‘Avengers Assemble’ UK press conference report

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Avengers Assemble is the first of 2012’s truly massive blockbusters (no offense, John Carter), and given the hype and extensive build-up leading up to it, it’s also one of the most eagerly anticipated. In fact, people have been waiting for this one ever since Iron Man was released back in 2008, when one Nick Fury showed up during the end credits to tease his proposed Avengers Initiative.

That was four years ago now, and in the time since we’ve had another Iron Man film as well as three other franchises being launched for those other Avengers staples, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor, with each film also featuring – to varying extents – Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who continued to act as Marvel Studios’ fictional proxy in trying to drive a super-hero team-up into fruition.

Given both the success of those films – in box office and critical terms (2008’s Hulk was the only one to really be regarded as a misfire) – and the fact that geek golden-boy Joss Whedon was chosen to direct, there are a lot of fans waiting with baited breath to see their heroes brought together on screen, and whether they’ve been following their adventures since the comics were first published in the 1960s, or whether they were only introduced to them via the recent blockbusters, there are potentially several generations of people for the film to please.

CultBox were present at the London press-conference on the day of the film’s European premiere last week, with most of the primary cast present.

In attendance were actors Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddlestone, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg, along with producers Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham.

The first thing to become apparent is that, walking out in a snazzy jacket of grey plaid and a pair of over-sized sunglasses, exaggeratedly chewing gum the whole time, Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. It’s also apparent that the cast seem to get on well with each other, and seem perfectly at ease talking and joking with each other on stage.

Particularly warm and friendly is Clark Gregg, who played S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson in several of the previous Marvel films and who appears again in Avengers Assemble, and he can’t seem to believe his luck in sitting on stage with so many mega-stars. On taking the role, “It was the easiest decision making period I’ve ever needed… I’m trying to wait until the very last moment before I go around and get all the autographs.”

When quizzed on what their favourite action move in the film was, Gregg’s response was “generally Agent Coulson’s weapon repertoire consists of only one thing; a snide retort.”, while Scarlett Johansson favours the “thigh hold”, and speaking on behalf of every man in the audience, Renner retorts, “that’s my favourite too”.

Asked about working with Joss Whedon, a man renowned for writing strong-female characters, Johansson’s answer brings to mind a famous Whedon quote. When once asked why he continues to write these strong-female characters, he replied “Because you’re still asking me that question”. Johansson further cements this stance, by explaining that “we did talk about my character’s plight, and her dark past, and all of those things, and never did he say anything about my characters gender. We never talked about it. I think Joss is gender blind in some way.”

Producer Kevin Feige talks a bit about the process of adapting a comic book into a film, saying that “it always starts with wanting to replicate the experience that comic readers have had for years. In another interview, Joss described that his sense of pacing and editing actually came from the experience of reading panels, and turning the page. The scene structure was very informed by that.” And that’s certainly something that comes across in the finished film, which is very much true to the experience of reading comic-books, and captures the magic of that wonderfully.

Mark Ruffalo, meanwhile, details his experience of stepping into the role of Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk, following in the footsteps of Eric Bana and Edward Norton. “I was overcome by a moment of very poor judgement early on, by going online and seeing the response to me coming in and stepping in as the new Banner. I won’t do that again. It wasn’t glowing,” he says with a smile. “I found the fans exuberant passion to be very, very brutal. I hope we’ve amended that.” Having seen the finished product, he needn’t worry.

Marvel Avengers Assemble is released on Thursday April 26th.

> Read our review.

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