Superhero Cars: Automotive Brand Sponsorships in Marvel Movies
Acura, Audi, Chevy, Ford, and Lexus all make appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Who would’ve ever thought that superhero movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok would be the highest-grossing films of the year? These days, Marvel’s live-action feature films are box office gold, raking in millions of dollars globally. Not only are these adventure flicks money-making opportunities for producers and the studio, they’re prime real estate for companies to promote their products.
It’s unsurprising, then, that many automotive brands have had their vehicles appear front and center in these blockbusters–and even play crucial roles in the stories. From Iron Man to Doctor Strange, here are the automotive brand sponsorships that have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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The Biggest Automotive Sponsorships in the Marvel Cinematic Unvierse
- The Avengers
- Winter Soldier
- Age of Ultron
- Civil War
- Doctor Strange
- Guardians Vol. 2
- Thor Ragnarok
- Black Panther
The Avengers (2012) – Acura
Automotive sponsorship in Marvel movies weren’t as influential in the first phase of movies as they became in the second and third phases. The most notable brand presence was Acura, who positioned itself as the official brand of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel films, making appearances in Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and The Avengers.
In The Avengers particularly, members of shield like Hawkeye and Black Widow can be seen driving militarized versions of the MDX, ZDX, TL, and RDX.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Chevrolet & Harley
If your movie is about Captain America, then of course it should be filled with American-made cars! Multiple TV spots were released to promote Chevrolet’s presence in the film, and Nick Fury himself drove a black, high-tech Chevy Tahoe in the scene of his attempted assassination. Other Chevy models driven by characters included the Corvette Stingray C7 and the Silverado LTZ Z71.
This was also when we got to watch Captain America drive his preferred vehicle of choice: a Harley. The patriotic hero piloted a Softail Breakout and a Street 750 during two different car chases.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Audi & Harley
Avengers: Age of Ultron actually had to vehicle sponsors (which is fitting, considering what a big movie it was): Audi and Harley Davidson.
The then-newest generation of the Audi R8 supercar was promoted in the film, making an appearance as Tony Stark’s preferred ride. Interestingly, the previous year’s model was used in filming, but its appearance was tweaked in post-production with CGI to make it resemble the redesigned version. The 2015 Audi TTS and A3 Cabriolet both made background appearances in the movie, too.
Harley Davidson returned to promote its Street 750 model, which had been driven by Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). This time, Black Widow operates the two-wheeler, driving it through traffic to return Cap’s shield to him during a fight with the robotic villain.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Audi
Audi extended its presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by being Stark’s new ride of choice. For 2016’s gathering of heroes, Stark continued driving his R8, while a whole fleet of Audi sedans and SUVs populated the tunnel chase scene with Black Panther. That included models like the SQ7, A4, and A7 Sportback.
Doctor Strange (2016) – Lamborghini
Taking a break from the same brands, Marvel wanted to do something different with Doctor Strange. As a self-indulgent millionaire who survives a terrible car accident, it was important to cast the right vehicle for his accident. The model of choice was a charcoal grey, V10-powered Lamborghini Huracan supercar. The scene was staged in a particular to show that the car actually protected the Doc as it spun out of control (and thus not harm the brand’s image).
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) – Ford
Admittedly, people don’t drive cars in space, but Ford was still able to find a way to squeeze its way into the film to promote itself. In addition to a substantial marketing campaign outside the movie to promote the Ford EcoSport, the 1978 Ford Mustand II King Cobra appeared in the opening scene the film, in which Star-Lord’s parents go on a joy ride.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Audi
You wouldn’t think that Audi would be the ideal brand to promote your friendly neighborhood Spider-man, but Tony Stark’s presence in the film clinched the return of German brand Audi. The billionaire is behind the wheel of his Audi R8 V10 Spyder in once scene. The Audi TTS Roadster also made a quick appearance.
A special TV spot with web-slinging actor Tom Holland was made in which Peter Parker is attempting his driving test in the new A8.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Holden
No actual automobiles made an appearance in this fantastical, outer space comedy, but director Taika Waititi took inspiration for the spaceships of Thor: Ragnarok from Australian brand Holden. As a resident of New Zealand, Waititi had the ingenious idea to name the film’s aircraft after Holden models. Thus, the the Kingswood, Statesman, and Commodore all made appearances (though it wasn’t an official Holden sponsorship).
Black Panther (2017) – Lexus
The next MCU film won’t be released until February, but Lexus has already begun promoting its sponsorship status and presence in the blockbuster with the unveiling of two new vehicles inspired by Black Panther: the 2018 LC Inspiration Series production car and the Black Panther LC concept coupe. These models are certain to appear in that eye-popping car chase that’s front and center in the movie’s trailer.
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.