MCU Phase 5 Tears A Confusing Plot-Hole In The Avengers’ Thor Story

Warning: This piece contains spoilers for Secret Invasion.In Marvel’s Phase 1, Thor was at the heart of a huge story in The Avengers, but Marvel’s Secret Invasion opened a plot-hole in that movie 11 years after its $1.5bn box office success. With 40 MCU releases, some sloppy timeline logic and confusing lore changes are inevitable, but Secret Invasion is just one part of a series of problems with the history of Marvel’s universe prior to Iron Man’s arrival. And it feels a lot like Thor was blamed for something he should never have taken the fall for.

The Avengers paints a picture of a vulnerable Earth suddenly confronted with the knowledge that they were not alone in the universe. In reality, Earth, SHIELD and Nick Fury had never been that ignorant to threats to humanity: by 2012 in the MCU, super soldiers were a known quantity, Hank Pym’s technology was well-established, the Tesseract had been in SHIELD’s possession for two decades and Wakanda was a hugely powerful, mostly unknown power. As Nick Fury knew, Earth needed the Avengers Initiative for a lot of reasons, but it was another SHIELD project Fury was involved in that Secret Invasion causes a problem for…

Related: What Happened To The Skrulls’ Home Planet In The MCU?

Secret Invasion Contradicts Nick Fury’s SHIELD Excuse

The Avengers scene with Nick Fury Captain America and Tony Stark

In 2012’s The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark uncovers SHIELD’s plot to create weapons using the Tesseract and reclaimed HYDRA technology by bugging the Helicarrier, in comically easy fashion. Confusingly codenamed Phase 2, the project was a response to the events of Thor’s solo movie, which saw the Destroyer sent to Earth by Loki to kill his brother. Phase 2 was effectively Earth’s necessary line of defense in the wake of the discovery of alien life and potentially imminent threats from unknown hostile planets. Fury used that very excuse when defending his paymasters when challenged by Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner:

Banner: “I’d like to know why S.H.I.E.L.D. is using the Tesseract to build weapons of mass destruction.”

Fury: “Because of him!”

Thor: “Me?”

Fury: “Last year, Earth had a visit from another planet that had a grudge match that leveled a small town. We learned that only are we not alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously outgunned.”

Thor: “My people want nothing but peace with your planet!”

Fury: “But you’re not the only ones out there, are you? And you’re not the only threat. The world is filling up with people that can’t be matched, that can’t be controlled!”

Cap: “Like you control the cube?”

Putting aside the logical need for greater defense measures, Fury’s point that Thor’s arrival on Earth helped SHIELD learn of the existence of aliens is the problematic one. Secret Invasion makes it very clear that Fury was well-aware of the existence of alien life – they were his allies and friends – who were on Earth from the 1990s onwards. And it’s not enough to suggest that Fury hid the Skrulls from SHIELD, and Phase 2 was his employer’s response to a brand new threat, because SHIELD was well aware of the Skrull invasion in 1995 (in Captain Marvel).

Related: What Is SABER? Nick Fury’s Space Station Explained

SHIELD’s Excuse For Phase 2 Makes No Sense

Nick Fury's SHIELD File from Secret Invasion

There was a simple solution to the issue of the 1995 invasion: SHIELD’s leadership was taken over by Talos and his fellow Skrulls, who could have wiped details of their existence. Fury would have seen the benefit of that, given his promise to the aliens of protection and a new home. Sadly, that story solution was ignored. A subtle Secret Invasion detail revealed in the background of a scene proves that the real SHIELD were well aware of the Skrull invasion in 1995. Listed among Fury’s Known Enemies (including Justin Hammer, Ultron, Thanos and the Ten Rings) is “Phil Coulson Skrull”, revealing full knowledge not only of the invasion but the replacement of a key agent with a Skrull spy.

The idea that Thor suddenly revealed the existence of aliens is false. And there’s no excuse to say that SHIELD nor the world governments nor Fury had any reason to fear the Skrulls. From the world governments’ point of view, SHIELD were infiltrated with comical ease (for the second time), and Fury was well-aware the Skrulls’ presence on Earth had to be kept hidden. Not only that, the Skrulls were only half of the alien war from Captain Marvel, and while Carol Danvers was a deterrent to the Kree, she was no longer on Earth after 1995. And Fury knew full well the capability of the Kree army, who would also “hopelessly ungun” Earth. Fundamentally, Secret Invasion further cemented the truth that Thor being blamed for the existence of SHIELD’s secret Phase 2 weapons project was always illogical.

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