With more than 20 films in its catalog and several billion dollars reaped from the global box office, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a Hollywood juggernaut. It stands to reason that a franchise this successful must have cracked the script-writing code, delivering laugh-out-loud dialogue and memorable moments with machine-like precision. Yet, with all due credit to the MCU’s screenwriters, some of the series’ most standout bits of dialogue never appeared in any screenplay.
Over the years, various film commentaries, interviews, books, and special features have revealed a surprising number of unscripted Marvel moments. Sometimes these improvised Marvel scenes were created the day of filming by the actors and directors; other times, actors couldn’t help tossing in an extra bit of business while filming a scene. These are the funniest, silliest, and most charming improvised lines in Marvel movies.
Tony Admitting He’s Iron Man – ‘Iron Man’
In the original Iron Man comics, Tony Stark spent several years pretending the “Iron Man” was actually his personal bodyguard. This is the story that S.H.I.E.L.D. cooks up for Tony at the end of the Iron Man film, but the billionaire playboy philanthropist just can’t help himself from taking the credit. It’s a move that feels entirely true to the character, and “I am Iron Man” became a pivotal moment for the MCU.
According to Marvel Studios head and Iron Man producer Kevin Feige, the line was ad-libbed by Robert Downey Jr., and Feige liked the change so much that he rolled with it. “It’s a fine line,” Feige told IndieWire, adding:
If you’re changing something for no reason, that’s one thing, but if you’re changing something because you want to double-down on the spirit of who the character is? That’s a change we’ll make. Tony Stark not reading off the card and not sticking with the fixed story? Him just blurting out “I am Iron Man”? That seems very much in keeping with who that character is.
‘Get Help’ Was Thought Up The Day It Was Filmed – ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
While attempting to escape Sakaar, foster brothers Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) discuss how they might get past the guards. Thor gleefully suggests a maneuver called “get help,” which Loki flatly refuses. Smash cut to Thor carrying Loki and screaming, “Get help!” before throwing his brother at the nearest guard.
According to Hiddleston, this sequence was conceived the day it was filmed. “We literally just came up with it on the day,” the actor told attendees of the 2018 ACE Comic Con. Hiddleston added that it’s not just a funny bit but also a touching glimpse into the characters’ relationship:
This idea that this is a trick that Thor and Loki used to… use it as a game when they were kids and they stopped doing it a long time ago but it used to work and it might just work this time. They got one last ace up their sleeve. And the idea that Loki hated it, and just was like, “I don’t want to do it. It’s humiliating.” And that Thor was like, “You’re going to love it! Come on!” in a big brother way. And then it works. In that moment, I always love the fact that it wasn’t just a funny moment, but actually, you understand something deeper about them as brothers, and I think those moments are really special.
Peter Parker’s Dusty Fate – ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
While Peter Parker turning to ash before Tony Stark’s eyes was always part of Avengers: Infinity War, the touching words he utters to “Mr. Stark” as he disappears are 100% Tom Holland.
During a Q&A at Iowa City High School, Infinity War co-director Joe Russo said the direction given to Tom Holland was something to the effect of, “Act like you don’t want to go.” This led to Peter’s ominous “I don’t feel so good, Mr. Stark,” and his repeated plea of “I don’t want to go.”
This improvisation was also confirmed by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Tony Telling Peter To Move His Leg Is RDJ Reminding Holland Of His Blocking – ‘Captain America: Civil War’
Fans rejoiced when Disney and Sony reached an agreement to allow Spider-Man to swing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Peter Parker made his first official appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
During the scene in which Tony Stark reveals he knows Peter’s secret, he chides the young man to move his leg so that he can sit beside him. It’s a funny little moment, and yet another instance of Robert Downey Jr.’s signature ad-libbing. As co-director Anthony Russo revealed in the film’s commentary:
This line right here about the leg. Tom forgot the blocking of the scene and of course that’s Robert staying in character telling him, “You’re supposed to move now so I can sit on the bed.” Not only does he use it, but he uses it in a way that’s really entertaining and fun. That’s such a dexterous and inventive move on an actor’s part.
RDJ Snacking His Way Through The MCU
According to several sources, actor Robert Downey Jr. has a penchant for hiding food on movie sets.
