- The Avengers (2012 film)
Directed by Joss Whedon Produced by Kevin Feige Screenplay by Joss Whedon Based on The Avengers by
Starring Music by Alan Silvestri Cinematography Seamus McGarvey Editing by Studio Marvel Studios Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures1 Release date(s) May 4, 2012 Country United States Language English Budget $220 million
The Avengers is an upcoming American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures1, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which crosses over several Marvel superhero films including Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction.
Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Scarlett Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September.
The Avengers is scheduled for release on May 4, 2012 in the United States.
When an unexpected enemy emerges who threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, the director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team of superheroes to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.
- A billionaire industrialist who seeks to pacify the world with a mechanical suit of armor of his own invention. Downey was cast as part of his four-picture deal with Marvel Studios, which includes Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Downey stated that he initially pushed Whedon to make Stark the lead revealing, "Well, I said, ‘I need to be in the opening sequence. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but Tony needs to drive this thing.’ He was like, ‘Okay, let’s try that.’ We tried it and it didn’t work, because this is a different sort of thing, the story and the idea and the theme is the theme, and everybody is just an arm of the octopus."
- A World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum. Evans was cast as part of a deal to star in three Marvel films, in addition to The Avengers. Evans stated that Steve Rogers is much darker in The Avengers explaining, "It’s just about him trying to come to terms with the modern world. You’ve got to imagine, it’s enough of a shock to accept the fact that you’re in a completely different time, but everybody you know is dead. Everybody you cared about... He was a soldier, obviously, everybody he went to battle with, all of his brothers in arms, they’re all dead. He’s just lonely. I think in the beginning it’s a fish out of water scene, and it’s tough. It’s a tough pill for him to swallow. Then comes trying to find a balance with the modern world." Regarding the dynamic between Captain America and Tony Stark, Evans remarked, "I think there's certainly a dichotomy—this kind of friction between myself and Tony Stark, they're polar opposites. One guy is flash and spotlight and smooth, and the other guy is selfless and in the shadows and kind of quiet and they have to get along. They explore that, and it's pretty fun".
- A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or excited. Ruffalo was cast after negotiations between Marvel and Edward Norton broke down. About replacing Edward Norton, Ruffalo said, "I'm a friend of Ed's, and yeah, that wasn't a great way for all that to go down. But the way I see it is that Ed has bequeathed this part to me. I look at it as my generation's Hamlet." About the character he stated, "He's a guy struggling with two sides of himself—the dark and the light—and everything he does in his life is filtered through issues of control. I grew up on the Bill Bixby TV series, which I thought was a really nuanced and real human way to look at the Hulk. I like that the part has those qualities". Regarding the Hulk's place on the team Ruffalo said, "He's like the teammate none of them are sure they want on their team. He's a loose cannon. It's like, 'Just throw a grenade in the middle of the group and let's hope it turns out well"! Ruffalo also told New York magazine that unlike previous incarnations, he will actually play the Hulk, "I'm really excited. No one's ever played the Hulk exactly, they've always done CGI. They're going to do the Avatar stop-action, stop-motion capture. So I'll actually play the Hulk. That'll be fun". About his preparation for the role Ruffalo joked, "I've lost 15 pounds and I've put another five on of just strapping, pure USDA beef... They want me mean and lean, but they don't want me big and buff".
- The Norse god of thunder. Hemsworth was cast as part of a multiple movie deal. He had previously worked with Joss Whedon on The Cabin in the Woods. Hemsworth stated that he was able to maintain the strength he built up for Thor by increasing his food intake, consisting of a number of chicken breasts, fish, steak and eggs a day. When asked exactly how much, Hemsworth joked, "My body weight in protein pretty much!" About Thor's motivations Hemsworth remarked, "I think [Thor's] motivation is much more of a personal one, in the sense that it’s his brother that is stirring things up. Whereas everyone else, it’s some bad guy who they’ve gotta take down. It’s a different approach for me, or for Thor. He’s constantly having to battle the greater good and what he should do vs. it’s his little brother there... I’ve been frustrated with my brothers at times, or family, but I’m the only one who is allowed to be angry at them. There’s a bit of that."
