With a cast of superheroes as long as your arm, the extended Marvel movies universe has seriously taken cinema by storm. The summer blockbusters tend to be largely superhero-related these days, or at least to be connected to comic books and nerd culture in some way. They have spawned plenty of copycats trying to get in on the success, though the Marvel series has proven to be the most popular and the most enduring so far.
There’s a lot of work in every movie, especially since they tend to have ensemble casts and a lot of special effects. What this means is that there are a lot of behind the scenes shots out there, either to capture a difficult scene while it is being filmed or while the cast members are enjoying downtime. After all, it’s not like they have a lot to do while they are waiting for everyone else to film their scenes. Some of them don’t even have to be on set to film their parts – we’re looking at you, Vin Diesel – but when they do, it can involve a lot of waiting around.
From costumes that don’t match up to the majesty we see on screen, to awkward green screen moments that have the drama taken out of them, to selfies on set and out of character, these behind the scenes moments are all just a touch difficult for Marvel. Stripping away the magic we see in the movies, they reveal perhaps a bit too much about the process.
20 Screaming For The Camera
In this shot from behind the scenes of X-Men: Apocalypse, we see what it takes to create some of the scenes we see in the final movie. Sophie Turner appears as Jean Grey in front of a number of different screens, which are all part of the film studio set-up. She is performing right for the camera in front of her face, which feels kind of invasive – it must be harder to act when you can’t even pretend that the camera isn’t there. We can also see how some effects are generated as the wind from a fan whips her hair back away from her face as she throws her arms out but stands still in one place. This isn’t the most glamorous behind the scenes shot you will ever see, but Sophie is probably used to lower-tech solutions on Game of Thrones.
19 Not The Most Glamorous Set-Up
This shot shows a behind the scenes moment while filming Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s hugely unglamorous, despite what you would have been made to believe when seeing the final film! The actors are walking along on a shabby old carpet, down a very slim area marked out by blue screens. They don’t exactly have a whole corridor to stroll down, and they are surrounded tightly by crew members. There’s even a guy in the back who looks like he might be doing something unprofessional, in his scruffy denim shorts and blue tee. When you think of a film set, this isn’t exactly the picture that comes to mind. It’s also not what you imagine when thinking about how to make a spaceship come to life on the big screen.
18 Just A Guy With His Face Painted Pink
So, now we’re about to totally ruin the Vision. Normally, he’s a super cool looking guy with red and silver armour all over his face, which is moulded and contoured and moves as he does. Well, technically his face is made out of the armour, but let’s not get into semantics now. It turns out that when they actually film this character, Paul Bettany just has to stand around with his whole face painted pink all day. They put the rest on with motion capture later. Could they not at least paint him red, the actual colour he is supposed to be, instead of it having to be bright pink? We bet it’s super hard to get out of places like his eyebrows and the chin where he has to shave.
17 Kids Aren’t Fazed By Anything
This behind the scenes image from Zoe Saldana just proves that you can do anything with little kids and they won’t be surprised or fazed at all. After all, they don’t know enough about how the world works yet to understand that it’s a bit odd when Mommy’s skin suddenly turns green. She is here just casually playing with her two children in her trailer, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, while still wearing her full costume and body paint. Either these kids are going to grow up very disturbed, or they are going to be so chill that nothing ever breaks them down. It’s a fine tightrope to walk, though by the way she plays with them lovingly, perhaps it’s going to be the second one.
16 Kidding Around On Set
For normally quite serious superheroes, it’s fun to see these guys having a bit of fun on set instead of staying in that formal mode all of the time. This was taken from the outtakes when Chris Hemsworth was having a bit of a laugh with his co-stars. He was dragging Scarlett Johansson along by one arm, and Chris Evans was hanging on to her by the waist. Somehow, he was managing to drag them both along the floor, proving that Thor really is the strongest of the Avengers. Must be all that practice from lugging the hammer around. They’re obviously on set as there is a lot of debris in the background and crew members walking by, but they are only half in-costume. They were likely just goofing around between takes.
15 Meeting Young Fans On Set
This was a moment when Benedict Cumberbatch definitely dropped out of character. While they were on set but between shots, he was standing fully dressed up in his costume and makeup as Doctor Strange. Then a fan comes over to say hi – a very young fan, in fact. Instantly, Strange is gone and Benedict is there grinning at the child. The rest of the crew who are paying attention seem to have dissolved at the cuteness factor as well. While it’s nice to see stars treating their fans well, it’s more than a little odd to see this Marvel character casually chatting with a little boy with that expression on his face. No one in films ever stops to have cutesy talks with children unless it’s furthering the plot somehow.
