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False Facts About The Marvel Cinematic Universe You Always Thought Were True

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a cultural juggernaut that shows no signs of slowing down. Every movie helps build a complicated web of interconnected mythologies, leaving fans very eager to see what's going to happen next. Because the MCU is everywhere that fans look (on Netflix, on ABC, in theaters), it's easy for fans to think they know every nook and cranny of this world, from Iron Man's choice in liquor to the size of Chris Hemsworth's biceps. It turns out there are many things that fans thought were true about this cinematic universe that are outright false. Here are just a few of the main offenders.

That Obadiah targets Tony over money

Relative to later films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first Iron Man movie had a really good villain in the form of Obadiah Stane. Memorably played by Jeff Bridges, Stane played a seemingly faithful business partner of Tony Stark. However, Stark eventually finds out Stane is out to kill him and take over Stark Industries. Because of the inevitable consequence of Stark's death being Stane gaining control, most fans watching the movie think this is the reason Stane becomes a villain. However, the truth is that trying to kill Tony Stark is completely personal for Stane.

Think about it: Stane already had functional control over the company. He controls the Board of Stark Industries whereas Tony has no interest; he accepts Stark's awards while Tony gambles and boozes the night away. And, most tellingly, Stane's existing stake in Stark Industries means he profits from Tony Stark's innovations. Killing Stark means that Stane, in all likelihood, will actually receive fewer profits as time goes on. He even references this when confessing to Tony that he fears he would be killing "the goose that laid the golden egg." The exact motivation of Stane is left deliberately murky — he may feel impotent as Tony gets all the attention or he may genuinely believe that his vision for the company will keep the world safer. Regardless, he definitely didn't try to kill Tony Stark over money.

That Thor's powers are restored because he dies

This next misconception is easy to make because of the nature of the Thor movie. By necessity, the character and his story are aspects of Norse mythology that audiences view through the lens of Western culture. As such, audiences are eager to use the cultural touchstones they are familiar with in order to understand the story in front of them. For instance, part of the drama of the Thor movie is that he is exiled to Earth and cannot wield his hammer, Mjolnir, until he is "worthy." This doesn't happen until the Destroyer armor, controlled by Loki, tries to kill Thor. This leads many to think that his willingness to die makes him worthy.

It's no surprise Western audiences come to this conclusion because, on a basic level, this is the story of Jesus Christ. Like Christ, Thor is willing to die to save others, and seemingly like Christ, he ascends to a higher spiritual status as a result. But Christianity is not Thor's culture. Audiences can see that Thor's Asgardian people respect fighting and martial prowess. They are, after all, modeled after the popular cultural ideas surrounding the Viking warriors who were, in turn, inspired by genuine Norse mythology. What does this have to do with Thor's worthiness? When he confronts the Destroyer, he offers no resistance whatsoever in exchange for the safety of the town. Compare this to the "hammer first, ask questions later" Thor from the beginning of the movie and it is clear that Thor was willing to set aside everything that he and his culture hold sacred if it meant saving someone else. This, and not a simple willingness to die (Thor was willing to die fighting Frost Giants earlier in the movie, remember), is what signified he had become worthy.

That Tony's drunken party is out of character

One of the stranger plots of Iron Man 2 involved Tony Stark slowly dying due to a kind of blood poisoning caused by his suit. At first, Tony deals with his impending death in a variety of ways, ranging from mostly healthy (re-starting the annual Stark Expo to help fellow futurists make the world a better place) to startlingly unhealthy (driving in the Grand Prix just because he can). One of the unhealthier behaviors involves throwing himself a birthday party filled with many guests. During the party, Tony gets frighteningly drunk and is using his suit's repulsors to blow up watermelons and other assorted items. When War Machine tries to top him, it turns into a high-tech brawl inside Tony's home. Overall, audiences walk away thinking exactly what the movie implies: that this drunken party and bad behavior is totally out of character for Tony Stark.

Except it's really not. The character of Tony Stark is, in the comics the movies are loosely based on, an alcoholic. It's a dark aspect of the character that he has struggled with for years. And while the movies don't acknowledge his alcoholism by name, it sort of hovers around a great many scenes. Tony insists on early morning sake with Rhodes during a flight in the first movie, and he immediately begins drinking after presenting the Jericho missile to the military, and is still drinking during his fateful convoy ride. He is presented as being drunkenly distracted and gambling when he misses out on his major award. Stark even pours a generous drink for himself when he confronts Loki. Put altogether, this forms a picture of someone who is a little too comfortable with alcohol, making his drunken party actually completely in character.

