The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a prime example of attention to detail and continuity across numerous films from different writers, as it seems to seldom miss even the smallest of details about films and canonical events. That said, no film studio is perfect, especially not one the size of Marvel Studios.
While the MCU is heralded for its industry leading lack of consistency errors, that isn’t to say they don’t leave their fair share of loose ends. Sometimes a storyline can be teased in one film with the intent of setting up potential future material, while also having no real plans to further explore it at that time.
A bit of trivia for fans of the MCU: when Thanos was initially teased in the post credits scene of The Avengers, neither Marvel Studios nor Disney had any concrete plans for the character. While ultimately seven years later, Thanos would be the final villain for the entire Infinity Saga (every Marvel Studios film up until now), they had no idea of that then, and Thanos’ inclusion was more an Easter egg on behalf of director Joss Whedon.
Today we’re gonna be going over all of the major unanswered questions left open in the MCU to date. Many of you might be just about ready to quote Mysterio from Spider-Man: Far From Home by saying “Show me my loose ends.” so without further ado, let’s get started.
Samuel Sterns (The Incredible Hulk)
The first unanswered question in the MCU dates all the way back to The Incredible Hulk. Samuel Sterns, a questionable protagonist throughout the film, is shown at the end of the film lying on the ground as his head and the skin on it bubbles and expands. The scene was ultimately hinting at him becoming The Leader, a famous villain in the Hulk franchise with superior intellect and a gigantic forehead (basically in brain what the Hulk is in brawn).
The Incredible Hulk as a film was met with very mixed reception, and the plot line has been neither explored nor alluded to at any point throughout the rest of the MCU. It isn’t likely that it will ever be revisited on screen in the MCU, so while most fans are okay with that fact, the few fans of the Hulk awaiting a sequel to the film and a plot line all about the Leader may be disappointed.
But hey, it isn’t impossible. The Red Skull was revisited nearly eight years later in Avengers: Infinity War, and with the upcoming She Hulk series on Disney+, nothing is impossible. That said, Kevin Feige, lead executive producer and head of Marvel Studios, has stated that unless a really good place in the MCU for the Leader arises, they have no plans to further explore that story line.
The Real Mandarin (Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King)
In a Marvel One Shot (For readers unfamiliar with Marvel One Shots, they were brief short stories containing actors from the MCU playing their roles for a bonus short that was typically included on the Blu-Ray of early MCU films. They are part of the MCU canon, as far as we know.) called All Hail the King, we see Trevor Slattery, a disconnected junkie actor who had filled the fake role of the Mandarin during Iron Man 3, thriving in prison, living a life of popularity and luxury.
The general story of the short culminated in Slattery being interrogated in prison by a representative of The Ten Rings, a terrorist group in the MCU who Aldrich Killian’s AIM group and their fake terrorist leader, The Mandarin, claimed to be affiliated with. The Ten Rings have previously shown up in the MCU, dating back to the original Iron Man film. The man interrogating Trevor Slattery claimed that he was with the real Ten Rings, and The Mandarin was a real figure, one who wanted to talk to Slattery.
This reveal was surprising to the vast majority of fans that watched it, and was refreshing to fans unsatisfied with the Mandarin’s depiction in Iron Man 3. Regardless, the storyline was never further explored, but a story featuring the Ten Rings appear to be on the horizon, with Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings approaching in the coming years (add it to your movies from the ‘Coming Soon’ tab in your Kernel app to count down the days) As of right now though, the question of the real Mandarin remains unanswered in the MCU.
2012 Loki (Avengers: Endgame)
This is perhaps the most notable unanswered question in the MCU so far, as it took place in Avengers: Endgame, with plans for answering it quickly announced soon after.
In Endgame, we see Loki in another timeline obtain the Tesseract/Space Stone and vanish. He is dead in the main MCU timeline, and this alternate reality poses a new way to explore the fan favorite character, if not also a way to reintegrate him into the main MCU timeline, similar to what happened with Gamora.
Marvel Studios announced the alternate timeline and adventures of Loki after obtaining the Tesseract would be explored in the upcoming Disney+ series, Loki. Minimal footage has been shown of the series so far, and due to that fact many questions still persist as to what the whereabouts of this version of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki are.
Karl Mordo (Doctor Strange)
During the post credits scene of Doctor Strange, we see Karl Mordo, Strange’s “sidekick” sorcerer who had decided to give up sorcery after discovering that the Ancient One had been drawing power from Dormammu to achieve her long lifespan. The scene depicts him entering a workshop area where he kills Jonathan Pangborn, the man who used sorcery to heal his spine injury, claiming the problem with the world was “too many sorcerers”.
The scene sets up one of the protagonists of the first movie as a villain for another one, but we have seen no indication that this plot line will be explored any further by Marvel Studios. Perhaps he will make a reappearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but we have been given no indication of such, thus allowing this scene to make our list.
Xandar (Avengers: Infinity War)
This is a rather brief one, but important all the same. In Avengers: Infinity War, we hear near the start of the film that Thanos had “decimated Xandar” and stolen the Power Stone, almost comically undoing all of the achievements of the Guardians of the Galaxy in their respective film. This happened entirely off screen, but it raises many questions, and possibly could be involved in the origin of one of Marvel’s next heroes.
Very little information with regards to the events on Xandar was given by Marvel Studios, and the involvement of the Nova Corps on that planet could have some importance. The events on this planet might be critical in the origin of the MCU’s Nova, a very powerful, all-but-confirmed hero stemming from the Nova Corps that has been requested by fans to make his way onto screens for a long time.
There is no major confirmation or hint to the character’s existence so far, but the re-involvement of Xandar in the MCU’s recent timeline could be significant of his arrival.
Adam Warlock (Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Our final unanswered question in the MCU so far is that of Adam Warlock. Adam Warlock is an older Marvel character and member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, mainly accredited for being crucial in the Infinity Gauntlet series of comics from the ’90’s. He is widely associated with the Soul Stone, and was expected to appear in either Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame, neither of which he was in.
The fan-favorite character was teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where a disgraced High Priestess of The Sovereign stood desperately in front of a Sovereign birthing pod (self explanatory pods used for reproduction of the gold race on the Sovereign home world). She described him in a manor hinting at him being her chief weapon in getting revenge on the Guardians, and proclaimed him to be name Adam: clearly alluding to Adam Warlock from the comics.
There has been no formal indication as to when audiences can expect to see him on screen, but it is widely expected that he will be making at least an appearance in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
What are your thoughts on these unanswered questions and loose ends in the MCU? Which ones would you like to see Marvel Studios revisit in the future? Let us know on Twitter! Remember to stay tuned to your Kernel app for all the latest news on film and television!