Continuity is the bane of shared universe stories. Comic creators and fans have long wrestled with the difficulties of maintaining a single ongoing story told by hundreds of different collaborators over a series of decades. DC Comics has used multiple crises to explain why Batman is sometimes a lone creature of the night and sometimes a member of the very public Justice League, before finally embracing Hypertime and insisting that it’s all canon. Under the reign of editor Stan Lee, Marvel adopted the No-Prize, handing out an empty envelope to anyone who could provide a compelling reason for Spider-Man complaining about his empty bank account in one issue and then splurging on a pizza in the next.
But as shared universe storytelling makes its way into live-action television and film, the MCU has another tool available: post-production editing. That tool was on display when fans noted a difference between New York’s Statue of Liberty in two different MCU entries, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Ms. Marvel. When the Spider-Men of three worlds gathered to battle Elektro and the Green Goblin in No Way Home, they fought on scaffolding surrounding a copper-colored Lady Liberty. But when the Statue showed up in Episode 6 of Ms. Marvel, it had its more familiar blue-green tint.
Thanks to eagle-eyed Twitter user Ms. Marvel UK, we can now see that Marvel has brought together the worlds of the two teen heroes. The Ms. Marvel episode opening and credits have been changed to give the Statue the same copper color from No Way Home, ensuring a consistent world.
By this point, fans are quite used to digital trickery in the MCU. Many recall preview images from Avengers: Infinity War that showed Hulk among the heroes defending Wakanda from the hordes of Thanos. But in the final cut, it was Bruce Banner in Hulkbuster armor who fought among his comrades, as “the other guy” was still healing a bruised ego after getting stomped by the Mad Titan.
Nor is it the first time Marvel has had to deal with a continuity error. Already, we’ve seen the same actor take multiple roles, first with Larua Haddock making a small cameo in Captain America: The First Avenger before playing Meredith Quill in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Most notably, Gemma Chan portrayed Kree soldier Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel and then Cersei in Eternals. But perhaps the most troubling issue is the timeline of Spider-man: Homecoming, which opens with a flashback set after the Battle of New York from The Avengers before jumping to the movie’s present-day, seven years later.
At this point, Marvel hasn’t digitally altered these issues to make for a clearer continuity, nor is it clear that they should. Star Wars fans still annoyed at Hayden Christensen being digitally added to Return of the Jedi can tell you that consistency is not necessarily king. And no one would argue that the “no guns” version of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is Spielberg’s best move.
In the end, MCU fans may need to do what comic fans have done for years and just make up their own explanations or accept that a good story isn’t necessarily a consistent story.