Interviews Joseph Walsh

Interview: ‘Avengers Assemble’ press conference

Next week sees the release of Marvel superhero mash-up Avengers Assemble (2012), directed by Joss Whedon and starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Chris Hemsworth. On Thursday, CineVue were invited to attend a special press conference at London’s prestigious Claridges Hotel, where the stars of the film gathered along with producer Kevin Feige to discuss the epic superhero blockbuster. With over 500 issues of Marvel’s The Avengers published over the past 40 years, a concern to all fans was just how much the filmmakers would pay attention to the substantial heritage of the comic books. Producer Feige soon sated worries by laying out Whedon’s approach.

Feige stated: “This movie was about taking everything that existed in the prior movies that we had done and having to be faithful to those movies and go back to make sure that we were faithful to everything in the comics as well. It is a little bit of a challenge trying to find the right source material as inspiration. Luckily, Joss is really, really good at honing down that material.”

Feige then added why he felt that Whedon was the right man for the job, stating, “The best thing about Joss’  work – with vampires in Buffy, aliens in Firefly – is that it is always the characters that rise above. If you look at the cast gathered here today you can see that what we wanted was for the characters to shine. Joss never lost sight of this.” The conference then changed direction to tackle one of the leading men, Robert Downey Jr. aka Iron Man, asking him at what point in the evolution of Iron Man films he realised that he would be taking part in an Avengers movie. “If [Avengers Assemble] didn’t work then if would affect all the other franchises, and of course additional franchises are dependent on how well this one does.”

The conversation moved on to discuss more of the comic book-orientated action. The stars were asked to answer as their characters about their favourite fight scene in a movie jam-packed full of action. Hemsworth immediately chipped in with “when I got to slam Loki repeatedly against the floor.” Hiddleston, who stars as the malevolent Loki, discussed how he had to do most of his own stunts himself, repeatedly “hurling myself into the air.” Downey Jr. quipped that he simply loved the fact he could fall out of buildings and survive, made all the more enjoyable by the fact that “it only involves me with my tech.” Ears soon pricked up when Scarlet Johansson stated her favourite action moment was Black Widow’s deadly thigh-grip, with Jeremy Renner adding that it would be “a good way to go.”

Johansson and fellow star Cobie Smulders, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, were asked what it was like working with Whedon, well-know for his strong female protagonists. Johansson stated that her director was “gender blind, because he wants his characters to be dynamic, competitive and assured”. Hiddleston lauded the film’s “phenomenal screenplay”, which manages to pull together multiple characters from numerous stories to make a superb film. All members of the cast discussed the respect and desire for collaboration Whedon encouraged among the cast, which from such a varied and talented line up, is high praise indeed.

The conference rounded off by discussing the huge fan pressure the film’s stars face playing these incredibly iconic characters. Hiddleston, in a rather gentlemanly fashion, confirmed that it was both “thrilling” and a “privilege” to have an avid fan base that cares so much. This was in direct contrast to Ruffalo’s experience who, when cast as The Hulk, was met by negative and brutal reaction from some quarters. However, Ruffalo added that it was an enjoyable experience to play the character he used to read about as a kid, whilst also citing the demanding and “intensive process” of motion capture that allowed him to play the jolly green giant.

Marvel’s Avengers Assemble opens on 26 April, 2012. You can read our spoiler-free review here.

Joe Walsh