The Crew Of THE AVENGERS Look Back On The Explosive Scenes Filmed In Cleveland

The Crew Of THE AVENGERS Look Back On The Explosive Scenes Filmed In Cleveland

Joss Whedon and the producers of the film look back on setting epic action sequences on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland, explaining how they made it as authentic as possible, even drafting in 25 members of the Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion.

One of the biggest set pieces in The Avengers is the massive battle in New York City which pits the team against Loki's mysterious alien army. However, Marvel Studios couldn't film the destruction of 42nd Street in the actual Big Apple and instead decided to use East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland in order to pull of the sequence. Even so, this was still no easy task. "When we presented our plan to the city of Cleveland, we brought a rendering that showed a picture of the street with the massive destruction and we said, ‘This is what we need to accomplish,’" recalls producer Louis D’Esposito. "It was quite daunting at first when you look at it and the collective reaction in the room was silence, then one word, ‘Wow.’ But then we took them through it one step at a time and showed how we would protect the streets and storefronts. They were very cooperative and let us do what we needed to do from day one."

"We couldn’t thank the Governor’s office, the Mayor’s office and film commissioner Ivan Schwartz enough, because without all of their support and coordinated efforts, we never could have attempted such a massive setup on several downtown city blocks," says Patricia Whitcher. "The city was extremely accommodating, providing everything we needed. It was a pleasure to shoot there." Production designer James Chinlund continues, "It was great working with the city of Cleveland and they were very helpful. It was a huge advantage shooting in the downtown area, because it gave us all this texture to start with. Visually East 9th Street is a great-looking street and its footprint is a virtual dead match for New York’s 42nd Street."

Kevin Feige explains, "When you’re combining visual effects with a location, there has to be a seamless connection between the two. We like to take real structures and obviously real cars and any real element that we can use and then enhance it with visual effects. We don’t want the visual effects team to lead and that’s our philosophy. The ideal is 100% real and then the compromises are everything after that. James Chinlund did a great job designing the street because there is very little that we will have to enhance with visual effects."

Director Joss Whedon describes the scene that the crew put so much work into creating for the big screen. "It starts out with a frozen moment, where the people of New York are confronted with unrecognizable evil forces for the first time, so they’ve all stopped their cars and gotten out to figure out what’s going on,” says the director. “Then all of a sudden there is a huge strafing run, where they come down and start blowing up the street. There are cars exploding and flipping, people running for their lives and then a battle ensues between The Avengers and the evil forces. I don’t remember writing anything quite as big as what we shot. I don’t think anybody was left alive, including ‘The Avengers,’ so that might turn out to be a problem later on. It was a pretty exciting day. We ran about 15 cameras, flipped and exploded countless cars; it was just an orgy of destruction. This is not the kind of thing I usually do, but we managed to get some humanity in the middle of it as well. So it’s not just all spectacle, but my God, what a spectacle it was." Jeremy Latcham adds, "At Marvel, Dan Sudick is the gold standard when it comes to special effects. He’s been with us since ‘Iron Man’ and there are two things you want to accomplish when shooting a scene like this, the first is for it to be a spectacle that can be seamlessly integrated with visual effects and the other is for it to be done safely. With Dan you get the best of both worlds as he always delivers the spectacle that’s required and we can sleep at night knowing that it’s going to be taken care of and everyone will be safe."

As a part of the aftermath, Joss Whedon called in 25 members of the Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion. The troops were brought in to add a layer of authenticity and give the combat scenes "great realism," says Lt. Col. John Clearwater, deputy director for OCPA-LA (U.S. Army, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs). "It’s a tribute to the U.S. Army Reserves and the veteran 391st MP Battalion. They rocked the streets of Cleveland with their 50-caliber machine guns and Mark-19s. The film crew was blown away by their firepower and teamwork." Whedon elaborates, "I was really happy that I was able to get them into the film. It’s a small part, but it adds so much to a scene when you have the real thing. They know how to carry and shoot a gun and take over a street that is being attacked and they did a fantastic job."

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Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Ramanoff/Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Tom Hiddleston as Loki

RELEASE DATE: April 26th, 2012. (UK) May 4th, 2012. (US)

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