8 Wildest Marketing Stunts The MCU Has Pulled Off Over Its 16 Year History


  • Marvel’s creative marketing for Deadpool & Wolverine includes a provocative popcorn bucket designed like Hugh Jackman’s mouth.
  • Marvel’s Ant-Man promo featured stars Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas slapping themselves and exclaiming, “Ants! Ants! Ant-Man!”
  • Marvel’s Secret Invasion series cleverly integrated Skrulls into real-world news segments to promote the show’s theme of alien infiltration.



The Marvel Cinematic Universe has included some highly memorable marketing strategies since its inception in 2008. Many movies from the MCU timeline were promoted in a fairly typical manner, using trailers, posters, and interviews to stoke excitement for pending releases. However, some notable examples employed decidedly creative tactics that perfectly captured the characters, tone, and narrative in some of the more eccentric MCU movies.

The best MCU movies and television series were often foreshadowed by an eye-catching and dynamic promotional campaign. A notable entrant among these is Marvel’s 2024 release, Deadpool & Wolverine, which has maintained the franchise’s former use of unconventional market methods. Whether through cleverly designed images, viral marketing, or comedic lampooning, Marvel has truly mastered the art of promoting its movies.

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8 Deadpool & Wolverine’s Bizarre Popcorn Bucket

Deadpool & Wolverine (2024)

Deadpool & Wolverine Popcorn Bucket

Marvel unveiled a hilariously inventive popcorn bucket design for Deadpool and Wolverine, taking a cue from the inadvertently suggestive popcorn bucket for Dune 2. In a cheeky move, Ryan Reynolds promised to outdo Dune‘s design, and the result did not disappoint. The new popcorn bucket, revealed on X by Ryan Reynolds, is shaped like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine’s open mouth and is arguably even more provocative than its predecessor. Mimicking the concept of sticking hands into the sandworm’s mouth, audiences must reach into Wolverine’s mouth to access their popcorn.

The bucket’s side featured a “Designed by Deadpool” signature, adding an extra layer of comedic flair. This signature, resembling Wade Wilson’s handwriting, further reinforced the notion that Deadpool is involved in the creation decisions behind the bucket. Marvel’s Deadpool and Wolverine popcorn bucket offers a unique and entertaining way to enjoy snacks at the movies but also serves as a clever marketing tool that capitalizes on cinematic trends, the characters’ personalities, and audience appeal. This is one of several successful moments of self-aware marketing that the franchise has deployed for Deadpool & Wolverine.

Deadpool and Wolverine Poster Showing Wade Wilson's Swords Showing Hugh Jackman's Reflection

Deadpool & Wolverine

A sequel to the highly successful Deadpool and Deadpool 2 starring Ryan Reynolds as the Merc with a Mouth. The third film will be the first film in the franchise to be developed under the Marvel Studios banner following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Ryan Reynolds is returning to play the character, alongside Hugh Jackman, reprising his Wolverine role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time. 

Director Shawn Levy Release Date July 26, 2024 Cast Ryan Reynolds , Hugh Jackman , Morena Baccarin , Brianna Hildebrand , Jennifer Garner , Peggy (Dog) Franchise(s) Deadpool , Marvel Cinematic Universe

7 Ants! Ants! Ant-Man! Trailer

Ant-Man (2015)

The “Ants” promo for Ant-Man was a humorous and memorable piece of MCU marketing that showcased the film’s playful tone. Featuring stars Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, the promo took a lighthearted approach to build excitement for the movie. In the clip, both actors are seen slapping themselves while exclaiming, “Ants! Ants! Ant-Man!” The absurdity of the situation, coupled with the actors’ committed performances, captured the quirky spirit of the film and its embrace of humor within the superhero genre.

Paul Rudd, known for his comedic timing, and Michael Douglas – typically seen in more serious roles – both dove into the silliness with gusto, creating a contrast that highlighted the chemistry between the actors and played into the movie’s distinctive charm. By not taking itself too seriously, the “Ants” promo successfully drew viewers in, piquing their curiosity and setting the stage for a fun and unconventional superhero adventure.

