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?
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.
How do you feel about aliens speaking English in the MCU? Should that be the case? Let me know in the comments below!