Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. By the end of Day One on the set of The Avengers I was sweating. Not because I was being hustled between stages in the heat of Albuquerque’s summer, but because I didn’t really know what I was going to write about.
Don’t get me wrong, sitting around talking to superheroes was fun and all, but there was an early trend of non-information that I worried would hobble my eventual report.
I mean, it’s all great and fine for me to rub shoulders with actors and producers, but I don’t go on these set visits for me. I go on them for you guys. If I can’t share something of my adventures beyond “Man, Chris Hemsworth’s biceps are huge in real life!” or “You guys, I made Loki laugh!” then what the hell are you even reading these set reports for?
My goal with each of these reports is to share in these little mini-adventures I’m fortunate enough to go on and I can only do that if I have some level of detail to work with, but because of the fear of spoilers most of our questions to the actors, publicists and crew either weren’t getting answered or being answered so vaguely as to not matter.
When I went out to London for Captain America, Marvel was incredibly open with their film, showing us tons of art, disclosing their thought process behind all aspects of the movie and going into fine detail. The part of that particular visit that stood out was touring the art department and seeing all the production art.
So, early on in The Avengers visit I asked about seeing the art room and was told that wouldn’t be part of the trip. That’s where I began to sweat.
Luckily for us and for this report Kevin Feige responded to our distressed calls and part of the veil of secrecy was lifted. It’s not that the people we were talking to were assholes, they just thought they’d get in trouble and Feige was the man who could make the call.
It was still a little frustrating, especially since we all knew this would be embargoed until every trailer and TV spot had run, but by God we did get to see the art room and it was glorious!
The set visit was held over two days. Day One had us in a room on the Marvel lot conducting roundtable interviews with the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Kevin Feige and touring some recently used sets, with Day Two dedicated to watching filming on both 1st and 2nd Units.
A group of online guys including yours truly pulled up to the front of the ABQ Studios and immediately geeked out about parking spaces, of all things. Out front of the building there are spots for J. Whedon and T. Stark. Yep, we were in the right place.
Our first interview of the day was Chris Hemsworth, who greeted us in the lobby and somehow squeezed into the elevator with all the (mostly) chubby nerds on this visit, making small talk as we headed into the conference room which would be our home for the next few hours.
I don’t usually cover roundtables in these things. It’s not often I embark on group visits in the first place, but roundtable interviews read like press conferences. In other words, usually fractured, dull and without much personality because it’s not two people engaging in conversation. So, I’m not going to bore you with the full transcripts, but I will give you the bullet-points of info or funny stuff from each of the chats.
- Thor follows Loki to Earth, which is how he gets mixed up in The Avengers.
- Lots of big egos clashing within the team.
- Natalie Portman isn’t in the film and there’s no continuing their love story, but they do have “a moment to it” that explains why she’s not Thor’s focus in this story.
- There’s an interesting dynamic within the group regarding Loki. They’re all gung-ho for viciously going after him, but he’s still Thor’s brother and Thor is still dealing with the inner turmoil from the betrayal.
- It feels like a bigger movie than Thor. Each character gets a subplot.
- Asgard plays some kind of part in the movie, but it was unclear if it’d only be in influence or if we’d actually get to see Asgard again.
- Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard gave Hemsworth Ultimate Avengers books when working on Cabin in the Woods, before Hemsworth got the role of Thor.
- Shield has “fun toys.” No more elaboration than that.
- On making off with props: “I planned on taking the hammer on Thor, but missed I the opportunity. It’s not happening this time, I guarantee it. I’ll say it publicly, too: The hammer’s coming with me!”
Of course, the only person to follow up Thor would be Loki, but being the trickster God he had some mischief to pull off, so we had some time between the interviews and were asked if we wanted to go explore the Helicarrier. Of course, the answer to that question is always “yes” (“fuck yes” also accepted).
There’s a raised platform of polished black glass and a giant meeting table leading into the massive circular bridge. On the bridge itself there are terminals for SHIELD operatives to man, each at their own little station. I was reminded of the guys manning terminals on the Star Destroyers in The Empire Strikes Back. Apparently it takes 75 extras to fill each terminal, which comes with a keyboard and a fancy glass computer screen.
