As the culmination of a journey that started with Iron Man in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe absolutely dominated the box office in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame (we’re talking raking in $2.79 billion worldwide, people). The film, which became the biggest blockbuster in recorded history, followed all our favorite superheroes as they tried to stop Thanos once and for all.
Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Dr. Strange — all of them and more appeared on one screen. Our heroes ended up triumphant, but what happens next? The MCU has a plan for that, and no matter what the studio comes up with, its legacy is clear. An entire generation of moviegoers saw their fave costumed crime-fighters form relationships on the big screen that could only be told over the course of an entire decade.
Off screen, however, the actors behind these superheroes are only human. And when they go home, they don’t hang out at Stark Tower or relax in the beautiful high-tech city of Wakanda, they go home to their families and significant others. Let’s suit up and take a look at the real-life partners of the Avengers: Endgame stars.
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky disagree on whether hammers are furniture
Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor let himself go in Avengers: Endgame, but in real life, this Australian God of Thunder has no plans to let his wife of 10 years, Spanish model-actress Elsa Pataky, go anytime soon. The couple, who have three children together and reside Down Under, were just a year into their marriage when Hemsworth became an international star with 2011’s Thor.
Dealing with that "[put] a lot of pressure on [their] marriage," but love carried them through. "We did everything very quickly — I don’t know how we survived as a couple," Pataky, who has dozens of on-screen credits to her name following two decades in showbiz, admitted to Vogue Australia in 2018. "We are very strong personalities but love each other so much. We make it work," she continued, adding, "I think our years together have been great. Every marriage has ups and downs — it’s constant work to be in a successful marriage and stay together forever."
Their biggest disagreement nowadays is about whether Thor’s hammer could be considered home decoration. During a 2019 interview on the Australian radio show "Fitzy and Wippa" (per Insider), Pataky revealed she has to stop Hemsworth from making the iconic weapon an integral part of their home’s interior design. "Yes, he always picks the best places in the house, and I’m like, ‘It’s not going there,’" she said. "We have five of them from every movie we’ve done, like, seriously, no."
What’s Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ secret?
Legendary actor Michael Douglas was introduced to a new generation of filmgoers by playing the heroic entomologist and physicist, Hank Pym, in 2015’s Ant-Man. Reprising that role in the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Douglas’ time in the MCU continued with a cameo appearance in Avengers: Endgame, but is likely to end in the upcoming Ant-Man 3. What’s not ending? His longtime marriage to Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones. They even share the same birthday! But, you know, 25 years apart.
According to E! News, Douglas popped the question in 1999 after meeting the Welsh beauty in 1996 at the Deauville Film Festival. The Hollywood power couple has been together ever since. So how do they keep the relationship fresh? "I think it just comes out of courtesy," Douglas told Us Weekly in 2019. "You know, I think sometimes we take the person closest to us for granted. I would say sometimes we make more of an effort with strangers than we do with the person who’s closest to us. And I’ve always tried to remember how fortunate I am and what an extraordinary lady she is and daily remember [of] that kind of respect."
It’s also the little things. After Douglas’ iconic father, Kirk Douglas passed away at the age of 103, Zeta-Jones brought a new puppy home to help her husband cope with their loss. That’s love, folks.
John Slattery ‘lucked out’ with Talia Balsam
John Slattery is known to MCU fans for playing the father of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark — the brilliant Howard Stark — in four Marvel films, the last of which happened to be Avengers: Endgame. However, others might know him as the scandalous Roger Sterling from AMC’s Mad Men. Slattery’s on-screen ex-wife on the iconic series? His real-life love since getting hitched in 1998, actress Talia Balsam — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
"I just found the right person, you know, I lucked out," Slattery told Closer Weekly in 2019. "I guess marry someone you like. We get along well, we always have, and I guess being in show business, some people say it’s difficult. I don’t know. We understand the rhythms of this life, which aren’t easy sometimes and there’s insecurity. You’re not sure where you’re going to be. So I don’t know. I got lucky."
Fun fact: Balsam was previously married to George Clooney from 1989 to 1993. "I’m married, very happily married, now," she told People in 2016. Is this the first L Clooney has ever taken?
Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied keep things ‘very separate’
As one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster found Thor after he was banished from Asgard — but the actress herself found a real-life husband, dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, on the set of Black Swan in 2010. According to Us Weekly, this showbiz couple tied the knot in 2012 and now have two children.
So what do a French ballet dancer and an Oscar-winning star discuss? Well, not what they do for a living. "Ultimately I think as a couple, you automatically learn from one another and hopefully feed each other in ways that are positive," Millepied, who was previously a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, told Vanity Fair. "But I think, work … we keep very separate. I think that’s important."
