Summary

  • Many plot holes and inconsistencies exist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with several projects in the MCU failing to agree on how to properly explain major concepts or character developments.
  • The true nature of the Quantum Realm, the purpose of Iron Man’s arc reactor, the Hulk’s personality changes and the history of the Infinity Gauntlet are just a few of the confusing aspects of the MCU.
  • Marvel Studios’ MCU projects have also consistently failed to establish who the real “Strongest Avenger” is, with candidates including Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and Thor.

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Many projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have contradicted details presented in previous storylines, proving that not even Marvel Studios’ own installments agree with each other. Marvel Studios has developed the most expansive, popular and successful superhero movie franchise over the last decade-and-a-half, and the MCU continues to grow with the development of the Multiverse Saga and the MCU’s Phase 6. However, with over forty projects across film, TV and animation, and dozens of complex characters inhabiting the MCU, it’s easy for inconsistencies and contradictions to be created. While many of these have become niggling plot holes, some are simply errors in explanation or character alterations that make little sense.

Since the beginnings of the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios has done a great job of building the world of the MCU. Projects such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain Marvel and Eternals have explored the depth of the MCU’s full timeline, while new stories are always being produced to push the franchise forward. However, with such expansive storylines, not every plot thread has been accurately explained, as some of the MCU’s biggest concepts such as the Quantum Realm, Iron Man’s arc reactor, time travel rules and some character backstories have all become rather confusing, and have often been contradicted by subsequent projects.

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14 MCU Plot Holes Created By Marvel’s Phase 4

Marvel Studios generally maintains a fairly tight narrative in the MCU, but Phase 4 introduced several plotholes that remain unaddressed.

10 How Does The Quantum Realm Work?

The Quantum Realm Has Been Explored By Ant-Man

Scott Lang and Cassie Lang in the Quantum Realm

The MCU’s Quantum Realm first appeared in 2015’s Ant-Man, introduced as a subatomic dimension that was initially thought to be an incredibly dangerous place that there would be no return from, should a character be trapped inside. Nevertheless, Scott Lang did return from the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man, and Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne designed a machine capable of traveling there to rescue Janet Van Dyne in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania revealed an entire world and civilizations in the Quantum Realm, contradictory to what previous projects had established, and the location and true properties of the Quantum Realm haven’t ever been explained.

9 What Is The Hulk’s Personality?

Bruce Banner’s Hulk Has Changed Significantly In The MCU

Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, has undergone more changes than any other MCU character since debuting in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Originally portrayed by Edward Norton, Banner initially had a more brooding, darker personality, but this took a wild shift in 2012’s The Avengers when Mark Ruffalo took over the role. Since then, Bruce Banner has become a more comedic character, and the Hulk’s own powers have even been diminished in a textbook case of “nerfing”. This culminated in the debut of the goofy Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame, with Marvel Studios seemingly having forgotten the character’s roots in anger, rage and sheer strength.

There have been calls for the Hulk to return to his angry origins, particularly after recent teases at a potential World War Hulk adaptation for the MCU.

8 What Is The Real Purpose Of Iron Man’s Arc Reactor?

Iron Man’s Arc Reactor Makes Very Little Sense

Tony Stark showing arc reactor to Obadiah Stane in Iron Man

2008’s Iron Man kick-started the MCU, and saw Tony Stark design a small “arc reactor” to act as an electromagnet and save his life from lethal shrapnel making its way to his chest. Stark noted that the arc reactor could power the Iron Man suit, but this sentiment was lost in subsequent storylines. Iron Man 3, for instance, sees Stark recharging an Iron Man suit with a battery, rather than with the arc reactor. While the arc reactor was made to seem necessary for Stark’s survival, a simple operation in Iron Man 3 negates the need for it completely, making the signature accessory seem wholly pointless.

7 What Are Celestials & What Do They Want?

Marvel Studios Has Been Inconsistent With The Celestials

Celestial creating a sun in Eternals

In Marvel Comics, the Celestials are powerful cosmic beings who have been around since before the Big Bang, but the history of these entities hasn’t really been explored in the MCU, despite them being around for years. 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy showed Celestials wiping out civilizations with the Power Stone, and 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduced Ego, a very different kind of Celestial. Eternals provided more insight into their motivations – wanting to populate worlds to provide energy to growing Celestial seeds – but this completely contradicted what audiences had seen of them previously. Hopefully, future MCU projects will develop the Celestials much more clearly.