That Banner's suicide survival is surprising

One of the darker moments from The Avengers that is presented as a surprise is both that Bruce Banner attempted suicide and that the suicide was impossible. He tells the gathered heroes that he once put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger and "the other guy," the Hulk, spit the bullet out. This is presented as something which should shock and surprise both his audience and the movie audience alike, but the simple truth is that close viewers of these movies would not be surprised at all.

The evidence goes back to Marvel's Incredible Hulk movie, the one that starred Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. He is captured by General Ross and the Army after Dr. Sterns, the enigmatic "Mr. Blue," has introduced an alleged Hulk antidote into Banner's system. When Banner and Ross see the chaos being wrought in Harlem by the other big scary monster, the Abomination, Banner volunteers to jump out of the helicopter and fight the creature. During the jump, though, he can't voluntarily transform, screaming an obscenity as he plummets to the ground only to be miraculously transformed by the time he hits.

Audiences can see Banner is at least a little suicidal. The antidote has seemingly worked: otherwise, Banner's anger at Ross would have induced a transformation. His willingness to jump out of the helicopter indicates at least a partial willingness to kill himself, and it apparently would have if Hulk hadn't protected him from certain death. Comics readers likely recognized this as a modified version of a plot from The Ultimates in which Banner was too doped up to transform and a coldhearted Nick Fury authorized throwing him from a helicopter. He was gambling that Hulk would not let Banner die, which is exactly what audiences see in this movie. By the time the Avengers rolls around, Ruffalo-Hulk's confession and explanation seems a bit redundant.

That the movie chronology is in real time

This misconception is simple, though it often throws fans for a loop when they find out about it. Most fans assume that the Marvel movies are happening in real time. That is, if time has gone by in the real world since the last movie, then that same approximate amount has passed for the characters. This is true of most of the later movies, after all — the Age of Ultron movie came out two years after the first Avengers movie, and it certainly seems that about two years has passed of on-again, off-again superhero team-ups.

Earlier Marvel movies were a bit of a hot mess, though, in terms of the timeline. For example, the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, but in the MCU chronology, it occurred much closer to the start of 2010. The Incredible Hulk movie also came out in 2008, but most of its story takes place in 2011, leading to one of the weirder timeline decisions. Some of the events of the 2008 Hulk movie, 2011's Thor, 2010's Iron Man 2 not only all take place in the same year, but on the same day. Specifically, Ross is attacking a rampaging Hulk at Culver University on the same day that The Destroyer attacks S.H.I.E.L.D.in the town of Puente Antiguo and Thor destroys the Bifrost Bridge. All of this is literally two days after Iron Man battled Whiplash at the Stark Expo. While all of the timeline shuffling is confusing, it does help make the later Civil War movie make sense, as it is difficult to imagine this level of chaos in a couple of days without the government wanting to do something about these super-powered beings.

That Loki can naturally control minds

Here is a misconception that can be partially blamed on Tom Hiddleston's amazing performance. He plays Loki, known far and wide as the trickster god, so when audiences see him mind-controlling people in The Avengers, many of them just assume that it is an extension of his other abilities. After all, he has a bizarre ability to deceive people with projected images of himself. However, later movies make it clear that this power is due to the staff that he wields. He is given the staff by Thanos, who ultimately wants to gather the Infinity Stones (more on that later), and the staff is powered by one such stone, the Mind Gem. This is why Loki does not exhibit any ability to directly control minds in either the first Thor movie or its sequel, as he does not have the staff in those films. It's entirely possible that Hiddleston walked away with the gem after filming, though, because the internet is filled with reports that most people are eager and willing to do whatever Hiddleston asks them to do.

That aliens are targeting Earth because of experimental weaponry

The exact motivation of Loki and the invading aliens of the first Avengers movie is another one of those misconceptions that is given to audiences directly by the movie. The heroes are trying to figure out why Earth is suddenly a target when it has seemingly been left out of galactic conflicts before that point. Thor argues that S.H.I.E.L.D. developing high-tech weapons of war strong enough to take down rogue Asgardians and their powerful technology is a sign to the universe that Earth is ready "for a higher form of war." The other characters and the audience all take this explanation at face value.

However, scratch at it even a little and it is apparent that this is not much of an explanation at all. Surely, Earth must have something that somebody wants? Loki ostensibly wants to be the ruler of the planet, but he was given both a cool, mind-controlling staff and an alien army for a specific reason by Thanos, the big bad guy who typically lets others do his dirty work for him. Later movies make it clear that Thanos is obsessed with recovering all of the Infinity Stones he needs for his Infinity Gauntlet, an item that will make him virtually unstoppable. The Tesseract (that glowing cube thing) that powered the Red Skull's army and gave Loki such a dramatic earthly entrance is one of these Infinity Stones. Thus, Loki and his aliens would have invaded Earth even if S.H.I.E.L.D. had done nothing at all with advanced weaponry; maybe Thor just had a "blame humans" quota to meet that week?

