It’s become something of a routine for Marvel Studios to churn out several entries in the MCU every year. It seems impossible for a Marvel film to fail. This, of course, isn’t the case given the lukewarm reception to 2021’s Eternals. However, even Chloé Zhao’s directorial debut in the MCU was still met with a certain amount of success.
Part of Marvel’s continued success stems from the idea that fans know what they’re getting: the hero emerging victorious and saving the day. That said, even audiences can’t suspend their disbelief when mismatched battles end with the wrong character winning.
10 Captain Marvel Beats Up Some Skrulls
While 2019’s Captain Marvel grossed over a billion at the box office, Brie Larson’s adaptation of the intergalactic superwoman doesn’t seem to sit well with Marvel fans. While this could be attributed to a static performance by Larson, Carol Danvers‘ treatment of the shapeshifting Skrulls certainly doesn’t help matters.
When Danvers originally pursues the Skrulls to Earth, she winds up going to town on a Skrull disguised as an old woman in a train station. While played off as comedy, fans cringe thinking back on it after Talos reveals that the Kree Empire have been relentless hunting his species to the brink of extinction.
9 Kaecilius Kills The Ancient One
The primary antagonist of 2016’s Doctor Strange, Kaecilius is a former Master of the Mystic Arts who becomes disillusioned by his leader, the Ancient One. Consequently, he forms the Zealots and steals one of the pages in the Book of Cagliostro in order to bring Dormammu to Earth.
While Kaecilius is ultimately stopped by Doctor Strange, the future Sorcerer Supreme isn’t able to save their mentor the Ancient One from her fight with Kaecilius. This is a surprising if not illogical turn of events given that the Ancient One has long outlived her pupils and wields considerable more experience in the mystic arts than any of them.
8 The Secret Avengers Best The Black Order
Thanos and his children have conquered many civilizations and felled countless worlds, including Gamora’s. Naturally, the Black Order, a.k.a. “the Children of Thanos,” should be some of the most imposing foes the MCU has ever seen.
Marvel fans were disappointed to find this was not the case when all four members of the Black Order met their end during Infinity War. It also doesn’t make much sense when Wanda Maximoff and Vision are saved by Steve Rogers and the Secret Avengers – who have no superpowers – from Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight.
7 Spider-Man Fights Off Mysterio’s Drone Army
Avengers: Endgame‘s aftermath finds Peter Parker struggling to contend with the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark. After a summer vacation in Europe goes awry, Parker finds himself suiting up to take on the master illusionist Mysterio. The odds are very much against Spider-Man as he’s forced to contend both Quentin Beck and E.D.I.T.H.
As Spider-Man eventually proves, Mysterio isn’t even the real threat here – rather E.D.I.T.H. is. In fact, Beck uses Stark’s program to call up a drone army to stop Parker. Even with his “Peter Tingle,” it’s highly unlikely that Spider-Man would be able to successfully evade the barrage of bullets from hundreds of drones to reach Mysterio.
6 Killmonger Becomes King Of Wakanda
Keeping in line with its comic counterpart of the same name, Marvel’s What If…? series on Disney+ takes audiences through a bunch of alternate MCU realities where the wrong people seem to always come out on top. One scenario sees Tony Stark saved by Erik Killmonger in Afghanistan, and the latter consequently become the King of Wakanda.
This might seem like a good thing at first glance based on Killmonger’s noble, albeit flawed motivation in Black Panther. Killmonger is ultimately responsible for the deaths of a number of fan favorites on his way to the throne, including Rhodey, T’Challa, and even Stark himself.
5 Shang-Chi Demolishes The Dweller-in-Darkness
The early days of Phase Four saw a new star breakout into the MCU with Simu Liu taking up the reigns of the legendary martial artist Shang-Chi. The opening acts of 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings adopted a new take on what action in the MCU could look like with impressive martial arts choreography on the San Francisco and Macau set pieces.
While the third act devolves into a giant CGI battle, the most unbelievable part has to be Shang-Chi defeating the Dweller-in-Darkness – an interdimensional Fear Lord – with the Ten Rings he only received minutes prior. How exactly does Shang-Chi know how to harness the Rings’ power despite never having used them before?
4 Infinity Ultron Breaks Into The Multiverse
Perhaps the most powerful being in the MCU thus far, Infinity Ultron from What If…? is a force to be reckoned with. An Ultron with Vision’s body and all six Infinity Stones, he challenges Uatu the Watcher to a battle that the cosmic being loses. The Watcher is then forced to call upon the Guardians of the Multiverse to put a stop to Infinity Ultron, a program determined to destroy all realities until there’s nothing left in the multiverse.
3 The Guardians Destroy Ego
The Guardians of the Galaxy pull off some dangerous missions during their intergalactic adventures. Besides the Mad Titan, few foes stand a chance against the wit and sarcasm of this ragtag team of misfits. Unfortunately for the team, Peter Quill’s father – Ego the Living Planet – is one of those individuals.
A Celestial, the Guardians should realistically be no match against Ego. Fortunately, Star-Lord’s blood relation to the rogue god allows him to stall the Celestial while Groot lays a bomb on his brain. Given Ego’s full control of the planet they’re walking on though, it makes no sense why he’d even allow the Guardians to get anywhere near his primary weaknesses.
2 Strange Supreme Destroys His Reality
The best episode of What If…? introduced fans to the dark version of Doctor Strange, a.k.a. Strange Supreme. In this universe, Strange loses the love of his life, Christine Palmer, in order to become the Sorcerer Supreme. Driven by a desire to save her, Doctor Strange goes to extreme lengths to break the absolute point in time.
In order to accomplish this, Strange spends centuries absorbing cosmic creatures to amass the required power before being confronted by a “good” Doctor Strange, who he overwhelms. Strange Supreme then proceeds to undo his lover’s death, inadvertently erasing all of his reality in the process, including Christine.
1 Thanos Snaps Half The Universe
Marvel fans had grown accustomed to heroes defeating the villain and saving the day by the time Infinity War hit screens. No one was prepared for the Russo Brothers to pull out the rug from beneath fans and allow Thanos to walk away from the fight victorious.
The fallout from Thanos’ victory fundamentally changed the MCU as half of all life was dusted away in a moment. The effects of this victory are still being felt years after the events of Endgame, and will continue to be felt for many years to come.
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