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OCT
15
3 YEARS

'Avengers' Producer Hints at Sequel at New York Comic-Con

Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Cobie Smulders meet fans, screen footage Saturday.

Loki
Marvel

NEW YORK -- Cast members of the upcoming Marvel superheroes movie The Avengers, along with producer Kevin Feige, drew much applause and loud cheers here at New York Comic-Con Saturday evening as they showed new footage and answered fans' questions.

Passionate fan boys and girls greeted and feted Chris Evans (Captain America), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill) and surprise guest Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner aka The Hulk).

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Feige told fans that Marvel is currently already working on Iron Man 3, which is in pre-production and which he said "will be the first of what we sort of refer to as phase two of this...saga that will culminate, God willing, in Avengers 2."

In what organizers said was its first-ever event at the New York gathering, Marvel Studios also debuted new footage that included an extended scene featuring Ruffalo's Banner as he meets Scarlett Johansson's character Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. The new footage also included a range of snippets with the other protagonists, such as a scene in which Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark aka Iron Man tells Loki that he has annoyed a range of his superhero colleagues.

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The trailer for The Avengers, which came out earlier in the week, was downloaded more than 10 million times within 24 hours.

In the new scene with Ruffalo and Johansson, Romanoff tells Banner -- after a little girl lures him to a meeting spot inside an abandoned building-- that Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency need his help.

It is "just you and me," Romanoff tells Banner. She also says that Banner has been "without an incident for two years -- I don't think you want to break that streak."

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Banner gets upset for a moment, but contains his rage. Romanoff then puts down a gun she had drawn quickly and says into a microphone: "Stand down!"

The scene then cuts to the outside of the building, revealing armed men who were standing by after all in case she needed help.

Feige said during the Saturday panel that Avengers director Joss Whedon is currently working on the movie in the edit room. Asked by a fan, he said it wasn't clear yet how long it would be.

Another fan wanted to know if the Avengers would follow the tradition of recent Marvel movies and include a scene hinting at the comany's next superhero film.

"It's a nice tradition, and I like traditions, so I think we'll keep that up," Feige responded.

Hiddleston, who got more questions from fans than anyone else on the panel, said he had a great time on the film. "It's thrilling for me to be the only bad guy in a group of the greatest superheroes in the world played by some of the best actors in the world," he said.

Evans said it was "nerve-wracking going into a project like this" because of the great talent and everyone's hope to get along, particularly since Avengers "could be a franchise."

"It was extremely intimidating," echoed Smulder. Working with Whedon, a friend of hers, was one of the most exciting things about the project, she added.

"This is my first Con," Smulder admitted. "This is the best way to be introduced to Comic-Con."

Evans said that while he loves the Captain America suit, it's nice to shoot scenes without it. Other stars also said it takes a lot of work and discipline to get into their suits for shoots.

Asked about the various men who have played his character in the past, Ruffalo said he built on the great work of such men as Bill Bixby, Eric Bana and Ed Norton, but tried to give his character a more mature edge.

"I had to pay homage, but then I had to 'Ruffalize' it," he quipped in a line that some of his stars later harked back on.

He also highlighted that he actually got to play both Bruce Banner and the Hulk given that the film did not use an all-CGI Hulk.

Ruffalo also quipped that Bruce Banner was this generation's Hamlet. "We're all going to get a chance at the part," he said.

One young fan got the actors to jointly say the famous line "Avengers assemble!"

"Assemble" was also the text of a text message that Evans sent his co-stars one day when everyone was in the same city, the panel revealed. Asked what happened that evening, Evans quipped that none of the stars remembers.

Asked about their favorite superheroes, male and female, Feige mentioned the Hulk, Ruffalo said Hulk and the Black Widow, Smulders and Evans mentioned Iron Man, and Hiddleston gave a shout-out to his character's brother Thor.

Keeping the crowd entertained in between other questions, Gregg sang his version of the Avengers theme song to much applause. It included a rhyme that went from the line "we have muscles so bulky" to one that said the superhero had "Hulky."

Gregg also drew many laughs when asked about his experience on the film. He said when he walked into a room with the assembled Avengers for the first time, "I kind of felt it was the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The Avengers is scheduled for a May 4, 2012 release.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai