Marvel's self-made superhero movies are box office blockbusters and massively fun. But they're not perfect; like so many summer action flicks, they can be plenty dumb, and there's no sense in pretending otherwise. Here are 10 plot holes from Marvel's movies that we're still trying not to think about.
[There's a spoiler for Captain America: The Winter Soldier in entry #10. And you might want to watch out for the comments, too.]
1) What the hell was Howard Stark thinking in Iron Man 2?
Sorry, Iron Man 2, but nothing about this makes sense. So Tony Stark is dying because the palladium core in the arc reactor in his chest — the arc reactor that's keeping the shrapnel in his heart magnetized and preventing it from killing him — is killing him. Bummer. He needs a new element, and discovers the atomic structure for one hiding in the Stark Expo diorama his dad built, thanks to a helpful film Howard made, addressing his son in the future, heavily hinting that there was something special hiding in said diorama. Now, ignore the fact that this brand-new element is also the one that Tony needs to save his life at this exact moment. Also ignore the fact that Howard made a filmstrip to insinuate the importance of the diorama to his adult son on the off chance Hydra might kill him and his wife in a car accident before he grew up. Howard's best plan for showing his son this new, world-changing element was to hide it in his diorama of an old fairground? A diorama that, along with the film strip, was kept in some kind of SHIELD storage unit for decades, that no one ever threw away, and that Nick Fury only randomly handed over to Tony? Maybe Howard could have hidden it in something a bit easier for Tony to have gotten a hold off. Like, say, a letter.
2) What the hell is Loki's plan in Thor?
Here's Loki's plan to get rid of Thor and become Odin's choice for king: Allow Frost Giants to sneak into Asgard, goad Thor into attacking Nibelheim, have Odin banish Thor for going to war with the Frost Giants. A little dicey, but okay. But the second part of his plan is to wait until Odin falls asleep, let all the Frost Giants invade Asgard, kill Laufey the King of the Frost Giants right before he murders Odin in his sleep, and then destroy all of Nibelheim. Why, if Thor got banished to Earth for attacking the Frost Giants, would Odin make Loki king for killing them all? And why bother to have the Frost Giants invade Asgard at all? Why not leave them in Nibelheim and just kill them? How is Odin supposed to be impressed that Loki saved him from Laufey when Odin is asleep the entire time? Why let Heimdall watch you allow the Frost Giants into Asgard but not kill him, thus leaving a witness to your treasons who will definitely rat you out the minute Odin wakes up? Also, why was Odin stepping down as king in the first place? That never works out.
3) Why did the army put Captain America on a U.S.O. Tour?
Sure, it's a bummer that the minute Dr. Erskine successfully made the world's first super-soldier, he was assassinated, his equipment destroyed, and the formula lost forever. But they still managed to get one super-soldier out of it… and then they instantly squandered all that time, money and effort by sticking him in a goofy uniform and sending him to perform crappy skits. He's a super-soldier, for pete's sake! Even if they didn't run some kind of tests afterwards to see what his newfound abilities are — which they also totally should have done — he could have at least been used as a regular soldier, right? People are getting drafted all over the place, and you effectively send your best player to sit on the bench? Morons.
4) Why did Cap have to stay on the ship to wreck it?
I understand why the movie needed him to stay on the ship — so he could have one last tearful goodbye with Peggy Carter over the giant jet's communicator. But why did he need to fly the jet directly into the ground? Why couldn't he have pointed it towards the ground and jumped out? If the jet somehow always reverted to its previous destination without someone manually controlling it — which would be pretty weird in and of itself — why didn't Cap just jam something against the steering wheel to keep it on track? Or why didn't Cap try and land it somewhere in the non-freezing part of the Atlantic ocean, where he could try to swim out?
5) How did Thor get back to Earth for Avengers?
