Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:

2ND UPDATE: Marvel tonight put together the most high-profile panel of any Hollywood studio at this year’s Comic-Con. From left to right, "Iron Man" Robert Downey Jr., "Agent Phil Coulson" Clark Gregg, "Black Widow" Scarlett Johansson, "Thor" Chris Hemsworth, "Captain America" Chris Evans, "Nick Fury" Samuel L. Jackson, and the newest members "Hawkeye" Jeremy Renner and "Hulk" Mark Ruffalo  (TOLDJA! Marvel & Ruffalo Ink Hulk Deal), as well as The Avengers director Joss Whedon, and Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige who’s also the producer. It was indeed a big deal that the studio assembled "Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Agent Coulson together on screen and on stage for the first time. That prompted an insane reaction by assembled audience: massive standing ovation at end, and same when Jackson came out, and same for Whedon announcement. Also there was a good reaction for Thor stuff. Captain America didn’t give fans a lot, but still generated a decent crowd pop.

Here’s what happened at the very end of today’s panel: Auditorium goes dark. Samuel Jackson’s voice starts talking about earth’s mightiest heroes. A giant “A” onscreen becomes “AVENGERS.” Out comes Jackson, and introduces the team. Clark Gregg! Scarlett Johansson! Chris Hemsworth! Chris Evans! And Robert Downey Jr (who is clean shaven for once)! 

Downey, riffing on an earlier incident in the hall where someone got stabbed (delaying all the  panels), says, “Don’t anybody stab me until I’m done talking.” Says he watched INCEPTION recently, and thought it was the most ambitious movie he’d ever seen. Then he took a breath, and realized THE AVENGERS is more ambitious.

He calls out the new guys: Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. And Mark Ruffalo as the new Bruce Banner/Hulk.

Finally, director Joss Whedon, who says, “All my life I have had a dream. And it was not this good! I am going to blow it, just so you know.”

The cast stand together and pose for pictures. A great way to close out.

But at the start, Marvel’s Kevin Feige briefly says a few words about the challenges of combining different movie characters in one big universe, then rolls some footage: 

– An air-raid alert siren, over black.

– WII newsreel footage in B/W. Projected on a surface that’s scratched up metal. With red stripes.

– FDR talking about Pearl Harbor. We pull back to reveal the obvious… That this has all been projected on Captain America’s shield.

 – Cut to a silhouette that is unmistakably Cap. He turns around, and we see a glimpse of the costume which looks like a military uniform that has been augmented with patriotic-colored armor on top.

– Quick shot of him throwing his shield at the camera. End clip.

Out come Joe Johnston, Chris Evans, and Hugo Weaving. Johnston: “It’s a classic adventure love story with an edge.” Says he wants a tone like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which didn’t feel like it was made in WWII, but still feels modern in tone.

Evans says he’s trying to approach the role like every other character, because if he stops to realize how big the role is, his brain might melt into a panic attack.

Weaving, as Red Skull, patterned his Nazi accent on Werner Herzog and Klaus Maria Brandauer.

Johnston is a fan of the Brubaker Captain America, keeping certain visual elements from that but “going slightly more modern.” What we just saw was footage from costume tests – Chris hasn’t put on the real costume yet. The images leaked online are more cartoonish that the real thing.

Movie is all set in the 1940s.

Evans: “I love origin stories!” (But I don’t. I’m sick of them. I think many others are, too.) However, he likes that, with the crossover sequels, there can be more to do after the origin tale.

Weaving describes his Red Skull prosthetic as “a pretty extraordinaru creation.” Though he has worn it once, we don’t get to see it yet.

But we do get to see some footage they shot last week! Begin clip. Title tells us it’s Norway, May 1942. We’re in a castle, or maybe church. The walls shake. Viking helmets on mounts shake. Nazis bust through the wall, and head straight for a tomb that they try to open. They’re trying to do it before. Too late. In walks Weaving, looking a lot like the Red Skull, but still having a normal face. The priest (or whoever it is, but looks like a priest) tells Weaving: “What you seek is just a legend!”