You’ve seen the bridge in the trailers, so I don’t need to go into much description, but I will say that the bridge was in disrepair when I saw it. One of the back black steel walls had a giant hole in it. Maybe some Hulk damage? Couldn’t tell ya’, but it’s as good a guess as any.
After out little wander, we returned back to the conference room and welcomed Tom Hiddleston. Let me tell you, this dude has a way with words. If he wanted to become a politician he could leave acting behind without a second look back. He came across as very smart, very open and just a super nice guy.
- “Joss loves Loki because he loves complexity. The great thing about Loki is that there’s almost no ceiling to his complexity as a character. He’s a shapeshifter, he’s intelligent, he has strategic gifts, but he also has reservoirs of pain. I think when you’ve got so much color and so much heroism in a film like Avengers it needs to be balanced by a degree of pain.”
- “There are so many superhero films, there are so many films about the end of the world, and you have to think “How can we make this distinctive and unique,” and I think what Joss has done so brilliantly is he’s made it about the healing power of being part of a team. So each of the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury each have their individual pain. Loki, too, has his pain. Somehow by bringing them together their pain is eased by being part of a team, which I think is a unique selling point for this particular film.”
- “The Loki of Thor is a confused, damaged prince and the Loki of Avengers is somebody who understands his own power, understands his own anger and is able to suppress it. In a way he’s more mischievous, I would say. The way Joss has written Loki in The Avengers… his actions are very, very difficult for the Avengers to pin down.”
- Hiddleston is trying to import as much complexity of the character from Thor into The Avengers as he can, saying he doesn’t want it to just be a two-dimensional cackling villain. There’s not only pain and great power in Loki, but also the possibility for redemption.
- Loki has what Hiddleston referred to as “two-handers,” big scenes with each of the Avengers. Sounds a little like he’s playing mind games with them all individually. In particular, he loved his scene with Scarlett Johannson. “Black Widow is sneaky, underhand, she lurks in the shadows, she’s smart and clever and duplicitous and she’s hard to trust. All those adjectives could be used to describe Loki. So, the scene between Loki and Black Widow is one in which they recognize each other.”
- “Loki is enjoying himself a lot. He’s having a really good time. Joss and I talked a lot about James Mason and how James Mason always seemed to be having a really good time, even when he was playing the bad guy.”
See what I mean? Very well spoken and smart to boot. I’d could listen to this guy talk all day, but on this particular day he was pulled away, but was replaced with Mr. Kevin Feige, the head honcho of Marvel Films and the guy who kind of saved this visit from the brink of “I can’t talk about that.”
Here are the bulletpoints from our chat with Feige:
- “SHIELD is this organization that just kinda stepped out of the shadows occasionally in the other movies to see what was going on, in this movie we’re on the other side of that. In this movie we’re through SHIELD’s point of view.”
- Feige called The Avengers Marvel’s disaster movie.
- Wants to replicate the experience of reading the comics in that the stand alone movies are the stand alone movies, but occasionally the individual heroes must gather together for an uber-event. While the individual films won’t ignore the stuff that happens in The Avengers, they’re not necessarily going to be considered “sequels” to The Avengers. He used the example of Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, which will have Tony back in his world dealing with his issues.
- While not entirely fixed, Feige believes Avengers takes place between 6 months to a year after the events of Iron Man 2.
- “Joss’ goal on this movie is to make the most beloved Bruce Banner since Bill Bixby. He’s shot a number of scenes in the movie, including the scene which is his introduction in the movie, and we’ve seen it cut together and damned if it doesn’t come close to doing that. You really feel for this guy.” He also said they’re utilizing technology in a way that’ll let Mark Ruffalo’s performance be seen in Hulk, which will be the first time a Banner/Hulk performance is executed that way in a live action film. I assume he meant performance capture.
