Marvel Movie Updates: Avengers, Captain America, and Thor

It’s time again for the latest round of Comic Movie News, and with the storm that’s hitting Hollywood now you better believe we have a doozy of an update for you. So grab a Hot Pocket and a comfy chair, settle in, and let’s get to it.

The Avengers – Scheduled to Open on May 4th, 2012

Filming has begun! One of the most anticipated superhero movies EVER started filming last week, and here’s the press release as well as the first pic from the set from SuperHeroHype:

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 S.H.I.E.L.D., 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 S.H.I.E.L.D., 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.”

I just wet myself… 

“Marvel’s The Avengers” is being produced by Marvel Studios’ President, Kevin Feige, and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Louis D’Esposito, Patty Whitcher, and Jon Favreau. Marvel Studios’ Jeremy Latcham and Victoria Alonso will co-produce.

The creative production team also includes Oscar nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey (“Atonement”), production designer James Chinlund (“25th Hour”), Oscar winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”), Oscar winning visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs (“Iron Man 2,” “The Matrix”), visual effects producer Susan Pickett (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”), stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell (“Superman Returns”), and four-time Oscar nominated special effects supervisor Dan Sudick (“Iron Man,” “War of the Worlds”). The editors include Oscar nominated Paul Rubell (“Collateral”) and Jeffrey Ford (“Crazy Heart”).

Chris Hemsworth talks a little with Splashpage about how The Avengers really puts the spotlight on each hero, and how he looks forward to the team assembling during a read through.

SuperHeroHype reports on the appearance of some of the Thor cast in The Avengers:

Hemsworth, of course, is a lock for the team film, though he still has some time before he heads back to New Mexico.

“We start shooting in a couple of weeks,” he said, “which I knew that we were going to do when I signed on for ‘Thor,’ but it’s certainly on the forefront now as the next challenge with another big group of actors that I admire hugely. I’m very excited.”

“I can’t talk about that,” laughed Jaimie Alexander, who portrays the warrior Sif, about her possible return to the Marvel Universe, “And the funny thing is, it’s because I don’t know. A lot of times they don’t tell us things until the very end, so I can safely say I have no clue. It would be awesome, though. I’d be totally willing to do it.”

Also confirmed for The Avengers is Tom Hiddleston, reprising his role of Loki.

“I will be [heading to Albuquerque] soon,” he smiled, “That is a dead-set certainty. I’m so excited. Loki has big plans… and it’s going to take eight superheroes to stop him this time as opposed to just his chunky brother.”

Eight superheroes could lead to some speculation, as the cast is sure to include Hemsworth as Thor, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Does the eighth hero refer to Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, or is there still a bit of surprise casting in store?

This poster is too good to not show again…

For more on Loki’s involvement in The Avengers you can read an interview over at Cinema Blend where Hiddleston discusses the evolution of Loki going into The Avengers

Chris Evans gives a little insight on Captain America’s relationship with Tony Stark/Iron Man over at Splashpage and also reveals to Splashpage that we will see a new Cap costume in The Avengers, and that he already misses the old costume.

Which leads us too…

Captain America: The First Avenger July 22nd, 2011

Chris Evans talks to SuperHeroHype about Cap’s arrival in modern times, as well as the ‘Captain America Song”:

In the Marvel comics, Cap is a guy who went from the 1940s to modern times when he’s found encased in ice by the Avengers. Assuming part of that will be in The Avengers movie, your Cap will have to live in a world that’s very different from what he’s used to.

Yeah, at least there’s some meat on the bone. You want to play a character that has conflict – that’s what makes a character appealing to an actor, getting to find an arc and a reason, something to chew on. And that’s a lot. If you woke up one day and it was 50, 60 years in the future and everyone you knew had passed away and the entire world around you is different — you don’t have a friend, you don’t know anybody, you don’t know anything — that’d be a lot to take in. It’s exciting as an actor to try and tackle that.

“Dude! You scuffed my shield!”

