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We at Entertainment Fuse love the Marvel Cinematic Universe – we have generally given the movies in the franchise positive reviews and for good reasons – the quality of their output range from being solid blockbusters to truly great movies. However, some of the more fanatical members of the MCU fanbase have a viewpoint that everything Marvel Studios does is the best and should not be questioned, while everything their rivals do (i.e. the DCEU and the X-Men franchise) are undeniably bad. This is a dogmatic view; the MCU is not infallible and with the latest Marvel movie, Doctor Strange coming out in theaters, we have decided now would be the time to look at those missteps and mistakes in the MCU, from inconsistencies, dropped storylines, studio interference and fan rage-inducing moments.
10. Iron Man suit inconsistencies
Throughout the MCU’s run, Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits powers and strength seem to change from film-to-film, all depending on the situations facing Iron Man. In the first two movies there was some consistency in the suits’ abilities and there was a gradual evolution in the suits’ design and strength, from the clunky MK I when Tony escaped from an Afghani cave to the slicker red-and-gold design we know. It was after the Jon Favreau left the Iron Man series when the suits changed in abilities according to dramatic need. In The Avengers the Iron Man suit was able to stand up against Thor, the God of Thunder and with an upgrade in Avengers: Age of Ultron fought the Hulk. But in Iron Man 3 an experimental suit was smashed to bits by a truck and in Captain America: Civil War the climax showed that Captain America and Bucky Barnes were able to fight Iron Man bare handed.
9. Where’s the Leader
After the success of Iron Man back in 2008, it was immediately followed by The Incredible Hulk. Sadly, it did not match Iron Man‘s critical and commercial reception and it has been seen as the forgotten film in the MCU. A shame because it was a fun entry in the series and a big improvement on 2003’s Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk was clearly setting up a number of storylines including General Ross being recruited by Tony Stark (a move that was retcon in the short The Consultant), having Bruce Banner controlling his powers and going free into the wild and the biggest issue of all, Gamma infected blood dripping into an open wound on Samuel Sterns’ head. This was clearly meant to set up the appearance of The Leader, one of the main adversaries of The Hulk, a man whose Gamma radiation infection makes him super intelligent instead of super strong.
However, plans for the Hulk series have stalled with our favorite giant green rage monster. He has only appeared in The Avengers movies and is set to appear in Thor: Ragnarok, making it unlikely that The Leader will appear anytime soon, or even be referenced. If The Leader does show up he would most likely be recast considering Tim Blake Nelson ended up appearing in a bigger superhero flop: 2015’s Fantastic Four.
The first Thor movie was met with a mostly positive reception, introducing us to Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki. However, the movie had one black mark: Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis. Darcy was Jane Foster and Erik Selvig’s assistant in their astrophysics research lab in New Mexico and was meant to be the comic relief and audience surrogate to ask the questions about the science, history and mythology. However instead of coming off as charming or funny, Darcy ended up being a grating presence, annoying audiences. Dennings respired her role for Thor: The Dark World and she was given her own comic relief sidekick and assistant, so the movie doubled down on the annoyance factor. It doesn’t help that Dennings stars in 2 Broke Girls, one of the worst sitcoms currently on television and it is hard for audience members who suffered through that show to break the association. While it’s a shame that Natalie Portman is not returning for Thor: Ragnarok there is a silver lining that Darcy is also out of the series, for now.
7. No Black Widow Movie
Since casting Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow she had become a fan favorite and one of the most recognizable female superheroes. Johansson was even the highest paid actor in The Avengers. Despite this, Black Widow has been relegated to being a supporting player in the MCU, appearing in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. She has yet to appear in her own solo film and fans have been calling out for one. While Black Widow may not have any powers she can still kick ass in a Marvel style James Bond film, using her martial arts skills and gadgets to stop plans involving Hydra or other baddies in the MCU. Because of her traumatic background, a Black Widow movie could be a darker entry in the MCU as she would be more willing to do actions characters like Captain America and Iron Man would refuse to do.
It has been rumored that Issac Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel was against a Black Widow movie being produced but since September 2015 he no longer oversees the development of movies at Marvel Studios so there is hope a long overdue solo adventure can happen in the future.
6. Overstuffing Avengers: Age of Ultron
After making The Avengers in 2012 Joss Whedon was pretty much crowned the king of nerds. The Big Bang Theory even made a joke with Sheldon saying this about his and Leonard’s revolutionary physics paper: ‘My name is right on there with yours. That is a sure-fire mark of quality. That might as well say directed by Joss Whedon.’ However, The Avengers worked because it used the template of a simple story so the characters would be allowed to breathe. Despite the success of The Avengers, Whedon had to work in with the restrictions of the Marvel system and it affected the making of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whedon’s task was to make an Avengers movie that gave us a new villain, introduced three new heroes and their motivations, continue from where Captain America: The Winter Soldier left off and set up the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War as well as some of the characters for Black Panther. It was a titanic task because of the plotlines and characters and even Whedon struggled to get the balance right. Some of the storylines had to be reduced (Thor being the main victim) and it was too much for casual viewers. The critical reception was lower than its 2012 predecessor.
