Iron Man star Robert Downey, Jr. took the podium at Hall H-- after the crowd of 6000 fans were duly wowed by Marvel Studios footage from Joe Johnston's Captain America, a 40s period origin myth starring Chris Evans as the mighty hero and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull, and Kenneth Branagh's Thor, starring Australian Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Natalie Portman as an earthbound scientist. Downey then brought onto the dais The Avengers crew: Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Fury's two lieutenants, Clark Gregg and Scarlett Johansson, as well as Hemsworth, Evans, Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo, who is replacing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Hulk (earlier the fans booed Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige for dumping Edward Norton).
Finally, director Joss Whedon joined the line, saying, "I'm going to blow this," then thanked the hall for their support. I hope not. But truly, Ruffalo and Whedon both looked uncomfortable. Luckily, Marvel and producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man) will be backing him up.
But the crowd was not expecting this much wattage and went absolutely nuts, took to their feet and did not sit down. They also cheered and stomped for Harrison Ford at the Cowboys and Aliens panel hosted by Favreau. Ford was led onto the dais in chains by cops. The idea was he had to be dragged to the Con. He looked genuinely moved by the fan love. Daniel Craig, who looks great on horseback, was also a Con virgin.
[Top photo: Robert Downey Jr., Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Director Joss Whedon, Producer and Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige, assemble for The Avengers, in which earth's heroes including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and Agent Coulson assemble together on screen for the first time. Below, Hemsworth, Downey, Kenneth Branagh.]