There is a Captain America song, but I don’t sing it. Initially in the film, when he becomes Captain America, long story short the serum is destroyed and they can’t reproduce the experiment so I’m the only super soldier there is. The U.S. government won’t allow me to go to war because it’s too risky and they can’t afford to lose me, but they use me as a propaganda tool and they send me on a USO Tour. So there’s a whole Captain America song, and they try to make him a little bit of a celebrity to try and sell bonds. There is a Captain America song, and there was a week of shooting, and I had that song in my head. I couldn’t stop humming it! It was so annoying. But it’s a funny sequence actually.

He then goes on to talk about his training to bulk-up for Cap, and how quickly he left the gym once filming wrapped.

Evans recently headed to New York for some re-shoots,  so here are a few of the pics from SuperHeroHype. It looks to me like this might be Rogers after he has awoken in the modern world, judging by the t-shirt design as well as the obviously updated look of the city and people around him. Not to mention Nick Fury’s presence, but you be the judge:

Opens on Friday!!!

I am so ridiculously excited for this movie, and the only thing left to do is convince my boss to give me time off so I can see it opening night. For now, I just have to report other people talking about it…

SuperHeroHype has a huge interview with Chris Hemsworth, so I’ll post a small bit and you can check the rest out at the link:

SHH: What was your audition like for the role? Who was the first person who called you… Kevin Feige?
 My very first audition sucked (laughs), and I didn’t actually get a call back. That was it, and then a few months later, I somehow got an opportunity to have another go, and I came at it with a different attitude, and was determined not to mess it up this time, and had four or five auditions and in the end, one Saturday morning got a phone call from Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Feige and Craig Kyle, the guys at Marvel, and said, “Congratulations, you got the part!”

SHH: One thing I liked about the footage I saw that we got to see some stuff in Asgard, which is big and theatrical, but we also see Thor on earth and you really captured what I like about the character which is when he’s on earth, he’s arrogant but loveable. Was your background more theatrical before getting into movies or were you just doing television?
 Mainly television in Australia. I did a small amount of theater in high school and one of the things I actually did was “Much Ado About Nothing,” which Kenneth Branagh did the film version of, and I remember at that time of my life, I had no real interest in Shakespeare, nor did I understand what I was actually saying, so I just watched his film and kind of stole all the ideas. (chuckles)

SHH: There’s been a lot of questions about Kenneth directing a big movie like this, because I think “Frankenstein” was the biggest movie he’s done, which didn’t have nearly as much FX or big action scenes. Was it just like any other movie where he found a way into it? How did he bring everyone into this world?
 Look, I mean, it’s an incredible amount of work. I was hugely impressed, and Ken, he has such knowledge about filmmaking, now on a scale of whether it’s a small independent film or these films, essentially it’s the same sort of thing. There’s just more pieces to the puzzle and it’s more expensive, but Ken is a storyteller and knows that down to the wire, he knows character development, and obviously, he’s very educated in the Shakesperean world, that olde English tone is very similar to where Thor is from and that regal royalty, but also Marvel is such a machine. It has so many talented people working amongst them with the special FX and sets and everything, so it’s a collaborative process but Ken is certainly the leader and took full charge.

SHH: Had you ever done any action before this or did you have any sort of sports background to do some of those action scenes? There’s some pretty impressive fighting in the scene I saw.
 Yeah, I boxed for a lot of years and grew up in Australia in the bush and had a very rough and tumble childhood. We grew up outdoors, building forts and making all kinds of weapons and rope swings and getting into mischief, and I think that probably prepped me more than anything else, it’s that kind of life experience and having two brothers who beat the hell out of each other as young blokes. But also, there was an incredible stunt team to train me up and help me develop this side of the character.

SHH: Which is your preference? Do you enjoy doing the big theatrical Asgard scenes or more of the fighting?
 Look, I love the physicality of those big fight sequences and action, but I got into this business because I love the acting and the intimate personal moments where you really go deep into this character’s motivations and try and find the truth in what he’s saying. That’s what’s exciting for me, and I do love all the action stuff as well. Yeah, but at the end of the day, the acting is truly what I’m in it for.

