With Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron released on Blu-ray and DVD this week, we spoke to Robert Downey Jr. about playing the group’s unofficial leader, Iron Man…
What do you hope the audience gains from watching Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron? I hope people say ‘Wow’ after they see this film. When you have a big movie like this, there are big expectations. I hope that audiences feel as good about this as they did when they came and saw the third Iron Man. And the same as they did when they saw the most recent Captain America and Thor. This movie is incredibly fun and thoughtful – and it has great themes. There is also a whole bunch of new characters and it really raises the bar. That’s when I know it has my seal of approval.
Where is Tony Stark when Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron opens? And how would you describe his relationship with The Avengers now? When the movie starts, Tony is hosting The Avengers in his tower in New York. He’s working on a system that will make it so The Avengers don’t have to do what they’ve been doing all along, which purportedly should be the end game.
Captain America appears to be the leader of The Avengers in Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Is Tony Stark happy about that? There are really only two relationships in Tony’s life that he’s been willing to assume a lower status. One is with Pepper Potts, obviously. And the other is with Captain America.
Why did he decide to let Captain America take charge? Tony believes whoever does the job best should probably do that job. And while Tony brings a lot to the table, Captain America has the most experience. No one’s more battle seasoned than Captain America.
Why does Tony Stark care for The Avengers so much in the movie? In the past, he has been a pretty selfish guy… By having them all together, he feels like it allows him to still be the engineer and the mechanic who wants to help them all do things a little bit better. It’s like buying a football team and then wanting to redo their uniforms and give them better equipment and make them stronger, faster and safer on the field.
Tony Stark spent a lot of money upgrading Stark Tower to become The Avengers Tower in the new movie. Where does he get all this money? I don’t know of anyone in the history of any Super Hero franchise who seems never to run out of money! Tony’s footing the bill and he can swing it, obviously. Pepper has taken over the business largely, so everything’s going to be a little more stable than when daddy was just writing checks.
What was it like to wander around the set of the Avengers Tower? When I walked onto the set for the first time, I said, ‘Wow, this is really impressive.” But then, as we went along, somehow it wasn’t factored in what would happen when all of the candy glass from the action sequences got ground into the floor.
Did it become difficult to walk around the set? It basically became a futuristic ice rink that was almost impossible to navigate. The floors looked so beautiful, but they were so slippery that it added unforeseen amount of excitement and danger to walking three steps. It also made everyone a much better dancer.
Every Marvel movie brings something new and different to its audience. What does Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron bring to the world this time? Having new people in the cast is great. We now have Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. We have Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis all along, but now he gets to do something new with a character named Vision. And I think James Spader was a brilliant piece of casting for Ultron.
What’s it like to work with James Spader? There are a lot of full circles going on with this movie. Probably the most personal one is James Spader. He was the first person I saw when I came to Los Angeles and he really took me under his wing. He’s just a couple years older than me, but I think it was a very inspired casting choice [to have him in the movie]. Not just because he’s on everyone’s lips and minds again, but he really is a bit of an American treasure. I’ve certainly borrowed from his style more than a few times over the years.
What was it like to have Paul Bettany on the set of the movie this time? Another great full circle moment in this film is Paul Bettany coming in as Vision. Paul’s been essentially with me from the beginning and it was so nice to actually get him on set instead of at the premieres. He’s an amazing actor and it’s a fantastic character.
What made you perfect for the role of Tony Stark? And how did you create the character in the first place? It was just this perfect storm of feeling like I could create the character within the guidelines of what he was always supposed to be. I always thought he was so cool when I read the comic books. I thought, ‘Let’s just keep it human and make sure there’s enough wit in there so people don’t think he’s a stiff. If I do that, it will work out alright.’
How excited were you to return to the Marvel universe with another Avengers movie? I read Joss Whedon’s script and I said, “I think this is great.” Kevin Feige [the president of Marvel Studios] said, “You never say that. You can’t mean that.” I said, “Yeah, I think it’s great. Let’s go shoot it.”
What did you like about the script? What I loved about this script was the further development of the complexities of the relationship between all The Avengers. I loved that Thor has a beef with me and then eventually has to give in and say I’m right. Joss created some great new situations for Tony to be in. So, rather than digging my heels and trying to rewrite every scene – to make them even better – I just showed up, and it turned out great.
What is it about the dynamic between you and Joss Whedon that works so well? It’s a respect. Every director-actor relationship is so different. Joss is really in control and he likes to have authorship over things. For me, it was about being a little more receptive. In some ways, it makes the job easier because he has it figured out already. It’s been great.