Continuing the epic, big-screen action adventure of a lifetime started in Marvel’s “The Avengers,” the Super Hero dream team is back to protect the world from the greatest threat mankind has ever seen in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Read our review of the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie!
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We joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes at the The Avengers Age of Ultron Press Conference earlier this month for a Q & A that was packed full of laughter and the same quick wit and comradery you find in Marvel's latest film ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron'. Seriously, this was one of the funniest press conferences I have attended.
The cast including: Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man”), Chris Evans (“Captain America”), Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”), Scarlett Johansson (“Black Widow”), Mark Ruffalo (“The Hulk”), Jeremy Renner (“Hawkeye”), Cobie Smulders (“Maria Hill”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Scarlett Witch”), Aaron Taylor Johnson (“Quicksilver”), James Spader (“Ultron”), Paul Bettany (“Vision”), along with Joss Whedon (Director) and Kevin Feige (Producer) kept the mood light as we learned more about the making of this new film.
Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader were the characters of the day, adding their ad lib throughout the event. Then, without warning, RDJ dropped a bomb mid interview that had everyone rolling in their chairs. Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in theaters on May 1, 2015
Avengers Age of Ultron Press Conference
Q: Maria Hill is one of my favorite characters in the MCU because she’s one of these threads that ties everything together, both in the Avengers, the other MCU films, the television series, she brings it all together. Now, Maria went through a lot of a change in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Talk a little bit about where we find Maria now and the kind of Maria Hill you wanted the audiences to see in Age of Ultron.
Cobie Smulders: Maria’s now under the employment of Tony Stark and she’s working with him to privatize security. It’s very fun being a thread to be able to tie the TV show and the movies together. That’s been a lot of fun.
She’s got a bigger job now, she’s working with Tony and she doesn’t have S.H.I.E.L.D. at her disposal anymore, so it’s a much more difficult job.
Q: Paul Bettany. So what does it feel like now to be more than just a voice?
Paul Bettany: Well, the main difference is I have to show up. You know, the great thing is being able to work with all these incredibly creative and talented people. However, I also now have to show up at junkets, so everything’s a double-edged sword.
Q: I have a question for Joss. If you could talk about bringing Vision and Ultron to life. It almost seemed like they each embodied Stark’s nature, both the good and the bad, Ultron being the bad, and the Vision the best of both natures. Could you talk a little bit about that and maybe even Mr. Downey could comment.
Joss Whedon: Yes. [LAUGHTER]
Kevin Feige: Man of few words
Joss Whedon: No, you’re right, they do embody a little bit of him, but they’re also their own people. But I do see them as two sides of the same coin. I like the sort of accord between the two of them. I think there’s something beautiful about the fact that they see the same thing and react to it differently emotionally.
Q: Joss, for you. What were the biggest challenges that you faced putting together the story and then shooting the film? What were the things that surprised you on your journey?
Joss Whedon: There’s like 47 of these people. I really didn’t think that through, and I regret very much doing this at all. It’s just making sure that everybody has their moment, that everybody’s got their through-line, that it’s connected to the movie.
I have all these people. I love all these people. They’re extraordinary. But making sure that they’re not just all being served, but all within the same narrative structure, that they’re in the same movie, that it’s all connected to the main theme. At some point during the editing process I could not have told you who they were, who I was, what movie I was making, I got so lost in it. But I think it all came together, and you know, it’s just about making these guys look good, which takes a long time.
Q: For Kevin. You started with this grand plan almost a decade ago, so what does it mean to you to see it all coming to fruition, working with filmmakers like Joss and the rest of the cast you’ve had through all your movies? What’s that experience been like for you, and to see the world connect with the MCU in such a powerful way?
Kevin Feige: Well, it’s been great, of course. It started with the notion of making these movies ourselves, and becoming Marvel Studios, and then it continued with Robert in Iron Man one, with the notion of having Sam Jackson come in at the end and say: ‘You’re part of a bigger universe, you just don’t know it yet.', thinking that most people wouldn’t know what that meant. Occasionally somebody would go: what did that mean? I’d go: it means maybe that we’ll introduce all the different characters and put ‘em together. It’d be great.
But the minute that happened, the world sort of got it, much more quickly than I anticipated, and it was awesome, and it continues to be. It’s daunting now ‘cause the expectations before, they didn’t exist. They thought: what are they doing, let’s go on to the next thing. And now it’s crushingly overwhelming expectations, particularly on this movie.
But it’s incredible, and it’s incredible to look down the line and the table keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s the greatest ensemble ever assembled in cinematic history, and it is amazing to be a part of it.
Robert Downey Jr.: And you’re welcome. [LAUGHTER]
Q: This question is for Joss Whedon, the Atlas of the Marvel cinematic universe. So how do you go about even beginning to start to create the sequel to one of the greatest, largest, most successful movies of all time?