SHH: On both sides of the rainbow bridge, you have two heavy-duty actors, you have Anthony Hopkins on Asgard and Natalie Portman on Earth. Which scenes did you end up doing first and how intimidating was it on your first day with either one of them?
 The first stuff few shot was all the Asgardian stuff, and it was kind of perfect, because it was Thor at his biggest and best. Full costume surrounded by other people in full costume and magnificent sets and this hugely fantastical world, and Anthony Hopkins was amazing and incredibly supportive and fun and such appreciation for the business. That sort of attitude is infectious, and then we shot the Earth-bound stuff with Natalie and me as an actor all of a sudden out of costume and without the hammer felt pretty much fish-out-of-water, but it was perfect for the character. That’s what he was supposed to do.

SHH: Did you grow your hair long for the part or did you just wear wigs?
 It was a wig, very detailed and sculpted and designed around my hairline and everything. (laughs) I’d forget it was there half the time and I turned up for the wrap party and a bunch of people said, “Oh, you cut your hair” and I was like, “No, that was a wig for the last five months.” (laughs)

SHH: In the footage at CinemaCon, we saw a little bit of Asgard but it mainly focused on Earth, is there a lot more Asgard stuff? How far into the movie was that scene?
 It’s sort of back and forth and without giving too much away, it’s about these two worlds colliding, so there’s this constant juggling act with those two worlds.

SHH: I was wondering about that because we didn’t really get to see much of that and I was curious about some of the other characters like Tom’s Loki, who is one of my favorite Marvel villains after Dr. Doom. I was curious to see how evil he got.
 Well, they don’t want to give too much away, and they’re sort of giving everyone a taste of it, but no, the best is yet to come, that’s for sure. (chuckles)

SHH: I think it was brilliant, because it was exactly what we needed to see to get some idea what the movie was going to be like.
 Yeah, I really love that second trailer as well. It gave you much more of a broader sense of the film, and you really get to see, “Wow, this is not just an action film” or what have you. It’s got some real heart and some real humor in it, and it really is a fun ride.

SHH: I think Marvel has always found Thor to be one of the harder characters to sell because he is a God, and it’s harder for regular people to relate to him.
 And that was a big focus with us, was making it truthful and simplifying it and not getting caught playing Gods and humanizing the Gods in a sense and really working out… “Well, what’s the truth behind this scene? It’s a scene between a father and a son or brother to brother,” and that we can all relate to. That was a hook for us.

SHH: Thor also has an arrogance yet he always remains likeable, so what do you tap into in order to keep that balance?
It’s the cockiness and arrogance but it’s all done with a smile and a sense of fun, you know? It’s not necessarily abusive, it’s more just that he has a strong opinion and this is why, but he loves an adventure, and that’s very influential with his friends and the Warriors Three and his brother. I think he’s the kind of guy who meets down the pub and you have a beer with and you have a great time. 

Like I said, there’s a lot more at the link above. Moving on to the director Kenneth Branagh, Splashpage has a pretty good interview:

MTV NEWS: When your involvement was first announced, many people reasoned that your Shakespearean background was a great fit for the character because of Thor’s use of that type of dialogue and story devices. Now that we’ve seen more of the film, it looks like you’ve toned down the “thee” and “thou” aspect of Thor’s speech. What prompted that decision?

KENNETH BRANAGH: Well, here’s the thing: I spoke to Stan Lee numerous times over the course of this — and I think he’s absolutely marvelous — but he first said way back that he thought the characters should speak like a combination of Shakespeare and the King James bible. And in the comics, there’s plenty of “thee” and “thou,” but a lot of the humor in some of these comics is based around that gag. I felt that we wouldn’t get too much value from that for too long in a contemporary movie.

Also, when it came to the type of power struggle within Asgard between Thor and his brother and Thor and his father, Odin, we wanted that to feel very relateable, and very passionate. We wanted it to feel like these were young men whose passion and rivalry was something we could absolutely relate to in our own lives. So it was important to me that they sounded different enough — like they came from a royal family and in another life they would’ve gone to the best schools and picked up those kinds of things — but also that they should be direct and real and natural. In a way, in the Shakespeare I’ve done, I’ve always tried to have the delivery of the dialogue feel as human and as normal as possible. Then, when necessary, you can really enjoy the fact that sometimes they’re incredibly eloquent and passionate and their words are inspiring and uplifting.

MTV: Another change from comics to film seems to be the role of Donald Blake, Thor’s human alter ego in the comics. I’ve heard rumblings that Donald Blake will find his way into the film in some form, but what motivated the decision to remove the secret, human element of Thor’s character?

