8 Biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe Controversies From Fired Filmmakers To Crazy Creative Decisions

We all love the MCU, but it would be unfair to say Marvel Studios hasn't faced its fair share of controversies over the years. Here, we count down the biggest, from casting decisions to shock firings...

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008 with Iron Man, a movie that served as a game-changer for comic book adaptations. From there, the MCU has expanded rapidly, even extending to television over the past few years thanks to Disney+. 

While we always knew that the plan was to build to The Avengers, none of us could have guessed at the time just how huge this franchise would become. Now, Marvel Studios is arguably the most dominant force in Hollywood, but you don't get to a position like that without upsetting a few people - including the fans - along the way. 

The MCU has courted controversy on a number of occasions, and while their actions have often been with good intentions, there have been some questionable decisions made as well. Now, we're taking a look back at some of the biggest, a few of which might just come as a surprise to you. 

To take a look through these controversies, all you guys need to do is click on the "Next" button below!

8. Avengers: Endgame's "Gay" Character


The MCU has long been criticised for its lack of LGBTQ+ representation, and when Marvel Studios did introduce its first openly gay character...well, it wasn't their best moment.

Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo made a cameo appearance as someone attending a support group being run by Steve Rogers. He's never named, but does talk briefly about going on a date with another man. It was clearly meant to be a matter-of-fact moment that normalised there being a gay person in the MCU, but it came across as contrived and forced. 

Fans argued that the MCU's first gay character deserved to be more than a glorified extra and probably shouldn't have been portrayed by the movie's straight director. Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder were a step in the right direction, but even now, there's a long way to go. 

7. Black Widow Gets Slut Shamed


This was a great example of what not to do during a press tour, and we're sure Marvel Studios kept a closer eye on talent after this Avengers: Age of Ultron faux pas. 

Clearly looking to have fun, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner were asked about Black Widow's romantic involvement with Bruce Banner in the sequel. The latter chimed in to jokingly call the character a "slut," while Evans would add that his fellow Avenger is "a complete whore." It was meant in jest and they clearly got carried away, but the response online was not good.

Fans didn't take kindly to these sexist remarks and both Evans and Renner would quickly apologise. Ultimately, it was a mistake, and the comments were made about a fictional character. To be honest, even more troubling was how Black Widow was portrayed by Joss Whedon in The Avengers sequel. 

6. Tilda Swinton Cast As The Ancient One


On the page, The Ancient One is an undeniable racist stereotype. An elderly Asian man with a long beard who dispenses words of wisdom from an ancient temple, there was no way to put this character on screen without offending a lot of people.

It made sense, then, that some changes were made (particularly as a Tibetan character would have hurt Doctor Strange's box office chances in China), and Tilda Swinton was cast to play a Celtic version of The Ancient One. That avoided offensive stereotypes and gave a key role to a woman, but Marvel Studios soon found themselves accused of whitewashing. 

This was a tough situation, but ultimately, the movie probably could have found a way to keep an Asian actor in the role. Marvel Studios faced similar backlash by hiring Sir Ben Kingsley to play The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, but do appear to have learned from these mistakes.

5. Loki's Language


The funny thing about this one is that no one actually realised it was offensive at the time! In The Avengers, Loki is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and has a tense confrontation with Black Widow. 

During their conversation, he calls the hero a "mewling quim," an insult that sounds like something an Asgardian might say. The problem is, for anyone who went home and Googled the phrase, they'd have realised that Joss Whedon managed to sneak a variation of the word "c*nt" into a PG-13 movie...and the first MCU title to be distributed by Disney. 

Some television broadcasts have since replaced "quim" with "child," and there was a lot of discomfort online that a female character had been referred to in this way. Given some of the claims since made about Whedon regarding how he's treated actresses on set, this moment also takes on a darker light. 

4. Agent Coulson's Death


While we're talking about The Avengers and the MCU's God of Mischief, it's probably a good time to address another of this movie's most controversial moments. We are, of course, referring to the death of Agent Coulson.

Literally stabbed in the back by Loki, the popular S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's death made it clear that the Asgardian was a real threat and that not even the most beloved character was safe. However, this still upset a lot of people, and Marvel Television's decision to resurrect Coulson in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also incredibly divisive. 

It was believed that by bringing him back from the dead, Coulson's demise was cheapened and even Whedon shared his disappointment with that decision. Coulson would later die again, but return as an LMD. All of those developments are ones Marvel Studios has never referenced in the MCU. 

3. Ed Norton Vs. Marvel Studios


The Incredible Hulk was released shortly after Iron Man, but it didn't receive anywhere near as positive a response as the movie that came before it. 

The movie later became the black sheep of the MCU, in large part because of the utter sh*tstorm its release created. Edward Norton had a reputation for being difficult, and after taking American History X away from Tony Kaye, the actor tried to do the same with Louis Leterrier's vision for The Incredible Hulk.

Despite initially allowing Norton to rewrite what they were working on that day, the actor became incensed when his contributions didn't really shine through as the movie was being edited. As a result, he refused to promote the finished cut. This was a PR nightmare and led to him being replaced by Mark Ruffalo.

2. No More Fantastic Four And X-Men Comic Books


This wasn't a decision made by Marvel Studios, but by controversial Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. With the MCU rapidly increasing in popularity, he wanted to hurt 20th Century Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four movies and decided to do so by ordering Marvel Comics to reduce the number of comic books featuring those characters.

Marvel's First Family went on a trip into the cosmos and the X-Men were sidelined and replaced with the Inhumans. It was an initiative that failed miserably, and when he tried and failed to force an Inhumans movie on Kevin Feige, Perlmutter ended up instead getting Marvel Television to develop a series that proved to be an embarrassment. 

This was one of many reasons Feige pushed Disney to allow Marvel Studios to be independent of Marvel Entertainment and created a huge divide within the company. Now, though, Disney has put Feige in charge of pretty much everything, with Perlmutter retaining his position as CEO, but without any real influence over what we see on screen or the page. 

1. Ant-Man Loses Its Director


It was still early days for the MCU when it was revealed that Edgar Wright had signed up to take the helm of Ant-Man. The news received an overwhelmingly positive reaction, but Wright's commitments to other projects meant the movie continued to slip down the calendar.

By the time he was finally ready to start work, Marvel Studios had changed a lot. The studio now had a shared world on its hands, and a standalone Ant-Man movie with few ties to the wider MCU was just no good. Kevin Feige tasked a number of in-house writers with making changes to Wright's screenplay and sent the filmmaker notes outlining what they wanted.

Wright wasn't happy, later revealing, "I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward [with]." He later walked away from the project and only a handful of his ideas made it into Peyton Reed's 2015 movie. 

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