Avengers Assembled: A report from The Avengers UK press conference

Luke Owen reports from yesterday’s Avengers Assemble UK press conference…

With just under a week to go before the release of The Avengers (Assemble), the majority of the cast held a press conference in London to answer questions about the movie. In attendance were producers Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham and stars Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg.

NOTE: I wasn’t allowed to take photos or ask questions about future Avengers movies/sequels to the main franchises, so sorry about that!

When putting the movie together – how close did you want to stay to the comic?

Kevin Feige: It all starts from wanting to capture the comic reading experience that comic readers have had for years and years. Joss [Whedon] said his sense of pacing and editing actually came from the experience of reading panels and turning the page of a comic. When you turn the page, there is always something new and something else that will catch your eye.

Jeremy Latcham: Part of putting these movies together, especially this one, was actually taking everything from the movies we’d done and staying faithful to them and then at the same time going back to the comics as well to make sure we’re faithful to everything in the comics. Luckily, Joss Whedon – our writer and director extraordinaire – is really, really good.

On Joss Whedon:

Kevin Feige: Well the best thing about Joss and in all of his work, be it vampires with Buffy or outer space with Firefly, it’s always the characters that rise above. And when you look at the cast [for this film] we really wanted them to shine more than the visual effects and more than the explosions. My favourite part of this movie are the performances.

On whether or not they could have seen this coming when they released Iron Man:

Robert Downey Jr.: Going back five years ago when we did the first Iron Man to today, it honestly couldn’t have gone any better. All three franchises that we had to launch had to work; if [The Avengers] didn’t work it would effect those franchises. And there is room for additional franchises depending on how people react to Jeremy, Scarlett and Mark. I don’t want to be one of those people who say, “I can’t believe this has gone so well”, but this one instance in my life, that seems to be the situation.

On working with Joss Whedon and his repertoire of strong female characters:

Cobie Smulders: Joss was very interested in getting the costuming right for my character, down to how long my bangs would be – and that continued on set. He was very hands on with dialogue and always there for you.

Scarlett Johansson: When we all met Joss for the first time, he met with us individually to discuss what we wanted from our characters. We did talk about my character’s plight and her dark past [but] never he did he say anything about my character’s gender. Joss is gender blind in some ways. He wants his female characters to be dynamic, competitive, assured and confident.

On working with Joss Whedon on set:

Tom Hiddleston: What impressed me most about Joss initially was the incredible screenplay to work with. I mean the achievement [that this film is] is a feat in itself, but his screenplay was just phenomenal. Because I’m sure none of us knew what to expect… and I take my hat off to him for that. He was incredibly open and that’s what you want as an actor, you want to collaborate and everyone [in this movie] has a certain level of ownership of their character and he is very respectful of that possession. So he would constantly ask us, “does this feel right for your character? Does this feel true to you? Is this in your voice?”

Are Black Widow and Hawkeye jealous of the other heroes’ superpowers?

Jeremy Renner: I don’t want superpowers.

Scarlett Johansson: Yeah we decided we didn’t want superpowers, we just want to be skilled – because your superpowers could disappear.

Jeremy Renner: Yeah, if Thor lost his hammer, I mean he’d still kick my ass, but at least I’d have a fighting chance.

On the Internet fan base and their reactions:

Tom Hiddleston: One of the lucky things we have with these movies is the fact we have this fan base. I mean it’s so often that you make a film and put your heart and soul into it and you really care about it and think it’s half decent and then you turn up and ask if anyone wants to see it and sometimes they don’t. [But] we’re lucky that we already have people who love the characters as much, if not more than, we do. I find it thrilling that there is a pre-existing passion for the material. It’s a privilege to have an audience that cares so much.

Mark Ruffalo: I was overcome with a moment of very poor judgement early on by going online to see the response to me coming in as the new Banner. I won’t do that again. It wasn’t glowing and I found the passion to be very brutal. I hope we’ve amended that!

On the UK name change to Avengers Assemble:

Kevin Feige: We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to give our UK fans another word?’ You guys get two words in the title instead of one! That’s cool isn’t it? Decisions like that don’t come lightly and a lot of lawyers and things get into the mix of it and the decision was made to add that additional word. The logo still has the ‘A’ and it looks cool and has it all together. It’s the same movie.

NOTE: I don’t think Kevin Feige likes this question as I imagine he’s been asked about it a lot. He was quite abrupt with his answer after making the initial joke and from his reaction, I think the name change bugs him.

What attracted Mark Ruffalo to the Hulk?

Mark Ruffalo: As a kid I was a Hulk fan and I was a particular fan of the TV show. I was offered the role of Banner and I talked to Joss Whedon about it and he said that he wanted to return to the Bill Bixby world, where he is a man on the run but he is trying to make amends with his life and having a sense of humour about himself. And I like that. And I also like the idea that I am the first actor to play both Bruce Banner and The Hulk – and that was the most exciting thing for me.

The press conference was pretty short and there weren’t a lot of questions asked. I think the actors were jet-lagged (Renner even admitted that he was) and that meant that some questions weren’t taken seriously. One Japanese reporter asked Robert Downey Jr. about his character progression across three movies but asked Scarlett Johansson about her diet, which she didn’t really like: “how come you get the deep existential questions and I just get the questions about rabbit food?”

My phone also interfered with the mics as I was recording the press conference, which led to Johansson and Renner picking up my phone to play with it. Ruffalo joked that it was Nick Fury calling.

Remember to check out my review by clicking here.

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.