Joss Whedon: With the smallest thing I can think of. The thing that drew me back to the movie was: what little moments are there between these characters that I haven’t gotten to do yet? What conversations have they not had? What haven’t I shown?
It’s never the big picture stuff, it’s never ‘and then we can have an army of robots' – although that’s cool too – it’s always just: where do they live, or how can I get inside their hearts, what’s funny about them? Those are the moments. I write just reams and reams of paper just thinking about, you know, the tiniest part, that’s really the heart of the thing.
Q: For Elizabeth and Aaron. You guys have worked together before, and the chemistry between the twins is so important for those scenes to have emotional impact. Was the fact that you guys had worked together previously an advantage, or was that an additional challenge in making their relationship work so well in the film?
Elizabeth Olsen: I think it’s only a benefit. We didn’t really work that much on Godzilla together but…
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: But it made it.
Elizabeth Olsen: It’s kind of intimidating joining this group. I got to do it with Aaron, by my side.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: It was comforting to know stepping on set, when it was such a big ensemble and cast, that you kind of had someone to feel comfortable with. Absolutely.
And then this happened…
Q: This is a question for Robert. We get to see a lot of sort of fatherly side of Tony Stark this time, Your relationship with Tony and Woo Chon, you sort of take care of Hulk and Bruce Banner, like a father and son. Did you having that kind of thing in mind when you’re playing this role this time?
Robert Downey Jr.: I must be mellowing with age, but I want to say this very clearly. The next time I’m not asked the first question, [LAUGHTER] I’ll f___ing walk out. I read Joss’s script, I said, I think this is great. Now, ask Kevin, didn’t I say that? I said that.
Scarlett Johansson: Language! [LAUGHTER]
Robert Downey Jr.: I read Joss’s script, I said, ‘I think this is great.'
Kevin said, ‘You never say that. You can’t mean that.' I said, ‘Yeah, I think it’s great. Let’s go shoot it.' I thought it was a Swiss watch to begin with and Joss really created some great new situations for Tony to be in, so rather than dig in my heels and try to rewrite every scene, to make them even better, if possible, I showed up and it turned out great.
Q: For Mr. Spader. I really enjoyed performance in the film and I was wondering if you could talk about, as an actor, doing the motion capture, and how you were really able to bring life to this killer robot.
James Spader: I really don’t have any idea what was happening at all, it happened very quickly. I really was just trying to hold on and then stay on the train that was moving very, very quickly. But I will say this, that I arrived in London and within the first half hour they put on a suit, they put on all this gear, and I’d gone through a range of motion.
Then within 15 minutes, I was watching me walk around a big room, moving and doing this and that and everything else, and watching Ultron, or at least a formative stage of Ultron, on a monitor in front of me. And it just – it started right there.
The next day, I was on the set shooting a scene with Scarlett, and so really that pace was what it was, through the entire project. Luckily I’d had some conversations with Joss and one fantastic meal with a whole bunch of wine to figure out who this guy was, and that was it. That really was it.
Q: This question is for Robert, James, and Chris Hemsworth. My question is: growing up, who was your favorite superhero, and why?
Robert Downey Jr.: I’ll take this one. [LAUGHTER]
Chris Hemsworth: Superman was probably the only film they’d made back when I was growing up. That was the one that sticks out for me. Iron Man hadn’t been created yet, or Captain America, or Hulk, or Black Widow or Vision, everyone on this table.
Chris Evans: So had Captain America been –
Chris Hemsworth: Would have been my favorite, that and Captain Australia.
Chris Evans: Gotcha.
Chris Hemsworth: You know, sort of neck in neck. [LAUGHTER]
James Spader: Growing up, I didn’t have any comic books at all, but my friend Will Brottis has a trunk full of them, so comic books were like candy for me. I’d go over to his house for a sleepover, and I would be really just devouring everything I could get my hands on. I just devoured everything. Anything.
Q: Jeremy, this one’s for you. There were a lot of Hawkeye fans that felt a little shortchanged actually in the first Avengers because one of their favorite hero wasn’t focused on as much as they would have liked. But we see a much greater emphasis on Barton in this particular film. Talk a little bit about what you were hoping to see, you know, Barton evolve into in this film, and your first reactions when you read the script and you saw the role he was going to play in this one.
Jeremy Renner: Well, I speak in this movie, which is awesome, and I become part of the team, which is awesome. When sitting down with Joss, and even Kevin back in the day, about why I liked him, why I wanted to play Hawkeye, is ‘cause I didn’t understand, I could never do like what these gentlemen do.
