After Marvel’s much-discussed no-show at last month’s Comic-Con, the hype machine has been turning fast leading up to this weekend’s Disney D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. They’ll be pulling out all the stops, right? “Avengers” footage, revealing those two newly-dated mystery projects, surprise appearances and who knows what else. Well, some of that wound up being true, but Marvel’s showing at D23 wasn’t nearly as exciting as the speculation leading up to it.
Mouse House head-honcho Rich Ross led the day’s slate of Disney-related announcements, which concluded with the Marvel bit. He brought out Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige, who took the stage geeked out in a “Star Tours” baseball cap.
The reel of Marvel Studios movies was heavy on “Iron Man” with a supporting mix of “Thor” and “Captain America.” 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” got only the briefest snippet (we get a clear shot of Abomination compared to a shadowed Hulk), making it pretty clear that Marvel would rather you forget Louis Letterier’s film, which received mixed reviews. More likely, they’d prefer you forget that film’s star, Edward Norton, replaced by Mark Ruffalo in “The Avengers.”
Feige spoke for a few minutes. He basically said something along the lines of “Disney’s awesome, Marvel’s awesome, etc., etc.” I’m paraphrasing, but not that much. Feige added that “The Avengers” has two weeks to go and director “Joss Whedon has put something together just for you.” Finally the moment everyone’s been waiting for.
The footage was generally well-received, but with the mixed audience of mouse-eared Disney aficionados thinning out the usual comic geek-heavy fandom of a Comic-Con crowd, it certainly wasn’t met with the roar of, say, “Iron Man” footage in Hall H.
The clip opens with Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury in a control room speaking to a captured Loki (Tom Hiddleston) within a glass cage. The two exchange a bit of banter, Fury with confidence and Loki with an overabundance of smugness. The Avengers team -- Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Cap (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) watch on. “He kind of grows on you, doesn’t he,” says Ruffalo with a smirk. In another scene, Stark has a cocktail while talking to someone (it’s made to look like he’s talking to Loki but the cut is odd and doesn’t clearly match up). “Let’s take a headcount,” Stark offers. “We’ve got a couple of highly trained assassins” [quick action scene of Black Widow and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)], a demigod [shot of Thor] and a living legend who kinda lives up to the legend [shot of Captain America].” Loki says, “We have an Army.” Stark smirks and responds, “We have a Hulk.” The clip ends with Hulk roaring at the screen, which appears to be from the 2008 “Hulk” movie. Cut to the Avengers logo and out.
Feige basked in applause before welcoming a good portion of the 'Avengers' cast to the stage -- Renner, Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Hemsworth and, of course, Robert Downey Jr., who received the biggest applause and, ultimately, a standing ovation. Only Downey Jr. spoke, mocking Anaheim by saying how it was good for everyone to come to town to visit their parents. “You want to see it again?” he asks. They show the exact same clip again. “See you next summer,” Downey Jr. said, before exiting the stage with the rest of the cast.
Seems like a long trip from Cleveland to just stand on stage, smile and wave for a minute or two. While it’s not like we would exactly expect the group to say anything in-depth about the movie, you’d think there might be something approaching a reason for their presence. Otherwise a set of cardboard cutouts might well have sufficed. You know, to let fans pose with them for pics after the presentation.
The other disappointment was the lack of any Marvel-related announcements. After their summer success with “Captain America” and “Thor” many expected Marvel to discuss and possibly announce more future projects. Dr. Strange? Captain America 2? Ant Man? No such luck. The entire Marvel portion of Disney’s nearly three-hour presentation took roughly 10 minutes.
With the projected expense of 'Avengers' and the looming skepticism over Joss Whedon’s ability to command such a massive cast in a very, very ambitious feature, you might think Marvel and Disney would have tried harder to really knock this one out of the park. Instead it’s more of a ground rule double with a hitter in a slump coming to the plate. He’s due for a hit and might be able to knock in the winning run, but then again he might just strike out again and be sent back to the minors.
“The Avengers” opens May 12, 2012. Perhaps more interesting than the entire panel however, is this somewhat spoiler-filled Tom Hiddleston interview with THR where he gives away much of the early plot and Loki's motivations. Then again, any good Marvel geek guessed this all long ago. Watch below.