Moderated by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist), the star-studded panel for Marvel’s The Avengers from Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios was arguably the highlight of the 2011 New York Comic-Con, which took place this past weekend. Taking place in the IGN Theatre, the approximately 2,000 seat hall was filled to capacity with a large standby line hours before the presentation. With many Avangers fans lining up when the doors opened to get in at 11 am, announcements began going out around 3 pm advising attendees that if they leave the room, they will not be able to return due to the demand.
After the panels preceding panels, which included: Fox’s ‘Terra Nova;’ CBS’s ‘Person of Interest;’ A Liar’s Autobiography (an animated film based on the book by Monty Python member Graham Chapman); a presentation from Sony which included looks at Underworld: Awakening, an extended clip from Total Recall and Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance; and AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ also moderated by Hardwick, the cast of The Avengers assembled on stage for a brief moderated Q&A which included a brand new, extended look at the film, followed by an audience Q&A, the highlights of which are more or less as follows.
The panel began with Hardwick welcoming Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige to the stage. After discussing the immediate, record-breaking success of the trailer, it was screened for the audience on the large screens. Hardwick then introduced the cast portion of the panel which included Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Chris Evans (Captain America) and surprise guest Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), who received a standing ovation upon arriving.
For his first question, Hardwick turned to Evans, to whom he first addressed by asking, ‘is it weird that I have a man crush on you?’ Evans was then asked what it was like to go from a solo project (Captain America) to an ensemble project and what a typical day on set was like for him. Evans talked about how it was nice to have a group to share the load with, but then got fixated on the suit itself, referring to the lack of comfort and having to ‘time bathroom breaks,’ although he confessed others probably had it worse.
Asked the same question, Hiddleston replied, ‘it’s thrilling for me to be the only bad guy in the group of the greatest superheroes in the world… played by some of the greatest actors in the world.’ Hiddelston, who later eagerly volunteered as having the most difficult costume to deal with also addressed the suit issue: ‘I can’t say I ever got a day in jeans and a tee shirt. It was mostly leather and metal.’ After an enthusiastic response from the audience, Hiddleston — with a literal wink and a smile — added, ‘That’s how we like it in Asgard.’
To Smulders, whose costume was considerably far less burdensome and talked about the experience being ‘extremely intimidating,’ Hardwick commented, ‘so more physically demanding than “How I Met Your Mother”?’
Gregg told an amusing anecdote about going from one line in Iron Man to being added to Iron Man 2 and learning how his character was then appearing in Thor and The Avengers. He also managed to reveal a pseudo-spoiler about how Agent Coulson would peel off his face to reveal that he was actually a Romulan princess. For icing on the cake, Gregg also provided the audience with his rendition of what is not likely to ever be the theme song for the film.
Ruffalo spoke on his role as Dr. Bruce Banner and The Hulk which he said he based on his predecessors including Bill Bixby, Eric Bana and Ed Norton. Alluding to multiple actors in the role in recent years alone, Ruffalo noted ‘Ed and I joke that this is my generation’s Hamlet — we’re all gonna get a chance at the part.’ Ruffalo then went on to explain how he tweaked the role, stating, ‘This is gonna be a more mature Banner who understands a little bit what he has under the hood, so to speak… I had to pay homage and then I definitely had to Ruffalize it.’
Hardwick then introduce a never-before-scene clip from the film which featured Ruffalo (details are below within spoiler tags for those who really wish to know what the scene included). Leading into the clip, Hardwick once again reminded the audience to not record any of the footage, which was supplemented by Ruffalo stating admonishing ‘don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,’ to the sheer delight of the audience.
Following the clip, the panel was opened to audience Q&A, which could also be affectionately referred to as ‘The Tom Hiddleston and guests panel.’
The first question, from a young fan, revisited the costume, asking which was the most difficult to design and wear. Hiddleston immediately raised his arm, but gave props to the rest of the cast noting it was difficult for anyone who wore a suit, especially Robert Downey Jr.
Gregg interjected, jokingly stating Ruffalo’s was the most cumbersome as The Hulk. ‘Most ridiculous,’ replies Ruffalo, as he wore a motion capture outfit which allowed him to also hold the distinction as being the first actor to ever portray both Bruce Banner and The Hulk.
Hiddleston recalled: ‘There was a day when all of the Avengers were on set together and it was kind of incredible, we were all sort of geeked out by it. And Chris [Evans] is like blue and red and white, Hemsworth’s there with the hammer and the cape and Robert’s in the suit and Jeremy [Renner] had his arrows and Scarlet [Johansson]’s pretty amazing in her, kind of, “suit” and Mark in the back in some spotted grey pajamas — that, by the way, is how you Ruffalize a role.’
Evans was asked whether he prefers playing Captain America or The Fantastic Four’s Human Torch, to which Evans said it was like choosing a favorite child, although the answer was Captain America. An audience member seized the opportunity to demand Evans remove his baseball cap, to which Evans teased showing some scalp, but insisted the hat hair dictated he left it on.
Hiddelston received his first of many direct questions, this one asking about where he found his inspiration for Loki. ‘I’ve stolen and borrowed from them all I think,’ he replied. ‘I just filled myself up with everything I could find. All the early Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stuff’ as well as referencing some elements from J. Michael Straczynski. He also referred to a comics storyline that he would like to see on the big screen which involved Loki turning an entire street filled with cars into ice cream.
For the big ah-ha! The Avengers moment, Gregg expanded on his meteoric Marvel rise starting in Iron Man: ‘It started kind of at the Frank Gehry Disney concert hall, trying to serve some papers to Tony Stark in Iron Man, to actually find myself back in the black suit, walking into a room and seeing the door swing open and there were The Avengers. I kind of felt like it was the Make-a-Wish foundation and I had like a week to live and nobody told me.’
He then went on to say that there were few times the entire cast was together, but recalls his favorite moment was receiving a text from Evans that simply read ‘Assemble,’ which prompted a lengthy discussion about an apparently wild night. Gregg recalls a birthday party going on at the bar in which the birthday boy was gifted with a glimpse of Johansson dancing: ‘He wasn’t Ruffaloed, but he was Romanoffed.’
Feige was asked about whether there would be a teaser at the end of The Avengers and, if so, which film it would hint at. Feige wouldn’t indicate which film it might be, but did respond with ‘it’s a nice tradition and I like tradition, so i think we’ll keep that up.’ Needless to say, the audience agreed.
Deciding that Hiddleston was being neglected, however, the audience Q&A turned to a battery of questions directed specifically at the film’s villain. First Hiddleston was asked about his favorite Loki anecdote derived from actual Norse mythology as opposed to the Marvel Universe. His answer had something to do with a horse, but as you can see from the video, he didn’t seem too sure of how it went and attempts to find anything other than references to an eight legged horse, we have come up empty as well. Making up for it, however, was Hiddleston belting out a few lines of ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when one audience member compared him to Gene Wilder, which he boasted is not the first time he’s heard it.
Please note we are currently expecting to receive photos from the panel from Walt Disney Studios. We will add them as they become available to us.