Ant-Man 2015 Poster


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Former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is alarmed when his protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) announces his near success in replicating his shrinking technology. Representatives from HYDRA are looking to buy the suit that could cause massive destruction, and Hank must find a man who can successfully infiltrate a tightly guarded facility. After rigorous training with Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), including the manipulation of a technologically advanced suit, control of ants, and physical fighting skills, ex-convict Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is chosen to become the new Ant-Man. Together with Hank, Hope, and his friends Luis (Michael Peña) and Dave (Tip Harris), Scott must fight with Darren, who has perfected his version of the suit called the Yellowjacket. Ant-Man is the twelfth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and acts as the final addition to Phase 2.

Director Peyton Reed Release Date July 14, 2015 Runtime 117 minutes

6 Tiny Ant-Man Billboards

Ant-Man (2015)

a tiny ant-man billboard at a bus stop

The tiny Ant-Man billboards were an especially clever and innovative MCU marketing strategy. These miniature billboards, strategically placed in various cities, played on the movie’s central theme of size reduction, providing a unique and memorable way to capture public attention. Each billboard, only a few inches tall, featured intricate details and designs that mimicked full-sized advertisements, including the film’s title, and release date. Placed at eye-catching locations like park benches, street corners, and train stations, these tiny Ant-Man billboards encouraged people to look closer and engage with the marketing in a fun and interactive way.

The innovative approach toyed with Ant-Man’s abilities and created a buzz on social media, where people shared their miniature discoveries – as demonstrated by Reddit user mildlyinteresting. The grassroots marketing tactic effectively generated word-of-mouth excitement and amplified the film’s presence in a crowded market. By embracing the film’s core concept in such a tangible and creative manner, the tiny Ant-Man billboards successfully intrigued potential viewers, making them more likely to remember the film and be curious about how its protagonist uses his extraordinary powers.

5 Ant-Man Teaser Trailer

Ant-Man (2015)

The mini Ant-Man teaser trailer was an ingenious marketing strategy that perfectly encapsulated the essence of the Marvel movie. The teaser shrank the video image down to a minuscule size, making it nearly impossible to discern any details. This mischievous approach immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by subverting their expectations of a typical movie trailer. The teaser featured rapid cuts and action-packed scenes, all rendered in an ant-sized format, mirroring the hero’s powers. By shrinking the Ant-Man teaser trailer itself, Marvel created a clever and witty experience that directly engaged viewers and grabbed their curiosity.

Marvel effectively generated intrigue and conversation across social media platforms along with its other marketing ploys. Viewers eagerly discussed the creative choice and began speculating over the movie’s content, despite being shrunk beyond comprehension. The tiny teaser trailer helped eschew any criticism of the hero and his powers by creatively embracing the film’s core concept in its marketing. It affirmed once again that Ant-Man would be a self-aware movie that toyed with its premise and the superhero genre.

4 Marvel Hides Skrulls In Other Movie’s Promotional Images

Secret Invasion (2023)

In a clever promotional move for the series Secret Invasion, Marvel’s Secret Invasion Twitter page ingeniously shared an old publicity photo from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 that secretly included a Skrull in the background. This subtle yet effective tactic seamlessly blended the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s expansive narrative, while also alluding to the show’s theme of alien infiltration. The Skrull, located at the back left of the image, went unnoticed during the promotion for GOTG 3, creating surprise and delight when it was eventually discovered months later.

This strategic Easter egg served multiple purposes. It tied the seemingly disparate elements of the MCU together, hinting at interconnected storylines and the pervasive influence of the Skrulls. This image also engaged the fanbase, who took to social media to share their discoveries and theories, thereby amplifying anticipation for Secret Invasion. Marvel flaunted their meticulous attention to detail and demonstrated their innovative marketing approach. This tactic heightened expectations for Secret Invasion while celebrating the intricate, interconnected world that Marvel audiences have come to love.

Secret Invasion TV Series Poster

Secret Invasion

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Based on the Marvel Comics event, Secret Invasion is a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that sees Nick Fury attempting to reckon with an alien invasion that has been occurring for years – without humanity even knowing. Fury discovers that the Skrulls have been infiltrating society for far longer than he realized, and danger arises as plans start into motion.

