If you haven’t noticed yet (and how can you not), ‘The Avengers’ is becoming THE movie to see. During filming last year, several sites were invited to visit the set and were able to talk to Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Scarlett Johansson(Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige about the film and their take on being part of the most anticipated superhero team up in movie history.
We’ve pretty much consolidated the numerous articles from Collider and at the end are the links for you to read each interview in its entirety, but here are some of the best quotes taken from them all. Keep in mind that everyone was on their best behavior (probably because a publicist was there to make sure they behaved!) and no spoilers were given away by anyone.
Whedon and Hemsworth were asked if there was any part of the film that he was really proud of or excited to work on:
WHEDON: I’m not sure there’s any one particular sequence that I would say, “Well yeah, nailed that!” For me, honestly my favorite moments are the scenes where I have two of the characters, where I get to pair up two characters you might not expect to see together, and see them go at each other. Whether they are getting along or not, there’s always friction. And those scenes are probably not why everybody might rush to the theater, but they are the most fun when you really get to explore it with the actors and the space. That’s the stuff that I feel the proudest about. The action is not small and some of the gags we’ve come up with are enormous and delightful and I’m proud of them and excited by them, because I like to live in that world too. But when you are in those quieter moments, that’s when I am just in heaven.
HEMSWORTH: I think that conflict is what makes it interesting. Having seen these people in the individual films, it’s probably pretty safe to say that a lot of the team coming together is having to be about them managing their own egos or each others, and how they fit in. What sort of part they fill.
This is truly evident with the scenes in the trailers where Tony Stark gets to be his wonderful snarky self. Having to write about characters that already have a background can be daunting but one of the ways Whedon was able to make it all work was by having the actors who have already portrayed the superheroes to have some input into their characters:
WHEDON:… I knew that I had a contract with these people to respect what they had already done. Because this is all part of a grander plan, and I did have for example those structural elements set, I had this casting set, I knew who these characters were, because I had been reading about them since I was 11… So usually I’ll just go and write things and say, “Why don’t you say this? I’ll hire you to say this.” But in this case having a dialogue with them was enormously useful, because they all had their own backstories or questions about their backstories.
I could literally sit someone down and say, “What are you looking for in this?” At the beginning I’m an open book so, “Tell me what it is that you don’t want to repeat or you feel like you didn’t explore.” I would lay out my basic ideas about how I saw their characters. I think 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 and how I saw his role in the movie. “Anything you’re looking for or anything you particularly want to avoid?” He was like, “Hell no. Thank you for asking. I don’t want to run. Don’t make me run a lot.” Then on set he pointed to the page, “It says ‘Fury runs.’” “I know, it’s just this one time.”
Apparently the cast enjoyed their time with Whedon:
HEMSWORTH:…I worked with Joss a couple of years ago [on Cabin in the Woods]. It’s great having a writer as the director because they know the story back to front. And that’s not to say Ken didn’t. Ken knew it as well. But in this instance, I guess having just such a detailed version in his head of what’s happening and what he wants. He knows what he wants. He’s great, he’s got a great sense of humor. Like I said, when you have it on the page, and I really think we do in this, then it makes all the difference. You’re not trying to fix things or band-aid things as you go through it. And if there needs to be something rewritten or tweaked, all of a sudden there he is to do it and have it for you in a second… But I think that’s why I am so impressed by what Joss did. He was able to give everyone a strong throughline and motivation for why they were there, and purpose.
DOWNEY JR: …Joss is really quick and incredibly responsible to what his job requirements are to the letter, so we can say… for example, there is a scene at the end that unites Thor and Cap and Tony, and it needed to say a lot and it needed to also not just be one line but it couldn’t be two pages, so he said, “Give me a second,” and it’s not like, “Let’s hash this out together,” because, as I said, I’m getting better, but I wouldn’t mind just pulling out the pen and, “Let’s just spit-ball till lunch,” and then we would come in with the right thing to shoot. But instead, it wound up being four lines which included all of us, and he gave us, I think, three pages of options. So the guy is really just kind of a machine, but it feels organic.
