The Marvel Cinematic Universe of Product Placement Opportunities

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Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man eating a donut

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, without question, the dominant media franchise of the age. No film series has ever had so many billion-dollar-grossing films, such comprehensive cross-platform storytelling, and, importantly, quite so much product placement. In fact, it can be argued that Marvel product placement is as much a part of the brand as Stan Lee or Tony Stark.

Most recently, the upcoming Disney+ series Loki season 2 is partnering with global fast food chain McDonald’s for a special new dipping sauce, as well as including some form of the actual restaurant in the show itself.

McDonald's ad featuring Loki-branded sauce
Credit: McDonald’s

However, Marvel has been experimenting with product placement as part of the narrative since the very beginning of the franchise. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most organic, the most egregious, and the most subtle product placement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Related: Dead Marvel Star Will Reportedly Return in ‘Loki’ Season 2

Tony Stark and Burger King

Tony Stark eating Burger King in Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

The very first Iron Man (2008) kicked off the Marvel product placement in a big way, stuffing the Robert Downey Jr movie full of brand-name automobiles, phones, and most famously, a certain competitor of future brand partner McDonald’s.

After Tony Stark escapes from captivity by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, he has only two requests: a press conference and an “American cheeseburger.” The latter comes in the form of a Burger King sandwich, when can be fairly assumed to be the iconic Whopper.

Interestingly, Robert Downey Jr himself has a personal history with Burger King. He credits the burger chain with a key moment in his sobriety journey and says he made the decision to throw his drugs into the ocean after visiting a Burger King and having a moment of clarity.

Hello Kitty Pez Dispenser

A giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser in Ant-Man and the Wasp
Credit: Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) had a particularly large product placement, literally. In the movie, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) throws off two criminals on motorcycles by chucking a Hello Kitty brand Pez dispenser at them. While that would usually be an inconvenience at worst, using Pym Particles to make the classic candy device into a giant battering ram was a much more difficult obstacle for the thugs.

Star-Lord’s Walkman

Sony Walkman TPS-L2 Marvel Product Placement in Guardians of the Galaxy
Credit: Marvel Studios

The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie introduced Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, with an immediately iconic dance set to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love.” The song itself was being played on a Sony Walkman TPS-L2, first introduced in 1979 as the first widely available, low-cost portable stereo. Since then, stereo technology has moved on, but Sony got some Marvel movie product placement anyway.

Tony Stark’s Vivo Smartphone

A Vivo phone in Captain America: Civil War
Credit: Marvel Studios

Throughout the entirety of Captain America: Civil War (2016), Tony Stark utilizes a futuristic-looking smartphone that is notably a Vivo brand model. It does make one wonder, though, if Robert Downey Jr’s character is such a scientific super-genius, why doesn’t he just make his own phone?

Chocolate Malted Powder Product Placement

Nestle Milo advertisment in Captain America: Civil War
Credit: Marvel Studios

Also during Captain America: Civil War, we get some classic Marvel movie product placement during the brutal fight between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Crossbones (Frank Grillo) in Nigeria. In the middle of an Avengers mission that goes horribly awry, Cap and Crossbones square off in Lagos with an advertisement for Milo, the Nestle-brand malted chocolate milk powder very noticeably visible. Maybe if it had been Nesquik, the Avengers would still be together.

Black Widow’s Emergency Call

Black Widow using a LG Lotus Elite LX610 in The Avengers
Credit: Marvel Studios

Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), was memorably introduced in The Avengers (2012) as a seemingly helpless captive at the mercy of a ruthless, vaguely Russian-coded military leader. Because Black Widow is no fool, it turns out that the super-spy is actually playing a double game on the thugs and interrogating them while they think they’re getting information from them.

Until she is interrupted by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who calls on her to contact Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo in his Hulk debut). The Marvel product is almost subliminal here, but sharp-eyed viewers can see the LG Lotus Elite LX610 in the scene.

Hank Pym’s Van

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van in Ant-Man and the Wasp
Credit: Marvel Studios

As Marvel tech genius superheroes go, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) seems more like a blue-collar guy than most, at least compared to inherited billionaire Tony Stark. As such, it makes sense that the first Ant-Man’s preferred method of transportation is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, as seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Pym may have made it possible to travel into the Quantum Realm itself (and maybe get your wife stuck down there), but on Earth, he’s just a regular van guy.

Related: There is a Secret Message in New HORRIBLE ‘Ant-Man’ Logo

Star-Lord’s Replacement Jams

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Zune Product placement
Credit: Marvel Studios

When Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell) crushed Star-Lord’s beloved Sony Walkman (see above) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017), he both symbolically severed Peter Quill’s remaining connection to Earth and his deceased mother and also made the hero really, really made.

However, fortunately, Star-Lord gets a replacement device at the end of the movie when Kraglin (Sean Gunn) gives him a Zune. Unlike many other movie product placements on this list, the Zune is actually no longer manufactured (having spectacularly failed to challenge Apple’s iPod), but we’re sure Microsoft appreciated the shout-out.

That is, unless the company just wants everybody to forget about that embarrassing little product.

Doctor Strange’s Accident

Lamborghini Huracán in Doctor Strange
Credit: Marvel Studios

If you ask us, good product placement should make audiences want to go out and purchase that thing or at least develop some goodwill toward whatever phone Iron Man is now using.

