The 10 biggest MCU plot twists, ranked

Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU
Image via Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has kept its audiences enthralled for the past 15 years. A common complaint is that superhero movies have gotten a bit formulaic, but even to this day, Marvel manages to surprise its audiences with various plot twists. Whether it’s a surprise because comic book fans were expecting something or it was just a shock to the system, these Marvel plot twists have always made their stories just a bit more enticing every time.

10. Fake Mandarin (Iron Man 3)

Ben Kingsley The Mandarin
Image via Marvel Studios

The Mandarin has a complicated history in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Tony Stark is kidnapped by the Ten Rings in Iron Man 3, fans knew that the Mandarin was bound to show. Once it is revealed that the treacherous Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, is actually just an actor with a drug problem, there were bigger questions at hand. Fortunately, fans got to meet the real Mandarin in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

9. Peter Parker is dating the Vulture’s daughter (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Image via Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Homecoming was built on teenage hormones and pining. Peter Parker has a massive crush on Liz, one of the most popular girls in school. At the same time, he is growing into a man – a Spider-Man. So as Spider-Man is fighting criminals across New York City, Peter manages to snag a date with Liz to homecoming, until his worlds collide and the criminal that Peter had been chasing is Adrian Toomes, the father of his date to the dance. That plot twist was enough to shock audiences for just a moment before they got to see a smackdown between The Vulture and Spider-Man.


8. Mysterio’s true plan (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

mysterio
Image via Marvel Studios

Quentin Beck was meant to be the key to the multiverse when Spider-Man: Far From Home was teased. He was from another dimension, and came to our Earth to defeat the “Elementals” creatures who destroyed his Earth. Together with Spider-Man they defeated the Elementals in Europe and became close friends, with Beck almost becoming a mentor to Peter shortly after the loss of Tony Stark. But Beck was a former Stark employee with a vendetta and was going to carry out his master plan with a few pieces of tech. Due to the number of enemies that Tony Stark made during his life, this plot twist deserves to be closer to the end of the list.

7. Ego’s real motive (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Ego
Image via Marvel Studios

With a name like Ego, it would only make sense that it would attempt to get bigger, but Ego’s plan for Expansion was a shocking one. All Peter Quill wanted was to meet his real father. He grew up with the Ravagers as a grifter and bounty hunter his whole life until he encountered the Guardians. All Peter knew of home was his mother, a woman who died of cancer shortly before he was taken by the Ravagers. To Peter’s surprise, Ego planted the tumor because he didn’t want to handle the consequences of his Expansion which required two Celestials to accomplish. With Peter’s rage, Ego is taken down, but his work leaves a mark on Peter forever.

6. She-Hulk breaks out of Disney Plus

Image via Marvel Studios

Has a hero ever saved the day by confronting their creator? For the first time in Marvel history, their formula was broken so the hero could write their own story. She-Hulk was the pioneer, not only for breaking the fourth wall, but for breaking Disney Plus entirely. While it might be considered the worst ending for some fans, the finale of She-Hulk showed that anything is possible, even tearing the entire universe apart. Forget the multiverse, this plot twist has truly changed the trajectory of the MCU.

5. Benevolent Skrull (Captain Marvel)

Captain Marvel Skrulls
Image via Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel was our first look into the Skrulls. Due to their comic book history, the Skrulls are considered a massive threat to Marvel fans. In the MCU, however, the Skrulls were simply victims of Kree’s abuse and only wanted to find a new refuge. With their shapeshifting abilities, they became good companions with Nick Fury. We have yet to see how their relationship will develop in Secret Invasion, set to come this year.

4. Loki’s first death escape (Thor)

Tom Hiddleston in character as Loki
Image via Marvel Studios

Loki is truly the cat with nine lives. Currently, with four fake deaths, Loki is the master of mischief and tricking everyone into believing in his last breaths. The first death in Thor is one that shocked audiences. After audiences learn that Loki is not Asgardian, Thor loses the one person he had as a brother. That all changed in The Avengers, however, when we discover that he survived and instead sided with Thanos, the Mad Titan who would destroy the Avengers later.

3. He Who Remains is revealed (Loki)

jonathan-majors-kang-loki
Image via Marvel Studios

Loki introduced so many concepts to the MCU that fans did not expect to see. As the Disney Plus shows gained popularity, Loki managed to capture audiences with theories each week as to who was truly running the TVA. He Who Remains was the largest plot twist of the first season. Finally, Marvel fans got a glimpse into seeing just how Jonathan Majors was going to be a major threat as Kang.

2. Hydra’s long game (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Image via Marvel Studios

Everyone remembers the elevator fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but perhaps they don’t remember the shock they felt when they discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D. was really HYDRA in disguise. For decades, HYDRA was operating undercover so they could ensure that events went their way. Before they were dismantled by Captain America, HYDRA took control of the world and of Steve’s best friend Bucky. With the Winter Soldier at their mercy, HYDRA had the ultimate secret agent. After building trust with S.H.I.E.L.D. after The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier completely dismantles that trust.

1. Thanos wins (Avengers: Infinity War)

thanos infinity gauntlet
Image via Marvel Studios

The Avengers have never lost, until Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. Once Thanos got a hold of all six infinity stones, he snapped half of the population out of existence. It came as a shock to Marvel fans across the globe. One by one, our heroes disappeared, leaving our original Avengers behind to save the world in Avengers: Endgame. As the first and only loss in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this could easily be classified as the number one plot twist on this list.