Joss Whedon‘s The Avengers is in uncharted territory when it comes to superhero movies. Every superhero or superhero team stand in its own universe and every movie keeps the focus on that superhero or team. The Avengers is pulling characters we’ve seen in other movies and throwing them all together. Whedon has had to figure out how to not only keep the established personalities of these characters, but also explore how they’ll change in a group dynamic, while still giving them an arc that will lead to their next solo adventure.
Whedon recently explained what we can expect to see from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Hit the jump for more. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, and Tom Hiddleston. The Avengers opens in 3D on May 4, 2012.
Here’s what Whedon told Yahoo! Movies about how Tony Stark will play with others in The Avengers:
I think the conversations were largely about “Where is Tony now?” Like, “Who is he now? Where is he [going] from ‘Iron Man 2′ towards ‘Iron Man 3’?” He is such a well-delineated character, so it was really a question of, “What do we want to stress and what do we want to say? We have said that, we have done that, so let’s not go there.”
He felt a sort of isolated man who is — even though there is an element of that, just because that’s sort of what any team movie is about. He didn’t want to be the sort of just, “I am totally wrapped up in one thing and I am not thinking about everybody else.” He didn’t want to be the tortured lonely man, which I totally get. And it was easy to make him as delightful and gregarious as he can be and still go, well, there is a piece missing and it’s the piece that makes him an Avenger.
Whedon says that he likes that Captain America is such a straightforward character, and that he can relate to the character’s personality:
[Captain America] is a little square, and he is aware that he is a little square, and he is aware that the world is a beat ahead of him, or in his case, 70 beats. I think that’s very disarming and very charming. I relate to that guy. I also don’t know who the popular singers are right now, so he is actually really easy for me to write.
Yeah, he and I did the most character work of anyone, because we really were starting fresh, but we were starting with something that had been embodied several times.
And both of us agreed upfront that the template for who we wanted this guy to be in his life was Bill Bixby, the TV [show character] who was busy helping other people. That was more interesting to us than the Banner in the first two movies who was always fixated on curing himself. We spent a lot of time talking about what makes us Hulk out, the nature of anger, how it feels.
When it comes to Thor, there’s a challenge in throwing a Norse god next to a guy who shoots arrows:
Well, I feel like we pulled that off. At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the God. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though — as we have known from the first issue of ‘The Avengers’ comic — there’s no reason for these people to be on the same team.
Finally, there’s Nick Fury, the glue between the movies (along with Agent Colson) and arguably the leader of The Avengers since he’s the one that brought them all together and runs the organization they work for. Don’t expect Fury to get an origin story, but he will be keeping his aura of mystery:
Well, he is not going to be talking about his childhood, and you do want to keep a certain mystery. Also — and this is something that I was very pleased that Marvel actually mandated — they were very interested in keeping him, not just in the sort of a mystery of how the organization operates, but a real moral gray area where you really have to decide, “Is Nick Fury the most manipulative guy in the world? Is he a good guy? Is he completely Machiavellian or is it a bit of both?” And that was really fun to tweak.
I felt that in the other movies, they had been cameos and he had been called upon to come in and be Sam Jackson and bluster a little bit. And I told Sam upfront that my big agenda was to see the weight on someone who is supposed to be in control of the most powerful beings on the planet. The weight on somebody who has to run the organization and the gravity of it. Not that we don’t have any fun with Nick, but he definitely — it’s, I feel like a much more textured performance and at times really moving.
I think we have to accept that a large part of The Avengers will be dialogue based (that’s part of the reason you get a director like Whedon) and focus on bringing these characters together. However, Marvel has nailed the characters we’ve seen so far by casting actors who have breathed life into their roles. We haven’t seen enough of Black Widow (Johansson) or Hawkeye (Renner) to make a call, and Ruffalo remains a mystery, but it looks like Whedon has mapped out a path for all of the characters, so the challenge becomes a matter of balancing the ensemble. We’ll see if he pulled it off next summer.