"The Avengers" changed everything.
Its several-movies-in-the-making team-up of Earth's Mightiest Heroes inspired every studio with similar IP to combine their various characters all under one roof; some of these movies were successful ("X-Men: Days of Future Past") while others were "Batman v Superman" and the messy-looking "Justice League."
Joss Whedon's blockbuster, with its then-$200 million opening weekend record, earned its assembling (see what we did thar?) of characters while sending other studios scrambling to populate their slates with the reigning genre in Hollywood -- the comic book movie. As the film turns five years old this week (happy birthday!), here are a few things you might know about the making of the shawarma-lovin' gang's first (and, so far, best) adventure.
1. Zak Penn wrote an early draft of the script, hence why he gets a story credit on the finished film. When Joss Whedon got his hands on it, he did a page-one rewrite. And then, he kind of trashed it. The director bluntly stated: "There was a script. There just wasn't a script I was going to film a word of." (Shots. Fired.)
2. "I don't think you have anything. Pretend this draft never happened." That's what Whedon told Marvel Studios head and "Avengers" producer Kevin Feige during a meeting on the project. (Don't mince words, Joss, tell us what you really think.)
3. After dropping several megatons of truth bombs, Whedon (according to Vanity Fair) "went home, wrote a five-page treatment of his Avengers vision," and was then given the go-ahead to reshape the movie to fit his plans for it.
4. Whedon's document, according to Feige, "was incredibly well written and articulate and full of great ideas." It ended with the tagline "The Avengers: Some Assembly Required."
5. Marvel loved that "Some Assembly Required" tagline so much that they used it to end an early teaser for the film that ran at the end of Captain America's first film in 2011.
6. Marvel is famous for giving their filmmakers story guidelines -- think narrative tentpoles -- that they want them to hit in their movies. According to a 2014 Whedon biography, the stipulations Marvel gave Whedon included: All the Avengers had to (ahem) assemble, Loki had to be involved, there needed to be a battle between the good guys by the film's mid-point, and an even bigger final set piece battle for the end of the film between our heroes and the alien army destroying NYC.
7. Whedon didn't mind the above guidelines. In his 2014 biography, he said: "I was like, 'Great, you just gave me your three acts.' Now all I have to do is justify getting to those places and beyond them."
8. For years, Whedon was on Marvel's radar for various projects. In the early 2000s, Marvel met with Whedon to discuss being involved on an Iron Man film when New Line had the rights to the project.
9. Marvel's offer for Whedon to write and direct the film came with several production mandates. The shoot had to be done in 92 days, with a quick turnaround for post-production and for all the film's CG-heavy sequences.
9. For years, Whedon was on Marvel's radar for various projects. In the early 2000s, Marvel met with Whedon to discuss being involved on an Iron Man film when New Line had the rights to the project.
10. Recently, storyboard animatics leaked for deleted/alternate scenes from the film. While the animatics have since been removed by Marvel's internet ninjas, they included an alternate opening sequence where Iron Man battles a convoy of para-military looking guys (or Hydra) in a tree-lined area or jungle setting, where Iron Man's missile firing malfunctions. His solution? Yank the missile from his launcher, throw it at the bad guy, and ignite it with a repulsor ray.
11. Another deleted scene features Black Widow and Cap on the QuinJet, en route to Stark Tower. When asked if Tony might be susceptible to Loki's unique brand of mind control in the film, Natasha quips something to the affect of: "Fly faster. Fly much faster."
12. Also, Tony's meeting with Loki at Stark Tower was depicted different. With Tony remarking to the puny god "Solid smoke. Quality mirrors." in response to the baddie's shady (and violent) theatrics so far.
13. Iron Man's introduction in the film, cutting from Steve Rogers' line about leaving the Tesseract in the ocean to Iron Man working underwater, was a late-in-the-edit suggestion from Feige. Originally, Iron Man was not given such a natural segue.
14. During the lab scene aboard the Helicarrier -- remember those berries Tony Stark offered Banner? Those aren't props. They belong to RDJ. The actor reportedly kept food and snacks hidden all over the lab set and no one could find them. So anytime he eats in the final film, that's just because Downey Jr. was hungry.
15. The film's tricky shooting schedule made it nearly impossible for all of the cast to be on set in New Mexico at the same time. But when they were, Chris Evans texted them one thing -- "Assemble." This lead to a great night out, according to Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg.
16. In the comics, Ant-Man and the Wasp are two of the Avengers' founding members. Whedon had to cut them from his script, however, because the film already had enough characters to juggle without those two in the mix. (And they may have also been cut because Marvel could have been early days in the planning of Ant-Man's solo film by then.)
17. The shawarma end-credits tag that everyone loves? It was shot the night of the film's Hollywood premiere.
18. Here's the breakdown from EW on how that scene came about: "In the original script, [Tony] awakens with a start and asks, "What's next?" But during filming, Downey was notorious for pushing for variations and felt that line could be something snappier. Whedon agreed, and penned several new versions of the scene in a notebook the day of shooting.