5 Crazy Fan Theories That Improve Famous Superhero Movies
At the risk of getting stoned by the adoring fan-horde of Captain America: Civil War, a confession: I didn't much care for the mov- Ow! Fuckers!
The movie is completely fine. It's just that my job as a Cracked columnist requires me to stay up to date re: pop culture, and after browsing through the 3,587th "totally amazing" Civil War theory, I knew that the actual film can't hold a candle to the brain-softening shitstorm the internet has already constructed for it. Luckily, this can work the other way around, too. Apply some of the theories out there to the already-existing superhero movies and TV series, and they completely change their meaning -- sometimes even for the better. Here, subject your face-eyes to the pointless pop culture ravings of the internet's finest maniacs, and see if you don't want to rewatch your favorite Marvel movies:
Phil Coulson Is A Super Soldier
Phil Coulson is a rarity, one of the few genuinely likable non-superpowered major characters Marvel's Phase 1 threw at us. Of course, that was the guy's whole point, seeing as he was being set up for a heroic sacrifice at the hands of Loki that would finally cause The Avengers to work together in Avengers Finally Learn To Work Together, And Also That Hammer Blow Should Have Turned Cap Into Handsome Pudding.
Yeah, about that whole "non-superpowered" part ...
"Please don't make this about Life Model Decoys."
Here, eat fan theory: Before his death and subsequent resurrection as whatever alien-revived semi-zombie the producers turned him into in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson was actually born in the 1930s. In fact, he features in Captain America: The First Avenger as a kid called Phil, waving a makeshift Cap shield on the streets as his mom calls him for dinner.
White guy named Phil? The evidence is pretty solid.
We all know how the movie goes down; the super soldier serum is lost when its inventor dies, and the good captain "dies" in a plane crash. What the movie doesn't tell us, though, is: What would the U.S. military do if they lost the way to make superpowered soldiers and their only living specimen? Take a collective, old-timey panic shit and scramble to restart the project, that's what.
Eventually, they managed to reproduce the serum. They never got it quite right but were able to replicate some effects of the original -- delayed aging, heightened reflexes, boner that solves riddles, stuff like that. It was time to test that shit on someone. Meanwhile, Phil the trashcan lid Cap shield kid from First Avenger has grown up. He has chosen to protect America like his hero and embarked on a government career. "Fuck yeah, I'm going to volunteer for that," he thinks and goes off to volunteer. And that's how Phil Coulson can do shit like this.
"Government Agent Procedural Dropkick!"
When you think about it, Coulson's character makes zero sense if he doesn't have at least some superpowers. He is routinely sent off to face some of the most dangerous individuals in the world. Without blinking and with a smirk on his face, he sits in the same room with tank-suit wearing alcoholics, temporarily depowered Norse gods that just tore through most of his squad, and temporarily mega-powered Norse gods who are clearly going to kill him -- and he fucking owns the room anyway. The only time he flinches even slightly is in Thor, and that's because a magical robot with the power to destroy everything is actively firing explosion-rays at him. That'll piss on anyone's parade.
Man, am I the only one who now wants a big-budget Coulson solo movie?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Features A Secret Superhero
Do you remember this scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
You know, the one about vehicles getting wrecked?
That's Nick Fury getting his escape from the bad guys unexpectedly aided by a yellow Penske truck that seems to be driven by a blind drunkard who just dropped a hot coffee in his own lap. The truck is not a part of the chase. It's just there, conveniently screaming through the intersection at breakneck speed. That, friends, is what's called deus ex machina. What makes things really weird is that the filmmakers, Russo brothers, actually use the same "suddenly a truck!" plot device twice. Literally the same truck, too: Later in the movie, an awfully similar Penske rams a car occupied by newly villainous Agent Sitwell. Come on, guys, get your shit together. That's just lazy.
Or is it?
