The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a global brand and for a lot of modern viewers the most popular and most important cinematic franchise ever. And while the MCU has brought pleasure to a lot of fans, the franchise is far from perfect and it has its fair share of plotholes and seemingly unexplained elements, and one of them is going to be the topic of today’s article. If you’ve followed the MCU carefully, you’ll notice that every alien race is able to speak English (okay, almost any, Groot only speaks Groot). Now, is that a coincidence, a plothole, or a well-devised move? Keep reading to find out!
Besides the completely practical reasons – it would not make sense for them to not speak it – the MCU aliens are able to speak English because most of them have translator implants, as James Gunn once explained, that allow them to understand and speak any language. A minority of these characters – e.g. the Asgardians – can use the All-Tongue to speak and understand other languages.
Marvel Comics is a comic book publishing company founded in 1939 under the name Timely Comics. Timely Comics changed its name to Marvel Comics in 1961. Along with its chief rival, DC Comics, Marvel Comics is the biggest and most important mainstream comic book publisher in the United States. Marvel has, along with DC Comics, contributed to the development of American comics, specializing in the superhero genre. Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are just some of the pivotal writers who’ve helped shape the style and universes of Marvel Comics.
Throughout the years, Marvel has created several pivotal superhero characters and has launched successful franchises such as the Avengers, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, all of which have been adapted into movies, TV shows and video games. Some of the most famous Marvel Comics heroes are Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey; but, the franchise also includes famous supervillains such as Thanos, Apocalypse, Galactus, Loki, Magneto, the Mandarin, Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, Venom and others.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us talk about the main issue.
Defining “Aliens” in the MCU
The online edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an “alien” as “a person of another family, race, or nation”, among other definitions; this one is the best-fitting for the purposes of our article.
The MCU’s definition of an “alien”, although there is no such thing officially, refers to those races and peoples that are not from Earth, regardless of whether they look like humans or not. The main element is that they stem from a planer or realm that is not Earth. In that aspect, the Hulk, despite his appearance, is not an “alien”, while the completely human-looking Thor – is.
The MCU has shown several alien races in its movies, but that is just a fragment of the whole Marvel Universe and we have yet to see a countless number of alien peoples and races. Some notable examples are the Kree and the Skrull peoples, the Eternals (with Thanos being the only officially introduced member, with the others awaiting their solo movie), the Zen-Whoberis (the people Gamora belongs to), the Sovereign people (introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), the Centaurians (represented by Yondu), the Asgardians (Thor, Odin, Hela, etc.), the Jötunns (whose best-known member is Loki), and others.
This has been a brief overview of the MCU’s “aliens” so that you know who we are talking about in this article.
How do the aliens speak English in the MCU?
Now that we know who the “Aliens” are, we can give you the answer on how they actually speak English. If you payed attention to the movies, you’ll have noticed that – with a few notable exceptions – the majority of characters speaks English, especially those from space. This, of course, does not mean that English is the lingua franca of the whole Universe, but rather that the producers of the movies had to come up with a solution that would make the films watchable in a normal, Earthly environment. So, what did they do?
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn provided an excellent answer to this question, stating simply that “[Also, please note that] these are comic book characters. They have to know and speak English.” He further elaborated on this:
“The translator implants — which all of the Guardians except Groot have — work both ways. That is, if they’re talking with someone who speaks French, they can both understand AND speak French (if French is programmed into the translators). This is a pretty simple technology by Guardians standards — just a more advanced version of Google translate — and certainly something we’re technologically closer to than, say, traveling light years.”– James Gunn
So, there are two explanations on how they actually speak English. The first is the practical reason that is tied to the production of the movies – they simply have to be able to speak English, so they just do; nothing else. The in-universe explanation, as provided by James Gun, states that the aliens have translator implants – well, most of them (Groot doesn’t, which is why he speaks Groot) – that enable them to speak all programmed languages. This means that they actually don’t speak English, but the implant makes it look like they do.
Why does everyone speak English in the MCU?
The answer to this question is pretty simple – because the MCU’s American. There really is no background reason for this decision – the MCU is an American product and they speak English in the United States. Plus, most of the main superheroes are humans and American at that, which makes it only logical for them to speak English. As for the cosmic characters, they speak English among themselves because the English-speaking audience is the largest market for the MCU, so it only makes sense to satisfy that criterium.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!