EVANS: That’s a great way to put it. He’s just so good as a writer – he’s amazing. The banter is so witty – it’s not like when sometimes it may have a witty pay-off line, but the set-up is obvious, like, “You set ‘em up and I’ll knock ‘em down.” His set-up lines are seamless, they work, they’re right, so when this great exchange happens, you are like, “Man, that is so clever.” If, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work, he can come up with a new exchange just like that.
RENNER: Yeah, there’s no bigger fan than Joss of this world, and he’s a really good writer and he had a massive task to write this movie and direct it, massive. I don’t know anybody who could really write this and really put in all the stuff that he really wanted to put in, cause he honors all these characters so much…
GREGG: It’s a really good script… First of all, it was one of the best superhero scripts I’ve ever read, and somehow Coulson still had a predominant place in this all-star team. I was very, very pleasantly surprised.
It’s been reported that ‘The Avengers’ would be told from the perspective of Captain America since his solo movie, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger,’ ends with him waking up in our present day. Here’s what Evans had to say about the superhero’s struggle and how it affects Cap in this movie:
EVANS: … I think the real stuff that he struggles with is the changes in society, between the morals and values and the way people interact, and the things that matter, and I think that is why he struggles with Tony (Stark) at first, because I think Tony is the epitome of modern: he’s flash, he’s current, he’s hip, he’s “now”, and Cap is kind of stuck in this old mentality and this old way, so even though the Quinjet and all the technology that S.H.I.E.L.D. has, and Tony’s suit, does blow his mind, I think the stuff that he’s at odds with is more about the way people interact and the current state of people’s communal values.
It’s already known that Loki will be the big baddie in the film, and while filming ‘Thor’, Hiddleston had already known that he would be reprising this role for ‘The Avengers’:
HIDDLESTON: I think Joss loves Loki because he loves complexity and the great thing about Loki is that there is almost no ceiling to his complexity as a character. He is a shape shifter, he’s intelligent, and he has strategic gifts but he also has reservoirs of pain. I think when you’ve got so much color and heroism in a film like The Avengers it needs to be balanced by a degree of pain, I think. Joss and I sat down for a long time at the end of Thor and he said, “Tell me everything about living inside of this man for 6 months. Tell me what makes him tick, what keeps him up at night. What are the nightmares of his soul?” We just shared all of our ideas from Norse mythology, the comics, and things that I developed with Kenneth Branagh. He loved it and he loved all of those ideas. He loved all of Loki’s damage and that somewhere at the bottom of Loki’s credentials as a bad guy he is a searching spirit. He is a damaged soul searching for the answers to something. Why he exists, what is his role in this universe, that he isn’t just somebody who is evil for the sake of being evil…”
The complexity of Loki does help him as he tries to “disassemble” the Avengers team:
JOHANSSON: … I think the best way to break up a group is by trying to manipulate the situation by going individually to each one of our characters and you kind of see that. He’s playing good cop/bad cop, but it’s just him in some way with each one of us. I think he’s trying to figure out a way to put holes in the team, trying to figure out a way to disassemble us in some way and manipulate us individually.
HIDDLESTON: I think there is a degree of self-possession in Loki in The Avengers, which was missing in Thor. As in, the Loki of Thor is a confused and damaged prince and the Loki of The Avengers is somebody who understands his own power. He understands his own anger and is able to probably, I would say, suppress it. So you see that in a way he is more mischievous. Loki is the God of mischief and I think that the way Joss has written Loki in The Avengers is that he is a mischief. He is someone whose actions are very, very difficult for the seven of eight Avengers to pin down…
Loki thinks that having power will earn him approval and self-respect, I think… I’ve referred to him before as a kind of chess master. I think that he is 10 steps ahead in the game. He plays everyone so beautifully. He plays them better than they know, I think. But there is a flaw at the bottom of him, which is that he’s motivated entirely out of selfishness and a need for approval. I think that is ultimately his flaw.
