35 Things to Know About THE AVENGERS from our Set Visit; Plus a Two-Part Video Blog Recap and 8 New Images

     April 2, 2012


Parts of New York City are in ruins from an alien attack.  The damage is severe.  Buildings have crumbled.  Cars are overturned.   In one area of the city, someone is fighting back.  His name is Hawkeye, and even though he’s surrounded by attackers who look more powerful, he’s fighting like a man possessed.  I watch as he takes out a few aliens with little hesitation, and then he stabs one of them in the neck with an arrow.  It’s an awesome move that will leave audiences clapping.  Meanwhile, on another soundstage, Tony Stark and Captain America are arguing about Loki.  It’s clear from their conversation that Loki has caused a lot of damage, and they’re not sure how to stop someone with God like powers.  As they’re arguing, suddenly Stark realizes something, and runs off to a side.  Shortly thereafter I hear someone yell cut.

But let me back up a second.

Last June, when director Joss Whedon‘s The Avengers was filming on soundstages in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters.  While some set visits take place over a few hours on one afternoon, for The Avengers, Disney invited us to spend two full days on set and it was an amazing experience.  We got to watch a few scenes get filmed, interview almost the entire cast (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Marc Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg) and Kevin Feige and Whedon, as well as visit the art department and learn a tremendous amount about the production.   While I’ve been lucky enough to visit many sets, The Avengers visit will be something I cherish forever.  Hit the jump for more.

Chris-Evans-Captain-America-The-Avengers-movie-imageBefore going any further, as most of you know, when I do a set visit with Peter from Slashfilm, as soon as we get back from set, we record a video blog.  Since we spent two days on set, we decided to record a video blog after each day so we could cover everything in greater detail.

However, since I know some of you just want the highlights of the set visit, I’ve also listed 35 things to know about The Avengers from my set visit.  The list is below the two video blogs.

Finally, at the bottom of the article are links to the eight on set interviews that I got to participate in along with the new images that Disney gave me to run with our coverage.  If you’ve been looking forward to The Avengers, I’m extremely confident that Joss Whedon’s film is going to deliver.  I really can’t wait to see the finished film on May 4.

Tom-Hiddleston-Loki-The-Avengers-movie-imageThe Avengers Set Visit Video Blog – Part 1 (with a big thank you to Adam for helping me time index the video blogs!)

  • Intros
  • :58 Talk about the guarded nature of the set visit.
  • 1:27 Steve and Peter talk about how happy they were to be on the set of The Avengers.
  • 3:00 Their interview with Chris Hemsworth. Reiterate that everyone was really guarded. Hemsworth revealed that Thor is on Earth when The Avengers begins and he said there are a couple of lines of dialogue that explain why Natalie Portman isn’t there.
  • 4:15 They learned that every character has a moment to shine in the movie, and all the actors had great things to say about the script.
  • 4:46 Hemsworth said when he was working on Cabin in the Woods before he had the role of Thor, Joss Whedon gave him comic books to read to prepare for the audition.
  • 5:24 The Avengers is the disaster movie of the Marvel universe. Talk about the amount of destruction in the film.
  • 6:12 Their interview with Tom Hiddleston. The actor told a story about meeting with Whedon after he wrapped Thor and spending hours talking about the character.
  • 7:08 Hiddleston revealed that Loki has a key scene with nearly every member of The Avengers alone.
  • avengers-character-poster-chris-hemsworth-thor-scarlett-johansson-black-widow7:34 Hiddleston said that Whedon made the film about the healing power of being part of a team. Talk about how articulate and insightful Hiddleston was about his character.
  • 8:41 Talk about a key scene between Loki and Black Widow where they sort of mirror each other.
  • 9:49 Their interview with Kevin Feige, President of Production for Marvel Entertainment. He described the movie as being from the point of view of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • 10:56 Talk about what Feige had to say about the recruitment of The Avengers.
  • 11:32 The future of Marvel films. What Feige had to say about how The Avengers will affect the stories in future Marvel movies.
  • 12:32 This is the first time the actor playing the Hulk is also doing the motion-capture.
  • 12:53 Feige hinted at leading up to a big event movie in 2015.
  • 13:18 Talk about the 3D. Feige said on every Marvel movie they’ve done, it’s been up to the filmmaker to either shoot in 3D or post-convert. Joss Whedon shot the tag in Thor in 3D as a test to see if he wanted to shoot 3D for The Avengers, but he wasn’t crazy about the filming process.
  • 14:16 Whedon did more pre-vis for the action sequences than any Marvel movie they’ve ever done.
  • 14:57 Feige hinted at doing an animated Marvel movie.
  • 15:33 The sets. Talk about the helicarrier bridge. Peter says he didn’t picture it this big. They fit 75 costumed extras on the bridge.
  • 17:03 Talk about seeing a research lab set and the containment chamber.
  • 18:24 Tony Stark’s NYC penthouse set. They say it was huge.
  • 19:02 They filmed for two weeks in the helicarrier and for two weeks in Stark’s penthouse.
  • 19:32 The lack of romantic subplot in the film.
  • 20:04 Closing thoughts.

