[INTERVIEW] Humor is the best defense at the ‘AVENGERS: ENDGAME’ press conference

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(back L-R) Karen Gillan, Paul Rudd, Scarlett Johansson, President of Marvel Studios/Producer Kevin Feige, Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle and Chris Hemsworth, (front L-R) Danai Gurira, Jeremy Renner, Director Anthony Russo, Chris Evans, Director Joe Russo, Brie Larson and Mark Ruffalo speak onstage during Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” Global Junket Press Conference.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

22 films and over ten years’ time have led to the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast and crew learning one crucial lesson: don’t spoil anything. Every detail is sacred. Never has this been more vital than it is for the success of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, the follow-up feature to the cataclysmic superhero event (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR) that left us hanging precariously off the edge of their seats. With so many fans pouring over the minutiae shown in the teasers, trailers, TV ads and posters, everyone in the know are doing their best to keep the film’s secrets just that – at least until its world premiere.

At the Jon Favreau-moderated Los Angeles press conference today, instead of going into a more in depth dissection of the movie they’re promoting, key members of the ENDGAME cast, producer Kevin Feige and directors Joe and Anthony Russo decided it best to have some fun and say as little as possible. After the curtain concealing the deus dropped, revealing our surprise panel of performers arranged in their INFINITY WAR assigned seating (with empty seats representing the fallen), hijinks and hilarity ensued in their attempts to keep the secrets safe.

Co-director Joe Russo was first to drop the, “I’m sorry I can’t talk about that,” when asked what he hopes audiences will walk away with this one feeling. Later, when asked if he could choose one word to summarize the film, he responded with a simple, “cathartic.”

Karen Gillan did a little creative backtracking when she potentially let it slip that her character, Nebula, might be facing down her dad, Thanos. “I don’t know if she will. Maybe she won’t. I’m not saying anything. I just got really nervous.”

“I’m terrified to say anything,” Rudd candidly stated about what we would see from Ant-Man in this. “I did see the trailers so I know I’m in it.” Brie Larson wasn’t sure how much she could say about how Captain Marvel fits in with the established team. “This is like a test like in WILLY WONKA,” she said. “I’m just super excited for this to come out so I can talk about it. I want to be able to talk about my experience, which I haven’t been able to do for a very long time.”

Chris Evans (front) and Scarlett Johansson speak onstage during Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” Global Junket Press Conference.

Robert Downey Jr. saw an opening to get in some of his practically trademark ability at question deflection during a question meant for Chris Evans about the Captain America we see in ENDGAME. “I can give broad strokes. The completion of the arc, I guess that’s safe to say. This movie provides a kind of ending…” said Evans, until he was vocally buzzed by Downey Jr. “Let’s talk about Paul Rudd’s 50th birthday,” Downey Jr. quipped. Evans countered, “As we should.” Evans attempted to continue his response, however, Downey Jr. jumped in again, jokingly scolding “But you couldn’t make it to Rudd’s birthday last night?” An on-the-spot Evans said, “It was a long day yesterday. Sorry Paul. At least I texted.”

At one point, the talk pivoted to Boggle, a game the cast played on set. Larson briefly and slyly spoke about her prowess at the game. Yet Don Cheadle got the mic, he decided to challenge Larson on her skills. “To consistently win at Boggle…. as good as you think you are.” Evans definitively stated, “No one can beat Don. Mark Ruffalo, would play the word asbestos. He had nothing else – just asbestos.” Ruffalo asked Evans, “What would you rate me as a Boggle player?” “Not good,” countered Evans.

Brie Larson and Robert Downey Jr. speak onstage during Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” Global Junket Press Conference.

Nevertheless, the award for biggest laugh at the press conference was set up by Ruffalo when responding to a question about continuing to see his friendship grow with these actors. “This is the closest thing to continuity, watching people grow up and have children, get married, and then divorced, and then get re-married.” Without missing a beat, Scarlett Johansson wryly retorted, “All right. Well, I….”

AVENGERS: ENDGAME opens on April 26.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.