Stellan Skarsgård's half-crazed Erik Selvig may be one of the most important people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if only folk would stop and listen to him for a second. In the scene in Thor: The Dark World in the mental hospital where he's using Stan Lee's shoe to illustrate and explain the effects of the Alignment there's a lot of writing on the blackboard behind him. Whilst most of it is probably just fun referencing, there could be some important clues hidden within the genius of the madman that is Erik Selvig.
If you need a reminder of the scene in [Thor: The Dark World](tag:206462) that I'm going to talk about, check out 6:15 on the compilation video below. Or just watch it anyway cause, it's pretty funny.
It's a cute Stan Lee cameo throwaway scene, right? Well you know how Marvel likes to pop in those Easter Eggs. Pretty much everything written on the blackboard has a basis in either physics or Marvel-Norse mythology. For example, 616 Universe is a reference to Earth-616 - the classification for the Earth timeline/dimension on which most of the Marvel comics take place. Fun fact: the MCU has been designed as the Earth-199999 universe.
The Quantum Universe
Some of the scribblings seem like throwaway nods to quantum mechanics but these could be relevant on a wider scale. Short summary of those highlighted above:
"Schrödinger" - The Schrödinger's cat paradox is a thought experiment used to illustrate certain issues with quantum mechanics.
"Fractal gateways connecting multiple branes" - A brane is related to string theory, an object which can spread through space-time in accordance with quantum mechanics.
"Gravitational anomaly" - An effect of quantum mechanics, an anomaly which invalidates theories of general relativity.
"Yang-Mills anomaly" - deals with describing the behaviour of elementary particles (particles with an unknown substructure), a theory at the core of quantum chromodynamics.
Convoluted? Absolutely. But the important thing to take away is that these are all linked to quantum theory in one way or another. Quantum mechanics is concerned with the way subatomic particles move and interact with each other in mathematical terms. Why is this important to the MCU?
Known as the Microverse in the comics, the Quantum Realm that we saw in Ant-Man is the introduction of another whole new world that - as of now - is still largely unexplored. A dimension of pure energy and wave forms, it exists outwit space and time and is almost impossible to escape. Unless you're Scott Lang I guess.
The Quantum Realm is also expected to tie into the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. With Kevin Feige telling us that the MCU Doctor Strange will take his powers from a basis in physics and quantum mechanics, it looks like exploring alternate dimensions and the meaninglessness of time and space in the Quantum Realm will come into play here.
Not only does this ties into the blackboard's foreshadowing, it also leads us onto...
The Crossroads is a location in the Marvel comics, an extra-dimensional reality outwit the laws of physics. The Crossroads is a nexus point of sorts, allowing the travel to infinite dimensions throughout the Marvel multiverse. It even has signposts and everything to guide travelers on their way to alien dimensions.
Anyway, The Crossroads features most prominently in a Doctor Strange/Hulk story. At a time when Bruce Banner was totally and dangerously consumed by the Hulk, Doctor Strange exiled him to the Crossroads. From the Crossroads he was allowed to travel anywhere that he wanted, on the condition that it was a dimension not containing any living things that he could hurt.
Hulk travelled between empty worlds for a few weeks, but eventually ended up back on Earth-616. As the Hulk is now absent from the MCU and expected to be until [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027), could The Crossroads have something to do with his disappearance?
The Fault is a very important plot point in the Marvel comic universe which involves the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans (who're getting their cinematic iteration in 2018) and Adam Warlock.
The Fault was born when Black Bolt of the Inhumans detonated a huge bomb as part of a plan to stop an ongoing war, tearing a hole in the universe. (Nice going Black Bolt.) The Fault started to grow, threatening to swallow up all of space and time, until Adam Warlock showed up. He was able to stop the Fault from expanding, but lost his life in the process.
It's not yet known if the Fault will become relevant later down the line in the MCU. We don't really know enough about The Inhumans yet to speculate if the Fault will be a plot point there, but it does feature in both their comic book stories and that of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so perhaps we'll see it make an appearance when [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2](tag:1081113) rolls around in 2017.