taking the action from New Mexico to Cleveland, Ohio. Not as many of you out there probably know, unless you know me or read my bio (which I don’t blame you if you did not), I live about a half hour away from the Forrest City so I would be remiss if I failed to venture down to the shooting at least for one day. So early Friday morning, my best friend and I grabbed our cameras and binoculars and ventured down to join the legion of fanboys, gawkers and paparazzi to see if we could steal a glance at one of 2012’s most anticipated films.
NOTE: There may be mild spoilers. I do not think anything that I disclose in this piece will ruin anything, but if you are trying to block yourself off from everything Avengers-related, you may not want to read ahead.
We arrived downtown at around 7:10 am, just as the crew was still setting everything up. As Dave (my friend) had been to some of the shooting earlier in the week, he was more versed on where the shooting took place and guided us there. Now, as with any film shoot, the first few hours are the most chaotic. With the crew setting up what they need and the grogginess of early morning, things things tend to be a little crazy.
And this is how Dave and I got to stand on the set of The Avengers.
We stood in the Styrofoam ruins of what was to double as a New York City street for what seemed like an eternity, but in all honesty was probably only around three minutes maximum. If you ever have ever felt like you were about to explode from an adrenaline overdose at any given second, imagine that times a hundred, and you might be close to how I felt. I felt like I was about to throw up it was thatintense.
It was that sensation, coupled with the looming sense that we would be discovered, that compelled us to get the Hell out while we were still ahead. As we left, we were caught by what I assume was a P.A. who asked us what we were doing. We claimed to be extras, to which he responded curtly, “Get to holding”. After forgetting to breath for about half a minute, we went to the Craft Service dinning hall to calm down and regain composure.
It was at this point that we realized that even if we wanted to go to the extras were, that would require knowing where to go. This created a conundrum that eventually resulted the two of us standing in an alley staring at each other, dumbfounded for probably twenty minutes. Thankfully, the Fates were kind and we stumbled across an acquaintance of Dave’s from his work, who had been down to watch the shooting the whole week, and thus had the most valuable currency on the face of the planet: Information. He knew the entire layout of the set and where everything was, including where Holding was and where Base Camp (the area where the actors’ trailers are parked). He had even gotten chummy with a few of the P.A.s, who would give him updates about what was going on on-set.
Our new party member also wisely talked us out of our notion that we could find our way to Holding, saying that it was heavily secured and it would be a waste of our time. We decided to take the show on the road and observe the shooting from various locations and rooftops. We ran into various interesting people, and even a few extras from earlier days’ shoots, who told as much as they could about their experience, which was pretty much what you would expect from an extra: They did not see any of the big names, the just did their part and were sent back to Holding and made decent enough money after a long day’s work. Like I said, par for the course for extras.
Now to the good stuff: The actual shooting. If you have never been on or seen how a film shoot works, there is a lot of
time in between, as the rigs and equipment need to be in the right place, actors need rehearsals, etc. But in the eight-plus hours I was there, I think I saw about three different scenes getting shot. The first was Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor), the only two main cast on set at the time of my visit, fighting back-to-back again several actors in motion capture suits, while the occasional explosion went off on the other end of the set. This was the most awesome scene I saw get shot, as Hemsworth and Evans fended off the mo-caps, at one point both actors throwing their respective weapons to their stunt-doubles who would then toss them back. If you have not seen the videos that are coming out from the day’s shoot, Hemsworth’s getup looks very similar to the Asgardian armor he wore in Thor, but slightly modified. As for Evans, he was wearing the new Cap suit that everyone saw in the teaser after Captain America: The First Avenger, the whole time not wearing the mask.
The second scene that I saw appeared to be three men in motion capture suits doing military maneuvers on the bed of a truck rig. Two of the actors looked like they were holding pikes that featured a small, U-shaped fork on the tip. The other, which could have very well had the same weapons as the others, held his weapon as if it were a rifle. They did several takes of just those three, and since I was on the other end of the set at the time, I could not get an entirely clear view of what was occurring. Feel free to speculate who these actors were and what they were doing because, even though I have my own theories, I still have no clue.
The final scene I saw filmed was a short sequence in which Thor saves Cap’s ass. Cap is crouching on the ground,
obviously in pain, and Thor throws Mjolnir at a non-existent (i.e. CGI) enemy. After a moment, he turns and he helps Captain America up, who gingerly regains his footing before the cut. It is also worth noting every now and then Chris Evan’s stunt double could be seen jumping onto cars. Whether he was doing that for s specific purpose or if he was doing it for fun I am not certain, but I like to think he was doing it for giggles. And to confuse the gawkers who mistook him for Evans.
Outside of the shooting, the only other thing I feel that is worth mentioning is that both Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth seem like very nice men. My friends and I managed to head over to base camp when both actors were about to get driven back to the set. As Hemsworth was heading to his SUV, Dave shouted “Chris Hemsworth, you are the man!”. Hemsworth stopped, looked over to my friend and gave him a smile (which Dave described as “…the grin he gives Kat Dennings when she takes his picture in Thor…”) and gave him a thumbs-up. As for Evans, as he entered the car he looked out to see the small crowd hanging around and saw me wave to him, to which he smiled and reciprocated. This could just be fanboy bias, but it was very classy of both actors and put an exclamation point on an already incredible day in downtown Cleveland.
Eight and a half hours after arriving downtown, taking in the madness of making a $250 million dollar film and getting a mild sunburn it was time to pack it up and head home. Exhausted, excited and content to get the slightest taste of what is in store for audiences on May 4th, 2012. I still have no clue what to expect, but what I do know is this: This film is in capable hands, and they are working hard to give fans exactly what they have been waiting for since Iron Man.
If you are interested in seeing the some of the photos that were taken on the various shoots that my friends and I took during our adventures in Cleveland, click here to go to the gallery. While most are just of setting dressings and the sets itself, there are a few good shots of Chris Evans’ stunt double in the Captain America suit, and a few ‘Where’s Waldo?’-esque photos that do feature Hemsworth and Evans. Apologies in advance that they are not the best photos, but I did the best I could with two digital cameras and being forced to stay in sectioned off areas of the street. All pictures featured were taken by Kevin McDaniel, David Lewton and Mary Beth Lewton.