There is a sense of community and family that echoed throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the 11 years and 22 films since its inception back in 2008. That theme rings true whenever the heroes have to gather as a collective to fight a common enemy.
But that also goes beyond what is on set and extends to what is behind the scenes, as fellow castmates forge friendships and bonds that make them family.
Journalists from around the world participated in the global press conference for Avengers: Endgame, where they got to talk to the “surviving” cast that plays the heroes who managed to stay alive after the Thanos snap in Avengers: Infinity War.
There we learned about how some of the cast has come to be accepted by their Avengers family while others are having a bittersweet experience because they are about to leave it behind.
For Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye in Black Panther and Avenger: Infinity War, she says the beauty of it all was to be embraced by her fellow castmates outside of the Black Panther franchise.
She recalled the first time she was on the set of Avengers: Infinity War where the titular heroes came onto Wakanda but she and the rest of the Black Panther cast were coming onto the Avengers set. “We opened that tent door and there are all the Avengers sitting there and they are like ‘Oh, hi.’ That’s the minute you know you are a part of a universe. Which is pretty darn awesome,” Gurira said.
While Avengers: Endgame does continue on the stories for some of the newer characters like Okoye, it does mark the end for others like Thor. Chris Hemsworth, who has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011, has been through a rotation of directors from Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor to Taika Waititi and the Russo Brothers. But he was able to learn so much from them and his fellow castmates from the various films from his own franchise to the Avengers ensemble films.
Hemsworth addressed how those developments allowed him to be confident in the character, especially when it got to Thor: Ragnarok where the title character got to do something “unexpected and unique.” But it was in his discussions with the Russo Brothers, where he was the most surprised about his character’s current trajectory because it was Thor: Ragnarok where he felt the most confident about his character.
“With this film here, it’s just about the people here that made it so special and unique each time with any of our characters is everybody you get to interact with and the fact that we are all willing to be open to what new possibilities lie ahead of these franchises and these characters. It has been a pretty remarkable journey,” Hemsworth said.
On the relationships that have been forged throughout the 22 films in the past 11 years, Paul Rudd, who plays Ant-Man, says it’s a bit of a weird thing. “It’s a weird thing to be hired, in any job, and then, for somebody like me, to step into it, as it has already picked up speed, it’s like having The Beatles say ‘C’mon. Yeah, jam with us for a while,’ it’s an unreal sensation.”
Rudd couldn’t even put into words the experience of community that is felt making these movies with such a diverse cast. “Getting to work with all of these actors in this series of films is a one-off,” he said. “It will never happen again. Not for me. I keep taking steps back and try to recognize this for what it is. It is so surreal, and profound, and incredible to be a part of it.”
For Larson, Avengers: Endgame, means the most to her because it is the first time that she performed as the character before she got to play as her in the title standalone film. “I had to stumble and figure out who this character was with no script for this and no script for Captain Marvel either, and perform, for the first time, in front of legends,” she said.
“I think the other part of it is the set, as big as it is, it feels like a bunch of kids, just like I was doing over summer break, shooting movies in my garage,” Larson said. “There is still this sense of wonder and play and encouragement. Of course, this film deals with some heavy subject matters, so your bouncing in between things that feel very deep and serious and going off and playing boggle, which I am very good at.”
Cheadle, who came in at Iron Man 2, by replacing Terrance Howard, joked about the obvious change in the character’s skin complexion but then got serious by talking about what the character has gone through and the sacrifices he had to make during the course of these 22 films. “To kind of echo what Brie [Larson] said, we had a great time this whole time,” Cheadle said. “Being together. Having the Downey lunches that we have. To get to know these people, I’ve always known their work, but to get to know them as individuals and to know them as people and get to know them as friends, and then to get to come back and to keep coming back to these relationships again and seeing where everybody is and people having kids and those kids are going off to college and other people having kids and relationships are just starting, it’s rare to have that kind of experience over the course of ten years with the same group of people, so it’s really nice.”
However, Ruffalo jokingly wouldn’t describe the whole Marvel Studios experience as a family because they “got along well” adding that there isn’t that much drama. “It does feel like family,” Ruffalo said. “It’s the family that you wish you had, in a way.”
“I don’t know if you could tell, it’s a little bit different press conference than the last time,” he said. “It has a little bit, sort of, sadness to it. I mean we’re all talking about it like we’re dead. ‘Oh, I loved working with these guys,’ ‘It was great knowing them,’ ‘They’re a great Boggle player,’ there’s something very bittersweet about this moment because as actors we’re like vagabonds, we bounce around and we have these intense relationships then you don’t see anybody until you get nominated for something or something you’re in is nominated and you end up in an award ceremony.”
“What’s that like,” Evans asked jokingly. “Speak for yourself.”
“But this is the closest thing that any of us really have unless you’re in several franchises, it’s the closest thing you have to continuity and friendships, and watching people grow up and have children, and get married and then divorced, and then get remarried,” Ruffalo said.
For Evans, he sees Avengers: Endgame as the finale to a ten-year journey. “I think it’s the completion of the arc,” Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, said. “That’s safe to say, right? This movie does provide kind of an ending to a lot of…”
That’s when Joe Russo, the youngest of the Russo director siblings, made a game buzzer sound so as to stop Evans from leaking any material.
“There is a 22 film tapestry,” Evans said.” “He’s been through so much. There are so many wonderful elements of working on this movie. And I’ll add to what Chris [Hemsworth] said, it may seem like a safe answer, but really and honestly, the friendships and connections that I have made over these ten years now, truly has become a family.”
Avengers: Endgame opens in theaters on April 26, 2019.