The Marvel Cinematic Universe has officially celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over the last decade, the MCU has dominated the box office and built a billion-dollar film empire. But it isn’t just about the numbers! The MCU has brought superheroes to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Every year, we anticipate the next big hit. The amount of thought that goes into every single MCU movie is incredible. Each movie is made with every film before and after it in the timeline in mind, which, as you may have guessed, is not easy. The MCU would not be what it is without the success of Iron Man in 2008. Thanks to all of that success, of Iron Man, The Avengers, and all of the Hollywood stars playing superheroes, we can take a behind-the-scenes look at just how much goes into every MCU movie.
17. Robert Downey Jr. hid food around the set of The Avengers
Ever since 2008, Robert Downey Jr. has portrayed Iron Man. RDJ is Iron Man. There is no one else who can play such a snarky character, yet still, make us love him. One character trait that Robert shares with Tony is the fact he does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. While filming The Avengers, Robert stashed food all over the set. Apparently, no one could figure out where he was hiding his food, so they weren’t able to stop him. Every time Tony is seen snacking in The Avengers, that is really just RDJ eating because he was hungry. The moment that he offers Captain America some blueberries was unscripted and Chris Evans just rolled with the moment.
16. Scarlett Johansson was pregnant while filming Avengers: Age of Ultron, but viewers would never notice it
A lot of work went into hiding Scarlett Johannson‘s pregnancy in Avengers: Age of Ultron. They employed the normal tactics of putting her in baggier clothing or open jackets to hide her bump. But on top of that, three body doubles were hired for many of her scenes. Her body doubles were so convincing, Chris Evans admitted that he’d start a conversation with a body double, only to realize halfway through the conversation that it wasn’t Scarlett. Editors also used CGI to remove Scarlet’s baby bump in scenes that her doubles weren’t used for.
15. There is a hidden Human Torch in Captain America: The First Avenger
If you were paying close attention, then you might have spotted this red suit under a dome during the Stark Expo that Steve and Bucky attended in Queens. This suit is for the android, who is the original Human Torch. The superhero was the first one created by Timely Comics (which eventually became Marvel Comics). Marvel recycled this character’s ability for Johnny Storm, who we all know is a part of the Fantastic Four. And in case you forgot, Chris Evans played Johnny Storm/Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies.
14. An Iron Man/Ten Rings callout can be seen during a scene with Darren Cross in Ant-Man
In Marvel comics, Hank Pym is a prominent character, but he was introduced the MCU fairly late in the game. A lot of connections can be made between Pym and the Stark family, and in Ant-Man, we see a call out to Iron Man. In the 2008 film, Tony Stark is kidnapped by the terrorist organization Ten Rings. In Ant-Man, when Darren Cross is trying to get investors and HYDRA agents interested in the technology behind his Yellowjacket suit, one man has a tattoo on his neck. It is a tattoo symbolizing that he’s actually a part of Ten Rings.
13. Two ravens flying past Thor and Loki during their confrontation is a call back to the comics
A huge part of Thor’s character goes back to Norse mythology. In The Avengers, there is a scene that comes straight from there. When Thor takes Loki off the quinjet (causing a confrontation between them, Captain America, and Iron Man), you might just be able to spot two ravens. In mythology, Odin (Loki and Thor’s father) has two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, that bring him news back from Midgard (Earth). In the MCU, we’ve even seen Odin with his ravens before. The birds can be seen flying past Thor as he tries to reason with Loki on the mountainside.
12. Elon Musk’s SpaceX facility is in Iron Man 2
Iron Man was applauded for the portrayal of futuristic technology. Director (and star) of the movie Jon Favreau said that it forced them to go bigger and more technologically-advanced for Iron Man 2. One way that was done, even if unintentional, was filming scenes at Elon Musk‘s SpaceX facility. Scenes inside of Justin Hammer’s factory in the film were shot at the Hawthorne, California SpaceX building. Even though they filmed at night, the people seen walking around in the background are not extras, but employees of Elon Musk.
11. There’s a Men in Black reference in Captain America: The First Avenger
During Captain America: The First Avenger, there is a scene where Cap, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) are in Red Skull’s car chasing a HYDRA plane. Colonel Phillips then presses a red button in the car with a message that reads “Danger Do Not Push” in German. This is almost an identical button that exists in the car in Men In Black. In MIB, Tommy Lee Jones plays Agent Kay, who tells Agent J (Will Smith) to never “ever touch the red button.” For both cars, the red button sends them speeding down a road with Tommy Lee Jones’s character inside the vehicle.
10. When Thor demands something as big as a horse to ride, he actually gets it
Despite the fact it has nothing to do with the plot, one of the most memorable scenes in Thor is when he storms into a pet store and demands a cat or dog “big enough to ride.” He is asking for a horse, but obviously, a little pet store won’t sell that. What the average moviegoer might not have realized is when Jane picks him up, she is in a Pinzgauer 716 truck. There is a joke hidden here, as the Pinzgauer is named after an Austrian breed of horse. Which means, Thor did get a ride on a horse.
