As this is a feature on Marvel movies, we first pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman – Rest in Peace, we will miss you King!
In the great sea of Hollywood blockbusters, Marvel has grown into a perfect apex predator. Starting with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, the once-humble Marvel Studios has grown into a cultural phenomenon. With twenty-three films currently released and dozens more projects in various stages of development, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated both the box office and modern pop culture.
Despite this epic success, though, not everything at Marvel goes according to plan. Mistakes are made and plans are changed as time goes on. However, the love and attention to detail shown by Marvel Studios and their president Kevin Feige has ensured fairly smooth sailing until today.
Below are 32 successes, failures, or just fun facts about Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe:
#1 Wakanda has always been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The most technologically advanced country in the world hidden in the heart of Africa, has long been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The country is most well-known as the setting of the 2018 epic Black Panther, but it was first mentioned in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even earlier still, Wakanda can be glimpsed in the background of 2010’s Iron Man 2, marked on a map being monitored by Nick Fury and his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Chadwick Boseman played T’Challa/Black Panther in the movie Black Panther.
#2 As of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, only two characters in the MCU have ever been played by more than one actor. Edward Norton portrayed Dr. Bruce Banner in 2010’s The Incredible Hulk, but was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the character’s subsequent appearance in 2012’s The Avengers. Similarly, actor Terrence Howard portrayed Colonel James Rhodes in 2008’s Iron Man, but he was replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel Iron Man 2.
#3 The Infinity Stones are most well-known for their major role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but the first appearance of an Infinity Stone was actually in the post-credit scene of 2011’s Thor. The Tesseract, later revealed to be the Space Stone, went on to play a major role in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. The Tesseract has appeared more than any other Infinity Stone in the MCU, showing up at least briefly in nine of the twenty-three films.
#4 In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers carries a list of the major pop-culture icons that he has missed due to being frozen in ice since 1945. However, this list is actually different in each country’s version of the film to better fit their pillars of pop culture. For example, the US version of the list features I Love Lucy and Steve Jobs, while the UK version features The Beatles and the 1966 World Cup Final.
#5 In Norse mythology, ravens are regarded as symbols of Odin, the king of Asgard and the Aesir gods. This motif shows up subtly in various films within the MCU, as actor Anthony Hopkins appears repeatedly as Odin, the father of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. In the first Thor films, two ravens sit perched upon Odin’s throne, while in the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, one perches on Odin’s arm. For a more subtle example, in The Avengers ravens are seen flying close by as brothers Thor and Loki get into a heated argument.
#6 Odin’s vault, featured in both Thor and the sequel Thor: Ragnarok, features a collection of iconic items from the pages of Marvel comics.
Among these relics is the Infinity Gauntlet, which Cate Blanchett’s character Hela claims to be a fake in Ragnarok. The Tesseract, the Eternal Flame, the Tuning Fork and the Warlock’s Eye are also items from Marvel comics that appear, with the first two also playing a large role in other MCU films.
#7 Tony Stark has a penchant for naming his artificial intelligence companions using fun acronyms. While never actually stated on film, supplementary material reveals that the name of his first AI assistant, JARVIS, stands for “Just A Rather Very Intelligent System.” In Spider-Man: Far From Home, it is humorously revealed that the AI system EDITH, Stark’s last gift to his protege Peter Parker, actually stands for “Even Dead, I’m The Hero.”
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#8 Captain America: The Winter Soldier features a subtle yet amazing reference to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. When Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury is presumed dead at the end of the film, his grave is marked with the epitaph, “The path of the righteous man…” which is attributed to Ezekiel 25:17. This is a reference to Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and the famous monologue he delivers before executing his targets.
“Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. ‘Cause they knew death was better than bondage.” | @hollywoodinsider | Source: Black Panther |
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#9 In James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy duology, his brother Sean Gunn plays a major role. Sean appears on-screen as Kraglin, the right-hand man of Michael Rooker’s space pirate Yondu Udonta, with this role being greatly expanded in the second film. However, Sean works double-duty by also acting as the on-set stand-in for Rocket Raccoon, who is composed entirely of CGI and voiced by Bradley Cooper. Sean Gunn’s ability to walk while squatting makes him an ideal stand-in for the three-foot-tall gunslinger.