It is definitely an interesting choice, then, for Doctor Strange (2016) to feature the main character getting into a horrific car accident in a Lamborghini Huracán.

While the movie does not imply that it’s the car’s fault that Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) got into an accident and lost his career as a surgeon (don’t text and drive, people), advertising a car by showing it getting into a life-altering collision is a bit weird.

Captain America: Harley Fan

Chris Evans on a 2012 Harley-Davidson Softtail Slim in The Avengers
Credit: Marvel Studios

Is there anything more American than a Harley-Davidson motorcycle? Yes, there is: a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with the living embodiment of America idealism riding it.

At the end of The Avengers, Steve Rogers takes off on a 2012 Harley-Davidson Softtail Slim, but interestingly, it’s not the only Harley Captain America rides throughout the series.

In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Steve Rogers rode a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA “Liberator,” while by the time of The Winter Soldier (2014), he had switched to a Street 750. One thing you can say about the man out of time, he has brand loyalty.

Real-Life Hot Wheels

Miniature Hyundai Veloster in Ant-Man and the Wasp
Credit: Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp featured a tricked-out Hyundai Veloster in one of the purest forms of product placement on this list. While many a Marvel movie is content to briefly feature cars (or phones or whatever), this Paul Rudd movie really makes a meal out of putting the then-new Hyundai front and center.

Genius Bar Alert

Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in an Apple Store in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff going on the run after discovering that SHIELD had been infiltrated by Hydra since its very beginning and that many of their most trusted fellow agents were secretly fascists bent on world domination.

As you would do after finding out this terrible information, Cap and Black Widow head right over to an Apple Store, where a goofy employee almost recognizes them. Audiences certainly recognized that famous fruit logo, however.

Hulk Smash! That Delicious Fizzy Beverage

Hulk and Ant-Man Marvel product placement for Coca-Cola
Credit: Marvel Studios

Coca-Cola has been taking advantage of Marvel product placement almost as long as Burger King, which culminated in a 2016 commercial in which the Hulk and Ant-Man fought over the last Coke Mini left in the fridge. With all his money, you’d think that Tony Stark could keep the Avengers Tower better stocked.

Ben & Jerry’s, Marvel, and Product Placement

Scene from Avengers: Infinity War describing Ben & Jerry's flavors
Credit: Marvel Studios

While you don’t actually get to see any of the ice cream flavors mentioned in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), it sounds like Ben & Jerry’s have a very close relationship with Earth’s mightiest heroes in the MCU. Although “Stark Raving Hazelnuts” and “Hulk-A-Hulk-A-Burning-Fudge,” we’re going to hold out for Captain America’s “American Flag Fudge Ripple.”

Yet Another Phone for Iron Man

Tony Stark and a Alcatel One Touch in Iron Man 3
Credit: Marvel Studios

Well, technically, it’s not Tony Stark’s this time. But he does have an Alcatel One Touch shoved right up in his face in Iron Man 3 (2013) when he’s being questioned about the threat of the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), so that counts as yet more Marvel product placement.

Related: “I’ll Do Something Like Robert,” John Stamos Speaks Out on Becoming Marvel’s New Iron Man

Tony Stark Loves Audi

Audi R8 Coupe in Iron Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios and Audi have had a very mutually beneficial relationship over the years, with the German auto manufacturer seeming to be a particular favorite of billionaire playboy Tony Stark. Above, you can see Iron Man chilling with his Audi R8 Coupe, just one of numerous Audi cars featured throughout the franchise.

Nick Fury Buys American

Nick Fury's Chevrolet in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Credit: Marvel Studios

On the other hand, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) prefers a more domestic car brand. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we see Fury driving a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe before he’s attacked by the titular soldier (Sebastian Stan); at the very least, it proves that Chevrolets can take a beating.

Iron Man Turns on Audi

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in a Acura NSX in The Avengers
Credit: Marvel Studios

How could you, Tony? With an Acura NSX, no less!

Iconic So-Cal Pastries

Randy's Donuts from Iron Man 2
Credit: Marvel Studios

While the iconic Southern California chain Randy’s Donuts may not be as globally well-known as Coca-Cola or Audi, it appears that Tony Stark has a fondness for the joint. At least, he seems to favor them when he’s drunk (as in Iron Man 2), which is a pretty good advertisement for any donut.

It’s Nerf or Nothin’!

Nerf gun Marvel product placement in Captain Marvel
Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel (2019) features Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) slowly becoming aware that she has been captured and brainwashed by the imperious Kree aliens and fighting back against her former comrades-at-arms. In one scene, the only thing that a luckless Kree soldier has to face Captain Marvel’s cosmic powers is… a Nerf gun? Tough luck!

31 Flavors of Humiliation

Paul Rudd working at Baskin-Robbins in Ant-Man
Credit: Marvel Studios

Similar to the questionable choice to feature Doctor Strange’s horrible car accident as a form of product placement, it seems weird that Baskin-Robbins felt it was good optics to feature their company as a terrible, mind-numbing place for Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to work after getting out of prison. Still, we’re talking about Baskin-Robbins, so maybe product placement does work.

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