Clark-Gregg-Chris-Evans-The-Avengers-movie-imageThe Avengers Set Visit Video Blog – Part 2

  • Intros
  • :46 Talk about going around the art room at looking at pretty much everything from the movie. Talk about the enormity of the helicarrier.
  • 1:58 Seeing art from Stark Tower. A lot of the action takes place around that area, and 20% of the movie takes place on the helicarrier. What the Enterprise is for Star Trek, the helicarrier is for S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • 2:39 Talk about the change in Iron Man’s armor. He’s refined the process so that as he lands and walks down the pathway to his penthouse, the armor is taken off. At some point in the film he switches to the Mark VIII armor.
  • 3:50 Steve says after learning what he learned about the movie, he was giddy. The action is ramped up a lot from the previous Marvel movies.
  • 4:52 Talk about Iron Man, Thor and Captain America talking/fighting in a forest.
  • 5:33 They saw concept art of Bruce Banner in Calcutta. He hasn’t transformed into the Hulk in a few years and thinks he’s gained control back. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants Banner for his brain, not for the Hulk.
  • the-avengers-chris-evans-captain-america-poster6:30 Talk about their interview with Mark Ruffalo. The actor implied that Marvel may be moving towards having Bruce Banner able to control the Hulk. His take on the Hulk has a bit more humor.
  • 8:28 Wrapping up the production art room.
  • 9:03 When filming wrapped, Ruffalo went to ILM for three days for more motion-capture. When he’s filming motion-capture, Ruffalo is able to see the Hulk move as he moves. Hulk is gonna be eight and a half feet tall, and Ruffalo called Edward Norton before he took the role.
  • 10:29 *MILD SPOILER WARNING* Describe watching a scene between Tony Stark and Captain America.
  • 12:41 *MILD SPOILERS END* Talk about how cool it was to watch Tony Stark and Captain America do a scene together.
  • 13:20 Talk about watching a scene take place in a train yard. They put green screen all on the inside of a warehouse on a set the size of a football field and a half. It’s supposed to be the area outside of Grand Central Station.
  • 14:41 In the action scene, they saw Jeremy Renner fighting guys in motion-capture suits. Talk about the crazy action sequence that made great use of Hawkeye’s bow.
  • 16:07 They learned that there’s a ton of second-unit on The Avengers. Whedon likes to shoot everything himself, but the sheer size and scope of the film made it impossible for him to do second-unit.
  • 16:37 Talk about the relationship and chemistry between Hawkeye and Black Widow. They’ve been members of S.H.I.E.L.D. together for years so they have a rapport.
  • 17:51 Their interview with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans. Talk about trying to come up with the right dialogue for the scene when The Avengers actually assemble. Whedon went away for a few minutes and came back with four alternate versions of the scene that the actors could choose from.
  • 19:35 The relationship between Tony Stark and Captain America. Talk about the link between Stark’s father and Captain America.
  • 20:30 Their interview with Joss Whedon. He talked about the creation of the script and how Marvel gave him a basic skeleton outline of the film when he signed on.
  • 21:33 Whedon told a story about going on vacation right after he got the job and how he couldn’t stop coming up with storylines and dialogue while he was on vacation.
  • 22:20 What Whedon had to say about 3D and why he chose to post-convert The Avengers.
  • 22:41 Talk about them shooting the film with the ARRI Alexa.
  • 23:07 The stakes in the film. Whedon needed to create a sense of danger for the main characters that we know won’t die.
  • 24:02 Whedon was adamant that The Avengers stand alone as a movie and not be a sequel to Thor, Iron Man and Captain America.
  • 24:38 Whedon’s reasoning for wanting a classical-sounding score.
  • 25:09 Wrap up. Talk about their take-away from the set visit. Peter says the scale is much bigger than the other Marvel movies.
  • 26:59 Peter talks about being worried about the action sequences and Whedon’s direction, and says he was really impressed by what they saw. Peter and Steve talk about what Whedon will bring to the movie.

