Avengers Assemble is out on Blu-ray and DVD next week and to celebrate we sat down to talk with Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige about the movie.
We also got more details on the mysterious Blu-ray extra, Item 47 …
What can you tell us about the Marvel one-shot created for the Blu-ray release of Avengers Assemble?
We started a tradition on the release of the original Thor and Captain America Blu-ray discs where we created a Marvel one-shot, which is a short film that takes place in the Marvel cinematic universe.
One of the Marvel one-shots helped tie-up Tony Stark’s cameo at the end of The Incredible Hulk .
It’s called The Consultant and it can be seen on the Blu-ray disc for Thor .
The other Marvel one-shot dealt with a tiny misadventure involving Agent Coulson. This gave fans a peek into Coulson’s life on his way to Thor’s hammer.
The one-shot for Avengers Assemble is much bigger. It’s called Item 47 and it’s directed by Louis D’Esposito, who is co-president at Marvel Studios and an executive producer on all of our films.
He did an amazing job.
How would you describe the story of Item 47?
At the end of Avengers Assemble , the aliens leave behind a lot of guns and artifacts, as well as a lot of carnage. S.H.I.E.L.D. does their best job to collect all of the alien material so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands – but one gun is left behind.
This gun falls into the wrong hands when it is found by a 20-something newlywed couple that decides to use it to their own ends.
Agent Sitwell – who was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in Thor , Avengers Assemble and the Marvel one-shot The Consultant – is the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in this film and it’s up to him to get the gun back.
When did you come up with the idea of joining these iconic characters?
The idea came during the production of Iron Man when we had the 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 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 Samuel L. Jackson and he thought it was a cool idea.
It was his enthusiasm about it that led us to shoot the end credit scene. He says to Tony Stark, “You’re part of a bigger universe, you just don’t know it yet.” Well, that line was also Marvel telling the audience as well.
Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo was popular…
Audiences loved the cameo and the buzz about Nick Fury began.
We did it again on The Incredible Hulk and the reaction once again told us that The Avengers was going to work.
Our plan then became to build it one superhero at a time because it was really important that we introduced all of the characters in their own franchises first before putting them together in Avengers Assemble .
How did you ensure the directors of each of the Marvel movies were all working towards the same common goal for The Avengers?
The truth of the matter is simple: we go out of our way to find the perfect directors for our movies, whether it’s Jon Favreau on the first two Iron Man films, Louis Leterrier on The Incredible Hulk , Joe Johnson on Captain America or Joss Whedon on Avengers Assemble .
We let our filmmakers know that they need to focus on their movie and they need to make the best movie they can.
And then it’s our job to make sure that seeds are planted. Joss, of course, inherited the most in terms of being the writer and the director of Avengers Assemble . He had the biggest task in weaving it all together.
However, what I discovered was the fact that all of the directors loved the idea of bringing the superheroes together.
They all had their hand in what Avengers Assemble has become and they were all open to the idea that they were playing in a huge, shared sandbox.
It’s like a creative campus where all of these amazingly talented people come in and add their own piece to the Marvel cinematic world.
What was your biggest challenge in bringing The Avengers to the big screen?
The biggest challenge was two-fold. Firstly, is the movie going to be able to live up to the expectations of the people who love The Avengers and have read the books for decades and decades?
If you’ve read the books and you love the books, you know how great the interactions of these superheroes are and you have mammoth expectations for the project.
You also have to make sure that it doesn’t seem utterly ridiculous that a guy from outer space, a billionaire with a suit of armor and a guy who turns green when he gets upset could all fit into a movie together for people who have never read the books – and that’s where Joss Whedon came in.
He was able to weave together their stories in a really great way.
How mammoth was the task of bringing all of these heroes together?
It was certainly difficult, but at the same time we’ve been planning this for years and years in advance – much longer than a typical live-action movie would be worked on. All of our prep work on Iron Man 2 , Thor and Captain America incorporated plans for Avengers Assemble , including negotiations with the talent.
When we cast Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in Thor , and when we cast Chris Evans as Captain America, they understood they would be doing two movies in a row. When you pre-plan it in this way, you can accomplish anything.
How much work goes into the Blu-ray release of a movie like Avengers Assemble?
Blu-rays are an incredibly important part of the movie process. In fact, we finished the big-screen release of Avengers Assemble on the Tuesday and we started working on the Blu-ray on the Wednesday. It was very immediate.
There are a number of deleted scenes and a few storylines that fell by the wayside during the editing process for the big-screen release. However, we are very proud of these scenes and Joss Whedon is very proud of them, too. That’s why we’re excited that fans will be able to see them on Blu-ray.
Avengers Assemble is out on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 17 September. Read our review.