- “Everyone gets an introduction in this movie as if they’ve never been in any other movie before. This is a Part One. That’s one of the reasons we wanted Joss to come on board. He wasn’t interested in doing a half-Iron Man 3, half-Thor 2, half-Captain America 2, half-Hulk whatever. He was interested in doing The Avengers Part One. From the very first frame of the movie this is Avengers Part One.”
- “THE SKRULLS ARE NOT IN THE FILM.” (Caps are mine, not his)
- He is viewing The Avengers as a franchise (big d’uh, I know, but still good to underline) and is eye-balling about a 2-3 year gap between Avengers 1 and Avengers 2, which would peg the next Avengers film for a 2015 release.
- Sam Jackson came in and read with the top 4 or 5 actresses in contention for Maria Hill.
- “There will be long term consequences as a result of this movie.” Mysterious…
- ABC’s Hulk show and other possible Marvel TV shows will be completely out of the movie universe canon.
- Since Marvel’s at Disney now, any chance of a Pixar Marvel movie? “I think the notion of an animated movie based off of a Marvel property is a no-brainer and is something we have been talking about. (John) Lasseter and Ed Catmull are now both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, so I don’t know whatever project will fall where necessarily. And frankly, Pixar is all about original properties and original ideas, but an animated version of one of our properties or one of our 8,000 plus characters would seem to be something that could happen at some point.”
Before we wrapped up our first day we had one more jaunt to see some more stages. First up was what was called the Wishbone Lab, which resides on the Helicarrier and acts as the base of operations for Mr. Banner.
Unlike the picture above, the Wishbone Lab wasn’t pristine when we walked through. Bullet holes in window, broken glass everywhere, fire damage abound. Something big goes down here.
Our next stop was the interior of Stark Tower, which was about 70% built at the time. This is Tony Stark’s New York pad and, of course, sits on top of a skyscraper so he can land on it more easily and have his name as huge as possible against the skyline. A little sidetracking here, but I’d LOVE to see a New York skyline that has both Stark Tower and the Baxter Building added. Some day perhaps.
Again, you’ve seen the interior of Stark Tower in the trailers now, it’s where Stark has his “We have a Hulk” talk with Loki. It’s a very modern, very cool space that shares many design elements (like a lack of straight edges, lots of curves in the architecture) of his Malibu pad. Large glass windows overlooking a massive balcony (pretty sure that’s where he lands in the trailer and has his suit removed as he walks) and lots of columns… very Tony Starkish is what I’m saying.
The next stage is where we saw the large circular cell made of thick glass and military grade metal and couldn’t get a straight answer out of anybody. Some of the more well-read guys in the group (including some cool cats from Marvel.com) theorized it was a containment cell for Banner in case he Hulked out.
It was to be suspended over a circular, metal-plated iris. I guess this is something from the newer Ultimate books that I’m not very familiar with. The concept is if Banner Hulks out the cell could be moved over the iris, which opens and drops the Hulk out of the helicarrier. He’d survive the multi-thousand foot fall and the Helicarrier is not in danger.
At least that’s the theory since they wouldn’t confirm it, but it seems to make sense.
On our way back to the vans that would take us to our hotel we passed a stage we didn’t get to go into, but the door was open and I spied with my little eye some ice bergs. Make of that what you will.
Before the day was done, we got to meet up with Agent Coulson himself, Mr. Clark Gregg, in the lobby of the hotel and got to chat him up. Besides being the most consistent thread that ties these Marvel movies together he’s also one of the most genuinely nice dudes I’ve ever met in this business.
- Where is Coulson at as a character at the beginning of The Avengers? “God, I forgot what a tightrope act this is… Well, now that he’s come out as a Skrull…” Much laughing, but he was quick to even nip the joke in the bud to make sure it wasn’t taken as an indicator of the villains in the film.
- Gregg sees Coulson as a cross between “the world’s most persistent bureaucrat, a secret ninja assassin and the guy that wrangles the rock stars at Lollapalooza.”
- In fact, from Coulson’s point of view, The Avengers is kind of a muscular, sci-fi Woodstock and his job is to get the rock stars on the stage.
