At the World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, Robert Downey Jr. stood on stage in front of a packed house at the Dolby Theatre delivering a speech that paid tribute to all who’ve contributed to the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). From there, he asked director Jon Favreau to stand, declaring that “When they say ‘the man who started it all,’ that is you, Jon—you brought it to life.” It was Iron Man that launched the MCU in 2008, and throughout the first 10 years of Marvel Studios, RDJ’s portrayal of billionaire Tony Stark has been a fixture—the foundation of the Avengers, and the cornerstone of Marvel Studios.
The morning after the premiere, I was invited to stop by the Marvel Studios offices in Burbank. Following a meeting with Victoria Alonso, the executive vice president of physical production and executive producer of Infinity War (she helped shape the MCU from the beginning, working alongside President Kevin Feige and Co-President Louis D’Esposito), I had a chance to look around the offices for a rare glimpse inside the workspace of the team now responsible for the biggest opening weekend of all-time—both domestically and globally.
From the second you step off the elevator, there’s no mistaking where you’re at (you’re definitely on the right floor!) as the Marvel Studios logo pops against a cosmic background. Next to the reception desk is a small stage that serves as a rotating display for costumes used in the most recent film. During my visit, the Infinity War suits for Captain America, Black Widow, and Black Panther were on display, directly facing what is arguably the finest waiting area you will ever see. Behind two couches and a coffee table stands a “Hall of Armor” that showcases three of Stark’s earlier Iron Man suits—an ever-present reminder of where the MCU began.
Once through a set of etched glass doors, the offices follow a race track design around an exterior atrium that allows the hallways to fill with natural light. Murals by Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding take up much of the wall space, with vibrant reminders of past battles around every turn. There’s concept art as well, some of which currently includes off-limits-to-the-public glimpses at future films, like the currently-filming Captain Marvel.
While many offices are filled with collectibles based on Marvel superheroes, this one takes it a step further by including actual costumes and props from the films. Why display a figure of Star-Lord when you can just put Chris Pratt’s costume on display instead?
The common spaces are exciting, but behind them exists the sealed-by-NDA world where production and development of films both announced and unannounced continues at a brisk pace. Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo are editing the currently-untitled fourth Avengers film for next year, while finishing touches are placed upon this summer’s Ant-Man and The Wasp. A sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is also brewing, as is James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3.
As for what’s next for the MCU, that answer might be held hiding in plain sight in what for me is one of the coolest spots in the Marvel Studios offices… the library. It’s the type of library that pop culture fans and comic enthusiasts would love to have—filled with collected editions of nearly every property that’s been published in the pages of Marvel Comics over the years. It’s also peppered with props like Captain America’s shield (two versions), Thor’s hammer (Mjolnir) and one of the small “space rats” from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, alongside a throwback to where it all began—one of Stark’s early Iron Man helmets.
The 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theaters everywhere.