The media tour for MARVEL’S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is now in full swing with the press junket being held this weekend. The cast was having a lot of fun, which you can plainly see in photos like the one above, which Robert Downey, Jr. has been tweeting. I attended yesterday’s press conference featuring writer/director Joss Wheon, producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and stars Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), James Spader (Ultron), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Paul Bettany (Vision), and Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill).

You can read what the cast and creators had to say about the film, most of which is spoiler free. The last question contains a bit of a spoiler, but it’s not a major piece of the plot, so it’s relatively safe. Still, if you don’t want to know anything, feel free to skip that one at the end.

Question: Cobie, Maria Hill is one of the threads that ties everything together, both in THE AVENGERS, the other MCU films, and TV series. She brings it all together. Now, Mara went through a change in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Can you talk about where we find her now, and the kind of Maria Hill you wanted audiences to see in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON?

COBIE SMULDERS: Maria is now under the employment of Tony Stark. She’s now working with him to privatize security. It’s very fun being a thread to be able to tie the TV show and the movies together, but she’s got a bigger job now. She’s working with Tony and she doesn’t have S.H.I.E.L.D. at her disposal anymore. It’s a much more difficult job.

For Paul, what’s it like now to be more than just a voice?

PAUL BETTANY: Well, the main difference is that I have to show up. The great thing is being able to work with all of these incredibly creative and talented people. However, I also now have to show up at junkets, you know, so everything’s a double-edged sword.

Joss, can you talk about bringing The Vision and Ultron to life, and how they embody the good and bad of Tony Stark?

JOSS WHEDON: They do embody a little bit of him, but they’re also their own people. I do see them as two sides of the same coin. I like the sort of accord between the two of them. There’s something beautiful about the fact that they see the same thing and react to it differently, emotionally.

Joss, what were the biggest challenges that you faced, putting together the story, and then shooting the film? What were the things that surprised you?

WHEDON: There’s like 47 of these people. I really didn’t think that through and I regret very much doing this at all. It’s just making sure that everybody has got their moment, everybody’s got their through line, and that it’s connected to the movie. I have all these people. I love all these people. They’re extraordinary. But making sure that they’re all within the same narrative structure, and that they’re in the same movie, and that it’s all connected to the main theme. At some point during the editing process, I could not have told you who they were, who I was, or what movie I was making, I got so lost in it. But, I think it all came together. It’s just about making these guys look good, which takes a long time.

Sean (MMM): For Kevin, you started on this grand plan almost a decade ago. What’s it like for you to see it all brought to fruition, working with filmmakers like Joss and the casts you’ve had through all your movies, and to see the world connect with the MCU in such a powerful way?

KEVIN FEIGE: Well, it’s been great, of course. It started with the notion of making these movies ourselves and becoming Marvel Studios. And then, it continued with Robert in IRON MAN 1, with the notion of having Sam Jackson come in at the end and say, “You’re a part of a bigger universe, you just don’t know it yet,” thinking that most people wouldn’t know what that meant. But occasionally, someone would go, “What did that mean?,” and I’d go, “It means that maybe we’ll introduce all of the different characters and put them together. It’ll be great!” But the minute that happened, the world sort of got it, much more quickly than I had anticipated, and it was awesome. It’s daunting now because the expectations before, they didn’t exist. They thought, “What are they doing? Let’s go on to the next thing.” And now, there are crushingly overwhelming expectations, particularly with this movie, but it’s incredible. Look down the line; the table keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s the greatest ensemble ever assembled in cinematic history and it’s amazing to be a part of it.

For Joss, how you go about even beginning to start creating the sequel to one the greatest, largest, most successful movies of all time?

WHEDON: With the smallest thing I can think of. The thing that drew me back to the movie was, what little moments are there between these characters that I haven’t gotten to do yet? What conversations have they not had? What haven’t I shown? It’s never the big picture stuff. It’s never, “And then we can have an army of robots,” although that’s cool, too. It’s always just, where do they live? How can I get inside their hearts? What’s funny about them? There are those moments that I write reams and reams of paper, just thinking about the tiniest part. That’s the heart of the thing.

Elizabeth and Aaron, you guys have worked together before. The chemistry between the twins is so important, for the emotional impact. Was the fact that you’d worked together previously an advantage, or a challenge?

ELIZABETH OLSEN: I think it’s only a benefit. Aaron and I, we didn’t really work together that much on GODZILLA. It’s intimidating joining this group, so I gotta do it with Aaron by my side

AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON: It was comforting, stepping on set with such a big ensemble, to have someone to feel comfortable with.

For Robert, we see a fatherly side of Tony Stark this time. Did you have that in mind, when you were playing the role this time?

ROBERT DOWNEY JR: I must be mellowing with age, but I want to say this very clearly: The next time I’m not asked the first question, I’ll f***ing walk out! I read Joss’ script, I said, “I think this is great.” Ask Kevin. Didn’t I say that?

FEIGE: You did say that.

DOWNEY: Kevin said, “You never say that. You can’t mean that.” I said, “Yeah, I think it’s great. Let’s go shoot it.” I really thought it was a Swiss watch to begin with, and Joss really created some great new situations for Tony to be in. So, rather than digging my heels and trying to rewrite every scene, to make them even better, if possible, I just showed up, and it turned out great.

For James, what was it like to do the motion capture for Ultron, and bring life to this killer robot?

