Unnecessary Jokes in the MCU: Examining Humor in Marvel Cinematic Universe Films”


The Marvel Cinematic Universe has several key ingredients that make it tasty, and humor happens to be one of the main ones. The superheroes and their counterparts make an effort to crack jokes on the regular, resulting in films that are as cheerful as they are tense. These hilarious lines generally land well too, but there have been a couple of times when the opposite effect was achieved.

In an effort to maintain the lightheartedness, the franchise has included a few one-liners that added little to no value to the scenes. This is either because they were poorly timed or covered a subject that was too sensitive or gross. Other jokes were said by characters that aren’t generally known to be funny, hence they felt forced. Even though these remarks didn’t necessarily ruin the movies, they made audiences feel uneasy and should have been avoided altogether.

“I Have Famously Huge Turds.” – Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The Guardians throw shade at each other in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Marvel Studios

Rocket Racoon’s argument with Peter Quill comes close to being one of the funniest Guardians of the Galaxy moments but it’s immediately ruined when they begin talking about excrements. When Racoon threatens to put Drax’s turds in Quill’s bed, Drax contributes to the conversation, letting everyone know that his turds are actually huge, hence Quill will have a big mess to clean up.

A discussion about feces is a bit too extreme, especially in a franchise whose installments are meant for family viewing. Most importantly, the size of Drax’s turds isn’t important information, even if the character is normally okay to joke about anything. Even so, the “turds” line isn’t entirely useless. It can easily work in adult-themed superhero projects, like James Gunn’s critically-acclaimed show, Peacemaker, or Prime Video’s, The Boys.

“Try Me, Beyonce!” – Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange (2016)

Stephen Strange mocks Wong in Doctor Strange (2016)
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Doctor Stephen Strange and the Sorcerer Supreme, Wong, are two of the closest friends in the MCU, but they were quite hostile to each other in the beginning. During one of their first encounters, Wong tells Strange that he prefers to be addressed by one name only. Surprisingly, the Avenger finds it funny and goes on to refer to label him ‘Beyonce.’

It’s a weak joke because Beyonce actually has two known names as opposed to Wong who doesn’t have any other. There are also numerous celebrities that go by one name, so being part of that clan isn’t something strange. Most importantly, Strange has never been known to be one of the funniest people in the MCU, so by making the remark, it feels like he is trying too hard.

“Does Anyone Have Any Orange Slices?” – Scott Lang in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Ant-Man requests orange slices in Civil War
Marvel Studios

Some of Ant-Man’s most memorable moments come during the Leipzig-Halle Airport battle between Team Cap and Team Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War. He turns into a giant, throws War Machine at Iron Man, and even uses a plane wing as a weapon. Sadly, he loses focus a bit, causing him to be taken down and shrunk back to his regular human size. And at that point, he jokingly asks if anyone has orange slices.

The remark is a reference to the American youth sports tradition of athletes being given orange slices after a game to help them relax. While it’s not exactly a bad joke, it’s unnecessary because most audiences around the globe are unlikely to be familiar with it. For a franchise that heavily relies on international box office figures, a broader joke would have been more fitting.

“Romanoff, You and Banner Better Not be Playing Hide the Zucchini!” – Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Tony Stark mocks Hulk and Black Widow in Age of Ultron
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In the closing moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron’s opening battle, Hulk struggles to revert to Bruce Banner, so Black Widow attempts to help him come down. Upon noticing that the two are spending time alone, Stark throws a sexual joke at them, implying that they might be getting intimate.

Stark’s effort to make sure everyone is focused on the mission is understandable, but his remark is a distraction. It’s also part of the reason why the two Avengers’ journey to building one of the most compelling MCU romances gets ruined. After that, Natasha and Banner never get to share another heart-t0-heart conversation again. Soon, their budding relationship arc gets dropped entirely.

“You Didn’t See That Coming?” – Pietro Maximoff, aka, Quicksilver, in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Quicksilver rushes to stop a sentry in Age of Ultron
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A Quicksilver return in the MCU might be a possibility, but fans will forever frown at the manner in which his death was handled. The fact that Petro gets taken out so easily is frustrating. What’s worse is how he makes fun of his fate. Before succumbing to his wounds, he mocks himself for not being able to see the attacks before they came.