#10 To avoid spoilers spreading about their upcoming films, Marvel often uses humorous working titles and codenames to keep their productions a secret. For example, the big team-up crossover films The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron used the working titles “Group Hug” and “After Party.” The first two Captain America movies, The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier, alluded to the character’s fate of being trapped in ice for seventy years by using the codenames “Frostbite” and “Freezer Burn.”
Related article: Why the Marvel Cinematic Universe Succeeds Where Others Have Failed?
#11 Adjusting for inflation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe contains two of the highest-grossing films of all time. Now that’s one of the most marvelous Marvel movies facts.
As of July 2020, Avengers: Endgame is currently the highest-grossing film of all time, beating James Cameron’s Avatar by amassing $2.7 billion at the box office. Meanwhile, Endgame’s predecessor Avengers: Infinity War is the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time, having earned more than $2 billion at the box office.
#12 Longtime Marvel Comics writer, editor and publisher Stan Lee has made a cameo appearance in every MCU movie so far. He appears as a Hugh Hefner look-alike in Iron Man, an Army general in Captain America: The First Avenger, and an intergalactic barber in Thor: Ragnarok. Sadly, Lee passed away in 2018, and so his final film cameo was in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.
#13 Even though Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige meticulously plans out the franchise’s productions, sometimes things still happen last-minute. Following the world premiere of The Avengers on April 11, 2012, at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, the main cast reassembled one more time the following day. It was on April 12th that the six core actors filmed the now-iconic shawarma scene, a post-credits scene that depicts our heroes grabbing a bite to eat after saving the world.
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#14 The now-famous Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony Russo, come from quite humble beginnings. The two began their career as comedy writers on movies such as You, Me and Dupree and television shows like Arrested Development and Community. Based solely on the success of these various comedy projects, the two were hired to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. The siblings would go on to direct two of the highest-grossing films of all time, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
#15 Fans were left waiting a long time to discover the title of Avengers: Endgame. Even after the shocking cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War, the title of the fourth Avengers film was still a mystery. However, the title was right in viewers’ faces the entire time. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark makes an offhand comment that what’s happening in outer space is ”the endgame,” and in Infinity War Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange cryptically tells Stark that “we’re in the endgame now” before he turns to dust.
#BlackPanther (2018) by Ryan Coogler. Rest in Peace to the legend, #ChadwickBoseman, who passed this Friday due to his battle with colon cancer. Sending love to his wife and family. │ @Hollywdinsdr │Video: Citizen. on YouTube#hollywoodinsider #Blackactors #ripchadwickboseman pic.twitter.com/Xzx87yJhpE
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#16 Due to the MCU’s massive success, each of its major stars saw a big pay bump during the franchise’s growth.
Chris Evans was paid one million dollars for the starring role in Captain America: The First Avenger, but by the time Captain America: Civil War rolled around he was making $15 million per film. Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth was paid only $150,000 for the starring role in Thor, but by Endgame he too was making $15 million per film.
Related article: Why Tom Holland Is The Best Spider-Man The Marvel Universe Has Seen
#17 Comedian Paul Rudd, who plays Scott Lang in the Ant-Man films, has managed to become a bit more diversified within the MCU than his co-stars. Alongside a lead role in the series, he is the only MCU actor to also receive a writing credit for the films. Rudd is credited as a writer on both Ant-Man and its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp.
#18 As many already know, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a truly star-studded affair. The grand finale for the story so far, Avengers: Endgame, features a whopping 19 Academy Award-nominated actors and actresses. These legendary performers include Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Robert Downey Jr. and Josh Brolin.
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#19 Actor Anthony Mackie, who portrays Sam Wilson/The Falcon in the Captain America and Avengers series, reportedly wanted the role so he could show his son that there are African-American superheroes too. Mackie apparently sent several emails to Marvel asking for a role in one of their upcoming films, which caught the eye of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Mackie went on to play Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and will be taking up the mantle of Captain America in the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
#20 Phil Coulson, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent played by the fantastic Clark Gregg, was a staple of the early MCU films. However, this wasn’t initially intended to be the case. Coulson was only scheduled to appear in the first Iron Man, but when contract negotiations with Samuel L. Jackson were delayed, a S.H.I.E.L.D. representative was needed for Thor. Coulson was thus brought back, and he returned once more in The Avengers before receiving his own spin-off show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
#21 Benedict Cumberbatch has the distinction of playing two characters in the same film.
Cumberbatch famously appears as the sorcerer Doctor Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. However, he also voices the interdimensional villain Dormammu in Doctor Strange. This means that Cumberbatch is speaking to himself during the film’s climactic final battle.
