Superhero characters from four separate film franchises come together in “Marvel's The Avengers,” an ambitious comic-book adaptation directed by Joss Whedon.
The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man; Chris Hemsworth as Thor; Chris Evans as Captain America; and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk. Each of those characters has been the star of a solo movie; with the exception of Ruffalo, each actor headlined the movie introducing that character to cinemagoers.
Downey's “Iron Man” was the first to hit the screen with Samuel L. Jackson in an eye-patched cameo role as Nick Fury, hinting at a larger cinematic world with more superheroes in it. President of Marvel Studios and producer of “The Avengers,” Kevin Feige, had in mind to create the tapestry that would become “The Avengers” going back that far.
“I've been a nerd my whole life and wanted to see this movie made for my whole life,” Feige said. “The real answer, though, is sort of towards the end of production of ‘Iron Man' one, when Sam was gracious enough to spend three hours on a Saturday to come and break into Tony Stark's house wearing an eye patch and tell him and the world that, uh, you're part of bigger universe. You just don't know it yet.”
The success of “Iron Man” was the first step toward continuing to create an interconnected Marvel cinematic universe.
“And the only challenge was to try to make all the movies live on their own, even if we weren't leading towards an ‘Avengers' movie 'cause ... if they're all just interconnected puzzle pieces, that's not as fun,” Feige said. “They need to be movies beginning to end.”
After the success of “Iron Man,” Downey returned for a sequel, “Iron Man 2.” In 2011, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans launched their films, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” respectively.
Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury appeared in multiple films, creating the framework that these heroes live in the same world. Downey said he was impressed by the scope of the concept.