Ruffalo did give a hint that the Hulk we see in this film will be different that what was last seen in the movie:
RUFFALO: Two years have passed since the last one, and we’re kind of going for this world-weariness of accepting, and trying to get to the point where he can live with it and maybe master it, or come to peace with it, and so there’s this kind of nice ironic wryness about Banner. He’s not so f*cking miserable. I think that’s kind of a throwback. We started to talk about a throwback to Bill Bixby, which was the Banner that I grew up on basically. He had a kind of a charm about him in this kind of world-weariness. He was on the run but he was still able to flirt sometimes and smile sometimes and occasionally crack a joke, so that’s in there… we’re trying to bring out this kind of charm in him and maybe this idea that he wants to be a superhero. He looks at Stark and he’s like, “That’s the dude who actually did what I attempted to do.” He’s the model. He made it work, so Banner and Stark have a very cool relationship in the movie.
FIEGE: (Whedon)’s goal in this movie is to make the most beloved Bruce Banner since Bill Bixby and he’s sort of unabashedly trying to achieve that. He’s shot a number of scenes in this movie, including the scene that is his introduction into 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… I think we’re going to find a Banner and a Hulk combination that we haven’t seen before.
RUFFALO: (Bruce) ends up being an intricate component to the first part of the movie. They really aren’t after him necessarily to be the Hulk. They’re really after him because of his gamma expertise. There’s a big portion in the movie where he’s doing a lot of that and helping them kind of crack this riddle.
Many are hoping that other characters of S.H.I.E.L.D. (i.e. Black Widow and Hawkeye) will have their own stand-alone films and President of Production at Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, did address that possibility:
FEIGE: Well, I think so. I mean, you don’t want to do something that seems like The Avengers movie without the Avengers. But you know, when you have Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson, I mean, these characters own franchises at every studio. I mean, certainly. You know there is Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye movie that could be cool. There’s a Scarlett Johansson Black Widow movie that could be cool. You know, is there, you know, if S.H.I.E.L.D. is an organization, it could easily be its own movie or TV show. I think more of a Nick Fury origin, because obviously there’s like a lot of stuff we don’t know about him before S.H.I.E.L.D, yeah. Sure. So, I mean, all of that is on the table. Some of those things are more active than others.”
As to how ‘The Avengers’ will influence other Marvel movies, Feige states that it will most likely follow the way of the comic books where the group has its own story but separate from the individual’s storyline:
FEIGE: It’s definitely the latter. We’re looking to replicate that experience that a comic reader had, who loved reading his Thor issues and loved reading his Cap issues and loved reading his Iron Man issues and they always had their favorites and would argue about who’s better and who would win in a fight and occasionally they would get together for an uber-event and then after that uber-event would go back into their own comic stories. So the story that Shane is developing now on Iron Man 3, while it does not avoid any references to The Avengers, is very much Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) is back in his world with his players dealing with his issues and is not going to pick up the phone and call Thor (Chris Hemsworth) or Captain America (Chris Evans) or anything like that, necessarily. It’s not that won’t happen down the line. It could. But particularly with Iron Man 3, a year after The Avengers, it’s more about getting Tony back into his world… Certainly now that the characters are established, like the comics continuing to tell those stories and then every few years bring them together again I think would be cool. And whatever happens there alters their dynamic as they go back into their own worlds and keep that going.
WHEDON: There are iconic things going on in their own stories that I’m not going to touch. They have to step out of their worlds into the Avengers world. Hopefully this thing works on a big scale. But because there are so many of them, everybody gets so much juice and then they have to step aside. The other movies have a much easier throughline. It’s never easy, but a simpler throughline of that one person’s journey where they really get to explore that person on a level that, in this movie, I’m just never going to get to.
Of course, no Marvel movie is complete without an appearance from Stan Lee:
WHEDON: (Writing for Lee) was fun actually. I think you’re going to see a side of Stan Lee you haven’t seen before. A dark side.
To read the full interviews, click on any of the links below: