Avengers: Infinity War comes out April 27th, 2018 and it is still a big deal. The second trailer recently dropped and just increased the hype tenfold. It’s not just the entire Marvel universe coming together to battle the omnipresent threat of Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet. It’s not just one of the biggest blockbuster superhero films in recent memory. It’s not just the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s all of that and more! This movie celebrates 10 years of Marvel movies that have captured the imagination of the world and made many of these Marvel Comics characters household names. So as we countdown to this much anticipated debut, lets take a look back the other Marvel movies that paved the way for this movie and future movies like it and fun facts about the movie or its process that’ll make us appreciate them even more. EXCELSIOR!
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) : James Gunn rewarded cast and crew with Play-Doh during filming.
Director James Gunn kept a pile of small Play-Doh containers on-set. If someone did an exceptionally wonderful job regardless if they were an actor, crew, stuntman or even personal assistant, they would get a container of Play-Doh as a reward. Gunn said he gave out forty containers on an eighty-five day shoot to a crew of about two hundred people. When asked why he did, he said “I love the smell of Play-Doh. Opening a new container and smelling it puts me in a creative and child-like place.”
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): Stan Lee’s cameo was an inside joke to his veteran history
Creator Stan Lee is known for his work at Marvel Comics and his Marvel movie cameos. His cameo in Age of Ultron as a war veteran during Thor’s farewell party had a deeper context as it references Stan’s history with the army. Stan Lee aka Stanley Lieber did enlist with the Army but he never actually fought in battle. When the officers in charge found out about Lee’s writing experience at Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel, they put him to work in the Army’s medical division. Stan spent most of his time in the Army thinking up slogans for posters encouraging the prevention of venereal diseases which were drawn by a young man named Theodore Geisel. Like Lee, he would find fame later as the iconic creator known as Dr. Seuss.
3. Ant-Man (2015) : Originally it was “Chipotle always finds out” instead of Baskin-Robbins.
It’s a known fact that ex-con’s have a difficult time finding work after they’ve been released. When Ant-Man’s Scott Lang needed money, he found a brief employment at Baskin-Robbins. Originally the job was going to be at Chipotle, but the company did not want to be associated with any negative yet hilarious portrayal. Jamba Juice was considered but the creators settled on Baskin-Robbins as they felt the bright colors would be an amusing contrast to the shadowy prison opening. Baskin-Robbin’s always finds out.
4. Captain America: Civil War (2016): Watch out for Avengers and hop-ons.
During the iconic fight between Avengers at the airport, a familiar truck has the Bluth Family logo on it. It is the well-known “stair car” that was a consistent running joke in the memorable sitcom Arrested Development (2003). Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo directed the pilot and many episodes of the celebrated sitcom and I guess they just couldn’t resist adding the dysfunctional Bluth family’s “favorite” mode of transportation to the MCU.
5. Doctor Strange (2016): Doctor Strange couldn’t resist pulling a Sherlock reference.
After Stephen Strange kisses his previous love Christine, he stands in front of a mirror dressed for battle against Kaecilius and his master Dormammu in Hong Kong. Before he leaves, he pulls up the collar on the lively Cloak of Levitation. Not only is Doctor Strange’s famous Cloak’s collar always popped but this is a reference to Benedict Cumberbatch’s in Sherlock (2010). In the popular BBC program, Sherlock Holmes always pops his collar to symbolize the game is afoot but now Stephen Strange pops the collar to let you know the Doctor will see you now.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): Sneepers, not Snipur’s in space!
In social media, director James Gunn stated that he wanted to use an alien race called the Sneepers who were introduced in Marvel’s Tales of Suspense #49 (1964) as background characters for the film. He was recommended against it by Marvel’s legal department claiming the name was too analogous to the Icelandic word “snipur” which means clitoris. They later receded and cleared the use of the Sneepers in the film based on the considerable media attention Gunn’s post received.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): Karen’s voice was a John Hughes reference
If you ever get a suit from Tony Stark, you’re going to get an artificial intelligence system with a personality. Spider-Man’s natural language interface system was dubbed Karen and is voiced by actress Jennifer Connelly. One could assume this was a reference to her marriage to actor Paul Bettany who originally voiced Stark’s computer J.A.R.V.I.S. and now portrays the android Vision. She was cast as Karen as a reference to her appearance in Career Opportunities (1991) which was produced by writer/director John Hughes. Homecoming has a few homages to Hughes’ high school-centric films and director John Watts wanted her role to be a tribute to his career.
8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Yondu’s unexpected cameo that wasn’t meant for the final cut.
A deleted scene on the special features of Thor: Ragnarok had an unexpected cameo from Guardians of the Galaxy that we wish had made the final cut of the film. In the scene titled “Execution”, rogue Asgardian Skurge is in the process of publicly executing Asgardians who oppose Hela’s takeover of Asgard. As he is about to kill a woman, he is asked to stop by someone in the crowd. The person is revealed to be Michael Rooker’s Yondu wearing the signature sunglasses, Ravager jacket and red fin he fought and died with in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017). But he doesn’t save the woman, he simply wants to know where Kevin and Lou’s offices are, a reference to Marvel producers Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito. After he’s pointed in the right direction, he tells Skurge to carry on what he was doing and leaves quite a few extra’s laughing the background. One could ask if this cameo is canonical with his appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy films but honestly I don’t think so, this scene feels like it was shot for the hell of it and by god it’s still hilarious.
9. Black Panther (2018): Black Panther’s first big screen appearance wasn’t at Marvel, it was in a Spike Lee movie
Although T’Challa’s first full length movie elaborated on his character introduced in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther’s first appearance on film was actually 30 years prior in Spike Lee’s classic film Do the Right Thing (1989). The character named Punchy played by Leonard L. Thomas is a Black Panther fan. When the character Buggin’ Out tries to encourage him and his friends to join in a boycott of Sal’s Pizza over the owner’s refusal to put African American individuals on his Wall of Fame, Punchy refuses. He cements his point by holding up a Black Panther comic, Black Panther Issue #8 (1978) and says “Black Panther eat pizza, we eat pizza.” 30 years later, Spike Lee was sitting front row of an early screening of Black Panther at BAM’s Harvey Theater in Brooklyn.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a culmination of 10 years of creative collaboration between talented actors, directors, writers, and numerous others who brought these comic book characters alive for billions of people. Avengers: Infinity War celebrates everything Marvel but also looks to challenge and change the universe forever as our Marvel heroes face a powerful being unlike anything they’ve ever faced before. No matter the outcome, I am very excited but now I want pizza.