The Marvel Cinematic universe is known as a fun and family-friendly place. While their counterparts over at DC push the envelope with movies like Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad and Fox pushed the envelope with Deadpool and Logan, you can always count on the MCU to be a safe, warm place -- except for when you can't. Behind the scenes, there are a number of dirty little secrets surrounding your favorite stars. Sometimes, it directly involves your character (such as the Avenger who was secretly played by a stripper), and sometimes it involves the effect these movies have on the stars (such as the Avenger whose blockbuster movies keep sending him to therapy).
Once you understand what these dark secrets are, it's pretty much impossible to look at the MCU the same way ever again. You'll probably be dwelling on these secrets every time you reach for your favorite Blu-rays. So, if you want to continue looking at the MCU as a collection of family-friendly movies and actors, you should probably stop reading right here. If you're ready to go inside the minds (and clothes) of your favorite Marvel actors, then keep reading to check out 15 Dark Confessions From Inside The MCU!
15 JAMES GUNN CALLED CHRIS PRATT "CHUBBY"
Chris Pratt took the whole world by surprise when he took off his shirt in Guardians of the Galaxy and revealed how ripped he was. It was such a surprise because many who knew Pratt knew him as a rather schlubby character, Andy, on Parks and Recreation. It turns out that James Gunn felt the same way: when the casting director suggested Pratt, James Gunn asked him if he was talking about “the chubby guy” from Parks and Recreation.
While it may sound shocking to hear James Gunn being such a weight snob, this story has a happy ending. As Gunn tells it, within 20 seconds of the audition, he knew Chris Pratt was his man. He was so confident that the director admitted in an interview that he would have fought Marvel executives to debut “the first chubby superhero” because he was sure Pratt was the right man.
14 SCARLETT JOHANSSON WAS HALLUCINATING ON SET
Everyone can agree that Scarlett Johansson is exceptional in every way. And when she dons the trademark leather catsuit of Black Widow, she’s better than ever. However, the suit ended up making the actress a little too hot: so hot she actually started hallucinating during a scene!
In an interview with Nightline, Johannson described how sweaty her costume could get. She referred to it as a “wet suit” and discussed what it was like to wring the sweat out of her socks every day. But the worst came when she was filming one of the many fight scenes in Avengers and actually began hallucinating due to the heat! Next time you’re drooling over Johansson as Black Widow, be appreciating of how much she is literally suffering to portray this character.
13 HULK WAS PLAYED BY A STRIPPER
Hulk has had more actors behind him than any other MCU character. For Bruce Banner, the role was originally played by Edward Norton, and Norton was famously replaced by Mark Ruffalo. And there have been various actors that have served as models for the body of the Hulk. One dirty secret is that the model for the Avengers Hulk was a male stripper!
The man’s name is Steve Romm, and he’s had a storied career: he’s been a bouncer, an actor, and on occasion, a male stripper. He’s also a Hulk super-fan who named his cat after veteran Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno. Therefore, Romm was a natural (and naturally buff) choice to slap on some green body paint and serve as the CGI model for Marvel’s late incarnation of Hulk!
12 IRON MAN FILMED WITH NO SCRIPT
The world was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man. That movie ended up being not only a smash hit, but a kind of measuring stick for the quality of future Marvel movies. But would you believe that every day of shooting the movie was a huge risk?
Marvel began shooting the movie before the script was even finished. This forced actors like Robert Downey, Jr., to improvise most of their lines each day, and director Jon Favreau fully encouraged this approach. Shooting a huge movie like this without a completed script is practically unheard of, but it gave Downey a chance to make the character of Tony Stark exactly like himself. That gamble paid off, and Robert Downey, Jr., has become the face of the MCU!
11 CHRIS EVANS ALMOST TURNED DOWN CAPTAIN AMERICA
Chris Evans was a surprise casting choice for Captain America. Sure, we had seen him as a comic book hero before in the first Fantastic Four movies, and we’d even seen him as a comic book villain in Scott Pilgrim. But could he be Marvel’s most iconic hero? It turns out the answer to that question was “hell yes,” and no one now can imagine anyone else in the role. But did you know Evans nearly turned the role down?
