The press conference for Avengers: Endgame was more like a game of dodgeball.
Jon Favreau was there to lob the questions, and the actors and filmmakers did their best to avoid saying anything about the April 26 movie.
When the curtain dropped to reveal the stars of the film, they found themselves scattered among several rows of empty chairs. Just because they’re currently ash doesn’t mean the other heroes don’t have a seat at the table.
“I can’t hear you,” Cheadle joked. “What?”
“I have a little nosebleed,” Ruffalo said.
Iron Man’s Worries
Robert Downey Jr. kicked it off by admitting he wasn’t so sure this Marvel experiment was going to work back when he was making 2008’s Iron Man. “There’ve always been two tracks, at least for me. One is the sky is falling, the other is the sky is the limit,” he said. “I’m reminded now I was talking a lot of smack, like ‘Wait ‘til you see where this goes.’ In the moment, I was just hoping, day to day, we were making good scenes and getting good stuff in the can. I just wanted not to drop the ball.”
Talking about the interlocked series of movies that emerged from that first film, Downey called it, “the coolest relay race in the history of entertainment.”
In the midst of his answer, Brie Larson caught his eye. “Hi Brie,” he said to the Captain Marvel star and director of Netflix’s new Unicorn Store.
“Hi,” she said back.
“God bless you,” Downey said. “What a fun springtime you’re having.”
Endgame Will Be True to Its Name
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reaffirmed that this installment in the Avengers series will be a real finale for some characters.
“About four or five years ago, we talked about what haven’t we seen in films based on comic characters. We haven’t seen an ending — definitive conclusion to an overall saga,” Feige told the crowd. “That’s why it’s called Endgame, and that’s why I think it’s very, very, very special.”
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo talked about what they hoped the film would accomplish.
“The story is very much about how these heroes deal with loss, resounding loss, true loss, devastating loss,” Anthony said. “How does a hero move forward from that moment?”
“With Endgame, we get to finish off one of the grandest experiments in movie history,” Joe added. “What we’re hoping for is that people feel satisfied with the conclusion.”
Clint Barton’s Return
Hawkeye was missing from Infinity War and returns this time as the vigilante Ronin. So how does Jeremy Renner feel about coming back?
“Rested,” he said.
Danai Gurira said some of the things that she loves about her Wakandan warrior is her “fierceness” and “femininity.”
“What I love about her is she’s very unapologetic. She’s a traditionalist in the sense that she believes in the sovereignty of her nation,” Gurira said. “I was born here [in the United States,] but I was raised on the continent, and so seeing a country like Wakanda which has had no history of colonization and became so powerful, and seeing that she is the guardian of that nation really resonated with me.”
She described seeing the other Avenger actors for the first time on the set of a Wakandan fight scene. “’Oh, hi,’” she laughed. “That’s the minute you realize you are part of a universe, which is pretty darn awesome.”
Chris Hemsworth also said he wasn’t sure his part of the Marvel series was going to work, but that he wanted to be part of it from when he was very young.
“I was sitting there, just straight out of high school, and watching [the first] Iron Man and thinking, ‘Oh my God, I wish I could be part of that world,’” he said. “A few years on, getting cast as Thor, and having the opportunity to embark on this thing. At the time, I thought, ‘Is this film even going to make it past DVD, make it to the cinemas, or was I going to be recast?’”
Captain America vs. Iron Man — Rematch
“I can give broad strokes, right?” Chris Evans said when asked about what defines Steve Rogers in this film. “It’s the completion of the arc. This film does kind of provide an ending to a lot of ….”
“EEEEHHHHH!” Joe Russo interrupted, making a buzzer sound.
Downey began laughing openly, pacing and clapping his hands behind Evans, who struggled to find a way back to his answer.
“I’m done,” Evans finally declared. “He’s just been through so much…”
“Let’s just talk about Scott Pilgrim,” Favreau said, throwing him a lifeline.
Evans then began talking about how true the friendships were among the actors and described the Avengers team as a family.
“But you couldn’t make it to Rudd’s birthday last night?” Downey teased him.
“Yeah … um, okay. I didn’t make it. It was a long day yesterday,” Evans said. “Sorry, Paul.”
“It’s all right,” Rudd said. “I’m one of the newer guys.”
“You had a birthday party?” Favreau asked.
“Did you go?” Evans asked Downey.
“Yeah, I did because I said I would,” Downey told him. “That’s right, Mr. Honor.”