The Russos have teased that not only is the similarity of the scenes intentional but the truck may well be the exact same one -- driven by the same guy. This means either the Russos secretly hate Penske or something is afoot here. They almost certainly meant it as an off-the-cuff joke or a nice little Easter egg with little payoff, but that doesn't mean the internet didn't take it like a teen boy with a boob photo and run with it. According to some, the prime candidate for Mystery Truck Murder Dude is this guy:
That's right -- Darkman.
That's Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, better known as The Goddamn Punisher, as introduced on Netflix's second season of Daredevil. The more you think about it, the more it makes sense, or, at the very least, doesn't make you facepalm in shame. Like Captain America, The Punisher is a war veteran who fights evil the best he can, even if that means evil needs to be air-conditioned with multiple bullet holes to the face. It has been established in the comics that he's a fan of Captain America's, and his personal history dictates he wouldn't exactly be averse to black ops-oriented dudes like Nick Fury. Frank Castle is the exact kind of guy who would want to help them however he can, yet steer clear of their line of sight, because let's face it, he's wanted for like 10 million crimes. Even the modus operandi works, guys: The Netflix Punisher seems to really enjoy weaponized vehicles. The first half of the season alone sees him wreck shit with an explosive Winnebago and, it just so happens, a large truck.
As befits a guy whose Batmobile is a creepy van.
All Of Stan Lee's Cameos Have Been The Same Character
Stan Lee cameos in Marvel properties are like that sticky seat you keep getting in the movie theater. You should see it coming, but you're never quite prepared, and you can only hope it doesn't affect the movie too much or give you herpes.
But there are people who believe these simple cameos aren't separate, disposable characters thrown in for the sake of tradition and a quick laugh. Instead, this theory states, Lee might have been playing the same character all along: Uatu The Watcher, an immortal observer/giant Maury-episode baby character created by Lee himself.
Come to think of it, I can see the resemblance.
Uatu's whole deal is to observe everything in the Marvel Universe -- specifically, the Earth area -- unnoticed, yet all-powerful. He's like your neighbor who peeps through the blinds. Never doing more than looking, at least as far as you can tell. Stan Lee's everyman cameos all over the MCU fit that mission statement to a tee. Even though he occasionally communicates with the heroes (just like the comic version of Uatu), they never see through his unassuming disguise. What's more -- and this is important -- he isn't shackled by puny things like "character rights" and "lawyers." It's all Marvel to him, so he's just as likely to pop up in the Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four franchises as he is in his "native" MCU. Thus, Lee would essentially be a superhero that Marvel occasionally manages to sneak in Sony and Fox properties, just to flip them the bird.
Even if this were true, it's tragically unlikely to lead to a huge payoff where Stan Lee proves to be the villain of Phase 6 or whatever. Marvel have their stories mapped out for years, and by the time Thanos is out cold with a spider-boot firmly shoved up his craggy, lavender heiny, Lee will be 96 years old and thus unlikely to partake in a five-year lead up to 2024's epic Avengers And Fantastic Four And X-Men Curb-Stomp A Centenarian For Three Solid Hours. Still, I can't help but believe that at least one Marvel/Disney big-shot fully buys into this theory and quietly smiles in his whiskey whenever Fox or Sony fly Lee in to do his thing.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Is An In-Universe Anti-Mutant Propaganda Film
Oh man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That is a bad movie. Its legendarily dumbass treatment of Deadpool aside, almost all the mutants we see are either maniacs, jerks, bumbling dipshits, or, worst of all, Black Eyed Peas members. Cyclops, one of the mutant community's most admirable leaders (fuck you, the third movie doesn't count), is a piss-pants teenager with zero control and experience. The bestial Sabretooth from the first X-Men is now a vaguely sleazy Liev Schreiber in need of a manicure and a beard trimmer. Even Wolverine himself, usually a fairly commanding presence, is reduced to a one-dimensional collection of hollow tropes and sideburns.