Evans has confided that he suffers from extreme social anxiety. Being around lots of people can actually terrify the actor in a major way. He knew signing on to Marvel meant a decade of big-budget movies and press junkets where he’s constantly surrounded by people, so he came close to turning the role down. However, much like Captain America himself, he swallowed his fears and ended up inspiring the world!
10 TERRENCE HOWARD THINKS THE MCU KILLED HIS CAREER
Currently, things are looking very good for Terrence Howard. The one-time MCU star may not be part of Disney’s Marvel empire, but he headlines the critical and commercial smash TV show Empire. However, a few years ago, he was not only sure that his career was dead, but that Iron Man had killed it!
As you may or may not know, Howard was actually the highest-paid actor on the original Iron Man. According to Howard, Marvel replacing him with Don Cheadle basically hit the reset button on how much Howard was paid per movie, from getting six million for a film to getting 6o,000. There’s a lot of “he said, she said” regarding Howard and the MCU, but it looks like we can all agree the veteran actor landed on his feet!
9 THANOS WASN'T PART OF ANY LONG-TERM PLAN
Many fans credit Thanos with being part of the MCU’s master plan. That is why they credit Avengers: Infinity War as a movie giving payoff to ten years of build-up establishing Thanos as the Biggest of Bads. Here’s a secret, though: he was a last-minute joke addition to the MCU!
For the 2012 Avengers movie, Whedon and Disney were in agreement about the general plot (Loki leads an alien invasion). However, Whedon thought that there should be some greater mastermind behind all of this. At the last minute, he decided to throw Thanos in the movie, both to answer that question and to excite fans. It worked a little too well and ended up shaping the rest of the MCU’s future for the next six years!
8 SUPPORT GONE WRONG
One of the genuinely awesome things about the MCU actors is seeing how heroic they can be offscreen. They are often making donations, visiting children, and doing other awesome things that make you think maybe they really ARE your favorite character. On one occasion it backfires, though, and Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans encouraged their fans to donate to a family that might be white supremacists!
Many were emotionally affected when a teenager named Keaton Jones released a tearful video online about being bullied. Soon, $50,000 was raised to donate to his family, and stars like Ruffalo and Evans were sending Keaton invites to Avengers: Infinity War. However, people soon discovered that Keaton’s father was an actual white supremacist and that Keaton and her mother had posed in pictures with Confederate flags. Don Cheadle and others then became skeptical if everyone else was simply bamboozled into supporting white supremacists!
7 THE MCU PUT CHRIS EVANS IN THERAPY
Remember when we said that Chris Evans suffers from extreme social anxiety? The kind that’s so bad that he nearly turned down the role of a lifetime? It turns out that even Captain America needed a little help to get through this, and starring in the MCU was enough to send Evans to therapy.
In an old New York Times interview, Evans admitted that he sought out a good therapist before diving into the MCU. This was the best way to quiet his social anxiety and commit to this long and intensive role. It should help fans appreciate Evans’ performance that much more: he sought therapy before filming Captain America in 2011, and the MCU has only grown since then, forcing this anxious actor into the spotlight a little more each year.
6 CHRIS EVANS AND JEREMY RENNER SAID REAL DUMB THINGS
Normally, press events for the MCU are pretty plug and play for the actors. They give a few intriguing snippets about the movie, share some PG-rated behind the scenes details, and generally model the behavior of their characters. On one dark occasion, though, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner really threw Scarlett Johansson under the bus!
During an interview with Digital Spy, both actors were asked about the fact that Black Widow has had such a close relationship with both Captain America and Hawkeye. Reacting to this, the actors laughingly joked about her character sleeping around, saying she was several unsavory choice names. It was bad enough that both of them had to issue apologies for their remarks the very next day, and many fans still look at these actors differently.