“Then why make such an effort to conceal it?” (He sounds more like Christoph Waltz than Herzog.) He opens the tomb to reveal a knight’s corpse, and a crystal cube. “The jewel of Odin’s treasure room” (future Thor tie-in, folks). He drops it, and it shatters. A fake, presumably. He looks to the wall, and sees a carving of Yggdrasil, the tree of life in Norse mythology. Seeing a serpent at the base, he touches it and opens a secret compartment. We can’t see what’s in there, but it glows blue.

“You’ve never seen this, have you?” he asks the priest.

“It’s not for the eyes of ordinary men.”

“Exactly.” Cut to black. One note: Wolverine is still at Fox, and will not cameo in CAPTAIN AMERICA. There was a question about whether, because he was seen at D-Day in his own origin movie, he could run into Cap. But no, that can’t happen.

Now moderator can’t resist making the pun: “It’s hammer time!” THOR panel begins, and Kenneth Branagh comes out. He says he always loved Thor as a kid: the name, the power, the dysfunctional family.

Out come Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Kat Dennings (Darcy), Natalie Portman (Thor’s love interest Jane Foster), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor).

Hemsworth says Anthony Hopkins is one of the most humble and enthusiastic guys to work with. Would often turn to him on set and go, “God, isn’t this fun!”

Portman says she really wanted to do a big effects movie that emphasized character, and getting to do it with Branagh was a new way of approaching it, relative to STAR WARS. (In the politest way she can muster, she’s basically saying George Lucas didn’t direct her at all.)

Kat Dennings plays Portman’s “little helper gnome.”

Hiddleston says Loki is “both the agent of chaos, and the damaged younger brother. He’s a great liar, and it was fun playing with, can you tell if he’s lying?”

Gregg says that when he delivered the line in IRON MAN 2 about going to New Mexico, he had no idea what it meant, so he asked Feige. Feige said, “Oh God, nobody told you? THOR. Thor is in New Mexico.”

Time to show the clip. We put on 3D glasses. What ensued was probably the highlight of Comic-Con, footage wise. And I say this as someone who was VERY skeptical about Thor.

Lightning strikes. View from above of a makeshift multi-story construction built around the crater where the hammer fell. Coulson is interrogating Thor in silhouette, asking how he manhandled his men so easily.

Thor in a secured hospital bed, waking up and throwing people through walls.

Coulson: “Where did you receive your training?”

“Who are you?”

 Shot of the galaxy. Another world: Asgard.

It’s a world of golden buildings that looks like a cross between Naboo in the STAR WARS prequels (exteriors) and Dune or Mongo in the interiors. Odin has a metal eyepatch, and a helmet that makes him look like DC comics character Magog.

Odin is mad at Thor, his son. Reprimands him for opening other dimensions aand threatening the piece. Stone zombie things advance on camera.

Odin: “You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!”

Thor: “And you are an old man and a fool!”

Odin banishes him from Asgard. He wakes up in the New Mexico desert at night. “Oh no, this is Earth, isn’t it?” Portman’s Jane finds him.

Jane asks what happened last night. Thor replies, “Your ancestors called it magic, you call it science; I come from a place where they’re one and the same.”

Odin on his deathbed. Loki is new ruler of Asgard, and apparently a bad one.

Odin’s voiceover says that, when wielded by someone worthy, the hammer gives its user the power of Thor. Thor tries to pull it out of the crater, but can’t. He’s not yet worthy. More shots of the gods of Asgard, fighting. They look like action figures waiting to happen. A giant metal warrior – The Destroyer – falls from the sky, in front of Coulson and other agents. An agent asks, “Is that one of Stark’s?”

“I dunno, the guy never tells me anything.”

He asks The Destroyer to identify itself. It responds by opening up its face and shooting out fire.

Surprisingly, no “olde English” speech from Thor. No “Thee, Thou,” etc. This was a good choice. That always bothered me about Thor as a kid. Also, he doesn’t wear the winged helmet except in two shots.


Why no Donald Blake (Thor’s secret identity of sorts in original comics)? Branagh: “We have some Don Blake surprises in the movie.”

Portman’s character won’t be in THE AVENGERS, but will be in potential THOR sequels.

Edward Norton? Feige: “He’s not here. The panel’s not over yet.”