A handful of websites (not ours) go invited to the set of The Avengers last this year, and now they are releasing the details of that visit online. If you want to hear Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige all discuss the most epic superhero teamup film of all time, you've come to the right place.
We have done the good deed of condensing all of the choice quotes from The Avengers cast and crew interviews into one transcript, with links at the end to the longer interviews, which are available in both print and audio form over on Collider.
The interviews are SPOILER-FREE, so read away at your leisure.
Interestingly enough, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige sees The Avengers as being a "disaster film" that we see from the point of view of S.H.I.E.L.D., the clandestine global peacekeeping force run by Samuel L. Jackson's character, Col. Nick Fury. Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) is also excited about the expanded role his organization gets in the new film:
FEIGE: Well, you know, the movie as everyone knows, I think, is primarily about… an event occurs that causes problems for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who runs this organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. … If S.H.I.E.L.D. was this organization that just stepped out of the shadows occasionally in other movies to see what was going on, in this movie, we’re on the other side of that.
In this movie, we’re through S.H.I.E.L.D.’s point of view, this organization who’s responsible for sort of taking care of the world and making sure everything runs smoothly and when a billionaire genius inventor creates a suit of armor and blasts out of a cave, it’s going to get on their attention. And when a hammer falls into the middle of the desert, it’s going to get their attention. And when a green guy appears rampaging through Harlem, it’s going to get their attention. And if and when a super-soldier were to be discovered frozen in the ice, that would also get their attention.
So it is sort of about seeing what a day in the life of Nick Fury is like and of this organization. And when such an event occurs, he is forced to take these people, who he’s not really sure he can even handle individually, and see if he can get them to come together and work together to stop this greater threat. So in a lot of ways, we’re looking at it as a disaster movie... It’s not my way of saying it’s Armageddon – things could be worse – but it’s my way of saying that’s kind of the paradigm that we’re looking at, is something horrible is going to happen if this team can’t get together and fight against it.
GREGG: I think that’s got to be a big task in a movie like this, where you got a guy from Asgard with a cape, and you know Tony Stark has always been a little more grounded and his technology is actually oddly close to what’s possible. What got me going on this? S.H.I.E.L.D., it has been hinted at what they do, who they are, and I think what’s cool about this movie is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a much bigger part of this, that you start to really understand who S.H.I.E.L.D. is, this kind of genesis from Howard Stark, that I think will be revealed a lot in Captain America and how it functions. I think S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around for quite a while and its real purpose becomes very clear in this movie.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s objective, of course, is getting these various figures - all accomplished heroes in their own rights - to come together and work together. In that sense, one of the biggest questions facing The Avengers has always been how (or on what level) an old soldier like Cap, a mystical warrior like Thor, or an egotistical tech-head like Iron Man would bond.
Apparently, the cast had to struggle with those very question as they were making the film:
EVANS: I think they [Cap and Iron Man] are both heroes in their own right. Tony is a little bit more flash, and he’s got charisma oozing out of him, and he likes the spotlight, and I think Cap might be a little bit more reserved in his desire to be front and center, but they are both, at their core, heroes, if you know what I mean. Even if Tony is flash and hot-shit, he is still a hero. He is still a good man. I think it just takes the duration of the film for them to see eye-to-eye and to see that in one another.
DOWNEY JR.: Well, here’s the thing...there is this extra added layer of it being connected to the Stark legacy, so it’s almost like dealing with Frankenstein, but Frankenstein has lessons that you actually haven’t learned yet. So it’s really easy to just be like, “Oh my God, you have bolts on your neck!” and Joss, while not being silly… I give Cap quite a bit of guff in the movie... But I think it was probably the toughest relationship to really find the right arc for.
RENNER: Yeah, I ask myself that every day. I don’t know. How do I know Thor? I guess I was in the movie. I was going to put an arrow in his head, but I don’t know this guy, do I? So I always ask those questions and Joss is a very creative… it’s a complicated universe, as you guys know, and there’s a couple different versions of this universe, so it’s interesting. We find reasons to make it work, but I think the general overall assumption is that we all at least have an understanding of each other… or a misunderstanding of each other is probably better.
HEMSWORTH: Sure. Absolutely. I think that conflict is what makes it interesting. Having seen these people in the individual films, it’s probably pretty safe to say that a lot of the team coming together is having to be about them managing their own egos or each others', and how they fit in. What sort of part they fill... There are certainly a few reactions of, “This guy thinks he’s a god? He’s got a cape.” And my reaction to that is, you are wearing a metal suit and you are wrapped in an American flag. I think we all have our odd opinions. Joss [Whedon] has said it before: they are all very lonely characters in a sense because they are… “outcasts” is probably the wrong word. But they’re certainly individuals. And because of that, I think they find, maybe, some comfort in that coming together. As hard as it is at first, they also probably feel at home in some way.
As if finding a way to bring all these characters together wasn't hard enough - they also have to deal with trickster god Loki trying to break them all apart:
JOHANSSON: (laughs) I think that [Loki] has an agenda, and I think the best way to break up a group is by trying to manipulate the situation by going individually to each one of our characters and you kind of see that. He’s playing good cop/bad cop, but it’s just him in some way with each one of us. I think he’s trying to figure out a way to put holes in the team, trying to figure out a way to disassemble us in some way and manipulate us individually.
HIDDLESTON: I think there is a degree of self-possession in Loki in The Avengers, which was missing in Thor. As in, the Loki of Thor is a confused and damaged prince and the Loki of The Avengers is somebody who understands his own power. He understands his own anger and is able to probably, I would say, suppress it. So you see that in a way he is more mischievous. Loki is the God of mischief and I think that the way Joss has written Loki in The Avengers is that he is a mischief. He is someone whose actions are very, very difficult for the seven of eight Avengers to pin down...
Loki thinks that having power will earn him approval and self-respect, I think... I’ve referred to him before as a kind of chess master. I think that he is 10 steps ahead in the game. He plays everyone so beautifully. He plays them better than they know, I think. But there is a flaw at the bottom of him, which is that he’s motivated entirely out of selfishness and a need for approval. I think that is ultimately his flaw.