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Sacrifices That Marvel Movie Actors Had To Make

What would you do to be in a Marvel movie? For many of the studio's rabid fans, the answer is simple: anything. However, some actors have learned that while starring in a Marvel blockbuster ranks at or near the top of Hollywood's highest-profile gigs, it can come with complications that are often less than ideal. Uncomfortable costumes, rigorous schedules, hardcore diet restrictions, and punishing workout regimens are only a handful of potential issues that actors in the MCU have had to endure for their paychecks.

If you're going to star in a superhero movie, you need to have a superhero attitude and willingness to go above and beyond expectations. Peter Parker's Uncle Ben always said that with great power comes great responsibility; likewise, the MCU proves that with great roles come great sacrifices. Here are some examples of sacrifices that actors had to make for their roles in Marvel movies.

A close shave for Nebula

In an interview with Slashfilm, Karen Gillan revealed that when she was offered the role of Nebula for Guardians of the Galaxy, she was told she would need to make a major change to her appearance. "I was told even before I auditioned that the actress who got this would have to shave her head, and I didn't think I was gonna get it," she recalled. "Then like three screen tests later, it was 'Oh God, this might actually happen.' And then I got the part, and I thought about it seriously, and I was like, 'I absolutely want to shave my head for this.' Because, I mean, the opportunity is too good to pass up."

Gillan went on to state that the new haircut was actually quite liberating, and that it was interesting seeing how people reacted, even though "men don't hold the door open as much" anymore. In an industry where so much is dependent on one's physical appearance, Karen Gillan's decision to shave her head was quite brave.

An archer with no arms

Maybe Jeremy Renner should stop doing his own stunts. In 2017, Renner fractured both of his arms while shooting a stunt for the comedy Tag. His co-star, Jon Hamm, revealed that the production team was able to edit out Renner's injured arms by having him wear green screen casts. 

Although he was able to finish shooting Tag, production on Avengers: Endgame began right after the film wrapped. With two broken arms, Renner had to pick up Hawkeye's bow and fire arrow after arrow, fighting pain the whole time. Renner remarked that although it was a battle, he got through it the best that he could: "What else do you do, you just stop and cry and everyone go home? You know what I mean? I'd be like, 'sorry guys, I'm not going to use a bow and arrow now in Avengers,' it's silly, so I have to kind of push through so that you can perform for everyone." It would appear as though a bit of Captain America's toughness has rubbed off on Jeremy Renner.

Bod over beer

Chris Pratt's transformation from Parks & Recreation's pudgy Andy Dwyer into Guardians of the Galaxy's shredded Peter Quill is a testament to what diet, discipline, and exercise can do for the body. According to Men's Journal, when Pratt auditioned for the role, he was roughly 300 pounds. Six months later, he'd managed to lose an astounding 60 pounds.

Marvel paired Pratt with Duffy Gaver, a personal trainer, and Phil Goglia, the nutritionist who wrote Turn Up the Heat: Unlock the Fat Burning Power of Your Metabolism. Together, they revamped Pratt's diet, intensified his workouts (including sessions of P90X and even a triathlon), and, perhaps most importantly, made him stop drinking beer. Although the lifestyle changes must've been difficult, Pratt ultimately enjoyed becoming ripped, commenting that "it gave him a sense of absolute control." It's hard to imagine Guardians of the Galaxy without Chris Pratt as the lead, but had he not made some major changes, we could be looking at a very different cast.

Who's writing this thing?

Back in 2008, nobody knew that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would grow to become the box office Goliath it is today. In fact, production for Iron Man, the film that started it all, was a bit more willy-nilly than one might expect. In an interview with InContention, Jeff Bridges, who played primary antagonist Obadiah Stane, claimed that Marvel had no script prior to setting the film's release date, and that he would show up to the set having absolutely no idea what he was going to say in any given scene. 

While this kind of spontaneity is suitable for actors like Downey, who is notorious for improvising, it really got under Bridges' skin. "It freaked me out," he confessed. "I was very anxious. I like to be prepared. I like to know my lines, man, that's my school. Very prepared. That was very irritating." Bridges even went on to state that it felt like he was working on a $200 million student film. For an Oscar-winning actor to endure those kind of conditions, you have to assume that it required a lot of patience.

Crabby (over) Patty

Before she went on to direct DC's smash hit Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins was attached to Thor: The Dark World. This was a huge deal because it would've made Jenkins the first female to direct a superhero blockbuster. Perhaps on an equally important note, Jenkins' hiring played a huge part in making Natalie Portman re-engaged in the MCU. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Portman had been contemplating taking a few years off from acting, primarily to spend time raising her baby boy. When Marvel announced they had hired Jenkins, Portman was "proud that she would have played a role in opening the door for a woman to direct such a film."

Thus, you can only imagine how upset Portman was when Marvel dismissed Jenkins for allegedly "not moving decisively enough" and putting the film at risk of missing its release date. Instead, Game of Thrones' Alan Taylor was chosen to direct, and Portman had to buckle down and fulfill her contract.

Black Widow Baby

The last thing you want to do when you're pregnant is shoot scenes for a multi-million dollar action movie. Nothing quite like growing a tiny human while surrounded by explosions, gunfire, and flying, evil robots, right? Still, that didn't seem to stop Scarlett Johansson, who starred in Avengers: Age of Ultron while pregnant with her first daughter, Rose Dorothy Dauriac.

