Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NYCC '11: Top Ten Moments of the Avengers Panel

Crossposted on

Saturday night in the IGN Theater at New York Comic Con, a little bit of magic happened. The magic might have occurred 40 minutes behind schedule, but no one in that room had anywhere to be that mattered more. For the first time ever, the Avengers were assembling at a Convention where they were actually allowed to do things like speak. And, I gotta say, it was almost worth the wait. The interaction between this panel with each other, with moderator extraordinaire Chris Hardwicke and with the audience, was electrically charged, all around. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen cast members on a convention panel get along this well, get each other this much, make the audience laugh to such an extent. And Hardwicke definitely deserves some of the credit for this by keeping things moving, making sure everyone got to talk, asking the right questions, making the perfect jokes, and knowing how to calm down an occasionally feisty fan audience. Credit is also due to Kevin Feige for hiring Joss Whedon, who clearly took care of his actors and made the set a fun and comfortable place to shoot.

10. When an audience member asked who had the most difficult costume to get into, the resounding answer was Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. But the question led to a discussion on how during the battle scenes, Scarlett and Jeremy would be in their leather, Hemsworth in his Asgardian armor, Evans in his iconic suit, and Mark Ruffalo in “spotted grey pajamas.” Since Hulk was captured through mo-cap and his performance, Ruffalo pointed out that he is the only actor to ever play both Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Cue resounding applause.
9. In classic convention form, a small child requested that the superheros recite something. It did wonders for Ryan Reynolds when he recited Green Lantern’s oath at 2010′s Comic-Con and it was pretty bad-ass Saturday when the cast appearing from the Avengers said “Avengers Assemble!”
8. This audience had no idea what was in store for them with Clark Gregg. The man is hilarious, charming, smart as hell, witty, personable, a great storyteller, and he absolutely wowed us with his spunk and savvy. When each actor was asked who their favorite male and female superheroes are and everyone replied with an Avenger and either Black Widow or Maria Hill, Gregg elicited a sudden rush of impressed murmurs by name checking Warlock. Later, he described walking into the Helicarrier for the first time and seeing all the Avengers dressed up and ready to shoot as like being a part of the Make a Wish Foundation, just impossible that this sort of dream would be coming true. His best moment? Singing his own version of the Avengers theme song. He was responsible for a lot more amazing moments on the panel, listed below, but we would remiss if we didn’t single him out as being fan-effing-tastic on a Con panel.

7. Chris Evans, being the shy guy that he is? I’m guessing. Because he came wearing a hat and wouldn’t take it off and seemed to be trying to hide the entire time. Granted, when he lifted his hat up for a brief moment, we could see the terrible hat hair he was so reluctant to show, but still. What was happening, Chris? Still, it led to this priceless exchange:

Lady audience member: Take off your hat!
Chris Hardwicke: Did – Don’t order these people around! (laughter from the audience)
Every woman in the room in a high pitched voice, I’m not kidding: Pllleeeeeeaaaaassseee (even more laughter)
Unfortunately he never did remove the hat. Ah well.
6. There were definitely some How I Met Your Mother fans in the audience! When Cobie Smulders was introduced, multiple members of the audience yelled out “Robin Sparkles!” She loved it, then jokingly made it clear that she would not be singing. Unexpectedly the audience started to boo, as if to pressure her to sing a Robin Sparkles song out of nowhere. But Chris Hardwicke in a legendary move, said to us with a smile, “Nerds, nerds, she’s a guest in your home!” and everyone shut up. Amazing.
5. When discussing how he approached Bruce Banner, Ruffalo noted that he borrowed bits from all of the previous Hulks, though this one is definitely in a different place from Ed Norton’s take on the character. “This is going to be a more mature Banner, who understands a little bit what he has under the hood, so to speak. I had to pay homage, but then I had to ‘Ruffalize it’” Immediately, “Ruffalizing it” became an inside joke between the panel and the audience, was used three more times, and by the end, Hardwicke predicted the word would make it on to Urban Dictionary by the end of the day. Sadly, it hasn’t yet made the leap to Urban Dictionary. Probably because I’m not sure any of us could *actually* define the phrase.
4. The winner of New York Comic Con? Tom Hiddleston. The total unexpected star of the Avengers panel, it was Hiddleston who got asked the most questions and had the most girls swooning, not Chris Evans, so much so that when the third, then fourth question in a row was for him, the audience couldn’t help but crack up. From his smooth accent to his articulate answers and overwhelming knowledge of Loki, from top to bottom, he was perfection. When told he looked like Gene Wilder, he even sang some Willy Wonka, showing off his beautiful voice. When Chris Evans was finally asked a question after the string of ones for Tom, he got befuddled and finally said “I don’t know man, I got lost in Tom’s love. What was the question again, was it about Tom? I love Tom too.” Plus, he emphasized multiple times that he made it his mission to make Loki as human and relatable as possible – that’s why Loki worked so well in Thor and why I’m positive he will be amazing in The Avengers. Give me a villain I sort of like and sort of want to hug and sort of want to see win over a scene chewing megalomaniac any day of the week.
3. We were told over and over how much these guys love each other and what a great time they had on set, which every cast says, but I gotta say, you could practically feel the camaraderie vibrating off of these folks. At one point an extra thanked Chris and Tom for giving them the “greatest experience” of their lives in Cleveland. A bunch of giggles and sneaky looks from Chris and Tom followed. As did my face turning bright red with jealousy. But the best stories came when they talked about The Albuquerque Nightclub. Apparently there was only one night when the entire cast was actually in town, so they went to a nightclub and got crazy.
Clark: Albuquerque may never recover from that evening.
Chris: I don’t think any of us will ever recover from that evening.
Tom: Yeah that was a fun night.
Chris: MAN, that was a fun night.
Tom: I remember!
Chris: You remember?!
Tom then told a story about how everyone was on the dance floor getting crazy except for the two Chris’. He then, doing an impression of each Chris, shared this exchange he overheard.
Evans (pointing to a muscle): But how do you get this here?
Hemsworth (completely casual): I don’t know, mate, just work out and stuff?
“Two brothers in arms” Hiddleston said in reference to the two Chris’. Then Gregg stepped in with a story of his own. There was another party in the VIP room and at one point, the room sort of opened up a bit to reveal ScarJo dancing her face off. Gregg noticed the birthday boy glance over, see her, and stop dead cold in his tracks, unable to speak. But the best part of this story gets its own placement.
2. This same night, before going out, Evans sent out what Gregg deemed “the best text message of his life” to every member of the team. It simply read “Assemble.”
1. But what makes a panel filled with charming actors being hilarious and wonderful all the better? When the footage can back it up. An entire scene between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner was screened and silenced a few haters in the process. The dialogue is snappy, the characters are well defined, the action is tight, the twists are genuinely unexpected – it has Joss written all over it in a way that reminds me why I loved him so much to begin with. If this scene is any indication of the entire film, we are in for a real treat. Although hearing Kevin Feige say that it’s Joss’ movie because he wrote it, directed it and is editing it, makes me nervous that he is preemptively passing the “blame” rather than giving proper credit. Please be as good as this clip and this panel makes it seem like it will be. I beg of you.

Watch the whole panel here