people pushing their way down a smoke filled hallway. One of them appears to be Steve Rogers… in his civilian garments.
Clearly this was a continuity error that nobody caught between reshoots and editing. After all, it makes no sense for Captain America to tell someone else to get into costume, change out of his costume and then emerge – back in costume – to help save the day!
Going back to Iron Man 3 and the subject of Extremis, let us consider the case of Ellen Brandt. A former soldier in the United States Army, Brandt was an amputee who also suffered severe facial scarring as a result of an unspecified injury. Offered a chance at a new life by AIM, she became a test-subject for Extremis and a loyal AIM soldier when the Extremis virus proved capable of regenerating her lost arm.
When Tony Stark hacks AIM’s computers and watches a video detailing the first Extremis experiments, he sees just how quickly Extremis can work. He sees Ellen Brandt’s arm regrow within a matter of seconds. Strangely enough, there is no distinctive orange-red glow indicating Extremis was at work on her face at the same time her arm was glowing and starting to grow back.
Maybe the AIM HMO doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery and the nanobots were programmed accordingly?
Is there a mistake you're shocked we didn't mention? Sound off in the comments, True Believers!