5 ROBERT DOWNEY JR. THOUGHT CIVIL WAR WAS ALL ABOUT HIM
In Hollywood, you get used to actors that are prima donnas. Generally speaking, Robert Downey Jr. does not seem to be one of them, and he obviously works well with the large ensemble cast of The Avengers. However, in one USA Today interview, he revealed that he thought Captain America: Civil War was all about Iron Man!
He was reacting to questions about whether he would ever make a sequel to Iron Man 3. He revealed that Civil War was “Cap 3” for many people, but for him, “it’s like my little Iron Man 4.” He went on to demur that everyone puts aside their ego for “the thunder of an Avengers thing,” but it’s fun to go back and watch Civil War realizing that some part of Downey considers this to totally be HIS movie.
4 JAMES GUNN PUTS ANOTHER DIRECTOR ON BLAST
James Gunn isn't just a nerd superstar because he directed the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's also because he's a huge nerd himself, and he's not afraid to use his platform to argue for the validity of things like superhero movies. And this is exactly what happened when another director tried to put the MCU and other superhero movies in their place.
During an acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards, director Dan Gilroy congratulated himself and everyone else in attendance that have “survived” what he described as a “tsunami of superhero movies.” Gunn wrote a lengthy Facebook response that pointed out Gilroy's wife had starred in the first two Thor movies (so much for being a “holdout” against the movies, as Gilroy claimed) and that Gunn and other directors put just as much care and passion into their movies as anything ever made by Gilroy or other indie directors!
3 ROBERT DOWNEY JR. FORCED TERRENCE HOWARD OUT OF MCU
Obviously, there’s no shortage of sour grapes when it comes to Terrence Howard and his abrupt exit from the MCU. There are plenty of different stories about exactly how this went down. For Howard himself, there is only one story that matters: Robert Downey Jr. forced Howard out!
As Howard tells it, Marvel wanted to pay him an eighth of what they paid for his first Iron Man appearance for him to come back to the sequel. Reacting to this, Howard reached out to Robert Downey Jr., who Howard claimed he had helped get the job as Iron Man in the first place. Howard says Downey never returned his calls and that Downey personally “pushed him out” of the MCU. And every year that Cheadle makes more money playing the role that Howard made famous, Howard seems to get a bit more resentful about Downey’s betrayal!
2 MARK RUFFALO THOUGHT RAGNAROK WOULD BE A HUGE FAILURE
Thor: Ragnarok was a movie that took everyone by surprise. Frankly, the first Thor movie was just okay and the second was downright bad. It seemed like a third movie from a relatively unknown director was a real gamble. Obviously, the movie ended up being a (Hulk) smash hit, and director Taika Waititi now has a permanent seat at the Disney table. And while Waititi may not have been surprised at how much the world loved Ragnarok, one person was truly shocked: Mark Ruffalo!
According to the actor, when he first saw the ambition of the script (including major changes to Thor, Bruce Banner, and Hulk), he thought the movie would “break” the Marvel Cinematic Universe as fans know it. Obviously, he was still game to try this bold new direction, and was just as pleasantly surprised as the rest of us when Ragnarok was a critical and commercial success!
1 TOM HOLLAND HAS NEVER SEEN THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS
One of the funniest moments in Captain America: Civil War revolved around Spider-Man (naturally). In coming up with a plan to take down the giant-sized Ant Man, he asks his allies if they've ever seen “that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back”. This is enough to prompt War Machine to ask Iron Man just how old Spider-Man really is, implying that it's a bit scandalous to bring someone so young into this world.
Back in our world, though, Holland has his own scandalous secret: he's never even seen Empire Strikes Back. In fact, he hasn't seen any of the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies, though he likes the newer ones. If the idea of Spider-Man having not seen the original Star Wars movies isn't bad enough, Holland twisted the knife further when he admitted in an interview that he absolutely loved the Star Wars prequel movies!