Whedon admitted that filming Avengers: Age of Ultron was a struggle and resulted in him quitting Twitter and the MCU as a whole. The follow-up film Ant-Man ended up succeeding because it took a simpler back-to-basic approach to making a superhero film.
5. The Black Widow/Bruce Banner Relationship
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier it was suggested that Black Widow had a spark with Captain America and it was hinted that the two might have a romance with each other. This plotline was thrown out the window in the first few minutes of Avengers: Age of Ultron when it was shown that Black Widow had the ability to calm the Hulk down and that Natasha Romanova and Bruce Banner were in a relationship together. This was a move that upset fans because Bruce Banner already had a love interest in the form of Betty Ross and Black Widow had more chemistry with Captain America and Hawkeye. It would have been more natural for the superspy to end up with one of those characters.
The MCU has had a problem generally with their movies by having big named actresses playing generic love interests. Actresses like Liv Tyler, Natalie Portman and Rachel McAdams end up stuck in thankless roles. Black Widow’s relationship could have transcended that because it would have been a romance that developed over the course of a number of movies. Instead, the Black Widow/Bruce Banner relationship was tacked onto a film that was busy with plotlines.
4. Tony Stark Gives Up Being Iron Man
Iron Man 3 is one of the most controversial entries in the MCU, one that takes many liberties with the sounce material and characters. One of the worst moments was the last ten minutes where Tony Stark gives up being Iron Man, ordering all his Iron Man suits to be blown up after defeating Aldrich Killian and then having surgery to remove the shrapnel near his heart, so he no longer needs the arc reactor in his chest. This action undermines the character of Tony Stark because he wasn’t just Iron Man to clear his conscience, he physically needed to be Iron Man to stay alive. His physical desire to be Iron Man was taken away. This move was made even worse in Avengers: Age of Ultron because Tony Stark was back in his Iron Man armor in the early scenes with no reference to the events of Iron Man 3, nor was there any explanation why Tony Stark returned to superhero alter-ego.
3. Wasting Justin Hammer
Justin Hammer an old industrialist, a serious businessman and Tony Stark’s main competitor. The film version made the character younger and similar to Stark, a cocky businessman and inventor but much less competent. Fans were able to overlook these changes because of the casting of Sam Rockwell, a quality actor from the indie scene, appearing in films like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Moon. However, the movie he appeared in was Iron Man 2, a film overstuffed with characters and plotlines and Justin Hammer suffered, appearing as the butt of the jokes during the Congressional Hearing and when tooling up War Machine. He ended up disappearing in the shuffle that included Ivan Vanko wanting revenge against Stark, Tony Stark having to face his own mortality because of the palladium poisoning and a sexy secret agent going undercover in Stark Industries.
Hammer did reappear in the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King so the character is still on Marvel Studios’ radar, meaning there is a possibility he could get a bigger role in a future MCU film.
2. Killing off The Red Skull
One of the big problems the MCU has suffered is its lack of memorable villains with Loki sitting comfortably at the top. His closest competition was Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull who appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger. In Captain America: The First Avenger the Red Skull was Hitler’s most trusted scientist, terrorizing Europe as he searches for powerful artifacts. However, The Red Skull had his own agenda for world domination! He was the founder of Hydra, a major villainous force in the MCU, particularly the Captain America series and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he himself had the same serum that gave Steve Rogers superpowers.
The Red Skull had everything you would want from a supervillain – he was highly intelligent, a great organizer and planner and had powers that could match Captain America’s powers as well as being the ideological opposite to Cap. Hugo Weaving was fantastically cast as the villain and it would have been great to see him in further Marvel adventures. However, the heads at Marvel Studios thought it would be a smart idea to kill off this memorable villain in the most underwhelming way possible, looking into the Tesseract and being sucked up into a space portal. There is still hope the character could come back, the creatives at Marvel Studios could make out the Red Skull survived on another planet or dimension or made an alliance with one of the many space-based villains, but there should have been more of him in the franchise.
1. The Mandarin Reveal
The reveal of who The Mandarin really was is the most controversial moment in the MCU’s history so far and was bound to top this list because of the fan reaction. The Mandarin is the most famous villain in the Iron Man comics and became his nemesis – so it was an exciting prospect for the villain to appear in the third Iron Man movie. Then the twist happened which united fans in their anger.
Fans expected the character needed to be updated from the Fu Manchu figure he was in the comics and Marvel would not want to upset the Chinese market. It is the way it was done that triggered an internet backlash when it was revealed that Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was really a drug addicted actor who did not even realized that terrorist acts were actually done in his name.
For a franchise that has lacked memorable villains The Mandarin should have changed all that and been a master manipulator in the franchise: instead, he was a joke which is a bigger shock considering Marvel Studios has respected their properties’ comic-book origins. The reveal was so bad that in the short All Hail the King it was suggested the Mandarin really did exist.