14 Turning Into Her Alter Ego
This shot shows a whole team of four make-up artists working on the blue make-up and skin effects for Mystique. A lot of this can be done with prosthetics, wigs, and skin applications that are made up beforehand, so it’s not as though everything has to be painted on by hand each day. That would make for a lot of work and would be very hard to get the same for each scene. That’s why these artists are using brushes with glue and touch-up paint, and tweezers, to get all of the pieces into place and then cover up the joins so you can’t tell they weren’t all part of the same look. Even with cheats like this it can still be a very long-winded process and has to be touched up with CGI.
13 Not-So-Incredible Hulk
This shot really just makes the Hulk seem completely stupid. Here, Mark Ruffalo is performing as Hulk in a motion capture suit, complete with dots all over his face to help with the tracking and a great headband on his head. He looks pretty ridiculous, especially when pulling an exaggerated facial expression to show Hulk’s rage. He looks like he’s caught some kind of infectious disease that leaves black spots on your face and causes you to evacuate your bowels in a very painful, very immediate way. We simply can’t take the character seriously at all after seeing a shot like this. Behind every grimace and growl that the Hulk makes, you can now just picture Ruffalo standing in this suit with a strained look. The original footage must be a nightmare.
12 One Giant (Safe) Leap
Here’s a great shot of Star-Lord in action, jumping right over the enemy and escaping! Well, it would be a great shot if it wasn’t for the fact that we can now see how they did it. Rather than it being a simple feat of human effort, which we might believe with a good run-up, instead he is being held in the air with wires. If you ask us, that feels a little bit like cheating. Sure, it makes sense that they have to be as safe as possible. You wouldn’t want him to misjudge his leap and end up landing on the other actors – then you would have lawsuits on your hands. But this shot is just a little bit soul-crushing when you think that they can’t even be trusted to jump on their own (and that’s probably not even Chris Pratt).
11 I Am (Nightmare) Groot
Alright, so who let Charlie from Always Sunny in Philadelphia break onto the set? Seriously, this looks like some kind of joke scene where someone burst in and disturbed all of the actors while they were working. But no, apparently this terrifying apparition is actually how they film Groot’s scenes. Some poor guy has to stand around all day dressed up in a full blue bodysuit with a fake Groot head strapped on top like some kind of grisly headdress. He looks more like an alien wearing the head of a conquered enemy to show off his power. It’s hard to believe that all of the other actors managed to work while this was going on right in their midst. Kudos to them for not constantly recoiling in horror all day.
10 Grinning Makeup Selfie
Talk about a scary selfie. These three look completely insane in their makeup, and they know it. They are posing with big smiles on their faces despite their crumbling prosthetics and face paint, in a break from the action behind the scenes. Mads Mikkelsen looks like he is almost leading a harem in this shot, with his girls cuddled up close to him. Of course, we could never suspect that something like this was really going on behind the scenes – it’s merely an innocent selfie. A creepy, weird, innocent selfie that probably shouldn’t exist. We’re a little bit scarred for life after seeing this one with such happy and casual expressions! At least Mads seemed to know that it would be inappropriate to crack a smile in this crazy look.
9 Tony Stark’s New Valets
Considering that we are led to believe that the Iron Man suit simply flies over to Tony Stark on its own accord and attaches itself to his body, this behind the scenes shot is pretty disappointing. A couple of wardrobe assistants are having to literally go around him and attach the costume bit by bit like they are his valets. Robert Downey Jr has managed to keep a hilariously noble expression on his face, making him look like a warlord of old getting dressed in his armour for battle. How long does he have to stand there with his arms in the air while they do up his costume around him? At least he does actually get to wear the suit once in a while, rather than it always being motion capture.
8 My Little Green Friend
It seems like there are more neon bodysuits on the Marvel sets than there are on a stag do in Magaluf. Here’s a pretty funny shot from behind the scenes, illustrating the difficulties that the actors have when they have to try to act alongside something that isn’t there. When your cast includes a (semi) talking tree and a talking raccoon, you have to be a bit creative about making them come to life. Hence this rather awkward shot of a very large alien man stroking the head of a human in a tight green bodysuit. It feels wrong in all kinds of ways, and not least because the actor’s expression and pose are so awkward at that moment. This is what it takes to create the movie magic that we file into theatres to see.
