9:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
Is Any Place in the Marvel Universe Actually Safe?
In its official announcement that Black Panther has started shooting, Marvel Studios released a new plot synopsis for the Ryan Coogler-directed movie that reveals that "when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk." The entire world? Again?
Black Panther will be the 18th movie to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a reminder that, no matter where you live, the Earth of the MCU is an unspeakably dangerous place. At least once a year, your very existence will be threatened by forces outside your control, with heroes fighting battles that make little sense if you stop to think about it too hard. (Avengers: Age of Ultron, I'm looking at you.) And, unlike Marvel's Manhattan-centric comic book universe, it's not just the U.S. that's come under threat. Where isn't endangered when the superheroes roll into town? To start, let's look at the evidence to date to see what places have been targeted.
In Iron Man, it's not only where Tony Stark is kidnapped — leading to the construction of the first armor — but also the site of a showdown with Ten Rings terrorists.
Captain America: Civil War sees the U.N. meeting in Vienna attacked by someone pretending to be the Winter Soldier, pushing Baron Zemo's plan into motion.
Having fled to Rio de Janeiro, Bruce Banner ends up being hunted down by a S.W.A.T. team early in The Incredible Hulk.
However, by the end of The Incredible Hulk, Banner has once again disappeared, this time to British Columbia, where he appears able to Hulk out at will.
Not only does Cap deal with Hydra forces in Germany during Captain America: The First Avenger, he also leads a team of heroes against a second team led by Iron Man at a German airport during Captain America: Civil War.
Reality as we know it almost ended when the final Sanctum in Hong Kong nearly was overrun by Kaecilius and the forces of Dormammu in Doctor Strange.
Because Bruce Banner loves to rack up those frequent flier miles, he had hidden himself in India by the opening of The Avengers.
Captain America: The First Avenger showed the Sentinel of Liberty visiting Italy as part of the WWII effort.
Only Tony Stark would find himself having a fight with a new arch-nemesis in the middle of the Monaco Grand Prix. Still, Iron Man 2 was anything but subtle overall, so it kind of fit.
Where else would the Ancient One hang out, but Nepal? Of course, all that really meant in Doctor Strange was that there was a particularly exotic place for both training and villainous thievery.
In opening scenes of Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers try to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological agent from a lab in Lagos. They succeed, even if Rumlow didn't exactly end up in captivity as a result.
Judging by where the frozen Cap was discovered at the start of Captain America: The First Avenger, he had his climactic showdown with the Red Skull in the skies over this fine country.
If you're going to pick somewhere to lay low from the forces of SHIELD, Captain America: Civil War suggests that the Winter Soldier chose well. After all, it took an international manhunt after an attack on the U.N. to find him here.
Meanwhile, Captain America: Civil War also made Siberia seem like the perfect place for some old friends to get together and beat the crap out of each other, preferably while the Black Panther takes care of business outside, undisturbed by what's happening elsewhere.
Pity the inhabitants of this fictional Eastern European country; Avengers: Age of Ultron pretty much leveled it to show just how dangerous Ultron was.
Not content with being attacked by elves in Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange took the war on the U.K. one stage further with magical conflicts that happened off-camera, yet plunged the world toward despair.
United States of America
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. finds itself at the center of trouble in (deep breath) Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. To say nothing of events in the Marvel TV shows. Suffice to say, there are safer places in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, no one's gone after Sweden yet.
As seen in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, Wakanda is the home to the Black Panther, and home to the world's largest source of Vibranium. It's also going to be endangered by events in 2018's Black Panther.
While that seems like a relatively small number of countries endangered, if taken in the context of all of the countries in the world, it's worth remembering that on multiple occasions — Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers, Doctor Strange — the initial conflicts eventually would have threatened everywhere on Earth if not stopped. And that's to say nothing of Guardians of the Galaxy, which threatened a cosmic evil that likely would've destroyed the entire planet soon enough.
The result is clear: For those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's only one location to relocate to if safety is your top priority — the adjacent universe occupied by Fox's X-Men movies. Judging by that franchise, potential apocalypses only come along every decade or so, and are dealt with by a bald guy and his team no matter what. Given the odds, that's a far better place to live.