BRANAGH: I love the Donald Blake alter ego, and of course, it’s not his only alter ego in the comics, but Doctor Donald Blake is often a significant part of the comics. What I would say is, if the audiences decide they want to see more of Thor, then there’s a very rich strain of the story that could be mined there. What we do in this movie does not exclude that possibility.

In terms of Donald Blake not being in this movie, when we lined up all the things that we needed to introduce the audience to, the idea of yet one more element of Thor’s characters in addition to the world of the gods, the world of space, the world of Jotunheim, the world of all the characters in Odin’s family and all of the Earth, to then reduce our amount of screen time with the first introduction of Thor himself felt as though we wouldn’t be doing ourselves a favor. Instead, the priority would be to get as much of Thor inside that already complicated world as we could. So it was a decision based on letting an audience get a real sense of Thor the Asgardian, the man of myth. Maybe it would be something down the line, were that to even be a possibility.

MTV: So how involved are you with “Avengers” these days? I know that the Marvel movie team tends to keep the communication lines open when it comes to these films…

BRANAGH: I spoke to Joss [Whedon] before he came on board, and I’ve spoken to him since. Of course, I’m not allowed to say too much, otherwise they’d kill me, I’d have to kill you, we’d all be dead, and so on. But what I have read of the “Avengers” material is special. He’s really a tremendous talent, Joss. Now having worked so closely with Chris [Hemsworth]and having worked with Jeremy Renner briefly, the idea of the two of them plus Robert [Downey Jr.] is an exciting combination.

Joss came to see our movie several times during production, and the piece of the movie that might be at the end of “Thor” — that might be at the end of the credits that I can’t speak about — Joss and I worked together a little on that. There’s a weird kind of collegiate atmosphere amongst those of us who are directors on this thing. When I went in to do my little 3-D sessions, I’d always see [‘Captain America’ director Joe Johnston] coming out of his, and we’d always share a few war stories about what was going on. Jon Favreau was kind to me when he was in post-production for “Iron Man 2,” and [“Incredible Hulk” director] Louis Leterrier was one of the people who suggested me for the job in the first place. So it does feel like those of us who pass through the Marvel academy are inevitably bonded.

MTV: You mentioned Jeremy Renner, and now that the cat’s out of the bag with Hawkeye’s debut in “Thor,” what else can you tell us about the role his character will play in the film?

BRANAGH: I’m not able to divulge anything in great detail, but the time I did spend with him was excellent. He’s prepared, smart, very detailed, and what he’s going to bring is something extremely interesting. He’s an unusually big fan of the comics, and knows the character well. There’s likely to be a very, very interesting development from one film to the next with that character.

MTV: Finally, there’s been a lot of debate regarding the casting of a black actor, Idris Elba, as the Norse god Heimdall. What’s your take on the issue?

BRANAGH: The world of Marvel Comics and the world of the Norse myths is a world of imagination and fantasy, and that being the case, I think that has license to be as wide-ranging in the imaginative choices employed as the original authors of the myths themselves, and certainly as the authors of the Marvel comics have been. I think the stories of the characters lend themselves to great unusual choices, and sometimes — I would put Idris Elba in this category — usual choices. If you want somebody who is the first and last voice you hear on entering and leaving Asgard, and is the first and last person you see on entering and leaving Asgard, then that figure needs to be somebody memorable, magnificent-looking, magnificent-sounding, and you start to narrow the choices down considerably. And if you have the chance of getting as fine an actor as Idris Elba, that’s the beginning and end of the conversation inside that imaginative and fantastical universe.

You’re also talking to a guy who cast Denzel Washington as Keanu Reeves’ half-brother in Much Ado About Nothing, another world of imagination and fantasy, and the world of that space didn’t raise an eyebrow. So that’s where I come from.

And finally, get ready for a small SPOILER ALERT, as SuperHeroHype has 10 minutes of behind the scenes footage that might reveal some unwanted tidbits. It’s still pretty cool, though.

And that wraps up this edition of the Movie Updates! But that isn’t even it! I just covered The Avengers and their related franchises, but I’ll have more from Marvel and DC over the next few days so keep it locked to the Griz!

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