However, during Portman’s best actress acceptance speech for Black Swan, at the 2011 Academy Awards, their work and relationship were not so separate. "So many people helped me prepare for this role," a visibly emotional Portman said. "And my beautiful love, Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the film and has now given me my most important role of my life." Aww!
Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger bonded over their faith
Chris Pratt got his big break on Parks and Recreation, but after a diet and brutal workout regimen, he shot to international fame as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. The character instantly became one of the MCU’s most popular characters, showing up in four more films, including Avengers: Endgame and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
During his time with Marvel, Pratt split from actress Anna Faris in 2017 and married the Terminator’s daughter, author Katherine Schwarzenegger. Devout Christians, Pratt and Schwarzenegger, who’s also an ambassador for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, bonded over their shared faith. "Yesterday was the best day of our lives! We became husband and wife in front of God, our families and those we love. It was intimate, moving and emotional," Pratt captioned an Instagram photo of the pair on their wedding day in 2019. "We feel so blessed to begin this new chapter of our lives. We are so thankful to our families and our friends who stood with us … This morning we feel nothing but blessed."
According to Pratt’s famous father-in-law, we can expect a few Little Pratts running around soon. "I don’t push it because I know it’s going to happen eventually," Arnold Schwarzenegger told Extra. "It’s up to Chris and her when they want to do that. So I’m looking forward [to it], yes."
A blind date helped Michelle Pfeiffer find love
Michelle Pfeiffer, who portrayed the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne, in Ant-Man and the Wasp and appeared briefly in Avengers: Endgame, has starred alongside some of the greatest leading men of all time — including Al Pacino, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and Jack Nicholson. But standing by her side in real life is her husband, writer-producer David E. Kelley.
According to Parade, the blonde beauty and the creator of Ally McBeal met on a blind date in 1993 and never looked back. Speaking to the publication in 2012 in the year of their 19th wedding anniversary, Pfeiffer was asked if she could judge whether or not a person is someone who’s "worth" bringing into her life. "I haven’t met a ton of people who meet that criteria," she explained. "It takes years for me to trust; I know that about myself. A lot of it is because I am so private and so reluctant to make myself vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable to have real intimacy with people. It’s a two-way street, you know? Eventually, I do get there, but not with very many people. I have it with David, of course."
"I never take him for granted. I’ve never met a person who has more integrity than my husband," Pfeiffer continued. "I respect that. There’s his humor and intelligence, too, and he’s really cute, all those things — but if you don’t respect your partner, you’ll get sick of him."
Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband ‘can’t believe’ they are married
In addition to Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow lent substantial star power to Iron Man, the first entry in what would become a multi-billion dollar franchise. As Pepper Potts, Paltrow served as Tony Stark’s love interest (whether she remembers being in certain MCU films or not). Off screen, the GOOP founder’s love interest is her husband since 2018, television writer-producer Brad Falchuk.
The Oscar-winning actress, who previously had romantic relationships with Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, and Chris Martin, once revealed this marked her first "adult" romance. "In the past, I’ve been in relationships with men who had intimacy issues, so I could be, like, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to do this,’ and let myself think he’s the one with the problem," Paltrow told The Times. "In a way, some of the relationships were designed to keep me out of intimacy. Now, for the first time, I feel I’m in an adult relationship that is sometimes uncomfortable because he sort of demands a certain level of intimacy and communication that I haven’t been held to before."
Falchuk, who’s part of the creative team behind hit shows like American Horror Story, Glee, Nip/Tuck, and The Politician (which happens to co-star his wife), "can’t believe" he’s married to Paltrow. "There’s a public Gwyneth Paltrow, and there are all these ideas about who that is," he told Harper’s Bazaar in 2020. "And the reality is, the real Gwyneth Paltrow is so much more amazing."
Rene Russo and Dan Gilroy love through the struggle
Rene Russo, who portrays Thor’s mother Frigga, in the MCU, has been married to writer/director Dan Gilroy since 1992. And like any supportive partner, Russo helped Gilroy bring his vision for his 2014 masterwork, Nightcrawler, to life.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times that same year, Russo gushed over her husband’s success after years of fighting uphill to get anything made in Tinseltown. "I’ve seen Dan struggle for years. We’ve been married 21 years," she said. "We’ve popped a bottle of Champagne on too many occasions that fell apart. I say he’s like rust. He never, ever, ever gives up. Only one time after movie after movie was shut down did he wallow. He said, ‘I feel like I’m writing in the sand.’ It makes me want to cry!" Tearing up in the interview, she added, "I’m so happy for him. Look at me, I’m crying. It’s ridiculous."