The movie was clearly made by people who both hate and completely fail to understand comics, possibly the result of a strange Hollywood frat prank gone wrong, and went out of their way to present the story in the most deplorable light possible while still keeping things under the guise of an action movie. This movie is so poorly made that every other X movie since has simply ignored its entire existence like the creepy twin your parents raised in the crawlspace. So ... what if the movie isn't an actual part of the franchise at all? What if it's actually a movie within the X-Men movie universe -- a deliberately awful action flick specifically designed by anti-mutant propagandists to make mutants look bad?
Some more literally than others.
According to this theory, one of the many anti-mutant factions in the X-Men universe financed the movie with the specific intention of making people fear and hate mutants, or at least find them so intolerably shitty as to never waste money watching them for two hours again. With that in mind, they actually incorporated some of the universe's better-known real mutants in the movie, twisting their characters to better fit the agenda. Hell, according to the Deadpool movie, they even made action figures.
In all universes real and fictional, Wade Wilson is the only one who ever bought this.
As for why this propaganda production house hasn't made any more in-universe movies, it may have something to do with the abject, soul-crushing shittiness of that first attempt.
Nick Fury And Jules From Pulp Fiction Are The Same Person
You may have missed this particular fan theory that weaves a fascinating story in which Nick Fury, everyone's favorite visually impaired S.H.I.E.L.D. ex-big-shot, isn't quite who he claims to be. That's not a shocker. Dude's such a professional deceiver, his job title might as well read misdirector. Get it? Like not Director Fury, but misdirector, because hijinks?
What makes this particular theory so intriguing is that it posits Nick Fury is actually Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction.
"To be fair, shaving my head is the first thing I'd do when switching identities."
This isn't just a desperate attempt to connect two characters from different movies because they're played by the same actor. Well, yeah it is. But this one also has some actual meat around its bones. Namely, Nick Fury's (fake) gravestone in The Winter Soldier:
They didn't have the guts to put in the part about vengeance and furious anger.
The real Ezekiel 25:17 doesn't go like that. This is the one Tarantino made up (or, rather, lifted from a Sonny Chiba movie), meaning that it could only have come from the universe of Pulp Fiction (or, again, Sonny Chiba, which in all fairness wouldn't be any worse of an outcome). Ergo, Nick Fury, the super spymaster with a mysterious past, is actually Jules, Sam Jackson's hitman character that finishes the movie heading toward an uncertain future, away from a life of crime.
The nice thing about this theory is how neatly it would fold Tarantino's famously interconnected movies and the MCU together. They're both already cartoonish, violent universes where heroes and over-dramatic villains reign supreme. Even their "origin stories" fit: In the first Captain America movie, Cap goes in the ice in 1943, taking Red Skull out of the game in the process. Supernatural elements now removed from the war, Lt. Aldo Raine and his Inglourious Basterds cohorts are able to gun down Hitler in 1944, an event we once pinned as the starting point of the Tarantinoverse. If we accept this, the first MCU superhero-villain confrontation might actually have happened in Pulp Fiction. Remember Ringo, the diner robber who displays strange interest in Marsellus Wallace's mystery briefcase that Jules lugs around at the time? Jules knows full well what's in the case. He shows the guy.
"That's right, cheap special effects."
What if the briefcase never actually contains the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs, or Marsellus Wallace's soul, or whatever the top theory is these days? What if it contains one of the infinity stones MCU so loves to throw around? Maybe that is Jules' real reason for getting out of the hitman game: "Dang, I probably should do something about the fact that we live in a world where people like John Travolta can haul around planet-destroying alien weapons in a Samsonite." So he goes off to become a universe-protecting hero while our friend Ringo ends up becoming a second-string Hulk as Emil Blonsky's Abomination in The Incredible Hulk. And we have Tarantino to thank for the whole thing.
Or, you know, the whole gravestone thing could just be a fun little Easter egg. But, really, which version would you prefer?
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World, And Why? Every summer we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots, man vs. army of clones and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent along with comedians David Huntsberger, Caitlin Gill, and Lizzy Cooperman to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
Get more fan theories in 5 Movie Fan Theories That Make More Sense Than the Movie and 4 Comic Book Fan Theories Way Cooler Than the Comic Book.
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