Since it’s official launch back in 2008, the MCU has continued to grow at an almost immeasurable rate. There’s the movies. Then there’s the TV shows. The post-credit scenes. The one-shots. The official accompanying comic-book adaptations.
Which all collectively generate a whole host of new supporting characters, references to off-screen and historical events (we’re still waiting for a full explanation of just what went down in Budapest), and continuity holes for fans to thread together. Throw in some dimension-hopping and a bit of time-travel and it’s all getting a bit too much for the rational mind to process.
As if that wasn’t enough information for Marvel devotees to try and keep track of, there are also an endless number of events occurring in the original source material to explore. Then there are the crossovers where Marvel characters have been played by more than one actor, or an actor has returned to a new role in a different part of the franchise. Not to mention the cryptic hints and teases that actors and directors drop out in interviews or on social media.
With the overwhelming amount of material on hand, it’s of little surprise then that fans occasionally draw a very meandering line between points A and B in order to justify and evidence the ideas that can pop into their heads. Sometimes theories are formed using a glorified version of ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’. More commonly it can be a much more straightforward ‘Well, look what happens next in the comics’, with varying degrees of accuracy as the franchise continues to expand and evolve.
The internet is permanently awash with these theories, and they’re often of considerably variable quality. Star-Lord is his own dad? Phil Coulson is part of the Super-Soldier program? It’s easy to discount the majority of them out of hand. But some, well, they just really make you want them to have a grain of truth to them. So, with that in mind, here’s eight of the best that our minions could find online, for you to assess and discuss at your convenience:
8. Groot Is A GOD Like Being
Groot, right? The walking, talking tree. The chap with the limited vocabulary. The Galaxy Guardian with the ability to regenerate. Simple, right? Wrong…
Cast your tiny minds way way back to ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, specifically the opening scene where Red Skull acquires the Cosmic Cube. Whilst he’s trying to find it, his hand brushes across some ancient carvings depicting a powerful figure named Yggdrasil, who he describes as “the tree of the world. Guardian of wisdom and fate also.”
This isn’t the only mention of said spirit within the MCU, as in ‘Thor’, Yggdrasil is again referenced to Jane Foster as the ‘the world’s tree”. The two mentions seem to evidence the fact that this being is represented across multiple dimensions, a benign and guiding figure that differing cultures believe is watching over and protecting them.
Now, consider the fact that both the comics and the GOTG movie establish that any piece of Groot that is cut off from his body but preserved, will eventually form another Groot. The theory is that at some point, pieces of ‘Groot Prime’ were deliberately planted and raised all across the multiverse. There collective Groots taken in their entirety make up Yggdrasil, a hive-like entity that protects and guards the universe as a whole. Mind. Blown…
7. Peggy Carter is Tony’s mother
“Heresy!” I hear you collectively scream into your screens. “Have you not watched ‘Civil War’?” Well. Yes, I have. And I’ve also watched a lot of other MCU output, and this theory isn’t one I’ve easily managed to shake.
Once again, it’s back to ‘The First Avenger’ for our first reference point, where it’s rather unsubtly established that Peggy and Howard have enjoyed a sexual relationship, prior to Steve coming into the picture. ‘Agent Carter’ then goes on to evidence how Peggy is one of the few people that Howard has ever respected and trusted, and continues to work alongside well after then end of the war.
The opening scenes of ‘Ant-Man’ clarify that the intense relationship between the two characters has continued well into Howard’s marriage, and demonstrates the closeness they felt for one another. ‘Civil War’ then goes on to highlight how Tony is an only child, who has what can only be described as ‘unresolved daddy issues’.
The theory goes that Maria Stark was incapable of having children, and that Tony is either the product of an affair with Peggy, which was acknowledged and tolerated by Maria, or that the Starks turned to her as a surrogate. This would explain Tony’s conflicted relationship with his dad, his issues with Steve, and also the reasons for his erratic mood in ‘Civil War’ following Peggy’s death. Just think about it, that’s all I’m saying…
6. Spider-Man was in ‘Iron Man 2’
This isn’t the first time that fans have accused Marvel of hiding Spidey in an MCU movie prior to ‘Civil War’. Just after ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was released, a series of gifs appeared online purporting to show a shadowy figure swinging around in the midst of the Hulk/Abomination fight scene. Of course, anybody who bothered to click of this will know that was utter garbage.