That Tony is the only Avenger with PTSD

Iron Man 3 is, to put it mildly, a divisive movie. Many people love it for the mad improvisational humor and how well it serves as the end to Iron Man's solo movies, while others hate it for the bizarre "Mandarin" reveal. Another thing that makes the movie stand out, though, is the theorized major plot point regarding Tony Stark having PTSD after nearly dying defending New York. He engages in obsessive behavior, has panic attacks, and generally worries about his ability as "a man in a can" to fight alongside gods and monsters against aliens and God knows what else.

Because this is the only film to focus on such a thing, many viewers think that Tony Stark is the only Avenger who suffers from PTSD. However, sprinkled throughout the other movies are hints that this is not the case. In The Incredible Hulk movie, Bruce Banner looks at a showerhead and suddenly sees a helicopter's gun firing directly at him. When Captain America relentlessly punches a punching bag in The Avengers, audiences can see he is still imagining the raging battles of World War II that are, to him, only weeks in the past. Furthermore, the Winter Soldier shows him bonding with Sam Wilson over their inability to adjust to the comforts of modern life when they cannot take their minds off past conflicts. And while much of what she says to Loki in The Avengers is centered around getting information, Black Widow genuinely seems to be haunted by some of the terrible things she has done as a spy in the past (both for Russia and for the U.S.) and sees the Avengers as a possible key to redemption. Of the core Avengers, the majority suffer from some form of PTSD, so it's possible Tony could have just started a support group instead of blowing up billions of dollars in suits.

That Dr. Strange isn't dangerous before his powers

This misconception is proven wrong by one of those "blink and you miss it" movie scenes, and it adds some potential depth to the new fan-favorite character Dr. Strange. Strange's movie goes out of its way to present him as a material man of the world before his fateful car accident. That is, before his reluctant decision to study the mystic arts as a way to heal himself, Strange had no real interaction with the world of heroes and villains. As such, most fans assume that Strange presented no threat to the villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a brilliant-but-arrogant surgeon and that if he had taken the bargain to heal his hands and walk away from protecting the world, trouble would never trouble him.

However, due to a single Easter egg in Captain America: Winter Soldier, this is canonically untrue. That movie focused on HYDRA infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plan to put perpetually floating helicarriers in the air. Nick Fury wanted to have the power to shoot anyone who was a threat to America, but HYDRA hijacked the plan and installed a predictive algorithm that instructed the helicarriers to shoot anyone that might one day present a threat to HYDRA. Eagle-eyed viewers can notice certain names on the list to be targeted, including Tony Stark and Stephen Strange. While HYDRA's predictive algorithm is probably pretty good, there seems to be no way of knowing he would become a master of the mystic arts. Apparently, HYDRA foresaw Strange as being somehow instrumental in the resistance to HYDRA taking over the world. It's too bad HYDRA didn't try to bribe him with a cool watch; pre-accident Strange would have really gone for that.

That Scarlet Witch is guilty in Civil War

The final misconception is at the heart of Civil War's entire plot, and it is that Scarlet Witch is guilty of killing those Wakandans when she lifts up a self-detonating Crossbones and he explodes close to the building they are in. Unpacking this misconception requires a few deep dives, so here goes. First, it is obvious that if Scarlet Witch had done nothing and merely let Crossbones blow himself up, many more people would have died in the crowded ground area, including Captain America. Therefore, from a moral perspective, she had to do something. Her power seemed like it was partially able to contain the blast, but not enough to keep it from killing 26 people in the building.

However, what everyone seems to overlook is that the building helps contain a blast that otherwise would have injured and killed a great many people on the ground. It's impossible to know the exact blast radius of Crossbones' suicide vest, but he was chucking frag grenades earlier in the movie that have an effective casualty range of 49 feet. He presumably still had some of these on his person, so Scarlet Witch's only other option, to chuck Crossbones high in the air away from any buildings, would have realistically resulted in a rain of both deadly shrapnel and the blast itself. Again, given how crowded the marketplace was, it seems like more than 26 people would have died, and she may have assumed that the building had been evacuated by S.H.I.E.L.D. Considering that the Avengers were tracking terrorists to that area, evacuating ambassadors and politicians honestly should have been a priority. At the end of the day, Scarlet Witch made the best call when she was given nothing but terrible options, but the entire plot centers around the idea that she made a terrible mistake.