‘Thor,’ ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’ – Marvel Bits and Bites from Comic Con

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(from the left) Robert Downey Jr., Clark Gregg, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige

I wasn’t too quick to post a round-up of yesterday’s Marvel Studios panel at Comic Con because nothing really new was revealed in terms of actual movie news. However, it’s the talk of the web and even though I wasn’t there I’ll attempt to do my best…

Considering The Avengers their introduction at Comic Con all ended up being old news. Of course, that didn’t stop the throngs of 6,500 Comic Con attendees from going insane when Samuel L. Jackson stepped on stage to begin introducing the team you see above. However, it wasn’t until the video of the announcement was added to YouTube (as you can see to the right) that I felt it was even worth mentioning.

Now, thanks to the Internet and camera phones, you can watch from afar as Jackson and Downey Jr. announce the currently assembled team of Avengers, who will star in the film that will merge the stories of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk and other from the Marvel Universe following their individual introductions in the films that come before.

Of course, one thing missing from the video was a reported series of boos as Marvel Studios’ President of Production Kevin Feige was asked earlier by a fan if Ed Norton would return as The Hulk. Feige reiterated his previous statement saying Norton would not be returning, but added, “This panel isn’t over yet,” alluding to the big reveal of the (mostly) complete cast of The Avengers.

Later in the day Feige was asked by Movieline about his earlier statement in which he said Marvel was looking for “an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members [for The Hulk]… We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements.” To me it’s a statement that insinuates Norton did not embody these qualities considering Norton was vocal about how he’d like to reprise the character. In his interview with Movieline Feige said, “Yeah. I didn’t think I was being all that candid, frankly. It’s something that I think needed to be very clear [about].”

At this point I would say none of it really matters. Shortly after the boos came the applause as the cast of The Avengers was on stage, and the crowd was having orgasms. All seemed to be forgiven, by an audience apparently suffering from short-term memory loss.

As you can see from the pic at the lede of this article, the Avengers team consists of Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Clark Gregg (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jackson (Nick Fury), Renner (Hawkeye) and Ruffalo (The Hulk).

The one noticeable omission from the bunch is Don Cheadle who stepped in for Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2 as Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine. There’s still no word on whether he will have any part in the ensemble feature The Avengers, teaming the superheroes from the Marvel universe into one big crime-fighting organization. Rumors Nathan Fillion would be playing Ant-Man, however, were squashed over the weekend.

The Marvel Studios Panel didn’t begin with The Avengers, though, that was merely the headliner after presentations of their two upcoming Summer 2011 offerings, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

2010 San Diego Comic-Con poster for Captain America: The First Avenger
Photo: Marvel/Paramount Pictures

The first presentation centered on Captain America, which has only been shooting for about eight days, but some rough footage was shown including Chris Evans as the title character and Hugo Weaving as the film’s Nazi villain, Johann Schmidt (a.k.a. Red Skull), seen only in his pre-comic book transformation. One guy described the footage as “very Indiana Jones in feel” and another said it “would fit right alongside Hellboy” while adding Weaving’s voice “sounds a lot like [Werner] Herzog.”

Fans of the Captain America comics may be excited to know something called the Cosmic Cube will be a part of the film and according to a Twitter post by Screenrant, director Joe Johnston said, “If you don’t love Steve Rogers before he transforms, you’re not going to like him after.” I personally have no idea if that is just a comment on the character or something to do with the comics that I am just not hip to. Perhaps someone can explain in the comments?

2010 San Diego Comic-Con poster for Thor
Photo: Marvel/Paramount Pictures

The panel then moved to Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh who apparently compared the comic adaptation to his 1989 Oscar-winning feature Henry V before introducing title star Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki the film’s villain, Natalie Portman who plays the film’s love interest Jane Foster, Kat Dennings and Clark Gregg.

I’ve been highly critical of the added, “Any doubts people had about this flick working should be null and void.”

The Playlist was on hand and offers this short, non-spoiler description of what was shown:

A big, meaty, action-heavy teaser showcases Thor being banished to Earth and dealing with SHIELD agents before finding his beloved hammer, as seen in the final moments of Iron Man 2. After some short patter where Clark Gregg admitted he had no idea what Mjolnir was, a short 3D clip gave fans a brief tutorial about the differences between Earth and Asgard. This gives the audience their first glimpse of fan-favorite Asgardians Sif, Balder, the Warriors Three and Heimdall.

Things then moved to The Avengers cast presentation as described above, but not before Portman confirmed her character would not be making the leap from Thor to the ensemble feature.

Finally, the only real new news to come out of the presentation was when Feige announced the rights to the Marvel comic “The Punisher” was no longer at Lionsgate and “Frank Castle is under the roof of Marvel Studios now and we hope to bring him into the fray shortly.” The character has been played by three actors to this point — Dolph Lundgren (The Punisher in 1989), Thomas Jane (The Punisher in 2004) and Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone in 2008) — and none of them have done particularly well at the box-office. I wonder, are any of you interested in seeing a fourth attempt any time in the near future?

Thor hits theaters on May 6, 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger arrives shortly after on July 22, 2011 and The Avengers releases a year later on May 4, 2012.

P.S. The official site for The Avengers is live at Marvel.com.