6 When Did Thanos Create The Infinity Gauntlet?

The Infinity Gauntlet’s History Is Confusing

Thanos in Age of Ultron with Infinity Gauntlet

The Infinity Gauntlet was a key element of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, as Thanos used the glove to harness the Infinity Stones’ power. However, the history of the Infinity Gauntlet is something that has been wildly disputed. Thor: Ragnarok revealed the Gauntlet seen in Asgard’s vault was fake, but Thanos had the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Age of Ultron’s post-credits scene in 2015. Thor didn’t realize Nidavellir had been attacked by Thanos until 2018, when he began his quest, but if he had the Gauntlet three-years-earlier, Nidavellir must have been attacked much earlier – which then poses the question of why Thanos waited so long to start his mission.

5 What Is Gamora’s Real Backstory?

Gamora’s Backstory Is Full Of Inconsistencies

Guardians of the Galaxy explained Gamora’s backstory clearly, but several subsequent MCU storylines have since messed up the timeline of Zoe Saldaña’s Zehoberei hero. In the 2014 film, Gamora was said to be the last of her species, and had been raised by the Mad Titan Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War revealed that she isn’t the last of her species at all, as Thanos decimated only half of her world. Gamora also claimed that Thanos had killed her parents in front of her, but this also wasn’t true, as her father was nowhere to be seen in Infinity War’s flashback, and she was separated from her mother prior to meeting Thanos.

4 How Do Ant-Man’s Powers Actually Work?

Ant-Man’s MCU Powers Have Never Been Properly Explained

Scott Lang about to use his powers for the first time in Ant-Man

The science behind Ant-Man’s powers and the usage of Pym Particles in the MCU has always been confusing, yet when thought about in any great detail, they actually don’t make any sense at all. Ant-Man suggests that Pym Particles shrinks the space between atoms, allowing Scott Lang to shrink while retaining his current mass. This point is contradicted every time Ant-Man flies on Hawkeye’s arrows, or stands on someone’s shoulders. Also, if it’s the space between atoms that shrinks, it should be impossible for Ant-Man to shrink smaller than atoms and enter the subatomic Quantum Realm. The rules of Ant-Man’s powers have never properly been explained, and likely won’t be.

3 What Are The Rules Of Time Travel?

The MCU’s Time Travel Rules Have Been Broken Several Times

Avengers preparing to time travel in Endgame

Equally as confusing as Pym Particles are the MCU’s rules of time travel, first established in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes set out on the Time Heist. Initially, Bruce Banner explained that time-traveling creates branching timelines, and doesn’t affect an individual’s own personal future. However, this has been contradicted several times since, with Kamala Khan ensuring her own birth in Ms. Marvel, and Loki’s time-slipping seeing him relive the same moment over and over again in Loki season 2. With time travel having such an important role in the Multiverse Saga, it would be good for the MCU to follow the same set of rules.

2 How Connected Is The MCU’s Multiverse Saga?

The Multiverse Saga Has Been Confusing At Times

Doctor Strange and Christine Palmer watching an incursion in Phase 4

One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Marvel Studios after the conclusion of the Infinity Saga is that the Multiverse Saga feels much less connected. The MCU’s expansion onto Disney+ means that many storylines are being told at the same time, ranging from cosmic adventures to street-level stories. Naturally, not all of these plots organically weave together, creating a disjointed feeling that may have had a detrimental impact on audience enjoyment. Some projects have shared direct threads, such as WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but others have been wildly different from the MCU’s overarching tone, and have had little impact on the wider story.

As the MCU’s Multiverse Saga has been developing, more connections between previous projects have been established, such as how The Marvels featured characters from WandaVision and Ms. Marvel, and Marvel Studios’ upcoming Echo series will feature Daredevil and Kingpin ahead of Daredevil: Born Again.

1 Who Is The Most Powerful Avenger?

Several Heroes Have Recently Received Huge Power Upgrades

The position of “Strongest Avenger” has been a coveted title since the team first formed in 2012’s The Avengers, yet Marvel Studios has never provided a clear response to this question. Over the years, many of the MCU’s heroes have shown off some remarkable feats, suggesting they may be able to collect the crown, but new superpowered individuals have recently been introduced that dwarf these heroes. The likes of Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Thor and the Scarlet Witch all have inconceivable levels of power, while new heroes such as Secret Invasion’s G’iah, The Marvels’ Photon and the Eternals have all drastically changed the power levels of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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