"The Avengers" Is 10 Years Old This Week — Here Are 14 Behind-The-Scenes Facts And Stories From Its Production

by Ricardo Johnson

Robert Downey Jr. helped convince Mark Ruffalo to play The Hulk.

1. According to WIRED's blog Danger Room, the US military decided it couldn't collaborate with the creative team behind The Avengers because the concept of S.H.I.E.L.D. just didn't make any damn sense.

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Department of Defense representative Phil Strub told Danger Room, "We couldn't reconcile the unreality of this international organization and our place in it. To whom did S.H.I.E.L.D. answer? Did we work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? We hit that roadblock and decided we couldn't do anything."

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He added, "It just got to the point where it didn't make any sense."

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So if you've ever watched The Avengers and thought, "Huh, this doesn't seem to be a wholly accurate recreation of US military policy," that's why!

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2. Tom Hiddleston revealed during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that when Thor "strikes Loki across the face," Chris Hemsworth actually hit him. And Hiddleston was the one to suggest that they do it for real, which may make him the bravest man in Hollywood.

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Hiddleston recalled, "I was wearing the horns, which weigh about 30 pounds, and I couldn't really sell the hit, so I just said to Chris, 'I think you should just hit me in the face.' It was a terrible idea. I went down like a stone."

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In comparing stage combat to film combat, Hiddleston said, "I suppose, on stage, when you're doing a fight, you have to do it every night for 100-odd performances. I think if I was being hit in the face by Chris Hemsworth day after day, I don't know if I would be able to manage that. It wouldn't be sustainable."

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3. According to IndieWire, Jensen Ackles was originally offered the role of Hawkeye, but had to turn it down because of his pre-existing obligation to his role as Dean Winchester on Supernatural.

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4. Speaking of Hawkeye: Jeremy Renner, who ultimately took on the role, revealed during a 2016 QA that he disliked Hawkeye's plot line so much that he pulled a Harrison-Ford-as-Han-Solo and advocated for his own character's demise.

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According to the Independent, Renner said that Hawkeye getting turned into "Loki’s minion" at the beginning of The Avengers was frustrating to him, because he barely had time to get to know who Hawkeye was before he had to play a shadow of the character's former self.

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Renner explained, "I said, 'I’m giving you an option, if you just want to kick me out of this movie. Just, you know, at any given moment, if you wanna kill me off, daddy’s gonna be having a heart attack.'"

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But Renner's since made peace with Hawkeye's brief encounter with brainwashing. He said, "I don’t really want him to die now. I really got to explore him a lot, and I can’t wait to explore him more, and there’s some really cool ideas coming up. Really cool ideas. Great deaths! Amazing ways to die."

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5. In one of the superhero genre's most memorable non-sequiturs, Iron Man wakes up after his near-death experience and suggests that the team takes some time to restore themselves through the power of shawarma. According to Entertainment Weekly, this came about because Robert Downey Jr. wanted to say "something snappier" than what was originally scripted: "What's next?"

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"Please tell me nobody tried to kiss me" was another line that was added during this last-minute rewrite.

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6. According to Entertainment Weekly, while filming the post-credits scene in which the Avengers get the shawarma they rightfully deserve, Chris Evans had to wear a prosthetic to cover his facial hair. That's why he sits with his hand covering his face during the scene.

And Chris Hemsworth actually ate a pita for each take, which is probably the best kind of method acting out there. However, he thought he "might be sick" afterward, so maybe he shawarma'd too hard.

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7. Okay, this is the last shawarma one: One Los Angeles restaurant manager told TMZ that following the release of the movie, their shawarma sales went up by 80 percent.

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8. According to DVD commentary, Robert Downey Jr. improvised the line, "Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"

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9. According to the LA Times, writer-director Joss Whedon revealed during a press junket that Robert Downey Jr. insisted that Gwyneth Paltrow be included in the film, despite Whedon's belief that he "need[ed] to separate the characters from their support systems in order to create the isolation you need for a team."

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Said Whedon, "But Pepper, this was really Robert’s thing. ... He really thought Gwyneth would bring something great to the table, and we all thought so as well, but he was the one who convinced her to come and do it."

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Whedon added, "He didn’t want to be sort of, crazy alone guy, he wanted to be crazy in-a-relationship guy."

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10. In an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon , Mark Ruffalo revealed that when he expressed hesitation about accepting the role of the Hulk, Robert Downey Jr. convinced him to give it a shot.

Ruffalo said, "I was scared. I didn't know what I could add to what I had already thought had been done so well before me. And I had only been doing indie movies up 'til that point, so I was like, 'I don't know if I'm the right person for this.'"

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"And then, I got a call from Downey; it must've made it to him that I was, you know, hemming and hawing," He went on. "And he just simply said, 'Ruffalo, let's go, we got this.' In true Iron Man fashion. And then after that, I was like, 'I guess I have to do it.'"

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11. In the same interview, Ruffalo said that one of his major reservations about accepting the role had to do with the fact that he wasn't allowed to read the script first.

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He recalled, "I made a promise when I was a young actor that I would never do another movie without reading a script beforehand, because it's a recipe for disaster. ... Our only power as a young actor is our ability to say no sometimes."

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Though he was unable to read the whole script, Ruffalo got permission to read around 20 pages of Banner's material, including the scene where he is lured into meeting Black Widow in an abandoned house in India. Ruffalo said that he thought the scene was "different," "humorous," and "kind of playful," which was enough to get him on board.

12. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Downey Jr. revealed in a 2014 interview with BBC Radio One that Marvel gifted him the giant "A" from Stark Tower, the sole letter that survived the climactic battle, after he jokingly said he wanted it in his office.

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"On the last Avengers, there’s this scene where there’s this ‘A,’ which is probably 30 feet tall, and I’m looking at it, and we’re shooting in England, and I go, ‘I need that in my office in Venice.'" Downey Jr. said. "About two weeks ago, a wheeler showed up. I’m like, ‘What the heck is this doing here?’ And they go, ‘This is the ‘A’ you asked for.’ And I go, ‘They brought it?’ So now we have a massive Avengers ‘A’ that will be prominently placed.”

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13. The body of the Hulk was modeled on "Long Island bodybuilder and male stripper" Steve Romm, according to Time, while the Hulk's face was modeled after Ruffalo's own.

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14. And finally: Robert Downey Jr. told Entertainment Weekly that he initially wanted Iron Man to "drive this thing," starting with an appearance in the film's opening sequence.

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He said, "We tried it, and it didn’t work, because this is a different sort of thing; the story and the idea and the theme is the theme, and everybody is just an arm of the octopus."

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