We profile super-team as Marvel blockbuster opens in the UAE
There’s no denying that superhero movies are big business. Following a revived mid-noughties thirst for retro Spandex-clad heroes and mutant monsters, a Marvel-inspired adventure has become a perennial feature of the summer blockbuster schedule. And the UAE is far from immune to the genre’s charms – Christopher Nolan’s 2008 smash The Dark Knight is among the emirates’ top-10 movies ever, taking Dhs9 million of its Dhs2 billion worldwide haul in the country.
Among the biggest superhero movies of recent times are Iron Man and its sequel (which each grossed Dhs1.1 billion worldwide), Thor (Dhs660 million), Captain America (Dhs650 million) and The Incredible Hulk (Dhs500 million). In a bid to challenge The Dark Knight’s crown and multiply bankability, Marvel has thrust these four crusaders, caped or otherwise, together in a single movie. The new Avengers team also adds two more characters for good measure: Hawkeye and Black Widow, first introduced in Iron Man 2. Written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, hopes for a credible storyline bringing these already-defined characters into one movie are high. So let’s meet the team.
Robert Downey Jr: Iron Man
Downey Jr is the only one of the cast to be making a third appearance following two blockbusters playing Iron Man and his everyday alter ego, Tony Stark. ‘If you look at the evolution of Stark in the two Iron Man films, he’s been growing toward being able to do something like this,’ he says. ‘If Stark was at home and Thor walked in, he’d think it was hilarious.’
Chris Evans: Captain America
Evans didn’t read comic books growing up, so when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige approached him to play Captain America two years ago, the actor was sceptical. Now making his second stab at the role, has it made him more patriotic? ‘I think Captain America is mostly trying to be a symbol of good,’ he explains. ‘He’s trying to be a good human being with compassion, patience, honesty and strong values. If that’s your definition of patriotism, then he’s patriotic.’
Mark Ruffalo: The Hulk
Ruffalo was a fan of Marvel’s comics throughout his childhood and teenage years. ‘My first exposure to Marvel was probably when I was seven or eight years old,’ he remembers. ‘I used to watch The Hulk TV show and cartoon and then Captain America.
I started to get into The Avengers comic books, then I moved on to Wolverine and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. Marvel has been part of my culture for a long time. The Hulk is the one character other than Wolverine that I actually thought I could do well.’
Chris Hemsworth: Thor
Hemsworth was more prepared than anybody for his starring role in The Avengers – because he barely got a break from playing the role in 2011’s Thor. ‘I came off the press junket for Thor on a Friday and started shooting this movie the following Monday. Sunday night we did a wig and costume fitting. I said, “I hope it fits, because if it doesn’t, what are we going to do in 12 hours?” We definitely wanted The Avengers to continue where Thor left off, so whatever challenges he was facing in that film he’ll face in this one.’
Scarlett Johansson: Black Widow
The Avengers is the first time Scarlett Johansson has revisited a role in her storied career, after Black Widow was introduced in Iron Man 2. ‘I love the character and I love playing her,’ she says. ‘I’ve never been able to return to a character before. So, in a way, putting on the suit is like, “ah, the old familiar friend.” The thing I love about the Widow is that she’s all business. She’s just a machine; you can’t get her down.’
Jeremy Renner: Hawkeye
Since his starring role in Oscar-grabbing The Hurt Locker, Renner has carved a niche as the new go-to action movie god, recruited to slowly phase out Tom Cruise in last year’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and stepping into Matt Damon’s shoes in forthcoming The Bourne Legacy. But The Avengers is Renner’s first foray into the superhero world.