Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been churning out movies for over a decade, there’s a whole horde of incredibly talented actors and actresses who perfectly portray some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the big screen. But occasionally the best moments aren’t the ones written by screenwriters. Let’s take a look at the most surprising scenes improvised by actors in the MCU.
10. Why is Gamora?
Who knew professional wrestler-turned actor Dave Bautista was a comedic genius? When the Guardians of the Galaxy finally met some of the Avengers during Infinity War, they briefly fought and ended up in a cosmic Mexican stand-off. With Star-Lord desperate to find Gamora, the group hurl questions at each other about Thanos’ daughter. According to screenwriter Christopher Markus, the stand-off was meant to end with Robert Downey Jr.’s line: “Who is Gamora?” But Bautista quickly chimed in with one of the funniest lines in the film: “I’ll do you one better: Why is Gamora?” The simple one-liner alongside Drax’s earlier “invisible” scene, where he’s watching Peter and Gamora on the ship, proves he’s one of the most underrated characters in the Marvel pantheon of heroes.
9. Hammer Hang
Our first entry from Chris Hemsworth comes from a scene in Thor: The Dark World. Okay, so it might not be the best Thor film out there, but we all should’ve realized Chris Hemsworth’s comedic skills a little earlier on because of it. When Jane and Thor return home from Asgard, Thor sees her coat hanger when he walks in and just simply hangs up Mjolnir. Apparently, Hemsworth just thought it would be funny – he was right! It’s indeed the little things. When promoting Ragnarok, Kevin Feige explained they wanted to utilize his comedic timing a little more in the third film – referencing the improvised moment. But we’ll get back to Ragnarok a little later.
8. The Hug
One of the most interesting dynamics in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is obviously between Peter Parker and Tony Stark. Obviously it all stems from Civil War, but the groundwork is really put in during Spider-Man: Homecoming. When Pete returns from Germany, Tom Holland said he thought it’d be funny to hug Robert Downey Jr. towards the end of the scene to see how he’d react. And because he’s basically Tony Stark, he had a pitch perfect response: “oh I’m not trying to hug you, I’m just trying to get the door”. The moment nailed Peter Parker’s naive awkwardness and gave us yet another brilliant line from Tony. Clearly Tom Holland and RDJ have a great partnership on-set, because this isn’t the only scene with the pair on our list.
7. Naked Skrull
Captain Marvel finally introduced Carol Danvers to the MCU while exploring a time we hadn’t seen in live-action yet. But aside from giving us Brie Larson kicking all kinds of Kree and Skrull butt, we got to see the 90s era Samuel L. Jackson. When it came to introducing Nick Fury to alien threats, he dealt with it in a hilarious way during the autopsy scene. After his conversation ends with Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull in disguise, he takes a peek under the sheet to see if the curtains match the drapes… If you know what we mean. Co-Director Ryan Fleck revealed in the Captain Marvel DVD commentary “He just did this, and we kept it in because we thought it was pretty funny.” To be fair, if Samuel L. Jackson does something, just go with it.
6. Thor’s Snake Story
We told you we weren’t quite done with Hemsworth’s comedic talents just yet and there’s no better showcase of his abilities than Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. With the New Zealander at the helm, the God of Thunder was steered in a hysterical new direction. The cosmic adventure sees Thor and Loki team-up to escape the Grandmaster’s bizarre world, Sakaar, and stop the Asgardian apocalypse. Along the way Thor recounts a tale from his childhood where Loki transformed himself into a snake knowing his brother liked them – and when Thor picked him up, the God of Mischief stabbed him. They were eight, at the time. Aah, brotherly love. Taika Waititi told Empire they filmed 6 versions of the story, and the snake one stuck. The director revealed another hilariously violent take on the memory that weirdly involves Turkish rugs.
“’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.’”
He’s called the God of Mischief for a reason.
5. M’Baku Shuts Down Everett Ross
Since Black Panther was a groundbreaking movie for representation that dealt with racism and colonisation, there wasn’t much room for many side-splitting gags in Wakanda, and nor should there be. But there’s the occasional quip or joke to let the audience breathe a little – and one of the most unpredictable elements in the film comes from Winston Duke’s M’Baku. While his hostility towards Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross is justified – the star decided to grunt at Freeman to intimidate him. It definitely worked. Director Ryan Coogler explained that Ross is
“very powerful where he’s from, so there’s this idea to kind of get in there and talk and mix it up, but this was M’Baku’s way to say ‘nah, I’m not talking to you right now.’”
