17 Unscripted Marvel Movie Moments That Actually Made It Into The Films

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is one of the biggest film franchises of all time. It hit that status a long time ago, but the fact it still persists over a decade after its creation is honestly astonishing. And you might think you wouldn’t have a lot of room for unscripted scenes and bits in such a massive franchise machine.And stunningly enough, you’d be wrong. It turns out, plenty of moments in the MCU weren’t even close to planned, and what’s wild is how many of these bits are incredibly famous (and, if we’re being honest, how many of these directly involve Robert Downey Jr., including maybe one of the biggest moments in the MCU).Oh! One last thing. There are going to be spoilers for the MCU films (except Captain Marvel). I know that seems obvious, but now you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Hang it up

This is a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, but it’s a great little touch that Hemsworth improvised on set (after all, Thor tries to be polite after his first movie). It’s not the only Chris Hemsworth improv we’ll be talking about, but this was one of the moments that convinced Taika Waititi (director of Thor: Ragnarok) to push the series in a comedic direction and really take advantage of Hemsworth’s abilities. And the other moment that inspired Taika…

Thor (2011) – Another!

The only reason this surprises me as an improv is that Hemsworth actually smashed that mug, and usually randomly destroying shit on set is not a great way to keep a director happy.Obviously, the improv is pretty beloved, not just for being funny, but for really helping to establish Thor as a character.

Black Panther (2018) – Hey auntie

Let’s take a break from Hemsworth (don’t worry, he’ll be back later) and cover this real quick. This quick line from Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) to Ramonda (Angela Bassett) was Jordan’s way of being a smart-ass, but it worked in the movie’s favor in a big way.

Doctor Strange (2016) – Try me, Beyoncé

Apparently, according to Benedict Wong, the actor behind the character Wong, this whole scene was basically an improv exercise. Benedict Cumberbatch just kept throwing line after line at him, but the Beyoncé gag stuck, and stuck so hard that Wong “researches” Beyoncé later in the film. It’s impressive for an improv to affect later scenes, but this one was too good to let go.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Get help!

Just a heads up, not only are we getting back to Hemsworth, but these next three entries are ALL from Thor: Ragnarok.First up, the hilarious “Get help!” scene was almost entirely Hemsworth’s idea. The idea of “distracting the guards” came from the director, but creating the scenario was mostly from Hemsworth’s improv, filming the scene in several different ways.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Childhood stories

Just like the “Get help!” scene, Hemsworth was basically told to make up as many stories about growing up with Loki as he could, and the snake story was the one that made the final cut out of roughly six stories. According to Taika Waiti, here’s another version of the story:“In this one say: ‘I was walking through a field, and I saw a lovely Turkish rug in the middle of the grass, and I love Turkish rugs, so I went to stand on it, and it was Loki and he turned back into Loki and there was a hole and I fell through the hole and was impaled on a whole lot of spikes.’”

Thor Ragnarok (2017) – A friend from work

We’re going to end the Chris Hemsworth improv train on this line, mostly because it wasn’t actually an improv on Hemsworth’s part, but it wasn’t in the script either. So, how does that happen?A child from Make-A-Wish was on set visiting and enthusiastically suggested the line to Hemsworth and the crew. Everyone loved the line, and it stuck.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Nobody would know

Let’s be honest here, Hawkeye has gotten the short end of the MCU stick for a while. It’s not easy to take his part seriously, even among literal gods and monsters, but the best part of Age of Ultron leaned into that when Quicksilver abandons Hawkeye to continue the fight.As soon as Quicksilver leaves the scene, every single sad line from Renner is an on the spot improv, and it’s one of the funniest scenes in the whole movie.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Go on and touch the man

This is the kind of shit you just can’t make up. Haley Atwell lightly touching Chris Evan’s body was not in the script. In fact… Hell, I’ll just leave an actual quote from Haley Atwell to explain this one:When Chris Evans first took his shirt off on the set of Captain America, I just instinctively grabbed his man boob. They kept it in the film. So we did a couple of takes of me being really inappropriate with my hand on his pec for the duration of the scene.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Why