7 Running Against The Green Screen
When you think of the Avengers going on a charge, usually you’re picturing something really stunning. A dramatic moment when the bad guys know that their time is up. A show of power that would make anyone think twice about standing up to them. Instead, what you get is a load of actors in costumes running around against a green background. The fact that it’s all done on a stage with the graphics added in later kind of ruins things a bit, doesn’t it? It’s like when you’re a kid and you realize for the first time that Santa is actually some old guy wearing a fake wig and beard. The magic is gone, and sadly, nothing can bring it back once you know how it works behind the scenes.
6 Just Some Aliens Sharing A Joke
What happens when everyone finishes filming a scene for Guardians of the Galaxy and doesn’t have anything to do for a bit? Apparently, they stand around in the green screen stage areas, sharing a joke or two. Someone must have said something very funny, as everyone is just having the time of their lives in this shot. It’s weird to see a bunch of aliens laughing with a human, particularly these aliens who are normally very sombre on the screen. That horrible green colour just invades all Marvel movies, and though it may be necessary to add some things in with post-production, we can’t help but think that never bothering to build sets anymore is a bit lazy. We long for the days of spaceships built on Hollywood movie lots.
5 Having A Coke On Set
Aliens aren’t what they used to be. There was a time when they were mystical beings from another planet that both entranced and terrified us. Now, they’re just blue people sitting around drinking cans of Coke with a straw. Oh, and sharing selfies on Instagram while checking their latest messages on their smartphones. These three are definitely having a relaxed time. It’s also a little less impressive to see their makeup up close and without special effects. It really does just look like a normal guy with his face painted blue and a bit of plastic stuck onto his head with prosthetic glue when you’re this close. While the costumes and makeup are certainly impressive, they aren’t as good as they look in the finished edit, especially not when they involve motion capture dots.
4 Lining Up Around Tony Stark
Here’s a dramatic moment when Thor and Captain America stand over their buddy and teammate, Iron Man, hoping that he’s alright. Except that it isn’t exactly such a touching scene when you have a careful look at this behind the scenes shot. You at first think some random guy has wandered onto the set before you realize that it’s actually Mark Ruffalo, dressed up ready to perform motion capture for the Hulk. Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous as this tiny guy filling in mocap for a literal green giant? Then you realize that Iron Man has the exact same motion capture panels on his suit. Robert Downy Jr doesn’t even get to wear the Iron Man suit, they just put it on in post. How much of a downer is that?
3 Chilling With Cast Mates
These shots show groups of Marvel cast mates just hanging out together in settings that feel very weird once you have seen them on the big screen. First up, you have the cast of Doctor Strange, hanging out with the doctor himself and enjoying some food. Considering that Benedict Cumberbatch is in costume and the others aren’t, it’s probably an area set aside for the actors to relax when they aren’t filming. Then we have some of the cast members from the Avengers team hanging out together at the gym. It’s a bit dull to imagine superheroes having to put in a few hours at the gym every day in order to keep in shape. We get that they probably would need to if they were normal humans, but come on – these are superheroes!
2 Joss Whedon Tries Out The Shield
Coming out next summer: the reinvention of Captain America as an ordinary American man, represented by Joss Whedon! There’s a film that we wouldn’t pay to go see. Whedon looks very much out of place standing up on the set with the shield. We want to know whether he was showing Chris Evans something that he wanted him to do, or whether he was just trying out the shield because he’s a bit of a fanboy himself. Either way, it’s frightening to think of him getting sucked in by the power of the shield and deciding to film a few scenes himself. This is neither the superhero we asked for nor the one that we deserve. Please put the shield down now, Mr Whedon, you’re scaring us a little bit.
1 Just Three Heroes Hanging Out
To be fair, we’ve already seen Peter Parker and Tony Stark hanging out together, both in their public personas and as superheroes. There’s nothing so unusual about them standing together. But as far as the canon that we’ve seen so far in the movies, Peter Quill shouldn’t even be in the same room. While we’re at it, what is everyone wearing? Chris Pratt has come as Star-Lord quite clearly, but the other two are just dressed in their casual jackets. Was this some kind of open day where the other cast members were given a guided tour of the Guardians set or something? Please, guys, you’re freaking us out – at least until they all meet each other on the screen, we’d like to keep them separate on behind the scenes footage.