- Does Coulson get to kick ass in the film? “Oh yeah!”
- Can not confirm or deny involvement in Iron Man 3.
- The Avengers script feels “very Shakespearean.”
- Coulson grew up idolizing Captain America, so it’s a big day in his life when Cap shows up.
- Gregg’s next film as a director is an indie called Trust Me and it’s a neo-noir with show business as the backdrop. Young Madeline Carroll from Flipped will co-star.
And so ended our first day Avengering. As you can see, there were a lot of tantalizing bits and pieces and some really nice people, but I left out about 384 instances of an actor asking the onset publicist “Can I talk about this?” If the above was all I had to give ya’, I’d be apologizing, but…
Someone was hurt bad. Maybe dead. I don’t know who it was, but Steve Rogers and Tony Stark sure did and they weren’t happy about it.
The scene we were watching in Stage 4 of ABQ Studios seems to be a turning point moment in the film. We weren’t given any information about the lead up to this moment, just kind of thrown in the deep end.
This scene took place in the set we toured on Day One, the one with the iris that can be opened up at the touch of a button. It was a circular room, predominantly black and silver metal.
Our monitors showed that the lighting for this sequence was shadow-heavy and ominous, both Cap and Stark in somber moods. Downey was wearing a Black Sabbath tee-shirt, his RT unit shining blue through the center of the shirt and Evans was wearing a tight blue shirt.
Since there were a few of us on this visit, we had to share the headphones. I had maybe three takes over this hour or so filming to jot down dialogue and notes, so I’ll do my best to piece this scene together for you guys.
The scene starts somber and with a little tenderness between Cap and Stark. That tenderness evolves to anger from Stark, feeling like whatever happened to whomever is hurt/dead is just as much Fury’s fault as Loki’s, but that anger fuels a spitballing session as Tony tries to figure out Loki’s next move.
Evans leaned against the railing, arms crossed. Downey had a black eye and looked a little ragged. Stark asks if “he was married.” Evans responded in the negative, but said he thought “he was dating a cellist.”
Stark says “He was an idiot for taking on Loki alone,” and brushes past Cap as Cap asks if this is the first time he's lost a soldier. Stark angrily retorts that he's not a soldier in Fury's fight and Cap responds that they need put that aside and focus on the mission, saying that Fury has as much blood on his hands as Loki does.
Tony is pissed off, hurt, but also still trying to figure out the situation. “He made it personal. He hit us where we live. He wants to tear us apart, divide and conquer… He wants to beat us and be seen doing it. He wants an audience. He’s a diva, he wants flowers, he wants parades, he wants a monument built to the skies… son of a bitch!” That “son of bitch” should be read as “Eureka!”
There was more to the scene that I couldn’t get jotted down, but the gist is above, albeit condensed a bit. I’d say the scene itself is a solid 1½ or 2 minutes. Downey played it just as perfectly as you’d expect, shifting gears between emotions like a pro. And his “Eureka!” moment had that perfect excited Tony Stark childlike zip to it.
Evans plays the scene calmly and supportive, letting Tony run through the emotions and jumping in when he’s about to go off the rails, like with his blame of Fury for whatever happened.
The only direction I heard from Whedon was for Downey to play the “we’re not soldiers” moment with a little more vulnerability and a little less anger. He was in with them between each take, but like I said I only had the headphones a few times and that was one of the directions that stuck out to me.
After they nailed one of the set ups and the camera crew were changing angles, they brought out Downey and Evans to have a sit down with all of us. I’ve included the interesting moments from that chat below:
- Downey’s first words: “Can you believe this shit? Tony and Cap side by side here?”
- “It’s a really good story that could have been done a hundred ways wrong and I think you’ll be, I’ll go out on a limb, pleased and surprised at how not predictable it is.” RDJ
- Downey thinks the Cap/Iron Man relationship was the toughest of the group to find the right tone for. Mentions the scene we’re watching today is a transition period for the two. Stark gives Cap a lot of gruff in the movie and this is a moment where they’re hashing out a problem together.