- A highly trained spy working for the international peacekeeping organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. Whedon confirmed that Johansson's Romanoff would be the only female member of the Avengers, but not the only female character in the film. Regarding the character's abilities to measure up to her teammates Johansson recounted, "The other day we were doing this big reveal shot of all the Avengers. Thor has got his hammer, Cap’s got his shield, Hawkeye has his bow and arrow, and Hulk is huge. Then it pans over to me and I’ve got guns. Iron Man’s like, hovering above all of us, ready to go... I was like, ‘Joss… um… do I look okay holding these guns?’ and he responded 'She’s a total badass. She’s a killing machine.'"
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and master archer known in the comics as "Hawkeye". Renner said it was a very physical role and that he trained physically and practiced archery as much as possible in preparation. About Hawkeye's dynamic with the Black Widow and place in the film, Renner stated, "The only sort of thing I cling to is the relationship of past experiences with Scarlett’s character, with them both being human. I can cling to that." However Renner said there’s no insecurity explaining, "He’s the only one who can really take down The Hulk with his tranq tip arrows. He knows his limitations. But when it comes down to it, there has to be a sense of confidence in any superhero."
- The director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who was revealed in previous films to be coordinating the "Avenger Initiative". Jackson was brought to the project with a deal containing an option to play the character in up to nine Marvel films.
- The Norse god of mischief. In regard to his character's evolution from the film Thor, Hiddleston stated, "I think the Loki we see in The Avengers is further advanced. You have to ask yourself the question: how pleasant an experience is it disappearing into a wormhole that has been created by some kind of super nuclear explosion of his own making? So I think by the time Loki shows up in The Avengers he's seen a few things." About Loki's motivations, Hiddleston remarked, "At the beginning of The Avengers, he comes to Earth to subjugate it and his idea is to rule the human race as their king. And like all the delusional autocrats of human history, he thinks this is a great idea because if everyone is busy worshipping him, there will be no wars so he will create some kind of world peace by ruling them as a tyrant. But he is also kind of deluded in the fact that he thinks unlimited power will give him self respect so I haven't let go of the fact that he is still motivated by this terrible jealousy and kind of spiritual desolation".
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who works closely with Jackson's Nick Fury. Smulders, whom Joss Whedon once considered for his unproduced live-action Wonder Woman film, was selected from a short list of potential actresses including Morena Baccarin. Smulder's deal would integrate her into nine films. Regarding her preparation, Smulders stated, "I hired this amazing black-ops trainer to teach me how to hold a gun, take me to a shooting range, how to hit, how to hold myself, how to walk and basically how to look. I don't do a ton of fighting in the movie, which is why I wasn't offered a trainer, but I wanted to look like I had the ability to. And I really just got down and dirty with the character, but then I finally went on set; when you're about to roll, all the "blubbity blue" you've been working on kind of messes with you. And you become a little bit detached." [sic] On relating to the character, Smulders commented, "I can relate to her being a mom and being a business woman and trying to work full time and raising a family and having a career. We’re asked to do a lot of things these days. I feel she is just all about her job and keeping things going."
Clark Gregg and Stellan Skarsgård reprise their roles from previous films as Phil Coulson and Erik Selvig respectively. Paul Bettany returns to voice JARVIS. Avengers co-creator Stan Lee will have a cameo appearance.
Marvel Studios chair-CEO Avi Arad first announced plans to develop an Avengers film in April 2005 after Marvel Enterprises declared independence by pacting with Merrill Lynch to produce a slate of films that would be distributed by Paramount Pictures. In September 2006 Marvel confirmed their crossover plans in a brief presentation to Wall Street analysts. The studio's plan was to release individual films for the main characters, to establish their identities and familiarize audiences with them, before merging the characters together in an Avengers movie. Marvel Studios announced in July 2007 that screen writer Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk, had been hired to write the film and will be titled, The Avengers. Penn confirmed his involvement but said he did not believe work would begin soon.
In January 2008, Marvel struck a deal with the striking Writers Guild of America so that the company could go back to work on films based on its comic book characters, including Captain America, Ant-Man and The Avengers. After the successful release of Iron Man in May, Marvel announced that The Avengers is scheduled for release in July 2011. In September Paramount signed an agreement with Marvel Studios that locks Paramount in as the worldwide distributor of Marvel's next five self-produced feature films. The partnership extended a 2005 agreement that saw Paramount agreeing to distribute as many as ten Marvel films. In October it was announced that Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle would reprise their Iron Man 2 roles as Iron Man and War Machine respectively in The Avengers. However Don Cheadle later revealed in a January 2011 interview that he will not be appearing in The Avengers despite previous reports. It was also announced that Jon Favreau will executive produce the film. Also in October, Marvel Studios signed a long-term lease with Raleigh Studios to film four big-budget movies at Raleigh's Manhattan Beach, California complex. The films are Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. Lou Ferrigno, who voiced Hulk in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, stated that he would be involved in the film.
