The Avengers is the long awaited Marvel film adaptation of the comic books that finally brings together a superstar cast of actors in one big blockbusting production. Following on from the previous films including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk, the film sees a crew of superheroes come together to act against the forces of evil and protect the Earth from being taken over by alien forces.
Producers Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham joined key actors Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg and Jeremy Renner to talk about their characters’ developments in the film, why Joss Whedon is the ultimate comic geek and which is best, having super powers or human skill?
[Producers] Kevin and Jeremy - there have been 500 Avengers issues over the last 48 years, so how and where do you start with this story?
Part of putting these movies together is having to be faithful to the movies that we have already put together. And at the same time, going back to the comics as well and having to be faithful to everything in [the] comics. So it is a bit of a challenge trying to find the right source material and the right inspiration. Luckily Joss Whedon, our writer and director extraordinaire, is really, really good at assimilating all that material.
Marvel do this thing of picking the right actor for the character, whether it's the theatrics for Thor or the comic irony for Iron Man. Why was Joss the right man?
The best thing about Joss is in all of his work – whether it's vampires with Buffy or outer space with Firefly, it's always the characters that rise above. And certainly, if you look at the cast assembled in front of you now, we wanted them to shine more than the visual effects, more than the explosions, but Joss never loses sight of it. And frankly, my favourite parts in this movie are just the performances amongst this amazing group.
Mr Downey Jr. - I wonder at what point during your evolution of Iron Man you realised you'd be taking part in an Avengers series of movies? And secondly and more trivially, did you get to keep the Black Sabbath T-shirts?
In reverse order of importance, I walked off set with one of the Black Sabbath T-shirts. Do you know where I put it? I've mislocated it. It's like mis-remembering. And from five years ago when we did the first Iron Man to today with all these folks you see here today, it obviously couldn't have gone any better. All three franchises that we've launched so far had to work and if this didn't work it would affect all the previous franchises extremely adversely. And there's also the potential for additional franchises based on how strongly people are reacting to Jeremy [Renner] and Scarlett and Mark [Ruffalo]. I really don't understand how everything has gone this well, but in this one instance in my life that seems to be the situation.
Scarlett and Cobie, working with Joss Whedon, who’s renowned for creating strong female characters, was that something that really came across in production of what is traditionally seen as a male-dominated genre?
Joss was very hands-on from the beginning in terms of creating the character, in terms of costuming, in terms of how long my fringe was going to be and that continued on set. He was very hands-on with dialogue and always there for you.
When we first met Joss, he met with each of us individually to talk about what we wanted to see from our characters and we did talk about my character's plight and her dark past and all of those things, but never once did he say anything about my character's gender at all. We never talked about it. I think Joss is gender-blind in some way. He wants his female characters to be dynamic and competitive and assured and confident and that has nothing do with anything but the fact that he just celebrates those kinds of female characters. He's just a charming fellow that way.
Firstly, Robert, in Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark started off as a very egotistical character but now learns how to fight as a team, so how did you approach this role bearing in mind the kind of maturity of the Tony Stark character and did you learn anything throughout the movies that you make? And to Scarlett, for getting into the shape of Black Widow, did you have anything special to count as a diet, any specific food or that kind of thing?
If I've learned anything, it's that people are much more interested in your second question to Scarlett than any answer I have to give.
How come you get the really interesting existential question and I get the rabbit food question? Yes, surely. You're training and doing all that stunt work so you eat a lot of green things. I'm happy to do that. It's great fun to do it. We all have our burden to bear, but certainly the stunts paid off in the end.