The line “You didn’t See That Coming?” had been used jokingly between him and Hawkeye a couple of times before, but in those instances, it made sense. Here, it’s unnecessary because his death is a very emotional moment. Furthermore, the remark makes him look weaker because as speedster, he ought to have been able to get away from danger quickly.

“I Don’t Want to See This on Your MySpace Page” – Tony Stark In Iron Man (2008)

Tony Stark takes a selfie with a soldier in Iron Man
Marvel Studios

As the new head of Stark Industries, Stark is forced to head to Afghanistan early in Iron Man to demonstrate to the military how the Jericho missile works. During his time there, a soldier asks to take a selfie with him and after agreeing to do so, Stark jokingly warns him to not put it on his MySpace page.

Agreeing to take a picture with someone and then giving them rules on what to do with it seems odd. After all, being seen with a soldier wouldn’t harm Stark’s reputation. But the worst part about the joke is that it hasn’t aged well. MySpace died soon after the movie’s release. It was an appropriate pop culture reference at the time, but not so much anymore.

“Fantastic Four? Didn’t You Guys Chart In The ’60s?” – Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Stephen Strange makes fun of Reed Richards in Doctor Strange 2
Marvel Studios

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Strange attempts to use witticisms once again but fails.. While appearing before Earth-838’s version of the Illuminati to answer for his crime of misusing the Darkhold, he notices Reed Richards, aka, Mr. Fantastic, and suggests that The Fantastic Four’s name sounds like that of a ’60s pop band.

It’s yet another out-of-character moment for Strange because he is normally sterner than comical. He also makes the assumption that pop music is a big deal in Earth-838, which might not be the case since each universe has its own unique culture. For example, every mutant is known to the public in Earth-838. In addition to that, there is a greater emphasis on technological advancements and environmental conservation.

“Oof. Now Those Foundations Are Gone. Sorry.” – Korg in Thor: Ragnarok

Korg jokes about Asgard's explosion in Thor Ragnarok
Marvel Studios

Thor: Ragnarok is arguably the funniest MCU film and in it, the Kronan warrior, Korg, sticks out as the major source of comic relief. However, some of the jokes he makes are poorly timed. For instance, after Asgardians evacuate their planet before the destruction by Surtur, Korg consoles Thor, assuring him that it might still be salvageable. Minutes later, the entire Asgard explodes, causing Korg to joke about it.

To Thor and every other Asgardian, this is a very heartbreaking moment, yet Korg feels the entire situation is funny. It’s the equivalent of making a joke after someone has lost their loved one, so it isn’t surprising to see Thor maintain a stern expression. Given how many people have lost their homes at that moment, the joke comes off as very unnecessary.

“I Bet You Look Terrible in Them Now!” – Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Stave makes fun of Natasha's injury in Winter Soldier
Marvel Studios

As Steve Rogers is interrogating Natasha about a drive in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she narrates how the Winter Soldier shot her in the abdomen, leaving a scar. She even shows him the injury but instead of being sympathetic, Steve jokes that she must look terrible in bikinis now.

It’s undoubtedly one of the franchise’s most insensitive remarks and one that paints him as somewhat of a monster, yet he is generally a well-mannered person. This is the same Steve Rogers that tends to be bothered whenever someone uses a curse word in front of him. Why he would say such a thing to a fellow Avenger remains a mystery.

“What Are Thoooose?” – Shuri in Black Panther (2018)

Shuri jokes about T'Challa's sandals in Black Panther
Marvel Studios

In Black Panther, Shuri is quick to give a review about T’Challa’s footwear when she notices what he is wearing. She asks him why he is wearing such strange sandals but the Wakanda ruler simply dismisses her. While the shoes look weird, the joke feels off because it’s plucked out of a viral meme.

The meme in question was popular back in 2016, and it involves a person asking a police officer the same question in regard to his boots. Since jokes about memes age rather quickly, Shuri’s question was no longer relevant by the time the movie came out. Future audiences will find it even harder to make the connection.

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