I’m just grateful Feige let Chris Hemsworth make Thor funny.
These days, it feels like just about every movie or TV show is based on a book, news story, or other piece of media that already exists — especially comic books. However, what makes all of these adaptations and “based on” productions interesting is the way they reimagine familiar characters.
Of course, the writers and directors play a hand in reinventing a character, but the actor playing them also has a huge role. Often, an actor comes up with new lines during filming, offers a better idea for their character’s overall arc, or sees more potential in them than anyone else did.
Here are 15 Marvel actors who asked for changes to their characters and got them.
In 2018, Elizabeth Olsen expressed the desire to change her Scarlet Witch costume so that “it would just not be a cleavage corset.”
A few years later, she got to have a hand in designing her new costume for WandaVision, and her feedback on the team’s initial concept shaped the final design.
Initially, The Avengers director Joss Whedon wanted “to separate the characters from their support systems in order to create the isolation you need for a team” — which included separating Tony Stark from Pepper Potts.
However, Robert Downey Jr. “pushed hard” for his character’s love interest to be included because “he didn’t want to be sort of, crazy alone guy, he wanted to be crazy in-a-relationship guy.”
After playing Thor in two solo movies and two ensemble movies, Chris Hemsworth was “frustrated and bored,” so he met with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and told him that the god of thunder’s next movie needed to “be funnier” and “be unpredictable.”
Feigi listened and agreed, and — with Marvel Studios’ separation from Marvel Entertainment allowing for more creative freedom — he allowed director Taika Waititi to treat Thor: Ragnarok like a comedy.
Tessa Thompson wanted to confirm that Valkyrie is bisexual on screen in Thor: Ragnarok. She successfully pitched the idea to Waititi and convinced him to film a scene where a woman walks out of Valkyrie’s room.
Unfortunately, the scene was cut, even though Waititi fought to keep it in as long as he could. Regardless, Thompson was intentional about playing Valkyrie as a bi woman.
However, Thompson confirmed that finding her queen will be Valkyrie’s “first order of business” in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
The first time Scarlett Johansson saw her Black Widow costume for Iron Man 2, she “had a freak-out moment that lasted about half a day” because of how form-fitting it was.
“After Iron Man to going into Avengers, there’s been an evolution of her look. I think part of that is just gaining the trust of the executives at Marvel and kind of sitting in the character and just being able to make decisions for her,” Johansson told Fatherly.
For the character’s final film, Black Widow costume designer Jany Temime gave her suit a rubber base and an elastic seam allowance, and Johansson called it “the most comfortable outfit.”
After X2, Halle Berry said she would only return to the X-Men franchise if the script gave Storm “more to do.”
She also wanted Storm to be more like her comic book counterpart because fans “would really accost [her] on the street and be vocally angry” that Storm didn’t fly with her cape or fight much.
Thanks to Berry, Storm played a more central role in X-Men: The Last Stand.
After Daredevil was canceled, Vincent D’Onofrio wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. He told ScreenRant, “I so badly want to play that character again. I love that character. I just have to wait for Marvel to ask me.”
While planning Hawkeye a few years later, Marvel needed “a really big threat, like something that…would make Eleanor Bishop shake in her boots and Hawkeye…get a little bit afraid,” so Feige threw out the idea — “What if this could be Kingpin?”
“[Feige called and] said ‘I want to bring you into the MCU,’ and I’m not gonna say no to that,” D’Onofrio said in the Hawkeye episode of Marvel Studios: Assembled.
When Mickey Rourke met with Feige and director Jon Favreau about playing Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2, he had a trio of demands for his character — his hair in a bun, a Russian accent, and a bird.
All three of his demands were met, and Downey reportedly took a pay cut so the filmmakers could meet Rourke’s quota.
After Lupita Nyong’o read the Black Panther script for the first time, she workshopped it with director Ryan Coogler because they were both “very keen for [Nakia] to be more than just the love interest…[and] wanted her to have her own agency, to occupy her own space, as well as, of course, to support T’Challa.”
“One of the things we worked on was making her part and parcel of the main argument of the story, about whether to keep the borders open,” Nyong’o told the Hollywood Reporter.
Evangeline Lilly joined the Ant-Man cast as Hope van Dyne/Wasp after writer/director Edgar Wright left the project but before his script was fully rewritten, so she “got a chance to sort of say, ‘Hey, why don’t you beef up my character and give her a really full arc?'”
“All the suggestions that I put forward and the things that I would ask for, like, ‘What about this?’ or ‘We can do this with her,’ [Marvel was] very amenable to it and they were very open to it. And then they would take it even farther,” she told Collider.
When Tom Holland was filming the big finale for Spider-Man: No Way Home, he “kept stopping and being like, ‘I’m so sorry, I just don’t believe what I’m saying.'”
So, director Jon Watts pulled him aside, and they agreed the scene was wrong.
“We sat down, we went through it, and we came up with a new idea. Then we pitched it to the writers, they rewrote it, and it works great,” Holland told GQ.
Samuel L. Jackson has “been doing Nick Fury for so long, [he knows] what he sounds like and…how he thinks and how he feels” — so he often helps Marvel screenwriters get his character’s voice down.
“There are times, when I’m in the midst of doing or studying the lines for the next day or the scene that we’re doing, that I can tell, ‘The writer knows what he wants to say, but he hadn’t said it, so let me help,’ and I’ll write it,” he told Collider.
“The next day when I go in, I’ll pull that person to the side and say, ‘Look, I know you wrote this, but this is a better way to say that as Nick Fury,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh my God. Well, you’re Nick Fury, so yeah,'” he said.
In the original version of the Black Widow scene where Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian tries to comfort Yelena Belova, he was supposed to simply say something then leave after she told him to get out — but David Harbour wanted to make it more profound.
He told Insider that he said, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if back in America when she was little and was terrified, having been taken from her family, the Red Guardian would put her in the car and drive around and play ‘American Pie’? So from then on, she tells daddy to put in the tape.”
He continued, “So for this bedroom scene, I’m thinking, he’s a failure as a father, what can he do at the end of this scene?’ This narcissist who also has a big heart. And so he brings up the song, basically as him saying, ‘I tried.'”
Florence Pugh “really wanted Yelena to be odd and strange and have weird timing and to fight awesomely.”
Director Cate Shortland allowed her to “think freely, to create this character and to make her as weird as [Pugh] wanted her to [be].”
And finally, Chris Evans was initially hesitant to accept the lead role in Captain America: The First Avenger, and when he finally joined the cast, he “was very conscious of not wanting snark.”
His understanding of Captain America helped the screenwriters realize “that Steve Rogers was born Captain America, he just didn’t have the body.”
He also “may have taken a joke or two out” of the script.