There is, however, a slightly more reasoned argument to suggest that the wisecracking webslinger did indeed cameo in ‘Iron Man 2’. Well, that Peter Parker did anyway. Remember the big fight sequence between Tony and the Hammer Drones at the Expo. Midway through it, a drone mistakenly locks onto a young kid wearing an Iron Man mask, causing Tony to have to intervene to save him. And that kid was Peter Parker.
It all comes down to dates here. In Civil War, Pete is around the 15/16 yr old mark. Going back to ‘Iron Man 2’ means going back roughly 6 years in terms of MCU continuity, making the kid at the expo around the 8/9 yr old mark, which would fit the theory. The argument is that other than a complete science-nerd of a kid, what other sprog would get taken to a big corporate expo that late in the evening, and also that Iron Man saving Pete’s life was one of the main reasons for him later choosing to become a superhero. C’mon, it’s not totally unfeasible.
5. Frank Castle Has Been In The MCU For Quite A While
There have been a lot of new arrivals in the MCU this year, given the growing output of the Marvel movies and TV shows, but the standout debut has gone to The Punisher. Considering that the character was added to ‘Daredevil’ as somewhat of an afterthought, having not appeared in the initial plans or first series of the show, the praise being heaped on the portrayal is a reflection of the amazing job that Jon Bernthal has done with the role. There is an argument, however, that Frank Castle has been knocking around the MCU for some time.
Hardcore Punisher fans would point to two sources of information to support their argument. Firstly, cast your minds back to the start of ‘Agents of SHIELD’. Given her new powers and kick-ass look, you could be forgiven for having forgotten that Skye/Daisy used to be a computer hacker. And during one of her conversations with Coulson, she references a fellow anti-establishment hacker who she calls ‘Micro’. Well, the Punisher’s main ally just happens to be nicknamed Microchip.
Still not convinced? OK, flash forwards to ‘Winter Soldier’. On two occasions during the movie, bad guys get taken out by some pretty convenient driving on the part of a large yellow delivery truck. We never get to see the driver, even though it helps smash Fury out of his ambush, and kill Sitwell during the freeway chase. When asked about it during the movie’s press tour, the Russo Brothers cryptically replied that the driver had a ‘certain motivation and skill set’.
Across all the Marvel comic realities, there is a common thread that during his military service, Castle ran black-ops alongside Nick Fury. Although in the movie, Fury calls Maria Hill for help, it’s entirely conceivable he may have also reached out to some more localized help, knowing she wouldn’t make it in time. So prior to his family getting murdered, Castle was assisting Fury and answered the call from his mentor/boss. Plus, Jon Bernthal did star in a film called ‘Fury’. Believe it. You know you want to…
4. Fox Movies Are The Ultimate Universe
The MCU we know and love tends to be seen as the live-action equivalent of Earth-616, which is the classification given to the mainstream comics universe. In making their movies, Marvel have had to go to great lengths to distance themselves from the X-Men movies, which are of course made by Fox. And whilst the recent arrival of the irreverently franchise-mocking Deadpool may have pushed that boundary to breaking point, one fan theory suggests the boundary exists purely for factual, and not just legal reasons.
Either by fate, or design, the two co-existing movie universes are very different. In the MCU, there are no mutants. There are instead Inhumans, which are alien mutants, but no references to the X-Gene. The theory speculates that in the MCU, with HYDRA helping the Nazis, the majority of the evolving mutants were either exterminated or experimented on, and their evolution was halted dead in its tracks. By comparison, over in the Fox-Verse, there have been no alien invasions or inter-dimensional incursions, and America did not experience the technology revolution it needed to fight HYDRA during WWII.