I don’t have that creative of a mind. I understood Hawkeye in the sense of he’s a human just with a high skill set, so I could tap into that. I feel like I got to explore a little bit more of that, even outside the skill set, and I thought that was a really, really endearing and thoughtful. Sort of secret that he had, and I’m excited to kind of see where that goes.
James Spader: Well said.
Q: This question is for Joss and for Kevin. How much impact did this movie have on the Phase 2 lead up? Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Cap 2, Guardians of the Galaxy?
Kevin Feige: A lot of those were already in the works. I mean, Iron Man 3 and Cap 2 and Thor 2 were already in the works just as Avengers was coming out. I would say it was more about how those movies were impacted by the first Avengers film. But I will say I remember as we were putting the other Phase 2 movies together, Joss very much liked the idea and we honed in on that for him, that Hulk and Hawkeye would be two characters that hadn’t got much exposure in between the movies, ‘cause he said he had very big plans for the two of those characters in this one. Other than that, though, Joss…
Joss Whedon: The only thing I can think of is pulling Thanos out of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Kevin Feige: That’s true actually. There was going to be more Thanos.
Joss Whedon: And it was like, no, we need to thread him in more gently. But that was pretty much it.
Q: We’ve seen Black Widow not only evolve depth-wise but we see her role getting larger and larger as the cinematic universe progresses to the point that we see her play such a significant role in Age of Ultron. Talk a little bit about where you see Black Widow even going from here, once we get to the end of this film.
James Spader: Do you want me to take this one? [LAUGHTER]
Scarlett Johansson: I think that in the beginning of Avengers 2, there’s some sense finally of there being a kind of normal, in a way. I mean, it’s a well-oiled machine where we're tag teaming each other. The introductions are over and we’re at work, we’re digging our heels in, and at the end of Avengers 2, I think Widow is hopeful for something.
I think she had this moment of false hope where she put in the work and there should be some kind of personal payoff, and she was ready to accept it. She realizes that her calling is a greater one and that’s not necessarily something that she’s thrilled about. But that’s kind of what is most heroic about her is that she’s accepting the call of duty, even at her own personal loss.
I think it’s an interesting place to kind of leave her there, because there’s many different directions to go. Is she going to be able to withstand this huge weight that’s bearing down on her or is she going to crack under it, and sort of crumble, not being able to take this huge hit, this huge personal hit that she does. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see, right?
Q: Scarlett, this is for you as well. Can you talk a bit about the physical preparation that went into the role and were you a proficient motorcycle rider already?
Scarlett Johansson: I don’t think you’re allowed to ride a motorcycle when you’re still pregnant. But I did. I did all of the motorcycle riding. [LAUGHTER]
I embarrassingly rode some sort of mechanical bull type of motorcycle, which goes nowhere and doesn’t look cool at all. We had some very professional and amazing motocross work being done that makes Black Widow look like a total badass, and I will say I’m very fortunate that there’s a team around me that is super-supportive in helping all of Widow’s fight moves and badass motorcycle riding happen.
I could not do that without that part of it you know, kind of starting a move and then finishing a move. All that work being seamless takes a lot of choreography and team spirit. Every film is exciting ‘cause I get new tools and new fun, cool stuff to do, and luckily Joss writes me some badass moves that make me look just epic and it’s awesome. I just said epic, awesome and badass all in one sentence. [LAUGHTER]
James Spader: Wicked.
Q: This one’s for Mark. Mark, one of the great things about Dr. Banner is that we see so much of Dr. Banner in Hulk, but yet you find a way to make Dr. Banner feel like such a distinct character from the Hulk at the same time. Talk a little bit about Banner’s evolution in this film and the Dr. Banner you wanted the audiences of Age of Ultron to see.
Mark Ruffalo: I was helped out by the fact that I’m green, and huge, to help me with the distinction between the two characters, so I can’t take full credit for that, except for the accent that I was using, maybe.
James Spader: Nailed it. [LAUGHTER]
Q: Hello. This question is for Joss. Why is the armor designed to contain the Hulk called Veronica?
Joss Whedon: You know, I just decided to call it Veronica because I used to be in love with a woman named Betty, and Veronica is the opposite of that.
Mark Ruffalo: I was always wondering that, but I thought I’d be breaking some Marvel taboo by asking it. You know, we have a Marvel app on our iPhones and if you say something wrong, it literally shocks you.
Kevin Feige: Did you get a shock just now? You’re not supposed to talk about that.
Mark Ruffalo: Yeah, my publicist has it. She got the shock. [LAUGHTER]
Avengers: Age of Ultron Press Conference Photo Gallery
Check out the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron clip featuring the awesome Hulkbuster suit below!
About Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Chris Evans as Captain America. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, 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, Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015. Avengers: Age of Ultron is rated PG-13.
Portions of the material for this event has been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios, all opinions are my own.