JAMES SPADER: I really don’t have any idea what was happening. It all happened very quickly. It really was just trying to hold on and stay on the train that was moving very, very quickly. But I will say this, I arrived in London and, within the first half hour, I put on a suit and they put on all this gear, and I had gone through a range of motion. And then, within 15 minutes, I was watching me walk around a big room, moving and doing this and that and everything else, and watching Ultron, or at least a formative stage of Ultron, on a monitor in front of me. It started right there. The next day, I was on the set, shooting a scene with Scarlett. Really, that pace was what it was, through the entire project. Luckily, I had had some conversations with Joss, and one fantastic meal with a whole bunch of wine, to figure out who this guy was. That was it. That really was it. It was just trying to hold on.

Chris Evans and Hemsworth, growing up, who was your favorite superhero, and why?

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: Superman was probably the only film that I admired back when I was growing up. That was the one that sticks out for me. And Iron Man hadn’t been created yet, or Captain America, or Hulk, or Black Widow, or Vision.

CHRIS EVANS: So, had Captain America been created, it would have clearly been him.

HEMSWORTH: That and Captain Australia. They were neck-and-neck, for a lot of years.

SPADER: Growing up, I didn’t have any comic books, at all. But my friend had a trunk full of them, so comic books were like candy for me. I would go over to his house for a sleep-over, and I would be devouring everything I could get my hands on because the sleep-over was going to be over, and I was going to go back to my house and it was going to be Kipling.

Jeremy, we didn’t get to see as much of Hawkeye in the first Avengers film, but there’s a much greater emphasis on him, this time. What was your reaction when you saw the role he was going to play in this one?

JEREMY RENNER: I speak in this movie, which is awesome. I become part of the team, which is awesome, and I dive into some really killer aspects of him. When I sat down with Joss and Kevin, back in the day, about why I liked and wanted to play Hawkeye, it was because I could never do what these gentlemen do. I don’t have that creative of a mind. I understood Hawkeye, in the sense that he’s a human with a higher skill set, so I could tap into that. I feel like I got to explore a little bit more of that, and even outside the skill set. I thought that was a really, really endearing and thoughtful secret that he had. I’m excited to see where that goes.

For Joss and Kevin, how much did this movie impact the Phase 2 lead up?

FEIGE: A lot of those were already in the works. IRON MAN 3, CAP 2 and THOR 2 were already in the works, just as AVENGERS was coming out. I would say that it was more about how those movies were impact by the first AVENGERS film. But I will say I remember, as we were putting the other Phase 2 movies together, Joss very much liked the idea, and we honed in on it for him, that Hulk and Hawkeye would be two characters that hadn’t gotten much exposure in between the  movies because he said he had very big plans for those two characters, in this one.

WHEDON: The only thing I can think of was pulling Thanos out of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

FEIGE: That’s true. There was going to be more Thanos.

WHEDON: And the thought, no, we need to thread him in more gently, but that was pretty much it.

For Scarlett, we’ve seen Black Widow evolve and she plays such a significant role, AGE OF ULTRON. Where do you see her going once we get to the end of this film?

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: In the beginning of AVENGERS 2, I’m not get gonna get shot, am I? Ok. There is some sense, finally, of there being normal, in a way. It’s a well-oiled machine, where they’re tag-teaming each other. Finally, the introductions are over and we’re at work. We’re digging our heels in. And at the end of AVENGERS 2, I think Widow let her guard down and was hopeful for something. She had this moment of false hope, where she felt like she’d put in the work and there should be some kind of personal pay-off, and she was ready to accept it. And she realizes that her calling is a greater one and that’s not necessarily something that she’s thrilled about. That’s what is most heroic about her. She’s accepting the call of duty, even at her own personal loss. I think it’s an interesting place to leave her. There are many different directions to go. Is she going to be able to withstand this huge weight that’s bearing down on her, or is she going to crack under it and crumble, not being able to take this huge personal hit? But, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Also for Scarlett, can you talk about the physical preparation for this role and were you a proficient motorcycle rider already?

JOHANSSON: I don’t think you’re allowed to ride a motorcycle when you’re so pregnant, but I did. I did all of the motorcycle riding. I embarrassingly rode some sort of mechanical bull type of motorcycle, which goes nowhere and doesn’t look cool at all. But, we had some very professional and amazing motocross morphing done that makes Black Widow look like a total badass. And I will say that I’m very fortunate that there’s a team around me that is super supportive in helping all of Widow’s fight moves and badass motorcycle riding happen. I could that without that part of it. Starting a move and finishing a move, and all that work being seamless, takes a lot of choreography and team spirit. Every film is exciting because I get new tools and fun new stuff to do, and luckily Joss writes me some badass moves that make me look epic and it’s awesome. I just said epic, awesome and badass, all in one sentence.

For Mark, we see so much of Dr. Banner in Hulk, but yet you find a way to make Dr. Banner feel like such a distinct character from the Hulk at the same time. Can you talk about Banner’s evolution in this film and the Dr. Banner you wanted audiences to see?

MARK RUFFALO: I was helped out by the fact that I’m green and huge. That helped me with the distinction between the two characters. I can’t take full credit for that, except for the accent I was using, maybe. 

 

***LAST QUESTION, POTENTIAL SPOILER***

 

 

 

 

Joss, why is the armor designed to contain The Hulk called Veronica?

WHEDON: I just decided to call it Veronica because he used to be in love with a woman named Betty, and Veronica is the opposite of that.

RUFFALO: I was always wondering that, but I thought I’d be breaking some Marvel taboo by asking. We have a Marvel app on our iPhones and if you say something wrong, it literally shocks you. 

FEIGE: Did you get a shock just now? You’re not supposed to talk about that app.

RUFFALO: My publicist has it. She got the shock.