5:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
10 Plotlines the Marvel Movies Have Left Dangling
When Doctor Strange is released this weekend, it'll be the 14th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to hit theaters, continuing the overall storyline that launched in 2008's Iron Man. But with 13 movies, five television series and five shorts under its belt, there are plenty of unfinished storylines and missing characters out there for Marvel fans to wonder about. Here are just ten questions about the MCU that Marvel needs to answer.
What Is Up With Thanos And The Infinity Stones?
The most obvious of the dangling plot threads is one we're expecting to be addressed in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. Why does Thanos want the Infinity Stones, and what will he do in order to get them? (Readers of Marvel's comics will know the answer to that first part, at least, and it's not good news for the Avengers.)
Who is Star-Lord's Dad?
Another thread that we know will be answered soon, the question of Peter Quill's parentage was purposefully left open at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy. It'll be answered in next year's second installment with the introduction of Kurt Russell as Ego, the Living Planet, as revealed at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con. Quite how a planet can have a son is something that everyone is looking forward to James Gunn explaining.
Where Did The Hulk Go?
Mystery No. 3 that we expect an answer to soon: When the Hulk flew off in a quinjet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, where did he end up? Somewhere so off the map that he wasn't available for Captain America: Civil War, but is that because he was kidnapped by a cosmically-powered alien that looks very like Jeff Goldblum for the purposes of next year's Thor: Ragnarok?
Whatever Happened To Samuel Sterns?
Actually, while we're asking Hulk-related questions: didn't biologist Sam Sterns get infected by a gamma-related substance that transformed him into… something towards the end of the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie? (Again, comic fans know just what that something is, but it was never revealed in the movie itself.) Is there a mutated, super-smart Sterns out there behind the scenes, manipulating events? Will we ever see him again?
Where Is The Real Mandarin?
Along similar lines, the All Hail the King short written and directed by Iron Man 3's Drew Pearce walked back the villainous reveal of the third Iron Man, revealing that there really is a real Mandarin in charge of terrorist organization the Ten Rings after all, and that he wasn't a fan of Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) and his attempt to pretend that he was the Mandarin. Is he really likely to sit back in the shadows and not try to reclaim his crown at any point…?
What's Going On With Odin?
Another missing person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Thor's dad, Odin. At the end of Thor: The Dark World, it's revealed that, somehow, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin without anyone noticing. Why? How? It's now three years — and one Thor appearance (in Avengers: Age of Ultron) later, and we're none the wiser. Again, here's hoping that Thor: Ragnarok provides some kind of explanation about this seemingly abandoned plot line.
What about Jane Foster?
Speaking of Thor, Natalie Portman won't be appearing in the next installment as Jane Foster. But the end of Dark World saw Thor returning to Earth to kiss her — and Ultron featured Thor and Tony arguing over whose girlfriend was better. Will Thor explain they broke up off camera, just as Tony mourned the loss of his relationship with Pepper in Civil War?
Is Janet Van Dyne Alive? And If So, Where Is She?
There's much more to reality than what the Avengers and the like know — an idea at the center of Doctor Strange, but also something nodded to in last year's Ant-Man, which suggested that Hank Pym's wife didn't die while trying to disarm a nuclear missile, but instead disappeared into another dimension altogether. (Perhaps the "Microverse" of Marvel's comic mythology.) Presumably, this is a thread to be followed in future Ant-Man movies, but if not, could Janet Van Dyne re-appear elsewhere without warning?
What Does The Post-Sokovia Accords Marvel Cinematic Universe Look Like?
The question most likely to be answered by Doctor Strange, it'll be interesting to see what the Earth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe looks like after Captain America: Civil War. After all, it should really be different in some form, right? It wouldn't be like the Avengers came to blows with each other for nothing, right…? Well, perhaps, because lest we forget…
Is Someone Going Through All Of SHIELD's Files?
Less an open question than an unfinished thought thrown out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but what happened to all of SHIELD's files that were dumped online at the end of that movie? Shouldn't that have significantly changed the Marvel world because, you know, SHIELD was a spy organization that had existed for decades and knew lots of things about the superhumans of the world, which means dumping all of its private information onto the Internet means that everything it knew is now public knowledge… So why does the world that has been seen in Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War not seemed any different, for the most part?