It got to the point where filmmakers would start writing the snacks into the scenes, such as when Tony Stark offers Steve Rogers blueberries in 2012’s The Avengers, or when he goes around offering food to the Avengers in Endgame.
Drax’s ‘Why Is Gamora’ Line – ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
During Infinity War’s standoff between Iron Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord demands to know where Gamora is, unaware that Tony Stark has no idea who he’s talking about. According to screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the exchange between Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr.’s characters was in the script, but Drax’s existential follow-up was an ad-lib by actor Dave Bautista.
In an interview with Yahoo!, Markus explained, “The script only said, ‘Where is Gamora?’ ‘I’ll do you even better: Who is Gamora?’ And then one day Bautista just goes, ‘I’ll do you one better: Why is Gamora?’ It’s like, ‘OK, you’re very good at your job.'”
Nick Fury Reminding Spider-Man He’s Been To Space – ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker is reluctant to undertake a covert mission for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) when his study abroad trip is interrupted by elemental monsters. He tries to claim he’s only a “friendly neighborhood” superhero, but Fury shuts that down immediately. “B*tch, please, you’ve been to space!” he counters.
It’s a solid argument (given Spider-Man’s prominent role in Avengers: Infinity War), and apparently an unscripted one, too. Jackson told ComicBook.com that he may have added some extra words to the line. Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Mysterio in the film, was much more candid. “It was improvised,” the actor said of the line, and another in which Fury tells Spider-Man to do his job. “I’m here to attest. That was improvised.”
Thor Hanging Mjolnir On The Coat Rack – ‘Thor: The Dark World’
While critics largely dismiss Thor: The Dark World as a lesser MCU entry, there is one moment that’s almost guaranteed to bring a smile to viewers’ faces. As Thor is entering the apartment shared by Jane Foster’s scientific colleagues, he casually hangs Mjolnir (his enchanted hammer of godly power) on the apartment coat rack.
The moment is not commented on by anyone, and occurs so swiftly it’s easy to miss. However, this tiny moment has a major impact on Thor’s follow up film, Thor: Ragnarok, which, unlike its predecessor, is considered one of the best installments in the franchise.
Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige told Gizmodo that this was an improvised bit of business from Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth’s charisma and willingness to make fun of himself helped make Ragnarok a much more entertaining adventure.
Ragnarok, Feige said in 2017, “takes a little page out of the little moments in the other Thor films where Hemsworth is funny. [Saying] ‘Another!’ in the first Thor movie. Him, which was his idea and his improv, hanging his hammer on a coat hook in The Dark World, and that continued with some of the things he did in Age of Ultron.”
Tony Calling Steve A ‘Liar’ – ‘Avengers: Endgame’
With so many films and franchises within the MCU, it’s easy to forget the state of various relationships and conflicts from movie to movie. For instance, when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) discuss Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, it’s their first time being face to face since they violently cut ties in Captain America: Civil War – an event that occurred years earlier in the MCU timeline. Tony is furious when he confronts Steve, not only for losing half the population of the universe, but also for their failure to work as a team.
According to Endgame co-director Anthony Russo, Tony Stark calling Steve a “liar” was an extra line thrown in by RDJ. As Russo told Empire:
I think that was one of Downey’s most inspired performance moments in the movie. He very much reverts to… this is the guy who felt forsaken by his father – you can see his intimacy and trust issues in that moment when he turns on Cap. Downey performed the scene with a lot of energy. We didn’t do it many times, because he was expending himself so, so much. He understood it very well.
Peggy Carter Almost Grabbing Steve Rogers – ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
Before he became the super soldier known as Captain America, Steve Rogers was just a tiny guy with a heart of gold. Captain America: The First Avenger showcases this transformation with some iffy CGI and then an eye-popping shirtless scene from the very real Chris Evans.
According to Hayley Atwell, the actress who plays Steve’s love interest Peggy Carter, the moment she reaches out to touch him – and then awkwardly pulls back her hand – is based on her real reaction to seeing her hunky co-star.
“When Chris Evans first took his shirt off on the set of Captain America, I just instinctively grabbed his man boob,” she told Esquire. “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.”