The Marvel Cinematic Universe has more than its share of witty one-liners, sarcastic comebacks, and heartfelt speeches. A lot of these memorable moments were courtesy of clever ad-libs by the MCU’s phenomenal actors. Benedict Cumberbatch started ad-libbing right in the beginning, adding a funny, unexpected line to the first Doctor Strange film.
Cumberbatch gave audiences a laugh with a hilarious ad-lib in ‘Doctor Strange’
MCU fans love the relationship between Doctor Strange and his right-hand man, Wong. At this point, the two have been through quite a lot together and have always stood by each other’s side. Wong was a mentor (of sorts) to Strange and taught him valuable lessons that helped him eventually attain Sorcerer Supreme status.
They didn’t exactly hit it off right at the start, though. When Wong met Strange for the first time, he wasn’t impressed with Strange’s snarky attitude and witty remarks. In fact, one of the most memorable lines during their initial meeting was completely improvised.
Wong had introduced himself, and Strange made a remark about him having “just one name.” He starts listing a bunch of musicians with just one name, like Adele. Wong tires of the running commentary and asks Strange what exactly he wants from him, to which Strange replies, “books on astral projection.” Wong tells him he’s not ready yet, and Cumberbatch delivers his hilarious ad-lib — “try me, Beyoncé.”
His quick thinking led to even more witty ad-libs later on
In an interview with Collider, Cumberbatch talks about how working on Infinity War taught him a lot about improvisation. He learned that there are a lot of moments when something different from the scripted lines just feels right. Having a director that allows you to run with those moments often results in great content for a film.
Cumberbatch ad-libbed a line in Infinity War that definitely made audiences laugh. During an interaction with Iron Man, Strange becomes irritated at Tony Stark’s constant quips and his barrage of insults. Cumberbatch felt Strange’s irritation and used that feeling to respond in a way that he thought would be natural for the character.
Stark asks Strange “What exactly is your job, besides making balloon animals?” to which Strange replies, “Protecting your reality, d—–bag.” Cumberbatch was even more comfortable improvising by the time Spider-Man: No Way Home rolled around. He actually improvised his most moving lines of the whole film.
After the Green Goblin is defeated, Strange is telling Peter Parker that he can’t hold back all of the villains from different timelines. Parker suggests that the sorcerer casts a spell that will make everyone forget Spider-Man, which in turn, will eliminate the threat of the infiltrating villains. It was an incredibly emotional scene, and Cumberbatch ran with that feeling, improvising the following lines:
“Yeah, it would work. But you’ve got to understand that would mean everyone who knows and loves you, we–we’d have no memory of you. It’d be as though you never existed.”
Cumberbatch isn’t the only one in the MCU who likes to think on his toes
It turns out that there is quite a bit of improvisation in the MCU. BuzzFeed reports Cumberbatch is just one of several actors who have ad-libbed lines in MCU films, and every one of them has really nailed it. These actors’ ad-libs have become memorable, often humorous moments that audiences love.
Andrew Garfield can be thanked for several of the light-hearted laughs in No Way Home. Garfield ad-libbed the “I love you guys” line when speaking to Holland and Maguire. He also was responsible for the hilarious moment when all three versions of Spider-Man are in the lab, and Ned says, “Hey Peter?” All three Peters reply, and a barrage of “who me?” begins to bounce back and forth for a couple of minutes.
Chris Hemsworth is quite the joker on the set, always trying to get a laugh out of his co-workers. In Thor: The Dark World, he hangs his hammer on the coat rack, just joking around. The cast and crew were so pleased with the joke that it became a part of the movie.
Tom Hiddleston (who plays Thor’s brother, Loki) added his own cunning improv to another Thor film. During the fight on the bridge in Thor: Ragnarok, Hiddleston finished his lines a bit early and felt funny just standing around. He decided to flip the knives he was holding, and an iconic moment was born.
Perhaps the most memorable ad-libbed line in MCU history came from Robert Downey Jr. According to IndieWire, Downey Jr. actually ad-libbed the famous “I am Iron Man” line at the end of the first Iron Man film.
Stark was holding a press conference, and during the scene, he reveals his secret identity. That wasn’t supposed to happen, but director Kevin Fiege was so thrilled with the change in direction that he left it in the movie.