These days, there's more than one way to experience the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to the MCU's Disney+ series, Disney and Marvel Studios have also unveiled Avengers Campus, an MCU theme park land at the Disneyland Resort, as well as a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster at Walt Disney World. But for their latest addition, Disney and Marvel took to the high seas with Disney Cruise Line's Worlds of Marvel restaurant on the Disney Wish, starring Ant-Man's Paul Rudd.
As part of the three primary dining experiences aboard Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, the Disney Wish, Worlds of Marvel offers menu items from Wakanda, Sokovia, New York City, Shang-Chi's Ta Lo, and even Madripoor from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. All the while, guests are entertained by Ant-Man's Scott Lang and the Wasp's Hope van Dyne as they showcase new technology on behalf of the Avengers.
Much like Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel's Kamala Khan, Scott is no stranger to pop culture; and as footage from the Worlds of Marvel has previously shown, he's aware of meme culture as well.
When kicking off his presentation aboard the Disney Wish, Lang addresses why he "didn't shrink down, go in and uh... kill Thanos in a really creative way", as many on the internet have questioned.
While Hope quickly redirects the conversation, Marvel fans were both surprised and amused by Disney and Marvel even referencing this particular Ant-Man and Thanos meme in its latest MCU experience, and video footage of the unexpected meme joke went viral on social media. Now, Disney Imagineering has explained just how this Avengers: Endgame joke made into Worlds of Marvel.
Paul Rudd Improvised the Viral Thanos Reference
The Direct's Savannah Sanders had the opportunity to talk with Imagineer Danny Handke, the Creative Director for Worlds of Marvel, who shared that Loki and Doctor Strange 2 writer Michael Waldron was brought in to "help punch the script" for Worlds of Marvel. On top of that, Paul Rudd actually "took the script and improvised it" and his take on the Thanos joke is "what made it into the show:"
"Before we shoot, we usually bring in a Marvel writer to help punch the script and it was Michael Waldron; he added more jokes and things. And, Scott Lang, the whole thing about him was he's nervous about giving a presentation. He's never - post-Endgame - been a public speaker before, so this is one of his first public speaking engagements we get to witness. And so Michael put the Thanos joke in there as kind of an icebreaker for him that's super awkward, and Hope is like, 'Oh my gosh. What are you talking about?'"
However, Handke and others weren't always confident the joke would make it into Disney Cruise Line's new Marvel-themed restaurant or if Paul Rudd would be willing to go for it:
"Then, we were like, can we get away this? We're not sure; and would Paul be willing to do this knowing that it's this big meme and everything? And, he did it in his own Paul way. He took the script and improvised it and created this really funny version of it and that's what made it into the show."
When asked if anything from Worlds of Marvel's "Avengers: Quantum Encounter" and if the Quantum Core tech Scott and Hope are demonstrating will have any connection to 2023's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Handke said, "not at the moment", but that doesn't mean upcoming MCU stories won't find their way on board at some point.
"Not at the moment. We were engaged with the Quantumania team to see where they were taking Scott and Hope and where that storyline is going. But we decided to just keep the focus on the story happening in the restaurant. The cool thing about the design of the restaurant is that the stories can evolve over time, so there's always endless possibilities on the Disney Wish of where we can take the show in the future."
Paul Rudd's Thanos Jokes Don't Get Any Bigger
While the Marvel experiences offered at the Disney Parks and now aboard the Disney Cruise Line exist within their own universe and are not considered Marvel canon, that doesn't mean those experiences won't be influenced by events within the MCU or fan discussion.
The decision to integrate the internet joke about how Ant-Man could've theoretically killed Thanos is proof of that. And, it also shows that these physical, tangible MCU experiences Disney is creating are allowing fan conversation and fandoms to intersect in unique and creative ways.
It's also great to know that Disney is bringing in Marvel writers, such as Michael Waldron, to make sure these experiences are in tune with the tone and flavor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And, the fact that Paul Rudd was able to put his own spin on the script, just as he would for a film, illustrates both Disney's respect for the Marvel brand and its commitment to making these new experiences as authentically MCU as possible.
Since the restaurant was designed to adapt and evolve with the ever-growing universe, it will be interesting to see what Worlds of Marvel will come to offer in the future.
However, it's safe to say that Handke and Imagineering have set the bar pretty high, as it's hard to imagine anything topping Scott Lang addressing that Thanos internet meme as an ice breaker and a fan's start to their dinner!