Their real-life and on-screen collaborations have allowed this married pair to trust each other on set. "A couple of times he came up and said, ‘I think you delivered that line a bit too sexy," Russo said of filming a scene for Nightcrawler. "I said, ‘Really? Because [my character] does use sex appeal. Even if she doesn’t realize, she has learned to use it.’ And later, he did go back and say, ‘OK, you were right.’"
It took time for Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance’s stars to align
When Angela Bassett joins your movie, you know it’s going to be great. We can rightfully say that Marvel lucked out when she legendary actress was cast as Ramonda, the Queen Mother of Wakanda, in 2018’s Black Panther. However, Bassett is somebody else’s queen — actor Courtney B. Vance, her husband since 1997.
Vance, who won an Emmy for his iconic portrayal of O.J. Simpson’s lawyer Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, wasn’t readily available for Bassett when they first met. "He had a beautiful, beautiful girlfriend at the time, who was also in drama school with us," Bassett told People in 2018. "So maybe about 14 years later, our paths crossed here in Los Angeles. And I was single, he was single. And I had such an appreciation for him over those years — of his consistency, how he treated other people, of what a supporter he is, what a connector of people and ideas he is, how passionate he is."
It’s no wonder Bassett fell hard for Vance, and he’s been making it easy after all these years. His secret to their relationship? "It’s, ‘Yes, dear. How can I help? What do you need me to do?’" he told Us Weekly in 2019. "Our focus is on our children and what we need to do as a family. Careers and things follow that."
Cobie Smulders won over Taran Killam with a lemonade stand
Former How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders has appeared in five MCU films as S.H.I.E.L.D agent Maria Hill, but her co-star in real life is Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam. According to Brioux TV, the pair met when Smulders attended the taping of a pilot starring Killam in 2005. It was full-speed ahead from there.
"It was hot and heavy a month in," Killam told Us Weekly in 2017. "She was driving me around and suddenly she did a U-turn for no reason and I was like, ‘What is happening? What are you doing?’ And she was like, ‘Sorry. It’s something I always do.’" Why did Smolders turn around? She saw a little girl at a lemonade stand. "I was done," Killam said. "I was done."
The couple married in 2012 and now have two daughters. During a 2019 appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Smulders couldn’t help but gush over her beau. "Isn’t he just a dream?" she said (via People). "I’m a very lucky woman. This magic happened 14 years ago. We’ve been together since we were 22 years young. We were babies and we survived our 20s together — I don’t know how that’s possible, but we did. It’s crazy."
Samuel L. Jackson says LaTanya Richardson saved his life
As S.H.I.EL.D. director Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson has been a cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from day one. From his first appearance in Iron Man during a post-credit scene that would define the franchise, to his heroic efforts leading up to Avengers: Endgame, Jackson had a major impact on the franchise.
Although he assembled the greatest team of superheroes, Jackson’s true partner is his wife of nearly 40 years — actress LaTanya Richardson. Speaking to Essence magazine in 2018, Richardson shared the secret for their lasting marriage. "No matter what: don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. I’d be like this," she said, while gritting her teeth, "’OK good night, I love you. I love you.’ And I’d go to sleep." She also explained that their marriage was an act of defiance. "I’m telling you, we were revolutionaries," she said of herself and Jackson. "We used to say the most revolutionary thing was to keep a Black family together. So that became our mantra."
During an interview with 60 Minutes in 2019, Jackson credited his wife for saving his life after he struggled with drugs early on in their relationship. "She could have just taken Zoe [their daughter] and walked out and been done with me. But she didn’t," Jackson explained. "That’s a greater love than I will ever know. Because I don’t know that I would’ve done that."
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost were an SNL slow burn for the ages
Scarlett Johansson has kicked butt and wowed audiences as the MCU’s deadly assassin, Black Widow. An indie darling before taking the role, Johansson is now a bona fide box office star after a decade of suiting up with the Avengers. During her rise to international fame, Johansson made her hosting debut on SNL in 2006, where she met then-new writer Colin Jost. When she hosted for a third time four years later, he wrote one of her sketches.
"It was some dumb parody that he had written, and he was in there partly directing this segment we had to do," Johansson told The Hollywood Reporter. "That’s my first memory of him." Seven years later, the pair were spotted "making out" at a bar. The rest is history, including their engagement in 2019.
If anybody had any doubts about how Johansson feels about SNL for bringing Jost into her life, she put any questions to rest when she hosted for a sixth time. "I just want to say that this place means so much to me," she told the studio audience and viewers home (via E! News). "I have so many friends here, and I met the love of my life here." Jost is just as smitten. "She’s wonderful," SNL‘s co-head writer and "Weekend Update" anchor previously told Entertainment Tonight. "She’s pretty cool … It’s hard to have a lot of complaints, she’s pretty awesome."