Release Date June 21, 2023 Franchise(s) Marvel Cinematic Universe Directors Ali Selim

3 Skrulls Appear In Real-World News Broadcasts

Secret Invasion (2023)


For the marketing of Secret Invasion, Marvel continued its subtle and immersive approach by integrating the MCU’s Skrulls into the background of various real-world American news segments. According to a list compiled by Reddit user BeefyCircus, Skrulls were spotted walking behind newscasters in cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago, even appearing as a crew member in the “Windy City Weekend” studio. This subtle and innovative strategy perfectly aligned with the show’s premise of shape-shifting aliens secretly infiltrating humanity. This real-world marketing campaign was a rare move for Marvel, known more for their grandiose promotional efforts.

By opting for a more understated method, Marvel effectively engaged the audience in a real-life “invasion,” blurring the lines between fiction and reality. The use of Skrulls in everyday settings resonated deeply with the show’s narrative, making the concept of aliens hiding among humans feel more tangible and immediate. This approach promoted excitement for Secret Invasion and exemplified Marvel’s ability to creatively and thoughtfully promote their projects. The campaign’s success lay in its subtlety and the interactive engagement it fostered, drawing viewers deeper into the mysterious and covert world of Secret Invasion and the Skrulls.

2 Secret Invasion Tweets & Deletes Temporary Images And Codes To Unlock A Teaser Trailer

Secret Invasion (2023)

compiled clues in the MCU's Secret Invasion promo image on twitter

As part of its inventive and interactive marketing campaign for Secret Invasion, Marvel utilized Twitter to engage fans in a treasure hunt that reflected the show’s themes of secrecy and infiltration. Marvel tweeted a series of cryptic images, each containing part of a larger map. These images were quickly deleted just five minutes later, adding an element of urgency and exclusivity to the experience. People who managed to capture the images before they vanished discovered that when compiled, the images formed a map of clues concerning the Skrulls’ invasion of Earth.

The clues in this map directed viewers to a password-protected website, where they were rewarded with an exclusive teaser trailer for Secret Invasion after deciphering the password. Like Marvel’s other Secret Invasion promos, this marketing tactic brilliantly mirrored the show’s narrative. By embedding this sense of secrecy and discovery into the promotional campaign, Marvel captivated their audience with a tantalizing riddle. This approach showcased Marvel’s creativity in marketing, engaging their audience in an immersive experience that heightened anticipation for the series and deepened their connection to the storyline.

1 Deadpool Accepts An Emmy

Deadpool & Wolverine (2024)

Ryan Reynolds teased Deadpool & Wolverine in a memorable appearance at the 2024 Creative Arts Emmys. While accepting the Unstructured Reality Program award for Welcome to Wrexham season 2, Reynolds appeared dressed as Deadpool. During his acceptance speech, Reynolds stayed in character, referencing the Deadpool sequel. Although he refrained from divulging any story details, he made a playful promise to not “f**k up” his MCU debut, acknowledging the high expectations surrounding Deadpool’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This assurance, delivered with Deadpool’s signature blend of sarcasm and charm, was met with laughter and applause. Reynolds wrapped up his speech with a cheeky nod to the Oscars, urging them to keep an eye on Deadpool & Wolverine for the VFX category. This final remark stoked anticipation for a visual spectacle and reinforced Reynolds’ perfect embodiment of the character. Like many other previous Deadpool marketing strategies, this promo worked to deconstruct the form in a joyous, fourth-wall-breaking style typical of the character. As such, Reynolds’ surprise Emmy appearance is one of the most effective MCU marketing plans to date.

MCU Franchise Poster

Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a multimedia superhero franchise that began in 2008 with Paramount’s Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. The franchise quickly grew in popularity, with Disney eventually buying out Marvel Entertainment in 2009. The MCU consists of dozens of movies and TV shows, most notably Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision, and Loki.

Created by Kevin Feige TV Show(s) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , Agent Carter , Inhumans , WandaVision , The Falcon and the Winter Soldier , Loki , What If…? , Hawkeye (2021) , Moon Knight , Ms. Marvel , She-Hulk: Attorney at Law , Secret Invasion , Marvel’s Echo


Upcoming MCU Movies

Release Date

Deadpool & Wolverine

July 26, 2024

Captain America: Brave New World

February 14, 2025


May 5, 2025

The Fantastic Four

July 25, 2025


November 7, 2025

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

May 1, 2026

Avengers: Secret Wars

May 7, 2027

Sources: Ryan Reynolds,mildlyinteresting, Secret Invasion,BeefyCircus

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