Iron Man likes to keep it fresh

In Singapore to promote their new Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War, are (from far left) executive producer Trinh Tran, cast members Robert Downey Jr, Karen Gillan and Benedict Cumberbatch, and director Joe Russo.
In Singapore to promote their new Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War, are (from left) executive producer Trinh Tran, cast members Robert Downey Jr, Karen Gillan and Benedict Cumberbatch, and director Joe Russo.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Robert Downey Jr, who plays the superhero in the Marvel franchise, says the trick to keeping audiences interested is to never repeat something that has worked well

An average of one or two new Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been released each year over the last decade, and at least another 14 are in the works.

So how does the franchise keep audiences interested?

The trick, says actor Robert Downey Jr, is never to repeat something, even if it has proven to be successful in the past.

The 53-year-old, who plays the hugely popular superhero Iron Man in the franchise, told regional media at a press conference at Marina Bay Sands yesterday morning: "I read in some magazine that the No. 1 fan-voted moment was the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War (2016) because there are so many superheroes at once.

"But people don't want a repeat of what's worked well. The challenge this time was how do we expand something without repeating something that has been executed well before. It's the anti-process, if you will. Because usually, if something works, you just keep doing that."

The American actor was fielding interviews in Singapore alongside British star Benedict Cumberbatch and Scottish actress Karen Gillan - who play superhero characters Doctor Strange and Nebula respectively - to promote their highly anticipated new Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War.

He also handed out goodie bags to 37 child beneficiaries of the charity Make A Wish Foundation, and led them in a make-believe oath to turn them into little superheroes.

The film's director, Joe Russo, was also present - his second time promoting a film here after his last visit in 2016 with the cast of Captain America: Civil War.

Russo, 46, got the room of journalists cheering when he joked that he had stopped by the last time only as a favour to Chris Evans, the actor who plays Captain America.

In the films, Captain America and Iron Man are at odds with each other.

The director said: "All along, I have supported Team Iron Man, honestly. I was here (the last time) with Team Cap as a favour to Chris.

"But I absolutely love Singapore. The fans are the best in the world. We're all very happy to be here."

There is immense hype over Avengers: Infinity War as the movie gathers the most Marvel superheroes in the same project than ever before. Besides the Avengers superheroes, Guardians Of The Galaxy superheroes are also added to the mix for the first time.

As much fun as that will be for fans, putting the movie together was a massive undertaking for the director and producers.

Cumberbatch, 41, says: "The director and producers are the ones with superpowers. The line producers who worked out all of our schedules to do the film - it's all a small miracle."

Russo says: "Logistically, this was the most complicated movie to put together in history. We shut down Hollywood for a year because we had every actor working in the business scheduled somewhere in the movie."

One superhero is, however, starkly missing from all the movie trailers as well as the character posters released so far - Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner.

Russo did not confirm whether he would indeed be absent in the new film, but would only say that the character is "not forgotten".

He says: "We did not forget the twice-nominated Renner - and those are Oscars nominations, by the way. We have a really interesting story cooked up for Hawkeye, so I would say, patience is a virtue. We did not forget Hawkeye."

Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars can do so at a red-carpet event at Marina Bay Sands this evening. Admission is free, but registration, which must be done in person, is required for wristbands to gain entry. Doors at Sands Expo & Convention Centre's Hall B will open for queues at 7am today.

• Avengers: Infinity War opens in Singapore on April 25.

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2018, with the headline 'Iron Man likes to keep it fresh'. Print Edition | Subscribe