|14 Avengers: Age of Ultron – Props|
In property master Barry Gibbs’ first meeting with director Joss Whedon, Whedon expressed his desire to have The Avengers props and weaponry tweaked. “Joss wanted it as if Tony Stark or Stark Industries had applied new technologies to the old weapons,” says Gibbs. “So even though there’s nothing wrong with the old ones, he’s just taken them to another level, which has affected items like Cap’s shield, Hawkeye’s bow and some of the weaponry with Black Widow.”
Captain America’s shield had a particularly significant upgrade—it now can be called back to him, much like Iron Man’s suits. Gibbs explains: “Instead of having two handles in the back, it’s got a magnetic element that clips onto the gauntlet, which kind of makes it quite cool. There are a couple of scenes in the movie where Cap throws his arm up and calls the shield back exactly the same as Iron Man when he calls his gauntlet in.”
Hawkeye’s archery equipment also had some exciting changes. “We altered the bow initially,” says Gibbs. “Everyone loved the bow but being black it just goes into the background, so we’ve done a very subdued maroon which blends in with the costume. One of our suppliers outfitted us with their latest bows and we were able to take those and they very kindly allowed us to alter them in the same style, so Hawkeye does exactly the same thing: carries a small bow, flicks it out and it becomes a larger version. We’ve streamlined it a little bit and added a few more features. Now it has an infrared-sighting device and a sonic-sighting device on it but it still retains the features of the buttons that dial in which arrow tip comes in.”
Explaining what’s new with Hawkeye’s quiver this time around, Jeremy Latcham offers, “One of the other cool things we changed is Hawkeye’s quiver, which is more automated and faster loading and can hold nine arrows. This allows for him to be able to grab an arrow really quickly because it’s always loading one up. It is new technology that Tony’s given him and we’re always playing the game of wanting to stretch how many arrows he can carry at one time to make sure that we make it credible.”
All of the arrow tips are new for Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” “We’ve got regular arrows, ballistic arrows, explosive, acid-tipped, a net arrow and a mind-warping arrow,” informs Gibbs.
Gibbs and his team solicit feedback from the actors to see if things work, or if they prefer lighter, heavier or weighted-for-balance weaponry. Gibbs relates: “For example, with Jeremy we changed the bow for him because there was a sequence where he wanted to fight and although it’s an aluminum frame, we changed that so we had a rubber section so as he flipped it around it didn’t break his wrist.”
Chris Evans likes to use the lightest version of Captain America’s shield, so that it doesn’t interfere with his way of acting. “We have to try and juggle having something that’s perhaps a soft rubber but is heavier, which he doesn’t like, to a biscuit foam which he does like but it isn’t durable,” says Gibbs. “So there are various options on that.” In total there are five versions of Captain America’s shield required for filming: a hero, a lightweight hero, a durable, a biscuit foam and a stunt rubber.
Black Widow sports new fighting batons this time around, based on Escrima Sticks. Describing them, Gibbs says, “Her fighting style is now more of a martial arts style but with two sticks that are charged exactly the same as the stingers. When she jabs, not only is she hitting you, you’re also getting a massive jolt of power. This again was prepped up by Tony Stark, so the idea is that he’s taken her powers and turbocharged them.”
There are some actors that want to work with the props department and have suggestions as well. Robert Downey Jr. is one of them. “Robert will always be coming up with ideas and he always has suggestions and they’re great. He wants to play with props, and we just try to give him as much as we can,” says Gibbs.
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