The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for pumping out fantastic films on a tight schedule, each one packed with quotable quips and intense moments. When we think of the well-oiled machine that is Marvel, it’s easy to assume that everything happens precisely as planned… until we think about some of the actors involved.
Known for their comedy backgrounds and goofing around at conventions and off-set, it’s not surprising that many of the stars of the MCU play around in front of the camera as well. Many of the funniest moments in Marvel movies were actually improvised, even if they were done so smoothly that you would never know...
11 Bonus Entry: Captain Stacy’s Godzilla Joke (The Amazing Spider-Man)
The Amazing Spider-Man sees Spidey (Andrew Garfield) facing off against Dr Curt Connors, aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). A scientist-turned-giant-lizard, Connors is a serious threat to the city, and Peter Parker isn’t going to try to take it on alone. However, when he gets to the police station, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) doesn’t believe him. He drops in a subtle Godzilla reference, too, asking Parker “do I look like the mayor of Tokyo?” As it turns out, that joke was completely unscripted, and Leary cracked it on the spot. Director Marc Webb actually encouraged actors to ad-lib throughout the script, looking for just this kind of spontaneous comedy.
Note: We know, this one isn’t in the MCU, but it’s a great joke in a movie involving a Marvel property, so we’re leaving it in!
10 Thunderbolt Ross’s End Credit Scene (The Incredible Hulk)
At the end of 2008’s Incredible Hulk, Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) is drowning his sorrows in a bar when Tony Stark comes in to see him. The two exchange some quips before getting down to business – Tony Stark needs to talk to Thunderbolt about a new team that “they” are putting together. It’s an obvious reference to the Avengers in a post-credit scene.
However, Hurt later revealed that the entire scene was improvised. Presumably the two were given some ground rules (like the need to mention the Avengers, as the scene was a nod to the ensemble film coming up), but beyond that, it’s all them.
9 Ant-man’s “Discussions” With His Ex (Ant-Man)
Several of the actors in Ant-Man have said in interview that they ad-libbed quite a few scenes, including Michael Pena (Luis), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang) and Judy Greer (Maggie Lang).
Lang threw in some lines of his own during training scenes with Hope (Evangeline Lily), but a majority of his improv was in the domestic “discussions” that he has with ex Judy, and in Pena’s role as Luis. Pena told Variety that about 50% of his stuff was improvised, and that he and Rudd were constantly re-writing scenes together. Almost all of Rudd’s scenes with Greer and her character’s husband were also improvised.
8 Hawkeye’s One-Liner (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), often considered to be one of the most underused superheroes in the MCU, finally got to shine a little in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) develop something of a love-hate relationship, constantly challenging each other (in a quasi-loving way, of course).
At one point, Quicksilver speeds away, leaving Hawkeye to draw his bow and take aim at the speedster, quietly saying “Nobody would know… 'last I saw him, Ultron was sitting on him!'”. The line was one that Jeremy Renner came up with himself, and was one of Hawkeye’s funniest moments in the film.
7 Thor’s Hammer on a Coat Rack (Thor: The Dark World)
Thor is one of Marvel’s funniest characters, as his Asgardian behavior is often so at odds with what is considered acceptable here on Earth. He’s been learning since Jane first explained that smashing crockery is not considered a compliment on our planet, but some moments still leave him at a loss… like what one does with one’s magical hammer on entering an apartment? In TDW, Thor decides to (logically enough) hang it on a coatrack when he comes in, a move that Chris Hemsworth came up with while goofing around between takes. When the rest of the cast and crew found it funny, the moment made it into the final film.
6 The Avenger’s Shawarma Suggestion (The Avengers)
One of Marvel’s most famous post credit’s scenes comes at the end of The Avengers, when the team are sitting silently at a shawarma place, exhaustedly eating a delicious Mediterranean snack after saving the world.
The scene was inspired by a line of Tony Stark’s, after he nearly loses his life before the Hulk breaks his fall. On the ground, surrounded by Avengers, he opens his eyes to ask “what’s next” before suggesting that they all go out for shawarma after. The line itself was improvised, one of many that Robert Downey Jr. tried in an attempt to find the best one for the final cut.
5 Star Lord’s Introduction (Guardians of the Galaxy)
When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced, most casual movie-goers had absolutely no idea who they were. Unlike more famous Marvel characters like the Hulk or Captain America, the Guardians just aren’t well-known (at least, not until the movie became a huge hit!).
Director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt decided to have some fun with the character’s relative obscurity with a joke when Star-Lord is first captured… and deeply disappointed that his captors don’t recognize his superhero name. The gag was improvised after Chris Pratt spoke to Gunn – and it was a nice way to get the audience to empathize with the wannabe famous mercenary.
4 Odin’s Growl (Thor)
If you ask an actor of the caliber of Anthony Hopkins to improvise, you know that the end result is going to be amazing. When playing Asgardian ruler Odin in Thor, one of Hopkin’s most intense scenes occurs when he banishes Thor from the realm, and takes away his hammer.
He got so into character in the scene with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston that when Hiddleston (as Loki) tried to step in to defend Thor’s actions, Hopkins let loose with an incredible snarl to quiet him. Completely unscripted, Hiddleston’s shock is completely genuine, and the actors had some difficulty finishing the scene with straight faces.
3 Peggy Carter’s Reaction (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Steve Rogers may be one of the most well-known characters in the MCU, but when Peggy Carter first met him in 2011, he was still the scrawny kid too weak to get into the army. Of course, as we all know, a super-soldier-serum quickly fixed that, and he stepped away from the procedure as a muscle-bound mega-hunk.
When Peggy first sees the new and improved Steve Rogers, she tries to hide it, but is completely distracted by his new physique, even reaching out to touch his bare chest. It seems like a normal reaction to seeing that body up close, and it turns out that it was! Hayley Atwell later revealed that this was the first time she saw Chris Evans shirtless, and she just couldn’t help herself. Who can blame her?
2 Rocket’s Jackasses (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Bradley Cooper may be better known as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, but it was director James Gunn’s brother, Sean, who did the work for the character on-set before Cooper was cast. It was during this phase of filming that Sean coined one of Rocket’s funniest lines, in a moment that was entirely off-the-cuff.
When Star Lord rallies the troops to his sort-of-part-of-a-plan, he stands up, and as the other characters pledges to join him, they stand too. It’s the kind of scene that you see in dozens of other epic film moments, until Rocket (who is the last to stand) caps it off with a perfect one-liner. “Now I’m standing, you all happy? We’re all standing up now. Buncha jackasses standing in a circle.”
1 Tony Stark’s Blueberries (The Avengers)
Robert Downey Jr. absolutely embodies the genius playboy that is Tony Stark, and clearly has a lot of fun playing him. During filming for The Avengers, RDJ actually hid snack food on set, and would casually take it out and eat it during takes. The crew couldn’t always find the hidden food, so they just decided to go with it, letting RDJ snack in character during several scenes.
This led to the scenes in the lab where Tony Stark offers both Captain America and Bruce Banner a blueberry during conversations about SHIELD – an offer that was completely unscripted. He just happened to be snacking at the time, and everyone played along.
Any other Marvel moments you know were scripted? Let us know in the comments!