9. Gwyneth Paltrow is barefoot in all of her scenes in The Avengers
If you’ve seen Gwyneth Paltrow in literally any other movie outside of the MCU, you’ve probably realized she is on the taller side. Gwyneth is 5’9″, which happens to be the same height as on her on-screen love interest. In The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr. is wearing shoes that give him a three to four-inch boost. But Gwyneth is barefoot in every one of her scenes with Robert. They did this to make it seem like Robert was taller than Gwyneth and not the same exact height!
8. Most of Robert Downey Jr.’s best lines in the MCU were improvised
Like we said previously, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark so well because he literally does whatever he wants. RDJ improvised the entire post-credit sequence he was in for The Incredible Hulk, and frequently makes up his own lines on the spot. Iron Man’s suggestion for getting shawarma after the Battle of New York was an improvisation, and in that scene, Robert was trying to find the best line to end the film with. When he confronts Thor in The Avengers, he asks, “Doth mother know you weareth her drapes,” which is, again, all Robert’s creation. Almost all of the scenes that were not battle sequences in Iron Man had to be improvised, as the script was not finished yet when they started filming. It just goes to prove that Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect man for the job!
7. Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s mom appears as another character in Captain America: The First Avenger
Actress Laura Haddock has appeared in two different parts of the Marvel franchise. She first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger as a woman attempting to get the Captain’s autograph. She then went on to play an unrelated character (as far as we know), Meredith Quill, in Guardians of the Galaxy. Yup, Peter Quill’s mom was a Captain America fangirl before she died.
6. Thor’s alternate identity makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Thor
In the comics, Dr. Donald Blake was created by Odin to be a host for his son Thor. Dr. Blake gained sentience and even lived a life separate from Thor. There were plans to include him in the movie, with Grey’s Anatomy star Kevin McKidd in mind to play him, but the idea was scrapped. Instead, the alter ego was used as a human alias of Thor’s. But the moment is pretty much a nanosecond long and if you didn’t know to look for it in Thor, you would have totally missed it.
5. The Hulkbuster suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron is an Archie Comics reference
If you’ve ever thought that Marvel doesn’t have inside jokes, think again! And if you thought their jokes weren’t related to teen comics, then you were doubly wrong. We first see Bruce Banner’s creation, the hulkbuster suit, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The suit was created for Iron Man to wear to fight the Hulk if he ever got out of hand. The suit is named Veronica, as a nod to the Archie Comics. Archie Andrews is torn between his love interests, Betty and Veronica. As for Bruce Banner, he once had a girlfriend named Betty Ross. So, Betty is with Bruce, and Veronica is with the Hulk.
4. Phineas Mason is actually the Tinkerer in Spider-Man: Homecoming
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe spares no expense when it comes to fighting scenes, they have made these movies more modern. Many of the superheroes and villains are a bit more eccentric in the comic books, both in terms of their actions and their attire. Captain America and Spider-Man probably have the most standout costumes out of the bunch. Fans watching Spider-Man: Homecoming might not have even realized one of Spidey’s main villains was in the movie. The Vulture/Adrian Toomes is the primary villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming and one of his lackeys are Phineas Mason. Phineas is able to create powerful weapons using alien technology. One might not have realized that this is a comic book character known as the Tinkerer.
3. Chris Hemsworth’s older brother has a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok
By this point in time, we all know that Chris Hemsworth has some famous brothers. His younger brother, Liam Hemsworth, actually was in the running to play Thor. But ultimately, the position went to Chris and we all think that Marvel made the right choice there. Anyhow, Liam got to go back in The Hunger Games and gained international fame for that. But what about their older brother Luke? Director Taika Watiti decided to include the eldest Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok. The play Loki created (while pretending to be his father, Odin) is about Loki and Thor’s lives. Luke Hemsworth played his brother’s character, Thor, while Matt Damon (a family friend of the Hemsworths) donned a black wig to play Loki.
2. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha can be seen wearing an arrow necklace as a shout out to Hawkeye
In The Avengers, there is a scene between Black Widow and Hawkeye that makes it seem like they’re more than just friends. Then, Natasha can be seen wearing a Tiffany & Co. arrow necklace in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was meant to be a shout out to Hawkeye, who doesn’t appear in the movie. At the time, people speculated that it meant the two were a couple. But in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s revealed that Hawkeye has a wife and kids (to the shock of everyone but Natasha) and that Nat and Bruce Banner were the ones to have a thing.
1. The Pinocchio reference in Avengers: Age of Ultron has two meanings
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, James Spader as Ultron sings a creepy rendition of “No Strings On Me” from Pinocchio. There’s actually a reason this was added in the movie. Pinocchio was an inanimate doll who then gained sentience, like Ultron being an inanimate program that became sentient. What makes Ultron comparing himself to Pinocchio even more amusing is the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is set to star in the Pinocchio film as Gepetto, aka Pinnochio’s creator.