Damn. Civil War: Part II!
But then they hugged it out, falling into each other giggling.
Black Widow vs. the Testosterone Fest
Scarlett Johansson said she felt like Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, has evolved with fan expectations. “Initially, the character really started as a sort of sexy secretary with a skill set on the side,” she said.
“Posing as,” Favreau interjected. (He directed her in Iron Man 2.)
“Posing as, thank you,” Johansson said. “Then when we saw her in The Avengers, she was one of the boys — for better or worse. That made sense then, but I think as the fans and the audiences have pushed Marvel and all the studios and filmmakers to throw up on the screen what’s going on in the zeitgeist, and wanting to see diverse films and casts, I think the character has grown in reaction to that.”
She said it was a relief when more women joined the team. “The movies have grown in reaction to that fan encouragement,” Johansson added. “Honestly, I have to say when Lizzy [Elizabeth Olsen] signed on and Cobie [Smulders] was there, and we were all clinging to each other. I felt like I had been in this testosterone fest for so long. It was so nice to see other female cast members, and now with Brie [Larson] coming on and Karen [Gillan] and Danai [Gurira]. I feel like I’m amongst so many strong actors.”
Gillan came the closest to giving away her Luphomoid assassin’s storyline.
“It’s maybe safe to say she suffers from some daddy issues because her dad is Thanos, so who wouldn’t?” the actress said. “I’m excited for her to face the source of this abuse. She’s talked about how she wants to inflict revenge, so we all know about that. I’d like to see her try to face that.”
Then Gillan began to backtrack. “I don’t know if she will. Maybe she won’t,” she added hastily. “I just got really nervous I gave something away, so I’m going to stop.”
“I’m terrified to say anything,” Rudd added when it was his turn to answer a question. “I did see the trailer, so I do know that I’m in it. As for how he fits in, that remains to be seen.”
Ant-Man’s Small Part
He said it was strange playing Ant-Man because the character appeared in the midst of such a vast series.
“Everyone is kind of echoing the same sentiment, which is this sense of completion of the story,” Rudd said. “It’s a weird thing to be hired and then to step into it as it’s already picked up speed. It’s like having the Beatles say, come on and jam with us.”
He said he is moved by how many people, especially children, whose “lives are affected by these characters.”
“To play a small part in that— pun intended — is something I will always treasure.”
Captain Marvel’s Inauguration
Larson revealed that she shot her scenes in Endgame before she began work on Captain Marvel itself, even though the latter was released before it.
She said she came to the character knowing little about what would happen to her. “This film will always be personally dear to me because it is my first time playing Captain Marvel,” Larson said. “I had to stumble and try to figure out who this character was with no script for this, and no script for Captain Marvel either, and perform for the first time in front of legends.”
She said people might be surprised about what it’s like making a Marvel movie.
“As big as it is, it still feels like a bunch of kids, like I was doing over summer break, making movies in my garage,” she said. “There’s wonder and play and encouragement.”
War Machine — Shots Fired
Don Cheadle, who joined the series in Iron Man 2, used double entendres to describe his character’s journey while also hinting at the fact that his Lt. Col. James Rhodes was originated by Terrence Howard.
“Rhodey obviously started as a lighter-toned individual, bigger than life, than I am in life. But as the character darkened and things became more compact — in the narrative — we’ve seen a real growth in this character as he’s gone through his trials and tribulations,” Cheadle said, while the other actors held back laughs.
Now, he says, War Machine is “really part of the team, and able to contribute at a high level.” He added, “To get to keep coming back. It’s rare to have that kind of experience over the course of 10 years … and to consistently win at Boggle, as good as you are,” Cheadle added, speaking directly to Larson.
Apparently, this word game is how the Avengers actors pass the time.
Larson ignited rivalries when she declared she was the champion.
“Brie, let’s be real,” Evans said. “Nobody can beat Don. But Paul’s good, too.”
“Paul’s definitely is good,” Johansson added. “Like, sleeper Boggle.”
“Do I have selective memory, I feel like I crushed the whole time,” Larson said.
“What is the most impressive Boggle word, that had been found?” Favreau asked.
“Mark Ruffalo,” Evans said, “you’re lucky if he finds ‘cat,’ but he found ‘asbestos’! He has nothing else, but he found ‘asbestos’!”
Then he revealed what made Cheadle legendary.
“We were flying one time, and Don found the word: ‘Avengers,’” Evans said. “That’s a good sign.”