The theory states that the Fox movies inhabit a near-identical universe that runs parallel to the MCU, and that thanks to his unique fourth wall breaking powers, only Deadpool can see this. That universe is the ‘Ultimate Universe’, and will eventually contain parallel versions of all of the MCU characters, with the two universes crossing over in a major storyline. It suggests that the Wanda and Pietro we meet in ‘Age Of Ultron’ were an MCU Magneto’s children, and he may have sacrificed himself, using his weaker powers and dying breaths to save them in their collapsing home. This is why two versions of Quicksilver could exist at the same time across the two universes. Crazy…
3. Thanos’s Invasion of New York was Always Meant To Fail
Which is a bit hard to believe, given the scale of the forces deployed by Thanos in his efforts to establish a beachhead on Earth during ‘Avengers Assemble’. A whole fleet of gigantic space-whales and countless alien warriors. If it wasn’t for Tony and that nuke, we’d all be living under Chitauri rule today. Right?
Maybe it’s not that simple. Thanos chose not to personally involve himself in the operation, instead setting Loki up as the leader. It’s established that the big purple fella has no particular trust or love for the renegade Asgardian, and a later credits scene actually finds him throwing light on the endeavour. “I’ll do it myself…” etc…
In the Ultimate comics, the Chitauri are in fact shape-shifters, and the theory suggests that whilst the eyes of the world were fixed on the Battle Of New York, and its consequences, this would allow Thanos to covertly infiltrate agents and resources onto the Earth without detection, knowing Loki could not win.
Alongside that, it’s suggested that Loki knows full well he can’t win, which is why he is seen to essentially give up halfway through the battle. He’s been exiled from Asgard, with no way to get back into his kingdom. No way, unless he does something so outrageous that Thor is sent to arrest and return him, to prevent further issue. So the whole thing was a deal to help Thanos assess and infiltrate Earth, and find Loki a way back to Asgrard. Well, I’m sold.
2. Pepper died after ‘Iron Man 3’
I mean, they never really tried to squeeze Gwyneth Paltrow into be ensemble movies too hard, did they? The odd scene here, a phone conversation there. But even bearing that in mind, her absence in ‘Age Of Ultron’ and ‘Civil War did seem a bit odd. Sure, she might still be pissed at Tony in the wake of ‘Iron Man 3’ (hell, we all were), or is she in fact very very dead?
The ending of Iron Man 3 suggests that Tony has found a way to keep her alive, and reverse the effects of Killian’s actions, but that’s not to say his efforts were a complete success. By all rights, she should be deader than disco, who who’s to say that a few weeks/months after the event, she quietly passes away off-camera?
Her absence in ‘Civil War’ is directly referenced, but goes back further than that. Why isn’t she at the party at Stark Tower in ‘Age Of Ultron’? Why isn’t she with Tony at the remains of his beach house in ‘Iron Man 3’? Because he failed her, that’s why, and the virus evolved and consumed her.
Maybe he’s got her remains cryogenically frozen, somewhere.
Or maybe he’s got a computerised copy of her consciousness squirrelled away. But the reason he’s such a mess in ‘Civil War’ is he’s hiding her death from the others. Think about it, even before he finds out about Bucky he’s already acting irrationally. And why doesn’t she come to see Rhodey after he’s crippled? It all makes perfect sense.
1. Stan Lee Is In Fact UATU
This is, by far and away, the greatest fan theory to ever be linked to the MCU, and just screams at you to want to believe it. You know how Stan Lee appears in every single Marvel film? Well, there’s a damn good reason. He’s The Watcher, that’s why…
It actually makes perfect sense, and what’s the alternative explanation? Are we meant to believe that there’s a kindly old man, holding a variety of jobs and social positions, always happening to be in the right place, at the right time? Plus, referring back to ‘Theory 5’ for a moment, it’s not just the MCU that he watches over, but the parallel Fox-Verse as well, meaning he must have some kind of dimension-hopping powers.
No, my friends. Stan The Man is in fact an extra-dimensional entity, charged with overseeing and cataloging significant moments in human history. And whilst he may always appear to audiences and Avengers in his human form, he’s clearly body-hopping through a variety of human hosts in order to carry out his observations, before returning to his base on the dark side of the moon. There’s no denying this one…
What do you think of these theories? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!