Tom-Hiddleston-Loki-The-Avengers-movie-image35 Things to Know About THE AVENGERS from our Set Visit

  • When Whedon was first hired, producers Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham gave him a basic skeleton to work with: how they come together, what works, what doesn’t work, and how they saw the climax.
  • Whedon planned on shooting The Avengers on the RED EPIC in 3D, but after shooting the tag for Thor with the it and losing hours to lens changes and “unknowable camera weirdness”, they decided to go with the ARRI Alexa in 2D.
  • Joss Whedon wanted the whole cast’s thoughts and notes on his first draft of the script in order to fine-tune it. Johansson said the first draft was a bit confusing in that a lot of storylines were cobbled together, but everyone’s notes helped streamline it into a cohesive story. He sat each one of them down individually and asked if there was anything they wanted to see or anything they didn’t want to repeat.
  • At the end of Thor, Whedon sat down with Tom Hiddleston for a long talk about the character of Loki.
  • Whedon approached the film as The Avengers: Part 1 instead of as a half sequel to all the previous Marvel movies. We’re introduced to all the characters like we’ve never met them before.
  • The Avengers is told from the point of view of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whereas in the other Marvel films S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury randomly pop up, we’ll get to see what their day-to-day actions are.
  • When Hemsworth was filming The Cabin in the Woods with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, he was also auditioning for Thor. Whedon and Goddard would give him Avengers comics to prepare him for the Thor audition process, and now it’s come full-circle.
  • The-Avengers-movie-image-2nd-unitThey’re looking to replicate the experience of the comics, in that Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 and Captain America 2 won’t necessarily feature the other characters from The Avengers; the characters will be returning to their own stories.
  • Loki has scenes with most of The Avengers individually, trying to break the team up.
  • Around 20% of the movie takes place on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.
  • At some point in the film, Iron Man will switch to the Mark VIII armor.
  • Whedon did a dialogue polish on Captain America, which he found fun because he got to write ‘40s dialogue. It also gave him an opportunity to spend time with the Steve Rogers character, whose perspective is crucial to The Avengers.
  • Nick Fury and his team are initially after Bruce Banner not for the Hulk, but for his gamma expertise.
  • Ruffalo’s version of the Hulk talks, but they’re not really sentences. They have all the components of a sentence, but it’s not quite all there.
  • Supporting characters from other Marvel films, like Natalie Portman, don’t appear because Whedon wanted to take away the characters’ support systems.
  • They make mention in the film of why Natalie Portman’s character from Thor isn’t Thor’s focus in The Avengers.
  • In the beginning of the film, Thor has returned to Earth because his brother is involved in the chaos happening on Earth.
  • Chris Hemsworth knew Loki was the villain in The Avengers shortly after he filmed Thor, but he had to keep it a secret.
  • Hemsworth says Thor never saw Hawkeye when the character appeared in Thor.
  • Robert-Downey-Jr-Iron-Man-The-Avengers-movie-imageHemsworth says there is definitely some physical tension between The Avengers team members.
  • The bulk of Ruffalo’s scenes are with Robert Downey Jr.
  • Before agreeing to take the part, Ruffalo called Edward Norton and asked for his blessing.
  • Ruffalo looked at a lot of gorillas to prepare for the physicality of the Hulk when doing motion-capture.
  • When Ruffalo was shooting motion-capture, he was able to see a rough rendering of the Hulk move in real-time with his movements, so that informed his performance.
  • There’s an implied history between Hawkeye and Black Widow. They’ve done a lot of missions together.
  • For Bruce Banner, Whedon wanted somebody who opened themselves up to the audience and takes them along everywhere he goes. He and Ruffalo talked a lot about the character and wanted him to be someone who is past what happened in the previous films and has internalized what went on.
  • Whedon usually directs everything himself, but given the size and scope of The Avengers he didn’t film the second-unit stuff.
  • The film picks up about six months after the events of the last Marvel film, chronologically.
  • The movie will show The Avengers assembling. They won’t already be together at the beginning, so Fury has to get the team together.
  • Captain-America-Hawkeye-The-Avengers-movie-imageMark Ruffalo is the only actor who has the distinction of playing both Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
  • In The Avengers, two years have passed since the events of The Incredible Hulk.
  • They wanted to approach the Hulk in Avengers as a throwback to Bill Bixby, where he has a charm in his world-weariness.
  • Banner has a tiny semblance of control over the Hulk, but he still doesn’t have complete control.
  • Ruffalo signed on without reading a script.
  • When scenes needed tweaking on the day, Whedon was able to go away and write new pages on the fly.
  • Hiddleston says the Loki of Thor is a confused and damaged prince, and the Loki of The Avengers is one who understands his own power.
  • Clarg Gregg revealed that Agent Coulson does get to kick some ass in The Avengers and he has a very prominent role in the film.
  • As soon as a scene was over, everyone unzipped their costumes and cooling fans were brought in to make everyone comfortable.

Chris-Evans-Captain-America-The-Avengers-movie-imageFor more from our Avengers set visit:

Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Mark Ruffalo The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Chris Hemsworth The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Tom Hiddleston The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Director Joss Whedon The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Clark Gregg The Avengers Set Visit Interview

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige The Avengers Set Visit Interview

click on any image for high-res









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