Inside 'The Avengers': 10 Things You Might Have Missed
If you didn't see "The Avengers" in its opening weekend, you might have been the only one: the superhero mash-up scored the biggest opening weekend ever with an estimated $200.3 million in its first three days. The story of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and co. trying to save the world from an evil alien army is a smashing crowd-pleaser, complete with big explosions, confusing scientific jargon and winks toward the Marvel diehards.
While the whizz-bang special effects and snappy screenplay of "The Avengers" have lit up many a multiplex in its opening weekend, a few of the most interesting cameos, voiceovers and general nuances may have slipped by its millions of onlookers. Check out these 10 fun facts about "The Avengers" -- WARNING: major spoilers ahead!
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1. Mark Ruffalo is the third movie Hulk in the last 10 years.You thought Andrew Garfield quickly replacing Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man was bad? Just look at the film history of Dr. Bruce Banner, one of Marvel's most iconic characters who happens to turn into a big, burly green guy when he gets ticked off. Australian star Eric Bana crashed U.S. shores in 2003 in Ang Lee's "Hulk," and five years later Edward Norton picked him up in "The Incredible Hulk." Negotiations with Norton for "The Avengers" stalled, so in stepped Ruffalo, a veteran of quieter indie flicks like "You Can Count on Me" and "The Kids Are All Right." Will another actor play the Hulk in "Avengers 2"? With the character's track record, anything can happen.
2. Nifty voiceover work: the gruff, growling vocals of the Hulk were actually provided by an uncredited Lou Ferrigno, who played the green guy in 70s TV series "The Incredible Hulk" and beat up Jason Segel for calling him 'Hulk' in "I Love You, Man." Meanwhile, U.K. vet Paul Bettany ("A Beautiful Mind," "Priest") reprised his role as Jarvis, the computer program that helps Iron Man navigate through his tougher physical demands, as he did in "Iron Man" and its sequel.
3. Hemsworth Domination: 28-year-old Aussie Chris Hemsworth, who returned as Thor for "The Avengers" after headlining in his own comic book vehicle last year, just starred in the movie with the top-grossing opening weekend of 2012. And who was featured in the movie with the second-highest debut weekend of the year? None other than his 22-year-old brother, Liam Hemsworth, who played Gale Hawthorne in the big-screen adaptation of "The Hunger Games."
4. In one of the scenes in the Avengers' high-tech aircraft, Tony Stark is shown wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt. Sabbath, of course, were the group behind the rock classic "Iron Man." Rock on, Mr. Stark.
5. Two inspired cameos from great, old dudes: Harry Dean Stanton of "Repo Man" fame plays the security guard who stumbles upon a naked, recently-crash-landed Bruce Banner and promptly gives the Hulk his pants back. And Marvel president Stan Lee makes his expected cameo in the waning minutes of the film, to tongue-in-cheekily blow off the thought of real-life superheroes during a news segment.
6. "The Avengers" is only director Joss Whedon's second feature film and first flick in seven years, following the underappreciated 2005 film "Serenity." But don't call the man inexperienced: Whedon has been appealing to thoughtful nerds for years, as the creator of the beloved "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" TV series and cult classic space cowboy series "Firefly," which, incidentally, spawned "Serenity." If "The Avengers" isn't enough to satisfy your Whedon craving at the multiplex, check out the widely championed horror flick "The Cabin in the Woods" which was released in April and co-written by the director.
7. Not sure why everyone gets so bummed out when (again: major spoiler alert) Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is killed by Loki? Neither were we. After all, Coulson is just a pleasant dude who delivers classified information and enjoys vintage trading cards. However, actor Clark Gregg has been portraying Agent Coulson over the course of five years, first in 2008's "Iron Man" and then in "Iron Man 2" and "Thor." He even voices Agent Coulson in the "Ultimate Spider-Man" TV series. So, pour one out for the character that no one really goes to the movie to see, but is an integral piece of support nonetheless.
8. After a few credits run at the end of the film, a secret scene in space goes down between "The Other" and a mysterious new villain with a purple face who calls humankind "unruly" and flashes a sinister grin before the scene cuts out. The Marvel film tradition of previewing upcoming adaptations in teaser scenes is a storied one -- "Iron Man" included a glimpse of Nick Fury, "Iron Man 2" teased "Thor," etc. -- but usually, the clues are more revealing. Who is this purple people hater, and why should we care enough to fear his wrath? According to many a fan site and movie blog, the new villain is Thanos, an all-powerful alien who has a thing for mass destruction. It's still unclear whether he'll be featured in the sequel to "The Avengers" or to that of "Thor," but get ready for more Thanos lighting up the Marvel movie universe either way.
9. The song that plays over the end credits is "Live To Rise," from Seattle grunge survivors Soundgarden. The lead single from the "Avengers" soundtrack is actually Soundgarden's first new song to be released in a whopping 15 years, and previews their long-awaited first album of fresh material since 1996's "Down on the Upside," due out this fall. It's a fitting choice for the soundtrack: Soundgarden broke up in 1997 and its members subsequently pursued other projects (frontman Chris Cornell became the singer for Audioslave), but, like a legion of superheroes, the group reformed in 2010 to save the world from boring guitar riffs and humdrum vocals.
10. If you left the theater before all of "The Avengers'" credits rolled -- you missed another scene! Remember when Iron Man is talking about getting some shawarma after ridding New York City of extraterrestrial assholes? The tossed-off suggestion actually comes to fruition during the final credits, as Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye all take a breather and chow down. No one says anything, and Thor takes a mighty bite of a pita. Genius!