- Evans thinks Tony Stark is the glue that keeps the team together. In this movie Cap isn’t the leader he might be because he’s still coming to terms with living in modern day and doesn’t “hit the ground running.”
- Will the events of Avengers have ramifications in Iron Man 3? “Sure. Yeah. Someone’s going to have figure that out.” - RDJ
- In talking up Joss, Downey mentioned a scene that takes place near the end of the movie that has to unite Thor, Cap and Iron Man that needed to be more than one line, but couldn’t be two pages. Joss left and quickly came back with three pages of options that ultimately turned into four lines of dialogue. That was his process and Downey said he was like a machine, but able to collaborate in a very organic way, which kept Downey from feeling like he had to “save” the script. He could still have freedom to explore the character, but felt like he had a partner in Whedon, someone he could trust.
- On if there are new features to their costumes. Downey: “Probably. I don’t know, I’m wearing tracking dots.” Evans: “I can pee freely, which is great.” Downey: “Cap’s new suit by I.P. Freely!”
- How does Stark feel about Cap considering how tied in he is with the Stark family? Downey: “Could you imagine if you met your long lost brother who was kind of your dad’s favorite and all of a sudden he was in town? And he doesn’t really want to hang out?” Evans: “There’s a lot of meat on the bone there. Hopefully enough to last even into sequels. It’s complex, there are a lot of layers.”
- After some artful dodges by Evans to some more spoilery questions, Downey popped up with this gem: “I can tell you that there is a sequence where Black Widow and Iron Man both get stuck inside her suit… And for certain shots they had to use a wide angle lens.”
Have I mentioned that I love Robert Downey Jr.? I’ve had the good fortune of speaking with him a few times over the years and he’s the kind of guy whose public face is just an ADD showman version of his private face. You get the feeling that he’s just having fun this time around, bringing the professionalism to every job, but doing it with a flair that can only be gained by enjoying the moment.
After the duo left to continue saving the world, our group was ushered out of Stage Four and onto a van that would take us to an abandoned train yard 15 minutes away from the studio. Lots of New Mexico productions have used this very cool, rundown location including MacGruber. This is where the whole “This is nothing like Nicaragua,” scene was shot.
It’s a massive area and they retrofitted a giant chunk of it to be a destroyed New York street, leading up to a recreation of the exterior of Grand Central Station. Rubble was everywhere, crushed cabs, a bus with scorch-marks, smoke and all that “shit is going down” jazz.
2nd Unit was set up here, shooting action scenes with Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. The set up we were witness to was all Renner as Hawkeye in a big action moment. Johansson was onset, but not in costume yet (damn my luck). She did have a stunt double in full costume waiting in the wings with tracking dots on her face, presumably for face replacement during some of the more intense action beats.
Also sitting around were dozens of stunt guys in grey mo-cap suits, which meant once again no hint of the bad guys outside of their weapons, which were alien-looking clubs and swords that seemed to double as rifle type weapons. Curved edges and purplish in color.
Stringed up above the destruction were wire rigs for those nifty Fellowship of the Ring style overhead zipping cameras. The action scene we saw, though, was shot more traditionally.
One static and two handheld cameras covered this action beat which began with Renner crouched in a hero pose, bow outstretched behind him. On “action” he straightens up and in one motion pulls an arrow from his quiver and shoots a mo-capped bad guy taking aim at him and immediately ducks a club swing from another, shooting him with another arrow. He doesn’t have a moment to prepare for the next attack, which he sidesteps a second before whipping his attacker in the face with his bow. Hawkeye pulls another arrow and spins around, stabbing another attacker in the neck with it.
They finished this action a couple different ways in different takes, so I’m not sure what’ll end up in the movie. One option was to have Hawkeye pull the arrow from neck of the bad guy and use it again to shoot into his chest. The other is he leaves the arrow in the neck and pulls another from his quiver to finish the alien attacker off.
All this was done in one take, by the way. Renner’s double was onset, too, but since the cameras were so close to the actor they didn’t use him.
