It’s safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most popular fictional universe ever created. It’s an incredibly built and endlessly exciting reality, filled with magic planets, secret countries, and more superheroes than you can count. Marvel has ridden the superhero wave it created to the tune of almost $6 billion at the US box office alone, all the while telling a continuous story that will climax with this month’s Avengers: Infinity War and next year’s unnamed sequel.
While life might be pretty neat for Tony Stark, his super-powered buddies, and, uh, Hawkeye, it’s a bit different for average citizens inside of the MCU. For regular folks, existing in a world with Loki and Thanos would be an unmitigated disaster. The thrill of living in a superhero-stocked world would quickly fade, and we’d all be left dealing with the pieces left behind. It’d be like living in a world with a bunch of Kardashian-level celebrities who did nothing but fight and invite more hell upon earth.
Don’t believe us? Here are six of the most disturbing realities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that no one wants to talk about.
Cities Are Always Getting Destroyed For, Like, No Reason
In the original Avengers film, the iconic heroes reluctantly band together when Loki and a bunch of Thanos-rallied aliens try to destroy the planet. After a long fight in Manhattan, the Avengers eventually defeat the trickster, and even get to bond over some tasty shawarma afterward. Hooray!
But imagine that story from the perspective of an average New Yorker. It’s a day like any other when a giant portal opens up in the sky and these flying alien monsters start destroying everything around you. Nobody knows how or why, and chances of getting the full story afterward seem slim. The city is in rubble by the end of the film and countless people have likely been killed.
It’s not just New York that gets the short end of the stick, either.In the original Thor, a random town in New Mexico is attacked by an invincible magic robot. In Age of Ultron, an entire city is lifted into the sky with the intent of destroying the world; the Avengers stop it but so many Sokovians die in the process. Nowhere is safe from the path of destruction caused by the existence of superheroes and villains, and there’s nothing you can do about it if you’re just an Average Joe trying to get by without having a city dropped on your head.
The Government is Corrupt As Hell
The level of corruption discovered by Captain America in The Winter Soldier makes Watergate look like a blip on the radar. Cap discovers that the entire United States government, including anti-supervillain group S.H.I.E.L.D, has been infiltrated by Hydra, an evil organization of World War II.
There is no coming back from that realization, which is why Captain America refuses to sign the Sokovia Accords, setting into motion the events of Captain America: Civil War. While Cap has the luxury of getting off the grid and growing a cool beard upon discovering that modern society is built on a foundation of deceit, normal people just have to go on living their lives, constantly wondering if their local congressman is secretly hailing Hydra in his spare time.
Life is an Endless Existential Crisis
In the real world, humanity has few answers when it comes to the meaning of life. As a result, humans have spent thousands of years wondering about things like God, life after death, and all of the great mysteries of the universe. Humans in the MCU have similar questions but also have some very confusing wrenches thrown into their attempt to understand the universe and their place in it.
Beyond just the existence of superheroes (which is its own mindfuck), thanks to Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy, there is objective proof of aliens and alternate dimensions. To make things even more terrifying, nobody from Asgard or the many planets that Star-Lord and his motley crew visit seem to give a shit about the puny, technologically-deficient planet known as Earth. It’s confirmation of the universe’s general indifference towards humanity’s existence and, given mankind’s well-documented vanity, this is not a discovery that most people would handle very well.
The Avengers Aren’t Fixing Basic Human Problems
There’s a scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where the now-sentient Ultron is obtaining some vibranium (shout-out to Wakanda!) from an arms dealer. As the transaction is taking place, Ultron mocks the Avengers by musing that vibranium is “the most versatile substance on the planet. And they use it to make a frisbee.”
Here’s the thing: Ultron is right. (In this one instance. The whole committing genocide thing? Very uncool.) It is very stupid that the primary use of the most radical material in the world is making shields and weapons. Ultron’s insult isn’t just a clever quip, either. It also serves as a metaphor for an overarching issue surrounding the very existence of the Avengers: like vibranium, the Avengers fail to take advantage of the fact that they have supernatural powers in order to solve problems on Earth.
Think about it. Tony Stark is brilliant enough to build one of the greatest weapons in human history while captive in an Afghani cave. Doctor Strange can manipulate time and space. Thor is a literal god. There should be no hunger or poverty or water shortages; instead, these superheroes are destroying airports in a dick-measuring contest.
Superheroes Will Eventually Get Tired of Being Babysitters
In the MCU, superheroes (along with aliens and demigods) are the next step of evolution. For now, Captain America and the gang seem to care about the fate of mankind and protecting as many people as possible. But as the number of superheroes increase and average humans continue to stay decidedly unsuper, it’s inevitable that, in the eyes of heroes, the humans are going to become more of a burden than they are worth.
In fact, the best case for humans is that we become house pets for superheroes, as they mercifully allow us to continue to exist in a domesticated environment where we can no longer destroy the planet or threaten to launch nuclear bombs at each other just to feel tough. Worst case? The heroes decide that the best thing for everyone (except humans) is to destroy the species that nearly destroyed earth so they can begin building their utopia where everyone has superpowers and is super hot in very basic ways.
With Great Heroes Come Even Greater Villains
It has already been established that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is plagued with an unnatural amount of death and ruination, with the Avengers seen as the force of good fighting against evil. But a closer look paints a more complicated picture. While the Avengers’ intentions are generally pure, the truth is that most of the death toll in the movies comes as a direct result of the Avengers’ interference.
The origin of almost every major supervillain in the Marvel movies starts with one of the Avengers fucking shit up. All three Iron Man movies (Ant-Man follows the same formula with Paul Rudd) are about villains trying to imitate and/or destroy Tony Stark’s super suit. All of Loki’s attacks on earth stem from the fact that Thor is on earth trying to bang Natalie Portman. Ultron was created by Iron Man.
In Civil War, this carnage is addressed with the Sokovia Accords, with Tony Stark even owning up to the fact that the Avengers are responsible for an inestimable amount of suffering on Earth. Living in a world of superheroes means living in a world with supervillains, and while the idea of superheroes creating supervillains is hardly exclusive to Marvel — the Joker’s entire character is based around the idea of being the chaotic and destructive yin to Batman’s honor-bound yang — but that doesn’t make the end result any less terrible.