A great part of the Marvel fan community is their ability to come up with fun and crazy theories.  And while many of them are pretty outlandish, there are times when fans get eerily close to predicting what will happen.  So to help with this endeavor, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most important things to keep in mind when theorizing about what will happen next in the MCU.

In-Universe Logic Vs. Good Storytelling

The plot of a movie is designed to tell the most compelling and exciting story possible rather than a realistic depiction of events.  If things played out in movies as they do in real life, then there’d be no point.  We consume stories because they give us something new that we can’t get in our everyday life.  So when filmmakers are coming up with the plot of a movie they’re not solely looking for what logically makes sense, but rather what will make the most compelling story.

For example, why is Vision massively depowered when he gets stabbed by Corvus Glaive in Avengers: Infinity War?  We know he can phase through objects, so why did the blade affect him so much?  The answer is simply that a fully powered Vision would have made a much less compelling story.  With Vision injured at the beginning of the film, the Avengers go into the battle in Wakanda with one of their biggest hitters out of commission.  This makes the battle, and everything leading up to it, much tenser.  It’s also a great way to establish that Glaive and the Black Order are a serious threat.  This means that Vision isn’t able to phase back together after getting stabbed because it’s what the story needed, not because his powers and abilities are clearly defined.

So when coming up with theories it’s important to look beyond the logical conclusions and instead focus on what makes compelling drama or exciting action.  But if you can find something that does both, taking into account the logic of the universe and compelling storytelling, then you’ve got yourself a darn good theory!

Realistic Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a literary device that allows a writer to subtly hint at events to come.  Effective foreshadowing also helps set up shocking or surprises moments so that they’re more believable.  Foreshadowing is also a way to reward viewers who rewatch a movie and notice the minor details they missed the first time.  One great example of foreshadowing is in The Empire Strikes Back during Luke’s training after defeating his vision of Darth Vader.  Luke looks down and sees his own face inside the mask, hinting at the revelation later in the film that the two are related.

So what does this have to do with fan theories? Well, knowing where the story ends up makes it easy to look back and find meaning in things that weren’t intended.  Fan theories will often point to moments that can be interpreted as hints of what’s to come, but we have to remember that we’re looking at previous films through the lens of what we know now.  For example, there’s a scene in the first Iron Man where Jarvis says “Perhaps if you wish to visit other planets you’ll need to improve the exosystems.”  This isn’t foreshadowing to Tony visiting Titan in Avengers: Infinity War.  We know this because when Iron Man was released 95% of the characters in Avengers: Infinity War weren’t introduced yet and Marvel Studios was in the process of producing their first film.  What it is, is a cool easter egg that they never knew would actually have any relevance since.  It’s important to remember that nobody knew there would be an Iron Man 2 let alone an entire cinematic universe.

However, the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultronwhen Stark says, “That up there, that’s the endgame.”  That is foreshadowing.  At that point, Thanos was established and the MCU was building toward Avengers: Infinity War.  But there’s a big difference between cool easter eggs and foreshadowing future events.

In Feige We Trust

Of course the Marvel actors know a lot about what might be coming in future films.  But it’s important to remember that they’re not nearly as involved as the directors of the films or our Lord and Savior Kevin Feige.  A classic example of this is Tom Holland saying that the boy wearing the Iron Man mask in Iron Man 2 was a young Peter Parker.  It’s a great idea and I personally think it’s pretty cool.  But Feige has since confirmed that it’s not true.  There are probably several reasons for this, but the most probable is that when making Iron Man 2 they didn’t know Spider-man would swing into the MCU and that kid was in no way intended to be Peter Parker.  It’s still a cool theory though and it’s very likely that Holland just likes to think that the little boy was Peter Parker.  And I’m sure many fans feel the same way.  But that doesn’t change the fact that that wasn’t the intention.

But regardless, whenever an actor says something that hints at or confirms a fan theory it’s important to take a step back and evaluate how accurate the information is.  With the extraordinary measures that Marvel take to prevent any leaks, the actors are going to be very careful about what they say.  And even if they do let a few things slip, it’s possible that the information they have was incorrect since we know that fake versions of the script for Avengers: Infinity War were used during production.

Feige and his team have brought to life one of the most epic stories ever told and part of what makes it special is the rich detail.  So hopefully this helps all the hardcore fans perfect their theories and come up with some really compelling ideas.