Johansson told E! News that when she was unable to film a particular scene, one of her three stand-ins would wear dotted maps on their faces, guiding visual effects artists who would later graft Johansson's face onto their bodies in post-production. As she put it, "I did as much as I could do and filled in all the blanks later on." It's really cool that we live in an age where technology can so drastically alter the way movies are shot, but you still have to admire Johansson's determination to show up to the set while pregnant. The Hulk never had to do that!

Take my breath away

In Captain America: Civil War, Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther treated audiences to a memorable debut in the MCU, standing with Team Iron Man and going blow for blow with Captain America. Boseman's T'Challa was endearing as the Wakandian royal, but things were really kicked up a notch when he finally appeared in his badass vibranium suit. However, unbeknownst to the audience, the man behind the mask was actually struggling to breathe.

As he told Variety, Boseman's first experience in the Black Panther suit was not pleasant: "It was suffocating. Literally, it closed off every possibility of air getting to you," he recalled. "I was in it, put the mask on. I said, 'Hey, you got to get me out of this!'" Although he eventually became acclimated to the suit, Boseman isn't quick to forget how challenging the experience was. Maybe T'Challa should've mentioned something about that to Shuri before he left for Vienna!

Captain America on a budget

Chris Evans has made a pretty penny by donning Captain America's stars and stripes. For his part in the first Avengers movie, he earned around $2 million, but his salary has since grown exponentially, as he reportedly took home $15 million each for both Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. However, Marvel wasn't always so willing to shell out the big bucks for the Avengers' team leader.

Evans reportedly only earned $300,000 for his role in Captain America: The First Avenger. To put that into perspective, Marvel paid Robert Downey Jr. $500,000 for Iron Man at a time when Downey was untouchable at most studios due to his bad reputation. Evans, on the other hand, had a budding career, even previously starring as the Human Torch in 2005's Fantastic Four. With a resume so well-suited for the role, it's somewhat surprising that Evans didn't negotiate for more money to play Captain America upfront, despite the fact that it ended up working out for him in the long run. Talk about a steal for Marvel.

It's not easy being green

Although he was already a big name in the WWE, Dave Bautista's big Hollywood break came in 2014 when he was cast as Drax the Destroyer for James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy. As the meat-headed muscle of Peter Quill's ragtag team of outcasts, Bautista's Drax won the hearts of audiences around the world, both for his emotional backstory and inadvertent comedy. He also looked like he genuinely walked straight out of a comic book.

Unsurprisingly, makeup as complex as Drax' is no easy feat. Chris Pratt claimed that Bautista stood the entire time his makeup was applied, but never complained about it. In an interview with Slashfilm, Bautista opened up about the process, claiming that when they first started doing it, the makeup team took roughly five hours to put it on, and another hour and a half to take it off. When asked if he forgot about the makeup as the day went on, Bautista responded: "No, no, no. I constantly feel dirty. I just feel dirty and sticky even after I take it off." There's no denying that Bautista is a trooper for keeping such a positive attitude during what must've been a dreadful process.

Loki doesn't toot his own horns

In an interview with Collider, Tom Hiddleston admitted that when he learned he had been cast as Loki for 2011's Thor, he was so overcome with excitement that he screamed and had to sit down on the pavement outside a pub in North London. He knew that the role was a life-changer, and he was obviously thrilled to have such an opportunity. Still, it wasn't all sunshine and Asgard rainbow bridges.

Hiddleston recalled that although it was pivotal to Loki's costume, donning the giant horned helmet was an uncomfortable experience. "We've had to work with it because they [the horns] are very heavy. And because my ears are closed off, I can't hear very well," he explained. "And it becomes quite claustrophobic." He knew that it looked great in playback, but acting in it felt strange. Still, Hiddleston did his best to keep it all in perspective: "I read a story about Christian Bale complaining about the Batsuit and saying, like, 'I'm trying not to complain because I get to be Batman.' So I'm trying not to complain about the horns because I get to be Loki, you know?"

Not an accommodating cameo

As Heimdall, Idris Elba is Thor's Bifrost-summoning Asgardian battle buddy. As himself, however, Elba's bio is a bit tougher to label, given that he dabbles in a couple different professions. Long before he was voted People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive," Elba was a promising DJ in the east London bar scene. Despite the fame that his prestigious resume in film and television has brought him, he still makes time for his musical passion, even landing a set at Coachella.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Elba discussed how difficult it can be to balance the "mixed-bag nature" of his professional schedule. During production on Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel execs flipped the script and summoned the Bifrost on Elba, who had a summer DJ residency at Ibiza Rocks at the same time. Elba recalls that coming out of character for the cameo and going directly into party mode had his head spinning: "I really just wasn't there," he later admitted. "I was annoyed." For actors with versatile careers like Idris Elba, Marvel's demanding schedule can make things quite difficult.

Vision and meditation

You can take one look at Paul Bettany's Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron and know that the process of turning him into the android Avenger was not a quick, easy one. Between makeup, prosthetics, and the costume itself, it reportedly took about three and a half hours every day to transform Bettany into Vision. Still, he found a uniquely positive way to look at it: "Mainly the pain in the ass was the prosthetics and stuff that you know is as uncomfortable as getting paid a lot of money to be uncomfortable is, which is not really that uncomfortable."

In order to cope with the overwhelming makeup process, Bettany found peace in meditation. "You have to meditate, and, frankly, I meditate on the long line of actors that would love to be in my position right now. You really remember how fortunate you are. But there is no getting away from the fact that it's uncomfortable and challenging, in terms of keeping your inner peace." It surely took a lot of mental fortitude to undergo the makeup chair every day, but Bettany did it because he believed in the success of the MCU.