”Hey, remedial class! Sit! Stop having fun!” Joss Whedon is shouting playfully at his cast, which has assembled at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The writer-director says that while making Marvel’s superhero mash-up The Avengers, his biggest managerial challenge was getting the actors to quit joking around. Two days after the movie’s premiere, it still is. Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye, the archer) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor, the thunder god) are laughing about the look of their Lego characters. Mark Ruffalo, in his first Marvel film as the human version of the Hulk, sifts through some Hasbro playthings scattered across the meeting table and picks up — naturally — the big green guy. ”Hulk smash!” he says, making the figure attack a much smaller Iron Man toy. Robert Downey Jr., the life-size Iron Man, walks into the room and throws one of the toy masks over his face, transforming into Captain America.
Even on the New Mexico set of the movie last summer, it seemed momentous when all seven Avengers shot scenes together. In addition to Hawkeye, Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man, The Avengers finds Chris Evans’ Captain America (who was frozen just after WWII and thawed out in the present day), Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury joining forces to fight off an alien invasion led by Thor’s black-sheep celestial brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). With the $220 million PG-13 action-adventure finally hitting theaters on May 4, EW reunited the cast for one more clash of titanic personalities. ”This is like the Last Supper!” Ruffalo says.
As the actors get settled, a cacophony of cross talk erupts, and Whedon tries again to get the gang to focus. Downey, meanwhile, turns tattletale. ”FYI, I’d just like to start this off by saying Mark Ruffalo — three times today — has called you Josh Whedon.” The director replies, ”Niiiiice!”
Under his breath, Ruffalo is repeating, ”Joss, Joss,” and shaking his head. ”I’m sorry.”
Whedon laughs it off. ”Mark Ra-FUEL-oe is one of my favorite actors!” he says, which tickles Downey to no end.
Downey looks at the reporter in the room. ”Seriously, last f—ing question,” he deadpans. It’s time to get started.
You’ve been doing interviews for the film separately or in pairs. What kinds of questions have you been getting the most?
Joss Whedon [Imitating the mellow voice of a reporter] ”Were you worried about fanboy expectations? How do you get all these characters in one movie?”
Chris Hemsworth ”So, who has the biggest biceps?” [Rolling his eyes] Shoot me. Me and Evans talked about our workout program all day. [Evans nods.]
Jeremy Renner ”What was Scarlett wearing under her catsuit?”
Mark Ruffalo Oh, come on.
Scarlett Johansson Ugh. I got that question so many times!
Whedon About your biceps?
Johansson ”What kind of underpants were you wearing?” I’m like, ”What kind of underpants are you wearing?”