In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel Entertainment to play the role of Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and other films including vehicles for Captain America, Thor, the Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. In March it was reported that Scarlett Johansson had replaced Emily Blunt in Iron Man 2, a deal that also tied her to The Avengers. The following day Marvel announced that the release date for The Avengers had been pushed back to May 4, 2012, almost a full year later. In June, Marvel's president of production Kevin Feige confirmed that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston would reprise their roles as Thor and Loki, respectively, in The Avengers.
In July screenwriter Zak Penn talked about the crossover process, stating, "My job is to kind of shuttle between the different movies and make sure that finally we're mimicking that comic book structure where all of these movies are connected... There's just a board that tracks 'Here's where everything that happens in this movie overlaps with that movie'... I'm pushing them to do as many animatics as possible to animate the movie, to draw boards so that we're all working off the same visual ideas. But the exigencies of production take first priority". The following month, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Fiege stated he would introduce more characters into The Avengers and that the Hulk would factor in the film. In September, Edward Norton stated that he was open to returning as The Hulk for The Avengers. The next month, executive producer Jon Favreau stated that he would not direct the film but will "...definitely have input and a say". Favreau also expressed concerns stating, "It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man and Iron Man is very much a tech-based hero, and then with 'Avengers' you're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor. ... [Mixing] the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the reality that we've created".
In January 2010, Kevin Feige was asked if it will be difficult to meld the fantasy of Thor with the high-tech science fiction in Iron Man and The Avengers. "No," he said, "because we're doing the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee/Walt Simonson/J. Michael Straczynski Thor. We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-of-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library Thor. And in the Thor of the Marvel Universe, there's a race called the Asgardians. And we're linked through this Tree of Life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The 'Thor' movie is about teaching people that". In March it was reported that Zak Penn had completed the first draft of the script, and that Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Avengers comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis had received copies. Also in March it was reported that Chris Evans would reprise the role of Captain America in The Avengers. In April 2010, Variety reported that Joss Whedon was close to completing a deal to direct the film, and to rework Penn's script.
At the 2010 Wizard World convention Avengers creator Stan Lee and Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad confirmed Joss Whedon's involvement. Arad praised the decision by stating, "My personal opinion is that Joss will do a fantastic job. He loves these characters and is a fantastic writer... It's part of his life so you know he is going to protect it... I expect someone like him is going to make the script even better".
The following month, Marvel Comics said it declined to have Edward Norton reprise his role as Bruce Banner. The next day Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, confirmed the report stating, "We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Samuel, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks." In response Norton's agent Brian Swardstrom called Feige's statement "purposefully misleading" and an "inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light".
Joss Whedon announced at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International that he is directing The Avengers. Whedon mentioned that he was a fan of the early Avengers comics while growing up. He also said he is still writing an outline for the film and that what drew him to the movie is that he loves how "these people shouldn't be in the same room let alone on the same team—and that is the definition of family". Whedon also confirmed that Jeremy Renner would play Hawkeye. It was reported during the convention that Mark Ruffalo would replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in a deal reached by Ruffalo's agency with Marvel. During the Marvel Studios panel, it was announced Clark Gregg would reprise his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson.
In October 2010, it was reported that Marvel Studios will shoot The Avengers partly at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York and at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York City. Set construction was slated to begin in November. Also in October, The Walt Disney Company agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. The deal also allowed Paramount to continue to collect the 8% box office fee it would have earned for distributing the film and placement of the company's logo on marketing materials, even though Marvel's films are fully owned, distributed and marketed by Disney. Paramount's Epix also retained pay TV rights.
In December 2010, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Marvel Studios Co-president Louis D'Esposito announced The Avengers would film primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with principal photography scheduled for April through September 2011. Parts of the film were also scheduled to be shot in Michigan, but a plan to film in Detroit ended after Governor Rick Snyder issued a budget proposal that would eliminate a film tax incentive.
In February 2011, Marvel began conducting screen tests for the role of a key member of S.H.I.E.L.D. who Samuel L. Jackson described as Nick Fury's sidekick. Four days later it was reported that Cobie Smulders was wrapping up a deal for the role later revealed to be that of Maria Hill.