He’s not wrong, this isn’t the time for your meddling, Bilbo Baggins.
4. “You’ve Been To Space”
We all know Peter Parker isn’t the most confident person at times, because of that iconic Parker Luck he constantly doubts himself. So when Nick Fury asks him to help fight the so-called Elementals with Mysterio, his first reaction is to avoid the inter-dimensional threat because he’s just a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Sure, Pete, but you’re also an Avenger. The Skrull pretending to be Nick Fury isn’t having any of it, instantly retorting “Bitch please, you’ve been to space”. But when asked about whether the line was scripted or not, Samuel L. Jackson revealed he couldn’t remember. Luckily – Jake Gyllenhaal jumped in and praised his co-star, “I’m here to attest that was improvised.” We know Mysterio is an expert illusionist, but we’re choosing to believe this one.
3. Spider-Man’s Death
Okay, it’s time for a few tears. Remember back in 2018 when we are all left heartbroken watching Thanos murder half of our favorite heroes? Well it turns out Tom Holland threw some improvisation into Spider-Man’s death to make the scene even more heart-breaking. Joe Russo told the star to “act like you don’t want to go”, which seems a little obvious. But Holland later explained that they always wanted the scene to feel natural, and the first long improvised take didn’t work. But luckily for our tear-ducts, the star has a technique to get himself ready for an emotional line. He told GQ:
“It is kind of improvised. A technique I do if I’m trying to cry is I’ll say the phrase over and over again. So for example, if I was like in a scene and I was talking to someone and the undertone of the scene was that I loved them, I would say in my head ‘I love you so much. I love you so much’ – and then it just kind of brings up emotion. And in that scene, it was ‘I don’t want to go’ and I just thought I would say it out loud and it works, it’s really good in the film.”
Yeah Tom, it was pretty good. Who cried when Pete turned to dust in Tony’s arms? There’s no shame here.
2. “He’s A Friend From Work!”
We’re still not done with Chris Hemsworth. Nevermind who’s the strongest Avenger, is Thor the funniest? Another of the most memorable lines from Thor: Ragnarok comes from the crowd-pleasing gladiator match with Hulk. While everyone else is shouting for the Asgardian’s blood, he’s not scared in the slightest because “We know each other, he’s a friend from work”. We’re not sure what’s funnier, the fact that he considers being on the Avengers as his day job, or that he and the Hulk are supposedly friends at that point. But the line’s creation is actually quite touching. Chris Hemsworth explained that a kid from the Make A Wish foundation visited the Marvel set, and was talking to the star in between takes. The young visitor suggested to the star ‘You know, you should say ‘He’s a friend from work!’” How cute is that?
1. Tony Stark’s Death
Okay, it’s time for the real tear-jerker, hope you’ve got your tissues ready. We all know that Tony Stark sacrificed himself in Endgame to defeat Thanos – but there’s plenty of improvisation that went into those final few moments. Originally, the Mad Titan was defeated without any clever lines from Robert Downey Jr, and it really troubled the Russo Brothers. During a Q+A the pair revealed that they couldn’t figure out that final confrontation, it needed something to pay off Tony’s quip-filled legacy. Luckily, editor Jeff Ford suggested they use the immortal line “I am Iron Man” to bring the entire saga right back to where it began the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008, giving it that emotional edge. They shot the scene the next day, and it’s perfect. But when it comes to Tony’s final moments? Oh boy. Tom Holland revealed to Pinkvilla that there was no script at all for that scene.
“They kinda brought us to set, they kind of told us what was gonna happen, or what they wanted to happen and then we sort of just improvised if I can remember correctly. So, it was a really, really interesting way to shoot such a kind of pivotal scene of the movie”
RDJ has been delivering pitch perfect Tony Stark lines since 2008 and his performance is widely regarded as one of the best comic book character portrayals in the genre. But it was reportedly his choice to stay completely quiet in Tony’s final moments, proving that he doesn’t need to say anything since he’s finally at peace.
But while we wait for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s return to the big screen, keep an eye on Heroic Hollywood for all the latest entertainment news, be sure to subscribe to the channel, and check out our other videos. Let us know in the comments what your favorite improvised scene is, and tell us which future Marvel movie you’re most excited for!