It’s a big day in the Marvel Universe — principal photography is now underway in Albuquerque, N.M., on “The Avengers,” the film that will bring together the superheroes from four separate film franchises and, perhaps, launch a few new ones.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo stepping in for the banished Edward Norton) will be joined by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, reprising her slinky S.H.I.E.L.D. spy role from “Iron Man 2“) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, who makes a cameo with his bows and arrows in “Thor,” which opens May 6) as well as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), the representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D., the secret-ops government agency that appears to be the glue holding much of the upcoming mythology in place. As expected, Tom Hiddleston from “Thor” will be the bad-guy Loki, which fits with the classic 1963 tale from the first issue of the Avengers comic book. The lineup of heroes here is different than the roster from that vintage first issue; Widow and Hawkeye weren’t on the scene yet, and two of the printed-page founding members, Wasp and Ant-Man, are (so far, at least) nowhere to be seen. [FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this post referred to Mark Ruffalo as an Oscar winner; he was a nominee this year but did not win.]
So director Joss Whedon, the man behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the woefully mistreated “Firefly,” is now at work with a large cast that will challenge even his signature affinity for group dynamic and dialogue. The biggest star on the set is the Downey, who took upstart Marvel Studios to dizzy heights with their first feature film, “Iron Man” in 2008, and even higher with the 2010 sequel — the two films collectively brought home $1.2 billion in worldwide box office. It was that success, primarily, that has propelled Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige’s dream of delivering this unprecedented team-up film, and all eyes will be on the summer releases of “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” — if those characters don’t bring in heroic numbers on their own, the mood (and the story emphasis) on this new venture will be affected in interesting ways.
— Geoff Boucher
Here’s the Marvel press release:
Production has commenced today in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated movie “Marvel’s The Avengers,” directed by Joss Whedon (“Serenity”) from a screenplay by Whedon. The film will continue principal photography in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) returns as the iconic Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) as Thor, Chris Evans (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) as Captain America, Jeremy Renner (“Thor,” “The Hurt Locker”) as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo (“The Kids Are Alright”) as Hulk, Scarlett Johansson (“Iron Man 2”) as Black Widow, Clark Gregg (“Iron Man,” “Thor”) as Agent Phil Coulson, and Samuel L. Jackson (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) as Nick Fury. Set for release in the US on May 4, 2012, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is the first feature to be fully owned, marketed and distributed by Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.Continuing the epic big-screen adventures started in “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers” is the Super Hero team up of a lifetime. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as SHIELD, finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.
Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1963, “Marvel’s The Avengers” brings together the mightiest Super Hero characters as they all assemble together on screen for the first time. The star studded cast of Super Heroes will be joined by Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother) as Agent Maria Hill of SHIELD, as well as Tom Hiddleston (“Wallander”) and Stellan Skarsgård (“Angels & Demons,” “Mamma Mia!”) who will both reprise their respective roles as Loki and Professor Erik Selvig from the upcoming Marvel Studios’ feature “Thor.”
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