Developing the weapons that the heroes and villains wield in the MCU takes teams of technicians and builders. The weapon designs show an obvious love of the Marvel Universe that makes the entire franchise a joy to look at. Just like the costumes that each character wears, their weapons are pondered and redesigned until they’re perfect. Not only do the prop-makers know how the weapons work in-universe, but they also understand why and how they’re being used by the characters.
Here are some of the little details and behind-the-scenes tricks that make the MCU arsenal so satisfying.
Thor Almost Replaced Mjölnir With A Gun Instead Of Stormbreaker
Thor’s best-known tool is his hammer Mjölnir, but when it came time to defeat Thanos, he needed to wield something even mightier. While that weapon ended up being the combo ax/hammer Stormbreaker, he almost went with something a little more modern.
The Avengers: Infinity War art book shows variations on Thor’s look in the film, and an early version shows him wielding a space rifle and some kind of blaster. It would have been cool to see Thor using a blaster, but it’s not very… Thor, is it? The MCU made the right call by going with Stormbreaker.
Marvel Tested Concept Art For ‘Infinity War’ That Gave Captain America Shield Claws
Cap’s shield is such a classic symbol that it feels weird to redesign it, but in Infinity War, that’s exactly what happened. However, the original redesign for his Wakanda-built shield was much more drastic than what we got in the film.
Ryan Meinerding, Marvel’s head of visual development, posted a couple of unused designs for the shield on Instagram and they’re much more pointy (and kind of Super-Shreddery) than what Cap sported in the film. The shield wouldn’t have really even been a shield, but more of a gauntlet that Cap wore that acted as both shield and weapon.
Chitauri Weapons Were Designed To Look Cool In Black Widow’s Hands
According to the visual artists who worked on The Avengers, the design of the Chitauri was really up to them. The alien race that destroys much of Manhattan in the film is visually under-represented in the comics, so their design is wholly unique to the films – but what about their weapons?
The visual team knew Black Widow was going to get her hands on some alien tech, so job No. 1 was making sure their weapons looked super cool when she got hold of them. Ryan Meinerding, the visual development supervisor on The Avengers, told Thrillist:
Specifically with their weapons, we tried to find something that, if Black Widow got ahold of one of their weapons, she could use it in an interesting way. Which is how we ended up with that [sic] sort of long Civil War weapons.
A Robot Arnim Zola Could Have Been In ‘Ant-Man’ If Edgar Wright Had Directed It
One MCU film we’ll never get to see is Edgar Wright’s version of Ant-Man, a movie that would have been closer to the comics in some ways, but full of weirdness in others. (The film ended up being directed by Peyton Reed.) One concept that never made its way to the screen is a robot Arnim Zola.
The last time audiences saw Zola was in Winter Soldier, but only as a recording where he told Steve Rogers of his evil plan to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. If Wright’s film had come to fruition, Zola would have come back in a giant metallic body.
Concept art by Josh Nizzi shows different versions of Zola’s robo-body. One version has him in a view screen inside a metallic body, while another shows a robot body with a hologram head.
They Changed Stormbreaker From The Comics To Make It Look Less Like Mjölnir
Stormbreaker isn’t a weapon dreamt up for the MCU: It actually dates back to 1983, when it was introduced along with Beta Ray Bill, an alien with the ability to hold Mjölnir. Rather than fight over Thor’s hammer, Bill is gifted a war hammer called Stormbreaker that’s sort of a half-hammer/half-ax combo.
When it came time to bring the hammer to Avengers: Infinity War, designers opted to use a different design, because the comic version looks too similar to Mjölnir. Ryan Meinerding, head of visual development at Marvel Studios, explained:
I always felt that Beta Ray Bill’s weapon from the comics – Stormbreaker – was a little too similar to Mjölnir. So I was looking to more of the Mjölnir from The Ultimates, where it has more corners and edges, and feels more like a heavy, solid thing as opposed to another Mjölnir-sized weapon – almost that it feels unbalanced. It’s almost too powerful. It really takes someone incredibly powerful just to pick it up because it’s such an unbalanced weapon.
The Russos Wouldn’t Definitively Say Where Thanos’s Sword Came From
In the climax of Endgame, 2014-Thanos arrives in the modern day to stop the Avengers from reversing his future self’s snap. When he shows up, he’s clad in golden armor and wielding a double-bladed sword that looks absolutely awesome. The sword makes mincemeat of Cap’s vibranium shield, something thought impossible, leading audiences to wonder where the sword was made.
The Russo Brothers, the guys behind Infinity War and End Game (as well as Winter Soldier and Civil War) haven’t explained where the sword is from, but they have given a few clues. Joe Russo teased:
Clearly Thanos is a thousand-year-old character who has fought everyone in the universe and is the greatest: He’s the Genghis Khan of the universe, so he would have the greatest weapon. He knows of Eitri, he’s been to Eitri to have his glove created. Did he have them create his blade as well? Potentially. But it’s interesting that it could destroy the shield.
Mjölnir Has Replaceable Heads Suited For Filming Different Scenes
Going into the first Thor film, no one was entirely sure how big Mjölnir needed to be. A baseline hammer was created with multiple variations that were a little bigger and a little smaller. Once Chris Hemsworth came on board, three versions of Mjölnir with different weights were fashioned for different shots.
The heaviest and most detailed hammer can be seen in any close-up where Hemsworth is delivering dialogue. The lightweight and least detailed hammer is what you see whenever Hemsworth has to swing Mjölnir around with the power of a god. To reduce wait time when switching out the hammers, their heads easily screw on and off.
They Made A Prop Infinity Gauntlet For Josh Brolin To Wear While Filming Mo-Cap Scenes
As with many props in the MCU, there are a few different versions of the Infinity Gauntlet. While the actual gauntlet Thanos wears is scaled to his body, making it massive; there’s a smaller version that was made for Josh Brolin to wield while filming his mo-cap scenes.
At San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, Russell Bobbitt explained that after hearing that Brolin likes to go method, he created a detailed version of the glove so the actor could get into Thanos’s headspace:
All they had to say to me he was a method actor and I went to the drawing board. I knew [I] had to make something for him to make him comfortable and help him… Brolin almost never took this gauntlet off. He is Thanos. He just became comfortable with it. He became Thanos in the morning and I took it away from him at night.