With that, Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America) and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) huddle with Downey, their arms locked around each other. It's the sheer power of this united foursome that has audiences clamoring to see The Avengers, which has already collected a phenomenal $281 million in 39 countries, and which looks to flex serious box-office muscle in the USA as it opens today.
"These guys are known as the core four," says Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the plan to bring the ultimate superhero collection to the big screen (hatched even before 2008's Iron Man).
"Getting Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and Iron Man in one room — that's why we made this movie," says Feige. "Whether they are fighting each other, or the bad guy, seeing these guys clash was the appeal."
Sure there are other stars in the film. But as Downey notes while taking a seat at the table, even the specially-made 3-D Avengers glasses are all about fearsome foursome : "You don't see any Black Widow glasses out there, do ya?"
While the group displays some serious compatibility issues onscreen in The Avengers, no punches are thrown during a spirited superhero roundtable with USA TODAY. In fact, they are downright deliriously happy the day after the star-studded Hollywood premiere, the first time each had seen the movie. It was such a success that the private after-party celebration was a bit too much for Evans, who refuses to take a mystery drink that Hemsworth whispers is "hair of the dog."
"I have too much in me still from last night," sighs Evans.
But any post-celabratory fuzziness aside, Team Avengers are game to discuss everything from nightmare outfits endured through the four-month shoot (including Ruffalo's one-piece Lycra tracking outfit, which impressively transformed him into the Hulk through the magic of computer graphics) to dream additions to the crime-fighting team.