Avengers Assembled!

Posted on November 1, 2011 by

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Now that we have Captain America: The First Avenger out on DVD, this is it for Marvel superhero movies until The Avengers come out in May. The team has officially been assembled.

Along the way, we have seen Marvel breaking records left and right with all the films leading up to The Avengers and building the team before our eyes. I think it’s time to do a recap of the who and where’s we have been through to see this come together… don’t you?

Iron Man:

This is where it all began in every sense of the term. Iron Man was in film development with Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox, and New Line Cinema from 1990 until Marvel reacquired the rights in 2006. Iron Man then became Marvel’s first self-financed film and was released in full glory in 2008.

The premiere was held at the Greater Union theater at George Street, Sydney, on April 14, 2008. The film was released worldwide except for Japan between April 30 and May 7, 2008, with Japan to receive the film in September 2008.

In its opening weekend, Iron Man grossed $98,618,668 in 4,105 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking number one at the box office, giving it the 11th-biggest opening weekend, ninth widest release in terms of theaters, and the third highest-grossing opening weekend of 2008. It grossed $35.2 million on its first day, giving it the 13th-biggest opening day. Iron Man had the second-best premiere for a non-sequel, behind Spider-Man. It had the fourth-biggest opening for a superhero movie. Iron Man was also the number-one film in the United States and Canada in its second weekend, grossing $51.1 million, giving it the 12th-best second weekend and the fifth-best for a non-sequel. On June 18, 2008 Iron Man became the first movie of 2008 to pass the $300 million mark for the domestic box office.

…and it was the first time we saw Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury. Iron Man is the movie that trained us all to stay after the credits and see what’s next! This was the first time we heard anything about The Avengers on the big screen. I don’t know about you, but we don’t leave our seats until the end of the final scene now days. Just in case you missed it, or want to re-watch it for fun, here’s the scene:

The Incredible Hulk

is the second film to be released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is not a sequel to the 2003 film Hulk, but rather a reboot that establishes a new back-story where Banner became the Hulk as an unwitting pawn in a military scheme to reinvigorate the supersoldier program through gamma radiation.

Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to the character after the mixed reception to Hulk (in 2003), and writer Zak Penn began work on a loose sequel that would be much closer to the comics and the television series. Norton rewrote the script after he signed on to star, which clarified the film’s new back-story. The film outgrossed its predecessor and received generally positive reviews.

Norton explained of his decision to ignore Lee’s origin story, “I don’t even like the phrase origin story, and I don’t think in great literature and great films that explaining the roots of the story doesn’t mean it comes in the beginning.” “Audiences know this story,” he added, “deal with it artfully.” He wanted to “have revelations even in the third act about what set this whole thing in motion”. The new origin story references Ultimate Marvel’s take on the Hulk, which also had him created in an attempt to create super soldiers. Norton deleted Rick Jones and toned down S.H.I.E.L.D.’s presence. He also added the scene where Banner attempts to extract a cure from a flower and his e-mailing with Samuel Sterns, which references Bruce Jones’ story. Norton rewrote scenes every day. Ultimately, the Writers Guild of America decided to credit the script solely to Penn, who argued Norton had not dramatically changed his script.

During filming The Incredible Hulk joined Toronto’s Green-Screen initiative, to help cut carbon emissions and waste created during filming. Producer Gale Anne Hurd acknowledged the Hulk, being green, was a popular environmental analogy, and Norton himself was an environmentalist. Hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles were used, with low sulfur diesel as their energy source. The construction department used a sustainably harvested, locally sourced yellow pine instead of lauan for the sets, and also used zero-or low-VOC paint. The wood was generally recycled or given to environmental organizations, and paint cans were handed to waste management. In addition, they used; cloth bags; biodegradable food containers; china and silverware food utensils; a stainless steel mug for each production crew member; a contractor who removed bins; recycled paper; biodegradable soap and cleaners in the trailers and production offices; and the sound department used rechargeable batteries. The Incredible Hulk became the first blockbuster film to receive the Environmental Media Association’s Green Seal, which is displayed during the end credits.

