The MCU Keeps Forgetting Its Most Badass Weapons
The cinematic universe is a marvelous invention ... for marketing. However, when it comes to creating a series of movies, each with world-ending stakes, the cinematic universe is a way of ensuring nothing makes sense.
The problem people keep pointing out is: "Why don't any of the heroes from the other movies help out this time the world's in danger?" The movies do their best to address that, often with an awkward conversation in which characters discuss this very question. But even when the script describes a situation where, technically, they're cut off from help, it's still a universe weighed down by existing solutions just out of reach. Sometimes, that's in the form of suspiciously absent allies, while other times, the issue is all those superweapons that were such a big deal in earlier moves but are now forgotten.
Like, does anyone remember those magic grenades from Thor 2? That movie had grenades that can suck anyone into oblivion, even wacky supervillains stronger than Thor himself. They actually namedropped these grenades years later in Spider-Man: Homecoming—Michael Keaton's crew is selling them, which doesn't make a lick of sense, but it means they're out there but remain forgotten by the heroes.
We're supposed to not think about those grenades from Thor 2. Just as we're supposed to not think about how Thor 1 was all about the quest for an all-powerful glowy blue cube. No, I'm not talking about the all-powerful glowy blue cube that appeared in a dozen other MCU movies, as well as in Thor's own post-credits scene. It was about a different all-powerful glowy blue cube, which can freeze whole armies, but we guess they left that behind to get destroyed in Ragnarok. Because freezing whole armies, who ever needs to do that?
I could go movie by movie and catalogue a bunch more of these forgotten weapons, but I'd really like to highlight one that I think you haven't forgotten. Though you might not think about the weapon, you remember the scene, immortalized in GIF form and shared endlessly:
It's a missile. A big missile that splits into other missiles and pulverizes a wide region. That was from the first 15 minutes of the first MCU film, Iron Man, and it's a stronger weapon than anything wielded by anyone in the massive heroic army in Endgame years later. (Okay, maybe like three heroes use something stronger, but it's stronger than almost anything in the massive heroic army in Endgame.)
A big dumb missile is a very useful weapon. Thanos got a vast horde outside the Avengers compound? Don't run at them, get out of there and fire some big dumb missiles! A different alien horde is facing Wakanda, on the other side of a magic shield? Don't run at them, stay away and fire some big dumb missiles! A flying alien force is attacking New York City? Uh, a big dumb missile wouldn't be ideal here, but if the authorities are considering dropping a damn nuke, hold off on that, show some relative restraint with a non-nuclear big dumb missile!
"Now hold on," you're saying. "Tony Stark isn't the only person to make missiles. Never mind this one missile they showed off in Iron Man, the world could fire missiles at these aliens even without it." That's true, and we've pointed that out several times before. But all of these superhero battles rely on us pretending such long-range weaponry doesn't exist, for the sake of letting us see hand-to-hand fights. And yet the movies also showed a long-range missile off to us, in what was the practically the opening scene of the entire movie series.
The issue here isn't plot holes—we could always say Tony destroyed the Jericho missiles for moral reasons or they were inaccessible when heroes later needed them. The issue is that all these conflicts feel very silly if each movie wants us forgetting each other movie's stakes and solutions. And then, of course, when the time comes, the movies will shift gears and assure us that all the previous movies are essential and all built to a single moment.
A self-contained movie like the original Iron Man avoids this. Iron Man, incidentally, was also never really about Tony's suit weapons being amazingly powerful, more powerful than the entire military (a fighter jet could shoot Iron Man down, but Rhodey tells it not to). No, the original move was about what a superhero really is. It's not someone who has the most power. It's someone who violates international law.
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Top image: Walt Disney Pictures