With Reporting by Kevin P. Sullivan
When Captain America throws his mighty shield next, it's going to be directly into the face of a snarling synthetic bad guy in desperate need of a beatdown.
The star-spangled super-soldier stands front and center as the leader of Earth's mightiest heroes in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," bringing Chris Evans back to the Marvel movie forefront for his fourth round as Cap. He's very comfortable in the role by now, even if it wasn't always that way.
"You know, with the first movie, you're terrified," Evans said on the "Age of Ultron" set in London. "But by 'Captain America 2' is when you start really hitting your stride and feeling like you're making some core progress with the character. At this point, I'm feeling really good."
Evans has plenty to feel good about, based on everything we've seen from "Age of Ultron" thus far. Read on for more of Evans' take on playing Captain America for the fourth time, and everything else we can expect from the "Avengers" sequel.
There's No I In TeamMarvel
But there is an "A," and it stands for Avengers. The superhero squad has officially assembled following the events of the first film; when they make their first big splash in "Age of Ultron," they're a fully-formed, well-oiled machine.
"The first 'Avengers,' it was growing pains, getting to know each other, finding trust," said Evans. "In this, we're a unit. We hit the ground running in this movie, and since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., we're forced to depend on one another, so right from the jump, there's a very clear understanding that this is a team and we operate as a team. We're going to win as a team, and we're going to lose as a team."
The Leader of the PackMarvel
The man wielding the shield is the man leading the Avengers. Evans revealed that Cap is very much living up to his title, taking on more of a leadership role within the motley crew of heroes. Turns out, leadership is a double-edged sword.
"There's no one else giving him orders, so he doesn't have to question the chain of command or anyone's motives," he said. "But it does mean he needs to rely on his team a lot more, so it's just kind of added a bit more tension to the actual dynamic of the Avengers."
Working with the WidowMarvel
Cap's chemistry with each of the individual Avengers is unique, but thanks to "Winter Soldier," there are few members of the squad he's closer to than Black Widow. But don't expect to see as much of Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff here as you saw in the "Captain America" sequel.
"They do really good stuff with Scarlet [Johansson] in this one with her personal stories, and the bond is definitely there — but, you know, in 'Captain 2,' we established it," he said. "We're not going to keep eating on that one. It's built. It's there. It's solid. The foundation is there. This movie begins with a connection between the two of us, but she has her own arc in the movie."
The New Kids on the BlockMarvel
Beyond the established Avengers, there are several other newcomers in play for "Age of Ultron," from super-siblings Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (played by Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to The Vision, the android played by Paul Bettany.
Bettany is already a known quantity within the Marvel movies as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., the A.I. system that guides Iron Man through all his trials and tribulations. How are J.A.R.V.I.S. and Vision linked? Evans wouldn't say, but he had nothing but high praise for Bettany's work.
"Paul Bettany, man," he said. "We just had our first scene with him. He's so good. He's so good. He is! You're gonna love him. He's gonna be amazing."
What's In Your Head?Marvel
Even if these newcomers become allies eventually, it certainly won't start that way for some. It's known that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch begin as adversaries for the Avengers, and the Witch in particular is someone who gives Earth's mightiest heroes a significant headache — quite literally.
"She gets in your head," said Evans. "That's her ability. Each one of us is kind of confronted with their own personal issues and demons, and that kind of creates personal struggles and conflicts for the team. I don't want to dive too deeply into each person's individual conflict, but it's… it's tense."
The Big Bad BotMarvel
Speaking of tense, it doesn't get much more stressful than going up against a gang of gargantuan robots led by Ultron, the cackling cybernetic nemesis played by James Spader. Evans promised that if fans were enthralled by Loki in the first "Avengers," they'll love Ultron.
"Look at what Hiddleston did with Loki," he said. "He made a real character, a real conflict. Loki could have a movie that has nothing to do with superheroes. It would just be, like, a really interesting character study that this guy needs a therapist. But it's deep, and that's what makes you give a s---. I think that's what we're gonna have with Ultron."
Avengers, Disassembled — And Reassembled?Marvel
Can Cap lead his allies to victory over Ultron? One assumes so, considering that there are still so many Marvel movies in the pipeline featuring everyone's favorite heroes. But that doesn't mean the Avengers will walk away intact. It's entirely possible, even rumored, that the team could fracture, to the point that certain members leave, and new heroes sign up.
For his part, Evans wouldn't confirm or deny any talk about an Avengers roster shakeup by the end of "Age of Ultron," except to say it's not out of the realm of possibility.
"I mean, it's Marvel," he said. "They're never going to do the same thing, you know what I mean? They're always going to try and make events and surprises that give audiences what's unexpected."
We expect nothing less.
Captain America assembled the Avengers in "Age of Ultron" on May 1.