Despite its undisputed audience goodwill, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) isn’t the flawless franchise some seem to perceive it as. In fact, the MCU has been suffering from the very same problems for years, as Marvel Studios continues to apply the same fundamental narrative structure to nearly every one of its releases. That certainly needs to change if the MCU and the greater superhero genre aim to stick around for the foreseeable future. After all, how many power-mad villains and blue sky beams can audiences take?
One of the most problematic issues — especially among the geekiest members of the audience — is the MCU’s continuously loose approach to its own mythology. Over the 14 films to date, a great number of lingering threads have remained dangling, even as the universe perpetuates itself with setups for future installments.
Let’s look back at some of the most egregious loose ends to fill the MCU so far. For the record, we’re not touching the mystery surrounding Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, since we suspect most of those answers are coming in Avengers: Infinity War. Likewise, we’re focusing on the film side of the MCU and won’t be delving into the disconnect between the films and TV series. This means we’ll have to speculate on when the Avengers will learn about Coulson’s resurrection at some later date. For now, we’ll journey into the MCU and shed light on some of our biggest burning questions.
1. What’s up with the Abomination and the Leader?
The poor Incredible Hulk. Despite its modest box office success, the film is often considered the black sheep of the MCU. Perhaps that’s due to the subsequent recasting of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, but whatever the case, the film left two promising antagonists just waiting for their chance to shine. After fighting Abomination in Harlem, the villain is taken away and is presumably in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. somewhere. He’s still very much on the table for a reappearance, especially if rumors that the Avengers will face multiple baddies down the line comes to pass.
Moreover, Tim Blake Nelson’s Samuel Sterns was on the verge of transforming into longtime Hulk foe, the Leader in the third act. Even if we don’t get a proper Hulk sequel, the MCU should let this villain show up elsewhere, since his origin is already established.