After the Guardians of the Galaxy collide with a few of The Avengers on Titan in Infinity War, there’s a hilarious exchange that’s a variation of the “who, what, where, when, why” kind of jokes. Except that in the script, the only participants were Chris Pratt with “Where is Gamora?” and Robert Downey Jr. with “Who is Gamora?”But the final quip from Dave Bautista of “Why is Gamora?” wasn’t scripted in the slightest, but goddamn it’s a perfect improv for the scene.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – The saddest part in the whole damn movie

These have all been fun entries, and pretty much all of the entries after this will continue to be fun. But the most infamous lines spoken in Infinity War by Tom Holland as he fades into ashes were all improvised. Holland’s only instructions were to “act like you don’t want to go.” And unfortunately for all of us, he nailed the scene.

Black Panther (2018) – M’Baku’s animal sounds

In Black Panther’s plot, M’Baku’s tribe is much closer to nature than any of the other tribes, which is why it’s kind of shocking that M’Baku’s actor, Winston Duke, came up with one of his character’s biggest quirks, and not the writers.In the scene where the lead characters are trying to negotiate with M’Baku, he makes animal grunts to interrupt people who speak out of turn. It was entirely Winston’s creation, and director Ryan Coogler loved it.

The Avengers (2012) – Blueberry?

And from this point forward, all of the remaining improvs are performed by Robert Downey Jr. the undisputed champion of improv in the MCU (Hemsworth is a close second place, but as you’ll see later, Downey Jr. wins overall). First up, Downey Jr. offering Chris Evans blueberries in The Avengers.The reason this one makes the cut is that Downey Jr. is known for hiding snacks on sets he’s filming in, often to a filmmaker’s chagrin. The blueberries Downey Jr. is offering were hidden as well, but he brought them into the actual scene, and Evans and Mark Ruffalo did a hell of a job not breaking character.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Secret door

Obviously, you can’t surprise an actor with a secret door on set, especially if the actor needs to step through the door. So while Robert Downey Jr. opening a secret door during Age of Ultron’s opening isn’t an improv, everything he’s saying while he does it is an improv. To be frank, everything he’s saying sounds perfectly in character, which is the number one reason Downey Jr. gets away with making so much shit up on the spot. Case and point:

Captain America: Civil War (2016) – “I’m gonna sit here, so you move the leg.”

Real quick: In film, the word “blocking” refers to how the actor moves in tandem with the camera. And during this scene in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland forgot his blocking, and instead of ruining the take and telling him for real, Robert Downey Jr. told him to move into position in character, not only preserving the take but continuing to prove that Downey knows his character inside and out.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Not a hug

This is an improv in two parts. During this car scene, Tom Holland thought it’d be funny to try and hug Robert Downey Jr. while he was leaning through the car. And in classic Downey Jr. fashion, he improvised the reply of, “It’s not a hug. I’m just grabbing the door for you. We’re not there yet.” It worked so well that apparently producers on the set laughed at it while it was being filmed.

Iron Man (2008) – I am Iron Man

Some context for this: The original Iron Man shoot was a bit of a clusterfuck. It was the very beginning of the MCU, Disney didn’t own Marvel yet, and while the eventual goal of “let’s make an Avengers movie” was in the cards, they weren’t exactly sure how they were going to get there. In fact, when they started shooting Iron Man, the script wasn’t finished.Which is how Robert Downey Jr. managed to improv his way into the film’s biggest moment: Tony Stark blurting out “I am Iron Man.” Downey Jr. believed that Stark wouldn’t stick to cue cards and just tried it, and the director and producers loved the idea of abandoning secret identities, so they just kind of changed the ending of the movie based on that.

And that’s why Robert Downey Jr. is the undisputed improv champion of the MCU. A few of these improvs we’ve talked about affected some other scenes, but he literally set the pace for every single movie that followed in the franchise. With an improv. Fucking incredible.