Robert Downey, Jr.

This is perhaps, by my definition, the perfect storm movie extravaganza. The biggest Marvel super heroes on one screen, in one movie at the same time. I can hardly stand it! The Avengers hits movie theaters this week, and it is one of the most anticipated studio releases of the summer. Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a “who’s who” of Marvel Superheroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his cohorts, Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster. I sat down with Robert Downey, Jr. also know as Iron Man to talk about the film and Marvel’s secret to their superhero franchise success.

So how does Tony Stark’s Iron Man come to be part of this super group of crime fighters?
What made the original Iron Man, work so well is that it was plausible, and then we had a bunch of fun doing the second [film]. This time I feel like again speaking of alternate realities there’s a way that Tony can interact with The Avengers because he’s already had hints that this Nick Fury guy is clearly stringing him along.

And your character isn’t really one for sharing the spotlight; so, what makes him decide to join the Avengers team?
I think he’s curious, and it’s hard for him to ingest what’s going on; so, he wants to see it firsthand, but he’s still himself probably searching. With Roadie, he realized he’s not an island. It’s a partnership, you know, outside of his with Pepper, and this time, I think it’s about that group mind, and that “we” is better than “I.”

Speaking of the group, you’ve had very high praise for Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk. Ed Norton played the Hulk previously, and this is Mark’s first turn as a super hero. How’d he do?
I’d always thought Mark was the guy to play Bruce Banner because there is something respective and affable about the guy that makes that curse or that opportunity he has, which is not of his doing, his responsibility to manage. He’s also just a kind of a funny, quirky guy, but he’s a straight shooter, and I think that’s probably the most important thing.

What is it that Marvel does so right that makes these films such huge box office hits?
I think aside from casting the thing what Marvel does best is pick the right directors for their projects. It’s always an exciting announcement, but it also has that extra thing of “Oh, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought that” but retrospectively it makes perfect sense.

With that, what was it like working with director Joss Whedon on this film?
It’s no surprise to anyone that works with him for just a couple of days that he is a profound technician. He’s got some of the same operators and people that work with Spielberg, and even the Buffy series and his other series have been kind of their own thing, but I think what he does is draw on everything he needs to draw on to make it his own.

Will The Avengers have that same action, adventure magic as the individual stories of their super hero super stars? You can see for yourself when the film opens in theaters this week nationwide. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference. And, be sure to come back next week and check out my interview with Samuel L. Jackson!

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