still from the movie The Avengers showing all superheroes assembled in a line inside massive hall

When Last We Saw Our Heroes . . .

On May 1, 2015, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes again assemble to face the foes that no single hero can handle alone. Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, brings together Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Captain America for another round of rock-’em, sock-’em robot. In this case, Ultron is said robot, intent on solving the world’s woes by wiping it clean of humans. It’s been three years and multiple movies later—where were all the Avengers when last we saw them?

movie still of actor Robert Downey Jr. seated next to his Iron Man doubleIRON MAN
Marvel’s Iron Man 3 wrought big changes on Tony Stark’s life. His Malibu house crumbled into the Pacific Ocean during an attack, he threw away his RT, and is now reevaluating his role as Iron Man. For Robert Downey Jr., who plays Iron Man, the dynamics between The Avengers in the story was one of his favorite things about reprising one of the world’s most famous Super Heroes. “What I loved about this script was the further development of the complexities of the relationship between all the Avengers,” he says. “I loved that Thor has a beef with me and then eventually has to give in and say I’m right.” Nowhere are these character dynamics more apparent than the scene at the end of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 where Tony’s lying on a couch, as if he’s in a psychiatrist’s office, spilling his guts to his new best bud, Bruce Banner.

movie still of character Bruce Banner in The AvengersHULK
And speaking of Banner, the last we saw him was in that office, graciously suffering through Stark’s tales of personal woe, as any good friend would. But other than comradeship, why would Banner be hanging out with Stark? Because they share a similar thirst for scientific discovery. “Banner basically moved in with Tony Stark after he didn’t have anywhere to go at the end of the last Avengers,” explains Mark Ruffalo, who plays Banner. “He traveled around and he did his thing, but Stark took him in and there were a lot of mutually beneficial qualities that they get from each other. One of them is their understanding of science, and what Banner’s specialty is has been really well-augmented with what Tony’s been up to.”

movie still of Thor smiling holding his hammerTHOR
After younger brother Loki tried to enslave the human race in the first Avengers film, Thor yanked him back up to Asgard to face mom, dad, and other life-threatening challenges. As the rightful heir to the throne, Thor could live in luxury ruling all of Asgard, but his affection for Jane and the rest of the humans convinces him to leave Asgard, renounce his kingship, and return to earth to protect those he loves. “Thor has decided to stay on and so we see a more grounded, earthly version of Thor than we have in the past,” says Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor. “It is nice because there are a few more opportunities to showcase some humor and see him in some casual gear instead of the red cape and armor that we always see him in.”

movie still of Captain America fighting assailantCAPTAIN AMERICA
Captain America is now running point for the team. Steve Rogers’ world came crashing down in big ways in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as S.H.I.E.L.D. itself dissolved after being infiltrated by the criminal organization known as Hydra, and the masked Winter Soldier struck at the heart of Captain America. According to Chris Evans, who plays Cap, “He is still searching for whether or not he can have a life outside of being Captain America. He’s been of service for so long, so trying to figure out what he would do without his uniform and S.H.I.E.L.D is a bit of a puzzle.”

photo of Scarlett JohanssonBLACK WIDOW
Scarlett Johansson returns as fan favorite Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, fresh from Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which saw her fighting alongside Captain America to fend off the forces of Hydra, who managed to dismantle S.H.I.E.L.D. and send Black Widow, Captain America, and Nick Fury on the run. Although Black Widow’s personal life has seen little screen time, Johansson hopes that audiences will appreciate the new film’s direction: “We have our histories and we get to explore a little bit of that and I think the audience is going to absolutely love that.”

movie still of actor Samuel L. Jackson in The AvengersAGENT FURY
After the harrowing battle in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, what became of Nick Fury, especially considering S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dismantled? “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s in disarray,” says Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Fury. “Everybody’s scattered to the wind so it is interesting to see how they bring us back together as we continue to do Avengers business. Fury is on the outside looking in, but still has his hand in there a little bit and the person I trust more than anybody on the planet is Natasha. It’s always been the case, so she is my eyes and ears.”

movie still of character Hawkey in The AvengersHAWKEYE
Last we saw Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, he was chomping away on shawarma after the battle of New York. He hasn’t made any appearances in the subsequent films, so we’re to assume that… he went back for more shawarma, right? “Joss and I both really loved the character and we didn’t really ultimately get to explore him very much in the first film,” says Renner. “So it made me very happy when I saw Joss at a party and he said that we were going to find out a lot more about the character and what makes him tick.” Be watching for Hawkeye’s role to be beefed up in significant ways in the new film.