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Marvel Scenes That Were Incredibly Difficult To Film

When you're watching a Marvel film, it's impossible not to get caught up in the action. As your favorite superheroes fight battles in the cosmos, race after villains in high-speed car chases, and save the world in the nick of time, the amount of work that went into the film doesn't even cross your mind. But after the credits have rolled (and you've caught the post-credits scenes), you might start thinking about the most memorable moments in the film and wonder, "Wait, how did they pull that off?"

Today, there's practically no limit to what a film crew can do with a big enough budget. But shooting an action-packed superhero blockbuster isn't all about relying on CGI or stunt doubles (although both do come into play). There are plenty of other tricky techniques that make these impressive scenes possible. Here's how the cast and crew behind the MCU films managed to bring the most challenging scenes to life from the script to the screen. 

Iron Man - Building the arc reactor

What was the most difficult scene to shoot in the Iron Man films? It wasn't a carefully choreographed fight sequence, a dramatic character death, or a massive explosion. Nope, it was actually a slow-paced scene in the very first Iron Man in which Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) builds his arc reactor while being held hostage in a cave. The extreme close-up shots demanded precision and a certain level of attention to detail. 

Russell Bobbitt, the prop master at Marvel, said in an interview with Cinema Blend that it was the actually the most challenging task he's been responsible for at the studio. They wanted the design of the arc reactor to look realistic; after all, Stark is supposed to be a genius. To make him come across as an expert, Bobbitt had to walk Downey through the engineering process process step-by-step. "I taught him how wiring works," Bobbitt said. "He soldered and we have these extreme close up shots and it really defined Iron Man in that moment."

Ant-Man and the Wasp - The size-changing suit

Sometimes, the scenes that give the cast and crew the biggest headaches aren't the moments that the audience would expect. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, a scene in which Ant-Man's size-changing suit goes haywire made for a stressful day on set. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) suddenly begins changing unpredictably in size. All this time, he's alongside the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), who also grows and shrinks. How did they make this look realistic?

"We had to mix different size props, because Evangeline and I are both in the scene at the same time," Rudd told RadioTimes. "She's handing me a backpack, I'm grabbing a backpack, I'm handing things to her, but we have to pinpoint the exact location of our hands."

Shooting this scene also required the use of special camera equipment. "It was the only time we had to use this motion control camera," said director Peyton Reed, "which takes a lot of programming, and higher mathematics."

Avengers: Endgame - Hawkeye's archery scenes

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is known for his incredible archery skills. Give him a bow and arrow, and he can take anyone down. Unfortunately for Renner, an accident on the set of his film Tag, which he appeared in prior to shooting Avengers: Endgame, left him with two broken arms — which makes it a bit difficult to use a bow an arrow. While filming a chase scene, he fell off a tall stack of chairs, sustaining fractures in both arms. He completed filming for Tag with casts on, which were edited out in post, and then went straight into working on Endgame

Renner dedicated all of his efforts to healing as quickly as possible. He went to physical therapy on a daily basis and resolved to simply deal with the pain while shooting Endgame; he didn't want to let anyone else down. 

"What else do you do, you just stop and cry and everyone go home?" Renner told Entertainment Weekly. "I'd be like, 'sorry guys, I'm not going to use a bow and arrow now in Avengers' ... so I have to kind of push through so that you can perform for everyone."

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Peter falling into the lake

During his time as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man, Tom Holland has taken part in his fair share of challenging scenes. Some stunts are riskier than others, and that's when his double takes over. Holland likes to be the one in front of the camera whenever possible, but sometimes, he just doesn't have the skills to handle the stunt and come out unscathed. 

Holland admitted on a Facebook live chat that the scene from Spider-Man: Homecoming in which Peter Parker is snatched up by Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, dropped into a lake, and then saved by Iron Man was the most dangerous stunt in the film. His stunt double was flown in under a helicopter and then dunked in the lake. Needless to say, after watching it all play out, Holland was grateful that he was on the sidelines, despite his initial insistence on doing the stunt himself. 

"I was like, 'Let me do it. Let me do it,'" Holland said. "When I saw him do it and get dunked in the lake, I'm so happy I let him do that one because that was the scariest thing I've ever seen."

Black Panther - T'Challa and Ulysses Klaue's fight scene

Black Panther is one of those films that is practically impossible to look away from; the sleek, futuristic technology, the stunning costumes, the vibrant makeup, and the unbelievable sets made this movie a feast for the eyes. But it wasn't all just a visual spectacle. There was plenty of good, old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat too, and those were some of the toughest scenes to shoot. 

When Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) duke it out on the streets of South Korea, it looks like a fairly straightforward fight scene. But Boseman brought his A-game to the first take, and Serkis was completely unprepared for it. 

"(The) very, very first take, he (Boseman) kneed me so hard in the chest, 'cause he couldn't really see with his mask on," Serkis said on PeopleTV's Couch Surfing series. "I thought like, he broke my ribs on the very first take! ... I thought, 'I am literally going to die here.'"

To make matters worse, that take was only the first of many; they shot that scene 30 times before finally getting it right. And yes, that included flipping and crashing Klaue's car over and over again. 

The Avengers - Thor kidnapping Loki

In The Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is one of six superheroes tasked with saving the world from his adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor holds on to the hope that his familial connection with Loki will be the key to thwarting Loki's plans. At one point, Thor abducts Loki from a ship manned by the other Avengers, with the ultimate goal of convincing him to abandon his evil plot. In order to film this scene, Hemsworth was rigged up on wires so that he could "fly." But his landing was far from a perfect 10. In fact, it took him several takes before he could stick it. 