They went through this action many times since the timing of a half dozen stunties, the amount of smoke being put off by the bus THAT WAS ON FIRE behind him and the choreography had to all cooperate with each other. So, sometimes Renner missed a beat or one of the stunt guys did or one of the cameras weren’t in the exact place they needed to be. It’s a lot to nail in one take.
I could tell Renner was getting frustrated with himself when he was too early or too late on a mark. I’m sure having a squad of geek press watching your every move didn’t help, but he ended up nailing it.
Something else of note, he didn’t just have to contend with three Alexas running, but also ILM video cameras that were rolling on the action in order to get information for the eventual replacement of the stunt guys in mo-cap suits with their digital alien counterparts.
It’s a lot to keep straight, but it was cool to see how they’re showing Hawkeye’s combat expertise. It’s like if Legolas was in SEAL Team 6.
We got to chat a bit with both Johansson and Renner while on this leg of the set visit. There were only two moments I thought needed to be passed on:
- There’s lots of history between Hawkeye and Black Widow, both agents of SHIELD and have fought a lot together. Does that mean a romance? Scarlett: “There’s no time for romance. We’ve got shit to avenge!”
- Who has the most uncomfortable costume? Renner: “We have it the easiest, I think.” Scarlett: “Speak for yourself!” Renner: “I have it easier than you because of your fuckin’ hair.” Scarlett: “My hair? What about my hair?” Renner: “You have to do your hair every day!” Scarlett: “That’s just a girl thing. That has nothing to do with being comfortable! Talk about that it’s, like, 800 degrees in my costume! And it’s a unitard! And I have nothing underneath it!” Renner: “That’s nice for people!”
So, you heard it here first, people. Black Widow goes commando when in costume!
While meandering around the set I got a close up look at Hawkeye’s quiver. It was made of heavy hard rubber-like material. The benefits of getting an up-close look at it was seeing that the bottom of the quiver was ringed with different kinds of arrowheads. Some were hollow glass, some slender metal, some Rambo-like explosive tipped. Not sure how many are used in the movie, but he’s got a range of choices.
We were due to go back to ABQ Studios for a sit down with Joss Whedon, so we packed up and left Hawkeye and Black Widow to kill some alien scum. The big surprise when we got back to the studios, though, was that we were admitted entrance to the art room, courtesy of Mr. Feige.
There’s some shit that goes down on a mountaintop that’s going to be epic. Hero-on-hero fight in the woods! At night! Adi Granov did these pieces and I hope to God Marvel makes these available for purchase. There were two pieces from this sequences in particular that I loved. One had Iron Man in the air, a leaping punch aimed at Thor whose hammer was surrounded by lightning.
The other was set in a clearing with a pissed off Thor on one end and Iron Man, palm repulsors glowing bright and body language saying he still wants a fight, on the other with Captain America (still in his ‘40s costume, by the way) standing between the two. Looks like he was breaking up the fight.
Feige guided us around the room, but unlike the Captain America visit the art didn’t lay out the entire movie. It was more like isolated sections of the movie they didn’t mind us seeing.
There was one piece of art that showed Loki in a SHIELD lab contained by a force field of some kind. There was another that showed The Hulk ripping up a concrete bridge near the Grand Central Station entrance as the rest of the Avengers fought armored aliens. Iron Man had his palm up, repulsor glowing, Black Widow was close-combat fighting, Cap with this shield raised, etc.
Another piece of art confirmed that the circular iris set was indeed paired with the containment cell meant for Banner in case he turned into The Hulk. From the footage I saw at last year’s D23 they also use this for Loki at one point, threatening to drop him off the helicarrier.
Feige told us that in the film Banner hasn’t Hulked out in years and he isn’t recruited to The Avengers for the Hulk side of him, but for his scientific brain. They need his expertise in gamma technology, apparently. The Hulk side of him is more of a liability than an asset because The Hulk can’t be controlled.
