Image: Audio e-Tron 2020. Source: Audi

The $30 Billion Audi and Marvel Brand: A Decade of Cinema-Car Collaboration

The Marvel Cinematic Universe totals 24 movies grossing almost A$30 billion. A mega film franchise, a mighty pop-culture icon and a money-making machine. Blockbuster after blockbuster makes Marvel the most successful movie franchise in the history of Hollywood filmmaking.

So when you think back to the beginning of it all, the 2008 Iron Man – what car do you remember Tony Stark driving? An Audi, right? That’s the magic of two powerhouse brands creating a decade-long partnership.

Exactly, 11 minutes and 43 seconds into the Iron Man film, Audi introduces its ‘everyday supercar,’ the first generation R8 to the general public via Tony Stark’s garage. Forty-three seconds later the Audi R8 flashes down a California highway, taking Stark to the airport to meet Rhodey, the noise from its V8 engine stealing the scene. The Audi supermachine goes on to feature in three more of the Marvel films and so the partnership begins.

Making an appearance agin in 2010s Iron Man 2, is the Audi R8 Spyder. Stark drives the open top model down the Pacific Coast Highway on his way home from his attempted assassination at the Monaco Grand Prix. The faster, 5.2L V10 engined R8 model is spotted later in Tony Stark’s garage sporting the number plate Stark 11.

In 2013, Iron Man 3 introduced the Audi R8 e-Tron, a 380hp electric car that became a fan favourite. Tony drives the red Audi, now with number plate Stark 16, to his old Malibu home to collect some belongings. For motoring enthusiasts, the third rendition of the Audi R8 goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and hits a top speed of 250 km/h – impressive for its first electric version.

The redesigned 2015 Audi R8 is the company’s next appearance featuring in Marvel’s 2015 blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, and again in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War grossing a combined A$2.5 Billion. Robert Downey Jr’s character does slightly less driving in these two instalments, mainly thanks to self-driving systems featuring heavily.

Trips by Stark between the Avengers main headquarters in Avengers: Age of Ultron dominated the Audi R8’s time on screen. The film is also the first to highlight two other Audi products – the Audi A3 Cabriolet and the Audi TTS.

Captain America: Civil War once again finds Robert Downey Jr. driving the beloved Audi R8, although viewers will notice it’s now the Audi R8 V10 Coupé. It’s the main character, played by Chris Evans, however, that steals the show.

For the first time, Tony Stark’s R8 is overshadowed by Captain America’s ride in the Audi SQ7 – one of the most intense scenes in the movie. The sporty-looking SUV is joined by the Audi A4 Sedan and the Audi A7 Sportback to take the Audi-Marvel collaboration up to 10 cars.

Stepping away from the direct connection with Tony Stark’s Audi R8, the Audi A8, the Audi TTS Roadster, and the Audi e-Tron GT all make appearances in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Even still, the R8 is prominent in the first Spiderman movie with actor Tom Holland as the title character. In a memorable scene, Happy Hogan drives around Peter Parker in the Audi model with no hands on the steering wheel – another nod to the autonomous driving capabilities of Audi’s latest cars.

Avengers Endgame – around A$3.68 billion blockbuster and the last to feature legendary Tony Stark, wraps up the legacy so far. The Audi features an electric Audi e-Tron GT and the Audi e-Tron Sportback. Tony Stark drives the sedan aggressively to the Avengers headquarters before the second act.

Adding to the fitting finale of the collaboration so far, Robert Downey Jr. arrived at the world premiere of Avengers: Endgame in the concept car. The film went on to a showcasing of Audi’s electric car future and a celebration of the final performance of the famous character.

With multiple movies and untold amounts of money made, Audi has certainly cemented its place in popular culture as the automotive companion to the Marvel universe.

If you’re interested in the collaboration between brands, you might enjoy the tale of two iconic British brands: Aston Martin and James Bond or the on-screen story of Sunseeker superyachts.

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