Avengers assemble

The cast of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” tease details about the highly anticipated sequel.

Mary Strother, Writer

It is not every day you find yourself in a room full of Avengers — Earth’s mightiest heroes.

However, that is exactly where I found myself this past Saturday, seated in the Main Theatre on the Disney Studio Lot in Burbank, looking over a table of talent of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars: Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, James Spader, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, director Joss Whedon and Marvel President Kevin Feige.

The room was packed with journalists from major movie news organizations, including Collider and AMC Movie News, whose host John Campea served as moderator for this event. Though I felt rather small as a university newspaper reporter, I approached the press conference with confidence and excitement. Having been part of the press screening of the film the night before at the Disney Lot as well, I was thrilled to see the stars be able to articulate their experience on what I thought was a very fun film — but more on that later.

To kick off the press conference, moderator John Campea asked Cobie Smulders about her character Maria Hill, one who appears in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as in their television program, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” and Smulders said it is “very fun being the thread that ties the TV show and the movies together,” as well as describing her role in the latest Avengers film.

“Maria is now under the employment of Tony Stark, she’s working with him to privatize security… she’s got a bigger job now,” Smulders said.

From there, the questions moved at a rapid fire pace, mostly taken from press in the audience with the moderator posing a few. A member of the audience asked Paul Bettany what it was now like to be “more than a voice.” Paul Bettany has been the voice of Jarvis, Tony Stark’s operating system, since “Iron Man” in 2008, but in “Age of Ultron,” Bettany also portrays classic comic book hero The Vision.

“Well the main difference is that I have to show up,” Bettany joked. “The great thing is being able to work with all of these creative and talented people. However, now I also have to show up at junkets.”

When a question was finally posed to Robert Downey Jr., asking about the fatherly side to Tony Stark in this film, Downey had a memorable quip before his answer.

“I must be mellowing in my old age, but I want to say this very clearly. The next time I’m not asked the first question, I will [expletive] walk out.”

As the crowd laughs, Downey looks satisfied with himself. A brilliant actor, he is definitely the eccentric personality one has come to know and love as Iron Man.

Other highlights from the press junket include James Spader discussing his role in motion capture and voice as the titular villain Ultron, Chris Hemsworth noting that Captain Australia and Captain America went neck and neck as his favorite superhero, and Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige stating there was going to be “more Thanos” in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Due to the character’s impact on the next phase of Marvel movies, they decided rather to piece him in little by little.

After the press conference, which felt remarkably short, Kevin Feige asked us all to stay in our seats so we could view the new “Ant-Man” trailer in 3D with him. The lights went down, the trailer debuted, and I can say it is full of more laughs and more action than the first. It is now available online to the public.

Although I did not receive an opportunity to ask any of the questions I had prepared, my experience at the Marvel press junket was hugely enjoyable. Being in a room of my fellow members of the press and hearing candid banter and thoughtful answers from those who had actually worked on such a huge film was beneficial and inspiring. Look for my review on “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in a few weeks.

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