As evidenced by another piece of art. Remember the Wishbone Lab I mentioned earlier? The one that had bulletholes and fire scorches? Well, we can thank Hulk for that, apparently. This piece of art showed a jet firing into the lab and Hulk jumping through glass out at his attacker. I’m not sure if it was an enemy jet or a SHIELD jet trying to keep Hulk from destroying the Helicarrier.
One final piece of art that really captured my imagination was a shot of Loki standing in a giant room, decked out in his headdress and a staff made of electricity, making people bow at his feet. Cap is there as well, not bowing, of course. Feige told us this takes place in Germany and that “Cap doesn’t like dictators that make people bow before them.”
Again, no hints as to where this fits in the story, but it opened up the universe a bit more than I expected.
I’m very glad we got a glimpse at the art room, so thanks to Mr. Feige for okaying that. Now that I’ve been on a few Marvel sets I can say with a certainty that the art room tour is always my favorite part of those set visits.
Before we called it a day, we all gathered in the lunch area and waited for Whedon to join us and send us home with a chat. It happened to be his birthday, so when he stepped into the geek den he was greeted with a bunch of off-key geeks singing him happy birthday.
Here are some of the highlights from this chat:
- At the beginning Joss worked with Marvel and the individual actors to figure out how to shape the events of the story because he knew once he got going he’d locked into his own structure and didn’t want to have to retrofit the script.
- “My favorite response was Sam Jackson’s. I was like, “Is there anything you’re particularly looking for?” I told him how I saw Nick Fury, how I saw his role in the movie. “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for, anything you want to avoid?” He was like, “Hell, no! Thank you for askin’… I don’t want to run.” Then on the set he pointed at a page. “This says ‘Fury runs.’” I said, “Just this one time.””
- The movie borrows heavily from many different eras of Avengers comics. Jim Starlin’s annual (#7) with Thanos and Warlock and the Thing 2 in 1 that followed it defined why Whedon loved The Avengers. “Obviously that was a long time ago. Moondragon is not in the film.” A lot of the tension within the group was inspired by the Ultimates and Civil War books.
- Had a clear opinion of Bruce Banner as a character. Wanted to steer away from the more internal struggle from the recent films and looked more towards how Banner was portrayed by Bill Bixby in the TV show… a man living with this problem that is out there helping people, not just looking for his own cure. He wanted Banner in this film to have learned from his experiences in the first two Hulk films.
- Shot the tag for Thor in 3-D with the RED, planning to shoot The Avengers in 3-D with it… “After we lost 3 hours to lens changes and unknown camera weirdness we decided to not do that.” Shot with Arri Alexa.
- Joss did a dialogue polish on Captain America, had a lot of fun writing ‘40s dialogue. Turned out to be really helpful for him to get to know Steve Rogers and his perspective because “Steve’s perspective in the world is very much the audience’s. He is looking at this world with fresh eyes… and he’s not impressed. His feeling of disconnection is something that is laced throughout the film. It’s a film about lonely people… because I’m making it and my pony only does one trick… but he’s a classic man out of time, in a very literal sense.”
- An important part of making The Avengers film unique is that each of the Marvel heroes with their own franchises needed to step out of their worlds, which is why we’re likely not going to spend much time in Asgard and why Stark’s not in Malibu and Cap’s literally not in his time and place. When they return to their own franchises hopefully it won’t be a jarring transition.
- There may be some more subtle seeds planted for future films, but Whedon was very careful not to “Jumper” or “Eragon” himself and do a big set up for a sequel that might not happen.
Oddly that was a pretty consistent line from most of the people we talked to on the visit. Marvel is making their biggest film of all time, it’s a risk and they think there’s an audience for it, they’re happy with their team, they love the script, but they don’t want to count their chickens before they’re hatched.
From what I saw on this visit and what I saw in the D23 presentation I think Whedon might have something here. His script fired up the cast, especially Downey who was arguably the toughest critic of all the cast and everybody fell in behind Whedon. So, live or die, this is his movie and he had all the ammo to make it great.
That’s a whole lot of information up there, so thank you guys for following along with this little trip. I hope you guys enjoyed the journey and it was worth however long it takes to read this monster.