Every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has at least one big plot twist. Sometimes, the twists raise the stakes in the middle of the movie. Other times, they arrive as a gut punch at the very end. Some of these twists are predictable, like Ego being a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, while others are fiercely effective, like the Vulture being revealed as Liz’s dad in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
From Loki using the old “getting caught was part of the plan” cliché in the first Avengers movie to Tony Stark inventing a whole new chemical element in Iron Man 2, the plot twists in Phase One were a mixed bag.
6 Iron Man 2 – Tony Invents A New Chemical Element
Every Marvel movie requires the audience to suspend their disbelief to some degree, but Iron Man 2 takes an absurd leap in logic when Tony Stark invents a new chemical element. Inspired by some home movies left behind by his late father, Tony adds a whole new element to the periodic table during an afternoon session in his laboratory.
Magically coming up with a new element is even more nonsensical than learning thermonuclear astrophysics in a night or inventing time travel while noodling around on the internet after dinner.
5 The Avengers – Getting Caught Was Part Of Loki’s Plan
In the first Avengers movie, Loki attempts to invade Earth on Thanos’ behalf. As usual, his plan is a lot more complicated than it needs to be. The God of Mischief jumps through a lot of hoops just to open a wormhole to allow an army of faceless goons to attack New York.
Early on, he’s captured by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and locked up aboard the Helicarrier. But, lo and behold, that was all part of the plan. “Getting caught was part of the plan” is one of the most overused tropes in blockbuster cinema. This twist was also seen in Skyfall, Star Trek Into Darkness, and two of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.
4 The Incredible Hulk – Bruce Is Still Angry
The second MCU movie, The Incredible Hulk, is often forgotten about because it stars a different Bruce Banner than the one seen in the rest of the franchise. Edward Norton’s Banner seems to get his anger under control when Betty Ross inspires the Hulk to spare the Abomination’s life in the final battle.
However, in the epilogue set in British Columbia, it’s revealed that Banner isn’t trying to control his rage at all. Instead, he’s trying to control his transformations in and out of Hulk form. In the final shot of the movie, he starts to turn into the Hulk with a slight smirk on his face. This twist ending is brilliantly paid off in The Avengers when Mark Ruffalo’s Banner reveals his “secret” to Cap: “I’m always angry.”
3 Thor – Loki Betrays Laufey
Throughout the original Thor movie, it seems as though Loki is plotting against his adoptive family on Asgard. He teams up with his malicious biological father Laufey, seemingly to take down Odin and his empire in Thor’s absence.
However, in the first of many betrayals, the trickster god turns the tables on Laufey. He kills the dad who gave him up and reveals that his true motive is to please the dad who took him in. Loki plans to wipe out his own species to prove himself to Odin. He believes that destroying Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge will finally earn him Odin’s respect.
2 Iron Man – Obadiah Stane Is In Cahoots With The Ten Rings
Questionable father figures are a staple of the MCU, from Thanos to Yondu to Wenwu. This trope was established in the very first MCU movie, Iron Man. Obadiah Stane masquerades as a caring mentor who filled the role left vacant by Tony Stark’s father Howard’s untimely passing. However, he turns out to be a corporate go-getter who only pretends to care for Tony so that he can eventually usurp him as the head honcho of Stark Industries.
As it turns out, Obadiah hired the Ten Rings terrorists who kidnapped Tony in Afghanistan. Obadiah never expected Tony to build a suit of armor from a box of scraps and escape from their captivity.
1 Captain America: The First Avenger – Steve Wakes Up In The Modern Day
At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, when he finds himself aboard a warplane full of W.M.D.s, Cap doesn’t hesitate to make the ultimate sacrifice. He crashes the plane in the ice, fully expecting to die. Little does he know, his story is just beginning. The movie’s modern-day epilogue completes Cap’s pre-Avengers origin tale. Nearly a century later, Steve wakes up in an old-timey hospital room where a radio is broadcasting a baseball game from the 1940s to put him at ease.
But he immediately senses that something fishy is going on, because he was at the game. Steve runs out of the building and finds himself in contemporary Times Square, where Nick Fury fills him in on his unique situation. All he can think about is the love he left behind: “I had a date.”
NEXT: The Standout Character In Each MCU Phase One Movie