Last summer, I was invited alongside a group of journalists to visit the Atlanta, Georgia set of Avengers: Infinity War. You can read a more in-depth account about my experience on the set here, but suffice it to say that it was indeed epic. The amount of star-power in this movie is mind-boggling, and over the next several weeks I’ll be publishing interviews with the cast and creatives behind it all. They couldn’t reveal much in the way of specifics, of course, but it was really fun to just see their banter and interactions — which is really the crux of what the Avengers movies are all about.
So much has happened in the MCU since we visited Pinewood studios, but when it comes to the story of Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch / Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), things are very grounded. Since Vision as an Infinity Stone in his head, things are becoming very perilous for these two characters who have fallen in love. But Bettany and Olsen also talked to us about how open, creatively, Marvel has been when it comes to actors taking ownership of their characters, and the difference between a Joss Whedon and a Russo Brothers’ Avengers movie (with some jokes along the way):
QUESTION: In the scene we just observed, you guys get off the Quinjet, and Vision seems a bit hurt. What happened to him?
BETTANY: Oh, I just had some really bad brain freeze. … I had a really bad, I got a curry on the plane. … I got skewered.
OLSEN: In front of a kabob shop.
BETTANY: In front of a kabob shop, which is ironic. … And these bad guys are trying to get the stone out of my head and so Wanda and I fought them off and then we’ve ended up here for surgery. I gotta get fixed up.
You’re like the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz when they’re putting him back together?
BETTANY: Just a little bit like that.
What can you say about both of your characters, and what they’ve been doing between the events of Civil War and now?
OLSEN: We have stayed separate teams, and the people on Cap’s side have been fighting more rogue missions. Hence, we all look a bit different to suggest being in hiding, and we’ve been trying to — within that time — find points of meeting in different places in order to try and forward our relationship.
Is there anything else you can say about your characters’ relationship?
BETTANY: I think that Vision’s been on this quest to understand what being human is, and I think Scarlet Witch [has] in a large degree helped him figure that out and what love is. [Sings] “I wanna know what love is?” It’s in the movie, that’s the scene the paparazzi [shot]. “I wanna know what love is?” Yeah, so they’re trying to figure that out […] they’re very much in love at this point.
For Paul, I imagine since you carry one of the stones that you’re going to have a significant arc in this story. Obviously without giving too much away, can you give us what we can expect from Vision’s story?
BETTANY: It’s gonna be kinda of a significant arc ‘cause I got one of the stones in my head. That’s about all I’m allowed to [say]. No, there’s some really bad dudes who want the stone from my head and that’s a problem for Vision.
What would happen if they got it, hypothetically?
BETTANY: Well, that’s a very big question and one that troubles…
OLSEN: That we explore in the movie.
BETTANY: Yeah. One that troubles Vision and Wanda a lot.
How does Vision go undercover?
BETTANY: Well, you either travel to different Mardi Gras around the world or Halloween, you’re golden — Halloween, it’s his night out — or you discover the ability to change your appearance with nano-technology.
How much would you both say that characters are dealing with the fallout of what happened in Civil War?
OLSEN: I think in a different way, not so much about the last movie and their own sagas, but this is definitely the most emotional arc I’ve done in an Avenger film, that’s for sure.
OLSEN: ’Cause when we’re talking about Vision becoming human, we’re talking about their relationship, and it’s a pretty grounded arc.
BETTANY: And significant. [Laughs] Yeah, I think it is the most emotional. Also, the cost and the danger that we’re all facing becomes more important than certain beef that people had in the past because it’s so desperate. The point of the Avengers, and by extension mankind, it’s fraught with danger. So I think old grudges are buried and put off until next time.
How would your characters describe Thanos? What do you guys think of him?
BETTANY: He’s such a dick.
OLSEN: I don’t really know yet. We haven’t really figured that out ourselves yet. Right?
OLSEN: We haven’t really gotten to that bit in the exploration, but he’s not a good guy. We don’t necessarily want to be his friend. You don’t want to be his friend.
BETTANY: You don’t want to be his friend, no, but you can admire… He has an ambitious goal.
OLSEN: Yes, he sets his goals very high.
BETTANY: He sets his goals very high.
OLSEN: I think [Josh] Brolin is doing a really cool job creating an interesting villain, because he doesn’t really come across… he seems he’s defending it quite well.
We’ve asked the rest of the cast how they relate to Thanos and how they feel about him, and they were talking about it in very abstract ways, but for your characters it’s actually very personal because if Thanos gets what he wants your romance would end. Who knows what would happen to Vision. So from that point of view, does Thanos perhaps frighten your characters more than the rest of the team?
BETTANY: He is, like I said, I think he’s a real dick. [Laughs] I just found out what it means to be human and now this Thanos guy … yeah, I don’t know. I think for everybody the stakes are so high that I think that it’s…
OLSEN: As bad as bad can be.
BETTANY: As bad as bad can be.