"I had to come down and land on the cliff, step and have the conversation. For the first couple of takes ... I just face-planted into the dirt," Hemsworth told Collider. "It was incredibly ungraceful and unsuperhero-like." Hemsworth may play a superhero, but he's certainly not infalliable. As it turns out, Thor can actually be a bit of a klutz. 

Dr. Strange - Fighting in the mirror dimension

Dr. Strange is regarded as one of the most visually stunning Marvel films. The effects are creative, and no scene exemplifies this like the chase sequence in the Mirror Dimension, in which Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) goes after Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) while bending the fabric of reality at will. As Strange and Mordo make their way through New York City, the scene turns into a crazy trip: buildings ripple, the skyline fractures, and the laws of physics no longer apply. 

This was an extremely complex scene to pull together. "We looked at [Christopher Nolan's] Inception and kaleidoscopes, Escher, Mandalas and all that fractal stuff," visual effects editor Stephane Ceretti told the Los Angeles Times. "Every single shot was, 'How are we going to shoot that?'"

Bringing it to life involved using treadmills so that Strange and Mordo could "run" up moving skyscrapers, lots of strategic cuts from footage captured at different heights, rotating shots in post-production, and securing Cumberbatch and Ejiorfor with wires so they could "fly." At first, it was actually too much for test audiences to take in.

"It had to go under the knife many times ... some things were so complicated, it didn't matter how cool it was," said editor Wyatt Smith. "It scrambled your brain."

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Baby Groot dancing

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opened with a scene that totally summed up the spirit of the franchise. Baby Groot, seemingly oblivious to the battle going down behind him, kicks off the film with a little dance number. He turns on the speakers, blasts "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra, and starts jamming away. In the meantime, Gamora, Peter Quill, and the rest of the gang are giving it their all against a massive space monster in the background. 

What made this scene surprisingly difficult to shoot? Combining the live-action fight choreography with the animation of Baby Groot dancing in post-production. The actors and camera crew all had to be conscious of a character that wasn't even on screen. 

"In almost every part of that scene, there'll be live-action footage," cinematographer Henry Braham said in an interview with Vulture. He went on to explain, "You're allowing space for the animated characters within the frame ... But the camera is doing what the camera is doing on the movie and it's on the set."

Iron Man - The "Heads Up Display" scenes

Since the Iron Man suit hides Tony Stark's face (even though he doesn't exactly try to keep his identity a secret), the filmmakers had to come up with a way to reveal Stark's expressions when he's suited up. The answer? The "Heads-Up Display" scenes, which show audiences exactly what's going on behind the Iron Man mask. 

In order to film these scenes, Downey had to sit in front of a blank background and simply say his lines. Sure, it wasn't physically hard, but he says these were the hardest scenes for him to film. Why? He works best with other actors around; in the HUD scenes, he had no real action to react to. 

In an interview with Yahoo, Downey gave an example of what it was like to film a typical HUD scene. "Oh, the most important woman in your life is falling off crane into a fiery pit. Okay? So, let's just rehearse once and then we'll do it about 10 or 12 times until the camera is right and you've given enough," Downey joked. "They're just screaming direction at you... It's like irritation therapy."

Avengers: Age of Ultron - The Seoul car chase

The stunt men and women of the MCU carry some of the wildest scenes on their backs — and unfortunately, they don't often get the recognition they deserve. And some of them even do double-duty for multiple superheroes! Bobby Holland Hanton, who did stunts for both Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron, often trained morning and night at the gym and ate seven or eight meals each day to bulk up. 

Out of all the scenes he had to shoot, Hanton said that his biggest challenge was the car chase sequence in South Korea, in which he filled in as Evans' double. And yes, he really "surfed" on that car door as they sped down the road. One slip up, and he would've been unable to fulfill his stunt obligations for Thor a few weeks later. 

"It was a new experience for me. I had not done much outside of the vehicle work, with live roads and live traffic," said Hanton in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I had to really be focused and on top of my game and make sure everything for me was in place."

Captain Marvel - Working with "Goose"

Captain Marvel might have no problem taking on supervillains, but Brie Larson, the actress who plays her, has one four-legged foe that could put her out of commission at any time: cats. Yes, Larson is highly allergic to cats, and since Carol Danvers has an adorable orange tabby cat named Goose, this posed a problem on set. Larson said she had no issues with the physical demands of the role, but working with a cat was seriously uncomfortable.

"It became this joke because the crew would watch me all day doing crazy stunts," Larson told Entertainment Weekly. "But then the cat showed up on set and I was like, 'We need to have a plan! We need to have a conversation!'"

How could the crew shoot scenes with Larson and Goose without sending her into a sneezing fit? To solve the problem, they used three different "cats" during production. Sometimes, a CGI cat was added in post, and they also used a realistic-looking cat puppet. And for scenes where only the real thing would do, they brought in Reggie, an older orange tabby cat.

Avengers: Endgame - Photo op with the Hulk

Avengers: Endgame didn't just feature all of the biggest names in the MCU; plenty of familiar faces that had supporting roles in other Marvel films showed up for cameo appearances. Fans saw Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, among others. You might think that getting all of these stars back together would be practically impossible to schedule, but for the most part, director Anthony Russo said that figuring out when they could pay a visit to the set wasn't too complicated. However, there was one cameo scene that took a while to come together.

"The hardest one was a scene in the movie where it's the scene in the diner where we introduced Smart Hulk the first time," director Anthony Russo told Cleveland.com

While Ant-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, and the Hulk are at a diner, three kids walk in who just happen to be huge Hulk fans and ask for a picture. They weren't just extras: they were actually Russo's son, niece, and nephew. Why was it so tough to get them into the film? Their school schedules didn't align neatly with the shooting schedule. Clearly, the Russo family puts education first.