At the end of Thor, the Bifrost bridge is destroyed, and everyone is super-clear that Thor can no longer return to Midgard. It's why he can't see his new lady friend Jane Foster at the end of the movie. Then comes The Avengers, and boom, Thor's back in town. The movie doesn't even try to offer an explanation, although at least by the time Thor: The Dark World rolls around the Asgardians have reconstructed the Bifrost so people can come and go. In interviews, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston mutter something about Odin using his power to send Thor to Midgard to chase after his brother, but if that's the case, then Thor breaking the bridge wasn't nearly as big a deal as Thor tried to pretend, because all he had to do was ask dad for the keys to the car, metaphorically speaking. Also, explanations given in press interviews don't count.
6) Why does [practically anything] happen in the Avengers?
How does Selvig know how to harness the Tessaract to create a portal? How does Selvig manage to insert a failsafe even though he's otherwise completely mind-controlled by Loki? Why does Loki provide a distraction in Germany less than 100 yards from the minions he wants to distract the Avengers from? Why does Loki let himself be captured? Why does no one think it's weird when Loki sticks around, completely unattended, while Cap, Hulk and Thor are fighting? If Loki wants to make the Avengers turn against each other on the Helicarrier, why does he send Hawkeye to blow it up, forcing the Avengers to overcome their differences in order to work together to save their own lives? Also, why did Loki order Hawkeye to blow up the Helicarrier when he was in it? Why does Loki's mind-conrol staff affect people through their clothes by not through Tony's arc reactor? How did Bruce Banner know to go to New York City — that exact spot in New York City — after he was thrown from the Helicarrier? Why do a bunch of seemingly living, non-robotic aliens all simultaneously die when a nuclear bomb goes off on the other side of the galaxy?
7) Why didn't Tony call his 41 other suits of armor earlier in Iron Man 3?
After giving his home address to a terrorist, in a twist no one could have seen coming, a terrorist attacks Tony Stark's house. Tony has 41 suits of armor he can call by remote-control at apparently any time, and he does not do so. Later, Tony is left without a suit of armor for weeks in rural Tennessee, and yet he does not call his r/c armors. When he gets captured while investigating the truth about the Mandarin, he calls… one armor? But if he called one armor when he's captured by Killian's goons, then it definitely means he could have called it earlier when he was dicking around building little weapons for himself.
8) How the hell did Tony get his heart fixed in Iron Man 3?
For almost three complete Iron Man movies, we know that the shrapnel in Tony Stark's heart is unremovable and will kill him if he doesn't keep an arc reactor in his chest to power a magnet. Not only is this a constant reminder of his previous hubris as a weapons manufacturer, it also powers his damn armor. Then, suddenly, at the end of Iron Man 3 the shrapnel is no longer unremovable, Stark has some surgery, gets his arc reactor taken out, and is fine and dandy. What the hell? If this was an option why didn't Tony do this back when the arc reactor was poisoning him? Actually, why didn't he do it in the first Iron Man movie let the minute he got home?
9) Why did Bor do such a crappy job hiding the Aether in Thor: The Dark World?
After Thor's granddad Bor defeated Malekith and the Dark Elves, he hid the Aether — the non-stone-like Infinity Stone with the power to destroy the universe — where no one could ever find it. Except Natalie Portman, while walking around in an abandoned warehouse in England, somehow. Now, that's a hilariously dumb coincidence, but it technically makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why Bor, no matter where he hid it, didn't think to to put it in some kind of container so the Natalie Portmans who randomly get teleported to it can't stick their fingers in the damn thing. If it can destroy the universe, then maybe you could at least put it in some goddamn Tupperware.
10) Why is [Spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier]?
Leaving aside the fact that the nascent Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division must have been monumentally stupid to let former Nazi scientist Arnim Zola have the resources to reassemble Hydra right under their noses, or that the agency somehow managed to consist of 50% Hydra agents and no one figured it out for 60 years. But what the hell was Zola's Hydra algorithm doing on that boat in the first place? The algorithm was supposed to help the new Insight helicarriers target potential threats to Hydra; there's no reason to put it on another ship's computers, and there's no reason for Agent Sitwell to be carrying it anywhere. It couldn't do anything other than wait to be a target for a shady Nick Fury op.