Previewing 2012 : The Avengers


Directed By Joss Whedon

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Clark Gregg, Mark Ruffalo, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany (Voice), Amanda Righetti

Released May 4, 2012

Continuing the action from the previously successful films that include “Iron Man”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Iron Man 2″, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”, Marvel’s “The Avengers” is the superhero team up of a lifetime. (No kidding.) When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as SHIELD, finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

When Robert Downey Jr. was announced as Iron Man in 2007 (umpteen years after Tom Cruise flirted with the idea of donning the Armour), no one could have predicted the level of success that would stem from the film. Downey Jr brought Tony Stark, the rich, playboy inventor who becomes the titular superhero, to life with his witty dialogue and comedic delivery.

The opening weekend for ”Iron Man” remains in the top 20 highest grossing opening weekends of all time, whilst its 2010 sequel ”Iron Man 2” also performed well enough to earn each exec a Christmas bonus. We can’t be entirely sure when the folks at Marvel realized how lucrative combining their various films into one, but they did, with the first key crossover occuring when Downey Jr appeared, in a brief cameo as Tony Stark, in “The Incredible Hulk”.

Comic book and film fans were soaked with glee. Marvel stoked the fire, enhancing each of their subsequent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies with what has now become a staple of the genre, the after-credits bonus scene. For those who stuck it out until the end of ”Iron Man”, they had already witnessed the entry of a character who has yet to feature prominently in any of the films, but who links them all together. He is Nick Fury, played with aplomb by Samuel L. Jackson.

As comic book fans will know, Fury is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the “Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division”. S.H.IE.L.D. is the organization that unites several of Marvel’s greatest superheroes into one force ‘The Avengers’.

Adding to this mythology piece by piece, the after credits scenes of ”Iron Man 2”, ”Thor” and ”Captain America” are gradually paving the way for the release of 2012’s ”The Avengers”, directed by Joss Whedon (”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, ”Firefly”).

”When he wasn’t out dancing, Whedon was obsessively rewriting dialogue”, Downey Jr said. On the ”Iron Man” movies, Downey was notorious for pushing for heat-of-the-moment script punch-ups (or as he puts it: “I dominated like a rabid, horny gorilla”).

Downey, ever the ego trucker, wanted Tony Stark to be the headline act of the film – but he quickly changed his mind when he realized this was “a different thing”.

“Well, I [told Whedon], ‘I need to be in the opening sequence. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but Tony needs to drive this thing.’ He was like, ‘Okay, let’s try that.’ We tried it and it didn’t work, because this is a different sort of thing, the story and the idea and the theme is the theme, and everybody is just an arm of the octopus”, the actor said recently. “But what was I like? As usual, just ****ing aggressive and hurtful. Whatever. The usual.”

Whedon hinted at some rocky times between him and the Oscar Nominated actor in an interview with Yahoo! Movies. But he also suggested Downey was in his right to speak up, because he merely wants the best product out there.

“Well, we have very different methods. But working as a showrunner, working as a script doctor, working in sitcoms — a lot of my work has been coming up with stuff on the fly. Like fixing as we go, improvising, being open to a new idea. So Robert and I would spend — we worked specifically towards both of our processes, so that we would beat out a scene so that he was very comfortable with where it was going or what was being said and very aware of where it would fit in the whole. And I would give him stuff to say, and by and large, he would say it.

“But then there were always pockets where we had some wiggle room for him to play, or ask for options, and if he said, ‘Can we do something else here?’ I could give him four or five options by the time he had his makeup on. Because that’s actually fun for me, that frantic scramble. […] We would try different things. He is very collaborative. He loves notes. He loves to be guided and worked with. He is not trying to steamroller over me. He is really trying to create it side-by-side with me. So it ended up being a really healthy and delightful collaboration.”

We have already seen the key members, the titular superheroes of these films, and ”The Avengers” will also feature Black Widow, who appeared in ”Iron Man 2”, Agent Coulson who featured in ”Iron Man”, ”Iron Man 2” and ”Thor”, and Hawkeye, who made a brief cameo as a sniper archer also in ”Thor”.

“He’s the only one who can really take down The Hulk with his tranq tip arrows”, Renner says of his character. “He knows his limitations, but when it comes down to it, there has to be a sense of confidence in any superhero.”

The Hulk will also appear in ”The Avengers”, but Mark Ruffalo will be playing the role rather than Edward Norton, who did so in ”The Incredible Hulk”. A slight blemish on Marvel’s continuity, then! (But then, Terrence Howard was also a no-show in “Iron Man 2”, having originated the character Don Cheadle ultimately took on, ‘Rhodey’).

Ruffalo told us earlier this year that he’s bringing his own spin to Banner :

Ruffalo also says that while he’s trying to keep the beast inside, Tony Stark is trying to unleash it.

“He’s the most – guy, but a total loose cannon”, says the “Zodiac” actor. “No one wants to set him off except for Iron Man, except for Downey, who just wants to see him pop. It’s funny, there’s a really cool dynamic between Tony Stark and Banner. Banner actually enjoys it, and finds it really refreshing. They’re a lot alike in a strange way. They’re both these kind of scientists who are mavericks, kind of renegades. Banner, for all his mild-mannered mythology, he’s still the dude who was testing some pretty crazy s–t on himself, so he has that rebel streak in him.”

Chris Hemsworth told us in 2010 that, “It’s going to be great. I’m not so much interested in seeing all the characters fight each other as I am seeing a dinner party with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. What the hell would they talk about?”

Seems they’ll have a lot to talk about – what with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) causing havoc on earth and the superhero troupe being charged with the mission of saving it.

After his bid to overthrow the throne of Asgard was thwarted by his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the evil Loki (Tom Hiddleston) retreated to lands unknown to plot his revenge. Not just against his brother, but against Earth, whose inhabitants Thor now protects. Loki, now returns with a nefarious plot to conquer Earth and will stop at nothing to see his vision realized. When his misuse of power threatens the entire planet, it may take more than The Avengers to stop him.

Cobie Smulders, who plays Agent Maria Hill in the film, says without the support of the fans there likely wouldn’t be an “Avengers” movie.

“I feel like we pulled that off”, says Whedon of utilizing all the ‘Avengers’. “At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the God. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though — as we have known from the first issue of The Avengers comic — there’s no reason for these people to be on the same team.”

Indeed. Speaking of “The Avengers” ‘team’, Whedon has recruited “Back to the Future” composer Alan Silverstri to score the music for the movie, as well as enlisted Stellan Skarsgard (reprising his role from “Thor”), Gwyneth Paltrow (reprising Pepper Potts from the “Iron Man” movies), Paul Bettany (voicing his “Iron Man” character, Jarvis), Former “OC” star Amanda Righetti, “Alligator” alum Jenny Agutter, amd Lou Ferrigno (voicing… you-know-who) as back-up performers.

To prepare for the release of ”The Avengers” in cinemas next year, why not familiarize yourself with the superheroes who will make up the team? You can also check out Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, in his previous Marvel role as the Human Torch in ”The Fantastic Four” and ”Rise of the Silver Surfer”. Marvel’s other multiverse is that of the X-Men, recently added to with the cinematic release of ”X-Men First Class”.

All these titles and many more can be found online at LOVEFiLM, where all the latest films can be rented on DVD, Blu-Ray, or streamed directly to your computer via the LOVEFiLM player. Watch movies online for free, and make sure you get in on the action ahead of next year’s biggest comic book release.

Are you excited for “The Avengers”?