With the successful launching of the “Iron Man” franchise in 2008, the first hints for what would be Marvel’s most ambitious new franchise to date began to surface— bringing together its beloved characters in one film for “Marvel’s The Avengers,” the holy grail of the Marvel Universe.
The idea for “Marvel’s The Avengers” first surfaced during the production of “Iron Man” when producer Kevin Feige had a notion that S.H.I.E.L.D. could be part of both “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.”
“We started looking at the list of characters in the Marvel Universe that hadn’t been taken by other studios: Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow,” says Feige. “And I thought, ‘Isn’t that interesting; all of these characters happen to form one of the most popular comic book series—‘The Avengers.’
“When the idea of a Nick Fury cameo started coming up, we called Sam Jackson and he thought it was a cool idea,” continues Feige. “It was his enthusiasm about it that led us to shoot that end credit scene and what he says to Tony Stark in the scene, ‘You’re part of a bigger universe, you just don’t know it yet.’ The line was also Marvel telling that to the audience as well.”
The producer adds, “Audiences loved the cameo and the buzz about Nick Fury began. We did it again two months later on the ‘Incredible Hulk’ and the reaction once again told us ‘The Avengers’ is going to work. Our plan then became to build it one Super Hero at a time because it was really important that we introduced all of the characters first in their own franchises before putting them together in ‘The Avengers.’ We also hired filmmakers on ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ who were open to the idea that they were playing in a shared sandbox.”
“The Avengers” was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first published in September 1963. “The Avengers” team originally consisted of Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp. Captain America joined the team in Issue #4 after being revived from being trapped in a block of ice. For Stan Lee, seeing so many of his characters continue to grow in popularity is a testament to the Marvel Universe he helped create over the last 50 years. “I’d like to think that one of the reasons that Marvel characters have been so successful is when we created them, we tried to give them interesting personalities and personal problems so people would still be interested in them even if they didn’t have superpowers,” explains Stan Lee. “In other words we tried to make our heroes and heroines three-dimensional, interesting people.”
Lee continues, “Sometimes people make the mistake of just concentrating on the super power while the real person beneath the costume gets ignored. That’s when those particular stories don’t do as well. Every character in ‘The Avengers,’ is flawed in some way and has a dynamic, interesting, personal story in addition to them saving the world.”
While Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s colorful characters have thrilled Marvel readers for decades, one challenge for filmmakers was that they would still be editing and releasing both “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” during the pre-production and production schedule of “The Avengers.”
“We had to have a lot of confidence in the direction we were heading, but two of the four characters had not been introduced to audiences yet and it was a bit of a leap of faith,” says Kevin Feige. “A big part of the puzzle was introducing both ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ in self-contained origin stories with very distinctive beginnings and endings that segued nicely into the storyline for ‘The Avengers.’”
The plan worked to perfection for the filmmakers as both “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” were summer box office hits and fueled the fire for bringing “The Avengers” to the big screen.
(“Marvel’s The Avengers” will assemble in the Philippines on April 25 2012. The film is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.
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