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#22 In Captain Marvel, an orange cat-looking alien named Goose repeatedly appears throughout the film. The adorable flerken is named after Anthony Edwards’ character in the 1986 film Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. Given the Air Force’s heavy involvement in the film’s plot, Goose’s name is certainly appropriate.
#23 At the end of Thor: The Dark World, Thor returns to Earth and reunites with his partner Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman. However, in this final scene, Foster is actually portrayed by Chris Hemsworth’s real-life wife, Elsa Pataky. Due to scheduling conflicts, Portman and Hemsworth were not able to be together on set to film this final post-credits scene, so Hemsworth decided to just kiss his wife instead.
#24 In each of the six films within the second phase of Marvel Studios films, a character loses their hand or arm. These include Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy and Ulysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. According to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige this running gag is a reference to the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, when Darth Vader cuts off Luke Skywalker’s hand and reveals that he is his father.
Did you know: Robert Downey Jr. is the only cast to have read the entire script for Avengers: Endgame. | @Hollywdinsdr @RobertDowneyJr | Source: @Avengers |⠀
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#25 Despite hailing from the fictional country of Wakanda, the actors in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther speak in the real-life language of Xhosa. Xhosa, which is known for its use of click consonants, is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa and is spoken by 19 million people.
#26 In the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Groot is well known for his limited vocabulary.
He is only able to say the phrase “I am Groot,” or sometimes very similar variations of the phrase. However, there are some people who know exactly what he is saying. Writer/director James Gunn also writes a “Groot-edition” script for voice actor Vin Diesel, which reveals what all of Groot’s lines actually mean. This helps Diesel give each line the proper cadence and depth.
#27 Actor Kenneth Choi, known for his roles in The Wolf of Wall Street and Sons of Anarchy, actually plays his own grandson in the MCU. Choi first appeared in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger as Japanese-American soldier Jim Morita, an ally of Captain America during World War II. Then in 2017 Choi appeared as Principal Morita, the principal of Peter Parker’s high school, in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The shared last name, and a black and white photograph of Jim Morita in the principal’s office, confirms the familial link between the two characters.
#28 Several MCU films, including Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, feature a fierce clan of Wakandan warriors called the Dora Milaje. This all-female group serves to protect the King of Wakanda from danger. The Dora Milaje are actually based on a real-life group called the Dahomey Amazons, a female army considered the deadliest group of women in the world.
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#29 While the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s actors are now inseparably linked to their iconic roles, it wasn’t always that way. A number of other high-profile stars were initially considered to play the MCU’s major heroes. Actor Sam Rockwell was nearly cast as Tony Stark in Iron Man, but instead got a chance to play rival arms dealer Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2. John Krasinski, famous for his role as Jim Halpert on The Office, also auditioned for Captain America. Emily Blunt was also considered for the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2. Chris Hemsworth’s younger brother Liam Hemsworth also came close to scoring his older brother’s role as Thor.
“As an African-American actor, a lot of our stories haven’t been told” – Chadwick Boseman @hollywoodinsider @chadwickboseman Quote source: @brainyquote | Photo source: @chadwickboseman#hollywoodinsider #Hollywood #chadwickboseman #Marvel #BlackPanther #WakandaForever #avengers pic.twitter.com/sXq5RKgvRd
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#30 One of the most famous lines from Thor: Ragnarok was actually suggested by a fan. According to director Taika Waititi, a young boy was visiting the film’s set as part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation charity. As they filmed a confrontation between Thor and the Hulk, the boy suggested that Thor comment that Hulk is “a friend from work.” The cast and crew loved the idea and went with it, and the line is now an iconic part of the film.
#31 Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has an interesting relationship with the Iron Man films. Robert Downey Jr. partially based his performance as Tony Stark on Musk, and Stark has a Tesla Roadster parked in his garage in the first film. Musk also makes a brief but memorable cameo appearance, as himself, in Iron Man 2.
#32 Chris Evans has a cameo in Thor: The Dark World
There is a scene where Loki transforms himself to look like Captain America, complete with a cameo appearance by Chris Evans. The scene was actually shot twice to really complete the performance. First, Loki actor Tom Hiddleston wore the Captain America costume and did an impression of Chris Evans. Evans then donned the suit and mimicked the scene again, effectively doing an impression of himself. This helped to really sell the idea that it was Loki impersonating Captain America, and not the Captain himself.
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