The Comic Book Gods were smiling down upon me yesterday. I may have missed my chance of meeting Hiddleston in the flesh, but last night, I was among the lucky few hundred to have a seat at The Avengers panel at New York Comic Con. After securing my seat at 1pm, I camped out for the remaining four or five panels before the Avengers were up. And yes, I took no bathroom breaks. Now, that’s dedication.
Expected to begin at 6:30, the panel was running about half an hour late. The wait outside the theater was, from what I heard, massive with hundreds hoping to get in—but with no one willing to sacrifice their spot, the folks outside were, to say the least, assed out. At around 7 pm security and extra staff descended into the theater and paraded up and down the aisles in order to prevent mass hysteria once the cast came out—and to take down anyone who attempted to record any of the exclusive footage. Marvel is like the government. Homie don’t play that.
The handsome and hysterical Chris Hardwick, who happens to share his birthday with me, served as moderator for the panel.
First up was Marvel Studio’s president of production Kevin Feige, who re-introduced the trailer because he felt fans should see it on the big screen. After that was over, Hardwick introduced the cast: Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) was the first on the stage—he recorded the fan reaction on his way in. Gregg was followed by Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Tom Hiddleston (Loki)—who totally milked his entrance and took a bow at center stage, Chris Evans (Captain America) and the nights big surprise, Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk).
Fanboys who have doubted the choice of Ruffalo as the Hulk may be in for a big surprise. Described as his generation’s Hamlet, because everyone will get a chance to play the character, Ruffalo explained that he borrowed from each of the previous incarnations of Bruce Banner, saying there is a little bit of Bana, Norton and of course Billy Bixby in his version of Banner. But he quickly added, he was able to “Ruffalize” the role. A term that would later be repeated in jest by a number of his castmates when referring to Ruffalo or Banner/Hulk—most notably a jab from Hiddleston when he said “it’ll be interesting to see how Loki gets Ruffalized.”
Ruffalo will have the distinction of being the only actor to physically play both Bruce Banner and the Hulk. To play him, he wore, what he called the most ridiculous pajamas ever—a motion capture suit that was a cross between a spotted gray jump suit and a Chinese checkers board .
The audience was given an exclusive look at a cut of the film where we find out that Banner hasn’t had an “incident” in two years and he doesn’t really like to discuss the other guy. When ScarJo’s Natasha Romanoff comes to recruit him, Banner is less than inclined, saying he’d be willing to help, but he’s not so sure about the other guy. When she insists that “No one is going to put you in a cage” Banner gets angry, slams the table and yells “Stop lying to me.” Romanoff immediately puts her gun up in defense because, seriously, who wouldn’t be scared of an angry Banner?
I should also note that before we were shown the clip we were asked to turn our cameras off and NOT record the preview footage. Ruffalo chimed in with “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” THAT got a lot of cheers.
One of the coolest moments of the night came when a kid attending the panel had one request, to have the cast say “Avengers Assemble” in unison. Ironically enough Hiddleston, who plays the villain, led the countdown and joined in. The fanboys/fangirls went nuts. The noise was deafening, sounding more like a rock concert than a film panel.
AVENGERS BRING ON THE FUNNY
Who knew a team of superheroes [and a villain] could be so darn hilarious. Gregg and Hiddleston recounted tales of their time in New Mexico where Chris Evans sent the entire cast a text with just the word “Assemble.” The group partied all night at some club and it was soooo good a few of them couldn’t remember what happened. Hiddleston, however, did remember the night very well and went on to tell the audience how he overheard Evans asking Hemsworth how he got a certain muscle on his arm to bulk up. According to Hiddleston, he turned around and there was Evans asking Hemsworth, “‘but how do you get that right here?’ and Hemsworth was like, ‘I don’t know mate, I just work out and stuff.'” (Hiddleston, btw, does some fantastic, dead-on impressions. What isn’t this guy good at?)
One female fan in particular was not happy with Evans, and made it known. He chose to keep his cap on the entire time, because of his hat hair—really, he blamed it on the hat hair. The problem was the cap prevented us from seeing the upper half of that beautiful face. So she yelled “take off the hat! Take it off!” Which started a “Take it off” chant. He didn’t though. Just brought it up slightly higher so we could briefly see his eyes and then he brought it back down again. Next time Evans, don’t hide the pretty!
One of the more funnier moments of the night came when Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) sang his version of the Avengers theme song. With lyrics like “We are called the avengers, called the avengers, called the avengers | We’re a dysfunctional family, dysfunctional family, dysfunctional family | Our muscles are bulky and we have a Hulky” the song is sure to be an internet hit.
Hiddleston, sporting a goatee for his upcoming role as Henry in BBC TV’s production of Henry IV/ BBC Film’s Henry V, also did some singing of his own, much to the delight of the Loki lovers in the audience, when he sang a bit of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The impromptu serenade was in response to an audience member pointing out how he reminded her of Gene Wilder—a compliment Hiddleston has received in the past, mostly because of his naturally blonde curly hair.
And when Chris Evans, at the start of the panel, said they genuinely all got along and really liked each other, he wasn’t lying. They really do like each other. Evans and Hiddleston, in particular, seem to get along well, play fighting with one another after Evans made fun of Tom’s Glow—a reference to all the love Hiddleston was receiving from the female fans.
THE LADIES LOVE LOKI
Apparently, I’m not the only one who had a thing for Loki. Among the cast, Hiddleston received the loudest cheers and screams from the crowd. One girl in particular wasn’t shy about wanting Loki to rule her. It wasn’t me. I behaved. Although, the man could rule me any day.
When asked who had the most difficult suit to get in and out of Hiddleston immediately raised his hand, saying Loki’s suit featured lots of heavy metal and leather—just like they like it in Asgard. The girls, of course, went wild. Evans too discussed his Captain America suit which he said proved problematic when having to go to the loo.
And when the Q&A section rolled around, most of the questions (and declarations of love) were for Tom. From praising his portrayal of Loki, to complimenting him on his looks, Hiddleston was clearly the man of the hour. So much so that Hardwick asked “does any one have a question that is not for Tom Hiddleston?” The next audience member up began with “I’m sorry I have to do this…but Tom…” haha The panel just had to laugh it off.
And why wouldn’t they? Everyone loves Tom Hiddleston. Seriously. EVERYONE.