The first Avengers had an epic battle sequence that set the bar very high.
Jeremy Latcham: That was a mistake. That was a mistake, yeah.
How do you top that?
Jeremy Latcham: I need a stretcher. Honestly, that's something we are totally 100% like "We have to top it." And it's hard because it's a great sequence. It's so fun, so character-driven, and it's so funny and intense and big. My theory going into Avengers 1 was that we had yet to make an action movie at Marvel. We'd made a lot of really cool character films, but we'd yet to make an action movie. I felt really strongly [about it], and I carried this little chart around with me that had minutes of action in other movies and minutes of action in our movies. It was one of those bar charts that I'd made in Excel. It took me a long time, but I kept showing it in meetings. I'd be like, "No, no, no, but we have to have this many minutes of action, because we're really behind the curve. We're not making action movies. People are going to get pissed. At some point, people are going to catch onto us."
So we went into [The Avengers] just wanting to make an action movie. With this one, we went into it, and boy, I think we've gone way over the top, because there's so much action in the movie that it's exhausting. It's really exhausting to pull it all together. But it's fun, because we've shot a gigantic sequence in South Africa, with Hulk and Hulkbuster. We've shot a gigantic sequence in Seoul, South Korea, where they gave us a run of the entire city. Essentially, we went to the government and said, "Can we shut down the 405 and the 101 on the same day?" That's more or less my understanding of, we don't know what we’re asking for. So we're looking at the map - we're not from Seoul - and we said, "We'd like to shut down this street and this street. Boy, wouldn't that be great?" And they said, "Those the main streets." We go, "Yeah, yeah, can we close them?" "Okay" And we said, "Oh my God, really?" And then we closed all these streets. We had this massive amount of cooperation. Like, never has a local government and national government been more cooperative with a film shoot.
So we had this massive sequence in Seoul, and now we have this gigantic finale that we're putting together as well that hopefully, knock on wood, is stunningly big and cool. It has stuff that no one's ever seen before in an action movie. So, yeah, we're very focused on the fact that we have to live up to that first sequence. We're trying, like, three different ways to try and top it, and hopefully we do. I mean, it's a hard thing to pull off, these big sequences. They're complicated, and you don't want it to just turn into action and be a generic action movie. The reason our action works is because our first eight films at Marvel or whatever were all character films that ended in character moments between people like Tony and Obadiah going at it on the freeway back in 2008. That was all about relationships.
So how do you keep that alive in a movie like this, with this many spinning plates? It's really complicated, but luckily we have a great second unit director. Joss is doing a great job, and it's a big collaboration between second unit, Joss, visual effects, special effects, the art department.
I keep saying that it's like when you watch the Olympics, and they're doing the figure skating, and there's the one guy who can never win because his routine's not hard enough. He can only ever get, like, an eight because he doesn't have enough of the triple spins and stuff. Like this finale, if we pull it off, we'll have all the spins we need to get the high score but we actually have to pull it off, because we have so much degree of difficulty. You know, how do you make it all happen?
In the first Avengers, a huge section of New York is destroyed. Are you destroying more of New York in this finale?
Jeremy Latcham: No, we're going somewhere else for the finale, and we're going to see the repercussions of what happened after New York... We were actually talking the other day about how we destroyed the statue above Grand Central, so there should be a different statue there. Like, that statue's gone... That landmark has been destroyed by a gigantic alien leviathan that came out of the sky.
I'm curious about Hawkeye? He's another character we really didn't get to see in Phase 2. During Winter Soldier, there's that question of, "Where is he?" Are we going to get a distinct answer to that?
Jeremy Latcham: We are going to see a lot of Hawkeye. We're going to learn a lot about him. And I think Jeremy Renner is doing a really great job. I think he's bringing so much to the table. I mean, clearly, he's an incredible actor. He killed it last year in so many movies. I think he's doing a great job, and I think we're going to learn a lot about his character. There's a lot of fun stuff there to play with. On the first film, we cast Renner, and then as the script evolved it became, "Uh, Jeremy Renner? You're going to be under the thrall of Loki for the entire movie... and that's what you get to do. Sorry about what we talked about." In this movie I think we're making up for that.
You never call Hawkeye "Hawkeye" in the first movie. Talk about codenames in Marvel movies.
Jeremy Latcham: Yeah, we don't really get into it too often with code names. I mean, there's a line that's been in and out of the script that kind of indicates the "witchiness" of Wanda. And yet, it's not like, "Quicksilver, go over there!" That's definitely something we always try to avoid. And whenever we do do it, we try to have a cool [reason] for it - like Obadiah's line in Iron Man 1, "We're iron mongers, Tony." That always struck me as the right way to do it, as opposed to just giving people names. And like in Avengers 1, when Fury walks in and says, "Where's Barton?" and the guy says, "He's in his nest." Then cut to up there, and he's at the highest vantage point, which makes sense for him... Hawkeye always finds a way to be up-top somewhere, because that's who he is. He's always looking for higher ground.
War Machine and Falcon have been such a big part of these past few movies. How come they aren't brought in to join the Avengers?
Jeremy Latcham: Well, the Avengers' roster is always changing, and that's part of the fun of the comics. It's one of the promises that we want to play with in this film, that there are always going to be new characters [joining] the team and old characters leaving the team. There's a continually changing roster. That's something we definitely play with in this film, and you might get to see cameos of War Machine or other people. I mean, we want to make this world as lively as possible, and we've set people up in the universe. They exist. We want to deal with that where we can.
Marvel is developing Doctor Strange and a whole bunch of other properties. How many Easter eggs or little things are in the background that will pay off in future films?
Jeremy Latcham: There's not a ton of them... At the moment, there are not any. But that's also something we do in post too. Like, we'll look at it and go, "Oh, there's an opportunity to reference something." But there aren't any right now that I can think of, that go too far forward.
What about auxiliary characters like Mockingbird in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? How hard is it to keep Joss from putting those characters in there? I'd figure Joss more than anyone else would want to throw in lines...
Jeremy Latcham: Joss turns in things sometimes that - like, he turned in a line the other day, and I literally had to Google it. I'm so dumb. You know what I mean? Like, it turns out it was a reference to a whole other pop culture phenomenon that has nothing to do with Avengers. And I was like, "I'm very embarrassed I didn't know this." I told my wife and she was like, "God, of course that's from Harry Potter, you idiot." I don't know. But, you know, it's Joss. He's always referencing something. I definitely spend a lot of time reading the script and going, "Alright, now I need to Google this. Oh, that's from Shakespeare. Oh, I need to Google. Oh, that's from Greek myth. Okay. All right.
Want more and to hear from the Avengers themselves? Here are the other on-set interviews:
- Joss Whedon - Writer and director
- Chris Evans - Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America
- Chris Hemsworth - Thor
- Robert Downey Jr - Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man
- Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner a.k.a. Hulk
- Elizabeth Olsen - Wanda Maximoff a.k.a Scarlet Witch
- Paul Bettany - JARVIS and Vision
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson - Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.