In March 2011, Stellan Skarsgård confirmed he would play the same role as he did in Thor, Doctor Selvig. Also in March, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced before Mayor Frank G. Jackson's State of the City address that The Avengers will film in Cleveland.
The Science & Entertainment Exchange provided science consultation for the film.
On an estimated $220 million budget, principal photography began on April 25, 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico with filming scheduled to continue in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. The following day Paul Bettany confirmed he would return to voice Tony Stark's computerized assistant, JARVIS. In May 2011, Gwyneth Paltrow stated that she might "possibly" appear very briefly in the film as Pepper Potts. Also in May, Stan Lee confirmed through his Twitter account that he will have a cameo appearance in the film unless they "shoot it on the moon". In June, stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald injured his head while attempting a stunt involving a 30-foot fall from a building after getting hit by an arrow. A Marvel spokesperson later told TMZ.com that, "[Fitzgerald] was fine. He slid briefly along the side of the building. He got right back up and did several more takes." In July 2011, it was reported that secondary filming took place about an hour outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Butler area.
In August 2011, production moved to Cleveland, Ohio for four weeks. The city's East 9th Street was chosen as a double for New York City's 42nd Street to be used in climactic battle scenes. Army Reserve soldiers assigned to the Columbus, Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion provided background action during the battle scenes in Cleveland. Staff Sgt. Michael T. Landis stated the use of real soldiers made the scenes more realistic and helped portray the Army in a more positive light, explaining that, "It's easy for us to make on-the-spot corrections to tactics and uniforms, the director actually took our recommendation on one scene and let us all engage the enemy as opposed to only the gunners in the trucks engaging". Filming also took place in the large vacuum chamber at the NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky, Ohio. The station's Space Power Facility was used to portray a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility. A series of explosions were filmed at the Chevrolet powertrain plant in Parma, Ohio as part of the battle sequence that began in Cleveland. Scenes from the film were also shot on Public Square and the Detroit–Superior Bridge. The southwest quadrant of Public Square was turned into Stuttgart, Germany, for filming.
Visual effects for the film were created by Industrial Light & Magic (Iron Man, Iron Man 2), Legacy Effects (Iron Man 2, Thor) and Luma Pictures (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger).
The film was promoted at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, during which a teaser trailer narrated by Samuel L. Jackson was shown followed by an introduction of the cast. In June 2011, Marvel Studios announced that it would not hold a panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International after studios executives decided it wasn’t prepared to compete with its own past and fan expectations with filming still in production.
In July 2011, a teaser trailer that was meant to be the post-credits scene of Captain America: The First Avenger was briefly leaked online. Entertainment Weekly speculated it came from a preview screening and described the footage as "shaky, fuzzy, flickering and obviously filmed on a cell phone".
In August 2011, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel Studios presented a look at Walt Disney Studios' upcoming film slate, which included Marvel's The Avengers, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The presentation featured footage from the film and appearances by the cast members. Also in August, Disney dismissed Marvel's executive vice president of worldwide marketing, vice president of worldwide marketing and manager of worldwide marketing to bring their functions in-house.
In October 2011, Marvel Studios held a presentation at the New York Comic Con that featured new footage and a panel discussion including producer Kevin Feige and several cast members. The first full-length trailer was also released in October. Comic Book Resources said, "The two-minute teaser handily establishes the movie's premise" and is "heavy on the assembling, but fans are also treated to plenty of action, as well glimpses [sic] of Iron Man's new armor and, best of all, the new take on the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark gets the best lines". However, The Hollywood Reporter called it "Awesome. Or it would be if we hadn't seen all of this before and expected every single thing that we saw in the trailer". The trailer which debuted exclusively on iTunes Movie Trailers, was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the website's record for the most-viewed trailer.
A video game based on the film was planned for concurrent release. The game was to be a first-person shooter brawler for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows and published by THQ, with THQ Studio Australia developing of the console versions and Blue Tongue Entertainment the PC version. After THQ closed both studios, the game was cancelled. Intellectual property rights for an Avengers video game reverted to Marvel, which said it was exploring potential publishing and licensing opportunities.
In October 2011, producer Kevin Feige hinted at a sequel to The Avengers during the New York Comic Con stating, "Iron Man 3 will be the first of what we sort of refer to as phase two of this saga that will culminate, God willing, in Avengers 2".
^1 As part of the negotiation deal of transferring the distribution rights of future releases of Marvel Studios films to Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures's logo appears on marketing materials and not Disney's.
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