The film was released on June 13, 2008, and in its opening weekend, grossed $55.4 million in 3,505 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #1 at the box office. The previous film earned $62.1 million in its opening weekend, but dropped 70% in its second weekend. The second film by comparison, dropped 60% in its second weekend. Behind Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it was the second-highest gross for a film released over a Father’s Day weekend. It also opened in thirty-eight other countries, which added $31 million to the total opening. The film outgrossed the 2003 film in South Korea, while its openings in Mexico and Russia created records for Universal.

…and of course, as we all sat and waited anxiously, there was an after the credits scene featuring Tony Stark of the previously released Iron man movie again talking about a team to be assembled. Unfortunately, the clip is more difficult to find online due to NBC Universal blocking copyrights, so it is not included here.

Iron Man 2

It is the sequel to 2008’s Iron Man, and takes place six months after Iron Man, and directly before The Incredible Hulk and Thor.

During development, Favreau said the film would explore Stark’s alcoholism, but it would not be “the ‘Demon in a Bottle’ version”. Downey said, while promoting the first film, that Stark would probably develop a drinking problem as he is unable to cope with his age, the effects of revealing he is Iron Man, as well as Pepper getting a boyfriend. Before filming began, Downey revealed that while the film was not an adaptation of the ‘”Demon in a Bottle” storyline from the comic book series, it was more about the “interim space” between the origin and the “Demon” story arc.

At the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, a five-minute teaser trailer for the movie was shown. Actors portraying Stark Industries recruiters handed out business cards with an invitation to apply for a job at Stark Industries. A website for Stark Industries also went online, with an attached graphic of a “napkin memo” from Tony Stark to Pepper Potts announcing that Stark Industries no longer made weapons. Another section featured an online application.

Several months prior to the release of the film, Marvel Comics released a four issue miniseries titled Iron Man vs Whiplash as a tie-in to the movie. The series introduced a new version of Whiplash that was heavily inspired by the movie’s portrayal, as Marvel’s existing versions of the character had little resemblance to the movie’s depiction. A three issue miniseries titled Iron Man 2: Public Identity was released in April which serves as a prequel of the events of the movie.

Since the film was included in a premeditated legacy distribution deal that was signed before the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel, Paramount Pictures was able to acquire 8% of the box office sales, while the remaining portion went to Disney.

Upon its release, Iron Man 2 was the first film produced by Marvel Studios to feature a small logo imprinted above its title on the official poster. The logo simply read ‘Marvel Studios‘.

Iron Man 2 launched internationally with number-one openings on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, in six European markets for a total $2.2 million from 960 venues. It earned $100.2 million its first five days from 6,764 theaters in 53 foreign markets for a strong average of $14,814 per site. IMAX Corporation reported that the film grossed $2.25 million at 48 IMAX theaters overseas, for an average of $46,875. This surpassed the previous record-holder for an IMAX 2D release, 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($2.1 million).

The film grossed $128,122,480 in its opening weekend in United States at 4,380 theaters, is marked as the fifth highest opening weekend. The film had an average of $29,252 per theater. It grossed $51,239,677 in its opening day and is the ninth highest opening day on record. Iron Man 2 is the third-highest grossing film of 2010 in the United States and Canada, and is also seventh-highest grossing film of 2010 internationally.

…the after the credits scene in Iron Man 2 was leaked on youtube previous to it’s opening in theaters and was quickly removed. It gave us our first look at Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer! See it below.

Thor

Director Sam Raimi first developed the concept of a film adaptation of Thor in 2001, but soon abandoned the project, leaving it in “development hell” for several years. During this time, the rights were picked up by various film studios until Marvel Studios signed Mark Protosevich to develop the project in 2006, and the rights were picked up by Paramount Pictures.

Director Kenneth Branagh and Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige chose Hemsworth after a back-and-forth process in which the 27-year-old actor was initially dropped from consideration and then given a second chance to read for the part. Hemsworth stated that he gained 20 pounds for the role by eating non-stop and revealed that “It wasn’t until Thor that I started lifting weights, it was all pretty new to me”.

