Marvel was bought by Disney in 2009, and turned into the biggest powerhouse organization of the movie business in the world—surprising everyone. The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has brought in $22.5 billion at the global box office, in 23 films, and there are at least eight more in varying stages of development on the way.
There’s no doubting that the MCU changed the face of superhero films forever. There are certain characters that we can simply never imagine as who we’ve seen them as in the past decade, such as Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, etc.
But Marvel is harboring secrets that the executives at the company wouldn’t want the average fan to know about—secrets that make the company look bad. These little facts might tarnish the reputation of the Golden Gods of Superheroes, but we’re here to expose some of them.
Here are 20 secrets that Marvel execs want to keep hush-hush.
20 They Didn’t Want Robert Downey Jr.
We all know Robert Downey Jr. as the fast of the Avengers and the MCU, even more than Captain America and Chris Evans. He is the original, and the was the highest paid of the bunch. But when Iron Man was being cast, the studio wasn’t convinced RDJ was their guy—they would have preferred Tom Cruise.
But director Jon Favreau wanted Downey Jr. and knew he could rebound from his rough life, just as Favreau had done himself.
19 RDJ’s Big Payday
It was a smart business decision choosing RDJ as Iron Man, in the end, because that franchise really skyrocketed the MCU. But he wasn’t even the highest-paid actor in the first Iron Man film (Terrence Howard was). By the time the Avengers film came along, RDJ and his agent knew he was the top guy, and they negotiated a $50 million contract for the actor.
Marvel had no choice but to oblige the star—though it didn’t hurt them too badly seeing as that almost every MCU movie makes a billion dollars or more.
18 We Almost Had A Different Thor
Just like how we can’t imagine Iron Man as anyone other than Robert Downey Jr., at this point, we can’t imagine Thor as anyone but Chris Hemsworth. He has added so much to the character that we all love—his charm, good looks, humor, muscles.
Originally, the casting of the God of Thunder came down to three actors: Chris, his brother Liam, and Tom Hiddleston, who ended up playing Loki! Could you imagine Hiddleston as Thor? Probably not, so here’s a picture of his audition.
17 Odin Put The MCU In Motion
Even though Thor: The Dark World might be considered one of the worst Marvel films (if not THE worst), it did teach us about the Infinity Stones for the first time.
That lesson came courtesy of Odin, who had been keeping some secrets. According to director Kenneth Brannagh, Odin put the MCU in motion by hiding the Tesseract in Captain America.
16 Recycling Chris Evans Into The MCU
No one at Marvel wants anyone to remember that Chris Evans once played another superhero other than Cap—the Human Torch in the first Fantastic Four films. The mannequin wearing the Human Torch costume is Captain America’s opening scenes is an easter egg/playful jab at his former role.
The Torch was the first Marvel superhero back in 1939, and he later got recycled into the Fantastic Four, just like how Evans was recycled from that role into the Avengers.
15 Thor 2 Post-Credits Secret
Marvel is well-known for their post-credit scenes, which are often more important than the movies themselves, in terms of plot development and secrets. Here’s a big secret the studio doesn’t want you to know—at the end of Thor 2, Natalie Portman wasn’t available to film her post-credits scene.
So Chris Hemsworth’s wife, who was the same size and had a similar look, threw on a wig and stepped in to make out with her husband.
14 Reusing Locations
Despite having hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal for each movie, Marvel is quite frugal when it comes to spending—or they try to be. The studio has to often reuse filming locations, such as the centuries-old village in Thor’s prologue, which was also the same one Red Skull attacks in Captain America.
Or the secret bunker where Bucky was brainwashed in Winter Soldier, which is the same bunker that Cap blows out of in The Avengers.
13 Becoming Iron Man Onscreen
In the original Iron Man film, RDJ had to wear a full suit on set, but since then, the advances of technology and CG have really escalated. Nowadays—or at least in the most recent Avengers films—he only had to wear a headpiece and shoulder pads on set.
Green-screen capture got the rest, and when Iron Man’s face isn’t visible, it was a complete CGI creation or a stuntman.
12 Scrapping Guardians Of The Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was not expected to be a big hit by Marvel, but it was a breakout sleeper blockbuster. The studio had only agreed to pay for the movie’s massive prison with the stipulation that they would melt down the steel after filming wrapped, so they could sell the scrap to regain some of the money spent.
Quite an interesting strategy to recoup their investment, but Marvel is nothing if not thrifty!
11 Chris Evans Turned Down Marvel A Lot
Marvel execs probably don’t want you to know how much they pined after Chris Evans, and how often he denied them. Like a needy ex, Marvel was turned down three times by the actor.
