There’s no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week (or the next week, or sigh…the next week) so instead I am going to go over some common things that tick me off as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
5. The Collective Misremembering of St. Agnes Orphanage
Ask anyone the most famous line in Casablanca and they will likely say “Play it again, Sam”. Thing is, no one ever says that line in the movie. The MCU has it’s own unique situation like this. There is a factoid floating around that Daisy from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Matt from Daredevil both grew up at St. Agnes Orphanage, possibly even at the same time. Google “matt daisy st agnes” and you will see it everywhere – it’s even listed on the MCU Wiki page for St. Agnes Orphanage.
Daisy did claim to grow up at St. Agnes, and Matt Murdock did grow up an orphan – However, there is not a single frame of Daredevil that implies that Matt Murdock has any knowledge of a St. Agnes Orphanage. No throwaway line, no “between the lines” implication. This false fact appears to be attributed to a misquotation of a scene in Daredevil where Foggy and Karen are in Josie’s bar (without Matt). Foggy claims that he and Matt had helped a bar patron with his legal work and got his kids into the prestigious St. Agnes Daycare.
While I am all for connectivity between shows, this simply isn’t an example of it.
4. The T.H.A.N.O.S. Theory
Who doesn’t love a harebrained fan theory? Me, after hearing it a hundred times. I understand the hypocrisy of bitching about insane fan theories when I literally have a section on my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recaps dedicated to my “Crackpot Theories and Speculation”, but this one is so common and so, so dumb.
The idea is that the containers of the six Infinity Stones spell out the name of their future wielder, Thanos. The breakdown is as follows:
T – Tesseract (Space Gem)
H – ??? (Soul Gem, assumed by many to be in possession of Heimdall, hence “H”)
A – Aether (Reality Gem)
N – Necklace (The Eye of Agamotto/Time Gem)
O – Orb (Power Gem)
S – Sceptre (Loki’s Sceptre/Mind Gem)
This theory is ridiculous on a fundamental level, but also sort of falls apart when you think about it. For the theory to work “Tesseract”, “Aether” and “Orb” require their actual names, when we can get away with simply “Necklace” for the Eye of Agamotto – or better yet, “Sceptre” for the gem that is currently embedded in Vision’s forehead and not Loki’s sceptre at all.
I think this is simply a case of apophenia – finding meaningful patterns in random data.
3. References That Just Aren’t There
Yes, I’m sure some references are included on purpose. Vision mentioning that superheroes have “grown in number exponentially” in Captain America: Civil War was likely intended to refer to simply The Avengers if you’re a movie-only guy, and the Inhuman outbreak if you like the shows. When Fury shows up with the helicarrier in Avengers: Age of Ultron, this is a clear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reference – but only if you watch the show. Otherwise his line about “old friends” has no deeper meaning.
I’m not talking about these; I mean the references that really just aren’t there. There are people who genuinely believe Harley Keener from Iron Man 3 is secretly Peter Parker because he is a smart kid that wears red and blue – even though we have met Peter Parker. Some people believe that Rosalind Price is secretly Ward’s sister and Lincoln is his brother and they just don’t address it on the show. Some people think the “news reporter in Cairo” mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Moon Knight, despite him not being a news reporter and not being from Cairo.
Early in Doctor Strange, he is driving while his nurse Billy is relaying patients and their unique situations to him. One patient is a 30-year old air force colonel who had his body crushed in experimental armor. Has to be War Machine, right? It’s referring to Captain America: Civil War! I mean, this part of the movie takes place months before Captain America: Civil War, Rhodey was not using experimental armor, and he definitely isn’t 30 – but facts are pesky things.
The director has since confirmed this is neither Rhodey nor the injured HammerTech employee from Iron Man 2, so people have latched on to his next patient: A 20-year old girl with schizophrenia who get electrocuted right in the metal plate in her brain. Somehow many fans have concluded that this is a reference to Captain Marvel, despite Carol Danvers not being 20, not having schizophrenia, not being struck by lightning and not having a metal plate in her brain.
It’s the MCU. Weird stuff happens to people all the time, not just to the same 20 characters.
2. The Imaginary Captain America: The Winter Soldier/Doctor Strange Continuity Error
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, HYDRA agent Jasper Sitwell is explaining Project Insight, a HYDRA protocol that targets and kills everyone that could become a potential threat to the evil organization. This included the aforementioned news reporter, a high school valedictorian, Dr. Bruce Banner and even Dr. Stephen Strange. As the Doctor Strange movie had not been announced yet, this drew a huge gasp from audience members “in the know”.
Many people took this mean that Dr. Strange’s solo movie would be set in the past, allowing him to become the Sorcerer Supreme by the time Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place. When 2016 trophies were seen in his office in Doctor Strange, people cried foul. Why would HYDRA be targeting Stephen Strange as a threat if he wasn’t an all-powerful wizard?
As Marvel Studios executive producer Kevin Feige has even said on more than one occasion, the clues are right there in the plan of Project Insight. Why would a news anchor or high school valedictorian be seen as threats without superpowers? Because the protocol targeted people with potential to be threats. If you watch Doctor Strange, you see that Strange himself is a rich and world-renowned neurosurgeon who chooses to advance medical science than operate on ER patients. In additional to being a very famous public speaker who is at the forefront of the medical community, he is an outspoken asshole who has ideals that run counter to HYDRA’s. Hence, a potential threat.
No sorcery involved!
1. Superhero Fatigue
Do we have too many superhero movies/TV shows right now? Yes. Is it awesome? Yes.
Many critics of the genre believe that the market has become oversaturated; we have hit “peak superhero” and it is all downhill from here. The thing is, superhero movies are more popular now than they ever have been – and the reason is that they are generally better made. You can dismiss Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as simply “superhero properties” but they have deep messages about the state of the world today.
The MCU itself is full of different sub-genres. Comparing the 1940’s woman power spy action of Agent Carter to the goofy loveable space romp Guardians of the Galaxy, simply because they are in the same universe, is laughable. We have heist movies (Ant-Man), political thrillers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), gritty noir (Daredevil), neo-blacksploitation (Luke Cage), Shakespearean dramas (Thor). The only common thread is sometimes people have superpowers.
Westerns have not died completely. Noir is still around. Saying superhero movies will go the way of the dinosaur is suggesting action movies as a genre will fail soon. If they make them, we will come.