Branagh, a fan of the comic book since childhood, commented on the challenge of bridging Asgard and the modern world: “Inspired by the comic book world both pictorially and compositionally at once, we’ve tried to find a way to make a virtue and a celebration of the distinction between the worlds that exist in the film but absolutely make them live in the same world. It’s about finding the framing style, the color palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different…. The combination of the primitive and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern, I think that potentially is the exciting fusion, the exciting tension in the film”

The film was released in a 3-D version. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Branagh stated that the 3-D process initially made him cringe but “We came to feel that in our case 3-D could be the very good friend of story and character for a different kind of experience”. Although 2-D was used for principal photography, producer Kevin Fiege stated that the “special effects for the film were conceived and executed from the beginning in 3-D”

Thor placed first in its opening weekend in North America, earning $65.7 million including $6.6 million in IMAX theatres in 213 locations, representing 10% of the weekend gross. The film held on to the number one spot at the American and Canadian box office during its second weekend, dropping 47%, and grossed $34.7 million.

…Thor also featured an after the credits scene leading Marvel fans on to the next big adventure. Check it out here.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger began as a concept in 1997, and was scheduled to be distributed by Artisan Entertainment. However, a lawsuit, not settled until September 2003, disrupted the project. After Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch, the project was set up at Paramount Pictures. Directors Jon Favreau and Louis Leterrier were interested in directing the project before Johnston was approached in 2008. The principal characters were cast between March and June 2010. Production of Captain America: The First Avenger began in June 2010, and filming took place in London, Manchester and Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and Los Angeles in the United States. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

Comic fans were in a flurry over this movie trying to speculate when and where it would take place considering the characters’ huge span across history. As costume pictures and information were slowly let out, you could hear everyone guessing and criticizing as they attempted to piece together a plot.

Evans, who previously worked with Marvel as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four film series, said he declined the part three times before signing a six-picture deal with Marvel, explaining that, “At the time, I remember telling a buddy of mine, ‘If the movie bombs, I’m fucked. If the movie hits, I’m fucked! I was just scared. I realized my whole decision-making process was fear-based, and you never want to make a decision out of fear. I can’t believe I was almost too chicken to play Captain America”. He ultimately agreed to the role, saying, “I think Marvel is doing a lot of good things right now, and it’s a fun character…. I think the story of Steve Rogers is great. He’s a great guy. Even if it [were] just a script about anybody, I would probably want to do it. So it wasn’t necessarily about the comic itself.”

When asked whether anti-U.S. sentiments would affect the film’s box office, Feige said, “Marvel is perceived pretty well around the world right now, and I think putting another uber-Marvel hero into the worldwide box office would be a good thing. […] We have to deal with much the same way that Captain America, when thawed from the Arctic ice, entered a world that he didn’t recognize,” similar to the way Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reintroduced the character in the 1960s.

Early footage of the film was shown at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International with director Joe Johnston noting filming had begun four days prior to this presentation at the San Diego Convention Center. The first television advertisement aired during Super Bowl XLV on the Fox network in the United States. Paramount paid $3 million dollars to run the 30-second ad.

Captain America: The First Avenger opened on July 22, 2011, in the United States and earned $4 million in midnight showings, outgrossing other 2011 original superhero movies like Thor and Green Lantern as well as the prequel X-Men: First Class, which all did between $3.25 million and $3.5 million in Friday midnights. On Friday, the film opened at the number one spot at the American and Canadian box office with $25.7 million. It then went on to make $65.1 million, which was the second highest-grossing opening weekend for a superhero film in 2011 behind Thor ($65.7 million).

…the after the credits scene showed Cap waking up in a modern world that was foreign to him, and being approached by none other than Nick Fury.

Avengers Trailer Breaks Records

Within it’s first 24 hours from release, the Avengers Trailer had been downloaded from iTunes over 10 million times making it the most downloaded trailer in iTunes Movie Trailers history.

In October 2011, Marvel Studios held a presentation at the New York Comic Con that featured new footage and a panel discussion including producer Kevin Feige and several cast members.

Comic Book Resources said, “The two-minute teaser handily establishes the movie’s premise” and is “heavy on the assembling, but fans are also treated to plenty of action, as well glimpses of Iron Man’s new armor and, best of all, the new take on the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark gets the best lines”. However, The Hollywood Reporter called it “Awesome. Or it would be if we hadn’t seen all of this before and expected every single thing that we saw in the trailer”

Check out the full trailer below.

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