After playing the Human Torch, he wasn’t convinced in the whole superhero thing. He finally agreed to join Marvel though, but not before they dropped his initial contract down from nine movies to six.
10 Doctor Strange Was Originally Racist
Benedict Cumberbatch has done a great job portraying Doctor Strange without any of his racism from the comic books. Back when he was created, as a “mystic,” Marvel thought he had to be Asian.
Instead, he was inspired by Asian stereotypes, especially in the looks department. Then he got a bigger role when fans wanted to see more of him, and he was turned white, but all those stereotypes belonging to the character remained.
9 Marvel The Romance Publisher
One of the darkest times in the storied saga of Marvel was when the publisher produced romance comics. They did this decades ago, and again in the 2000s. They hired Mark Millar, the guy who did Kick-Ass, who was chosen to bring romance back to Marvel, and it failed big time.
His comic, Trouble, had horrible scantily clad women—one of whom was supposed to be Aunt May, from Spider-Man! The book sunk and the romance idea was scrapped, yet again, hopefully for good this time.
8 Toys Make All The Money
Marvel comics make a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to how much their merchandising brings in. In one year alone, Spider-Man products (toys, rather than the films and comics) made Marvel about $1.3 billion! That included toys, blankets, shoes, glasses, bug repellant… all sorts of memorabilia.
And while MCU films make big money, it’s more about building brand recognition so that the merchandising can take over once those films stop earning.
7 Marvel Was Sued By The Avengers Co-Creator
This sad bit of history is something that Marvel execs don’t want you to know: the family of Avengers co-creator Jack Kirby ended up suing the company because he didn’t get any rights or money from the films. Jack Kirby co-created some of Marvel’s biggest names, including Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther… the list goes on.
Marvel put up a terrible fight but ended up settling the lawsuit out of court—hopefully for tons of money for Kirby’s family.
6 The Contracts To Creators Are Awful
Did we mention Marvel is operated by a bunch of penny-pinching, frugal people? Marvel likes to make money, and in doing so they try to stiff their creators out of the earnings.
Marvel keeps the rights to everything made under their brand, so the creators get absolutely nothing. Ghost Rider’s creator was taken to court by Marvel, for claiming they owned the rights to him—and since he hadn’t actually written anything Ghost Rider-related at the time, he lost, and the contract signing won.
5 The Former CEO Hates Female Superheroes
In this day and age, spouting out the above headline is career suicide. But the former CEO (and current chairman) of Marvel—and elusive non-entity—Ike Perlmutter once made such a claim. His idea that they’d never make female-led superhero films came from the fact that Catwoman, Elektra, and Supergirl had done poorly.
But now we see Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and the upcoming Black Widow film, and we know that’s all hogwash.
4 Edward Norton’s Long Lasting Addition To The Hulk
Although he didn’t stick around, Edward Norton brought a lot to the Hulk, in terms of character development. He heavily rewrote the original Incredible Hulk script to include an opening scene where Banner tries to commit suicide but Hulks out before the bullets can do him in.
That scene was cut, but Marvel liked the idea and when they recast Mark Ruffalo as Banner, they had him recount a story in a monologue that discussed how suicide was an option… courtesy of Ed Norton.
3 Joss Whedon Helped Bring Thanos Into The Mix
Joss Whedon hasn’t been treated well by Marvel, despite being one of the most prolific advocates and idea-stars of the MCU. He’s had ugly battles with Marvel, left them, come back, and has been left behind. Thanos wasn’t always planned in the MCU, and it wasn’t until the time of The Avengers that a behind-the-scenes shadowy character was considered, courtesy of Joss Whedon.
He made a last-minute call that there should be someone higher up than Loki, trying to help him invade Earth. Enter: Thanos.
2 RDJ Stiffed The Guy Who Got Him His Role
Everyone loves RDJ, but he’s made some mistakes in his career as Iron Man, no doubt. Fans were flabbergasted when the role of James Rhodes changed from Terrence Howard in Iron Man, to Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2 and from then on.
According to Howard (who was the highest-paid actor in Iron Man), he was dealt a massive pay cut for the sequel, because the studio felt his role wasn’t that important. Howard helped RDJ get the job as Iron Man, but RDJ did nothing to help Howard in return.
1 Kevin Feige Used To Be Ignored By Directors
Oh, how Kevin Feige must be laughing like a maniacal mad scientist these days. Before heading the MCU into the stratosphere, he was a producer on non-classics such as Fantastic Four and Daredevil (the film, not the awesome Netflix show).
Feige spoke to Vanity Fair about how frustrated he was in the way those films were produced because they wouldn’t listen to any of his creative advice. Luckily, he has much more pull these days, and the MCU is lucky to have him.
References: grunge.com, cinemablend.com, gamesradar.com, newsarama.com, marvel.com