New featurette for ‘Avengers’ offers more on Whedon’s take on the characters

We’re at that point in the publicity campaign for “The Avengers” where they kick into high gear, and we start to see footage in all sorts of strange places.

The recent trailers offered up some big moments, and when I was speaking to writer/director Joss Whedon after the live-chat we did at SXSW for “The Cabin In The Woods,” we discussed the decision to put that amazing shot of The Hulk catching Iron Man into the trailer.

“That comes late in the film,” Whedon said, admitting that he wasn’t sure about including the image at first.  “But Marvel tested it and they told me that whenever they included that shot in the trailer, the scores went crazy.”  Based on the reaction online, I’d believe it.  In my own house, I can tell you that the focus group consisting of my wife and my two sons were 100% enthusiastic about that image and the trailer as a whole.

The thing that I worry about at this point in the release of a giant blockbuster is that the campaign will start to cough up things I’d rather see in the theater in the context of the finished film.  As other promotional partners start to put things out, that’s a distinct possibility.  Today, for example, Norton Security released a behind-the-scenes featurette about the film, built around a short interview with Whedon.

Here’s the featurette:

It cracks me up to see Norton’s brand all over that.  I’m guessing there’s a scene in the movie where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) make sure they’ve got the latest update of Norton installed on the Helicarrier’s mainframe to keep the alien invaders from messing around with the ship’s software.

What makes me happy about this featurette is listening to the way Whedon talks about the dynamics between these characters.  There’s a line in the new trailer in which Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) says “This isn’t a team… it’s a time bomb.”  That perfectly captures what I hope the film focuses on, the insane idea of putting this many giant personalities in the same place and asking them to somehow come together as a cohesive unit.  If Whedon gets that right, it’s more important than all the special effects or the action scenes in the world.

“The Avengers” arrives in theaters May 4, 2012.