Yesterday, for a couple of hours, I was not only a humble Geek League of America correspondent, but a proud agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Okay, it may sound like I’m over-hyping my experience at Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., but I promise you: seeing this exhibit is like stepping foot into the Marvel Universe.
S.T.A.T.I.O.N. stands for “Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network.” The exhibition stays true to its very creative acronym by placing a strong emphasis on possible scientific explanations for various phenomena in the Marvel Universe, especially its heroes. And yes, you do actually learn a lot while there. For example, the Thor room features real imagery from NASA and the Hulk room teaches you a great deal about gamma radiation, human DNA, and neuroscience.
But I wasn’t exaggerating my emotions when I said I was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., because I certainly felt that way. The exhibit is designed by the same people behind the sets of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., meaning it actually looks like a top-secret facility. Before entering, everyone is given a special S.H.I.E.L.D. clearance card with their name on it.
Another aspect that really helps sell the illusion is the exhibit’s introductory video message starring Titus Welliver as Agent Blake. I had the opportunity to meet with Titus Welliver to discuss his role in the exhibit and also his role in Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, which is out in theaters today.
GLA: Let’s start with the obvious question, what are we doing at this exhibit?
Titus Welliver: Well, I came with my family to see what I participated in. And I’m just completely blown away by this. I don’t even think of this as an exhibit. It sure doesn’t feel like it. It really feels like you’re stepping into S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters. It’s just a complete experience.
How do the kids feel about their father being an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
You know, I’ve finally won the respect of my children as an actor. [laughter]so it’s a good thing.
So, I overheard that growing up, you read a lot of comic books.
Yeah. I have 90% of my comic book collections still at home.
Do you still read comic books?
Are you reading Marvel comics as you’re in the Marvel universe? What’s that like?
Well, it’s a little bit different. But for me, what I tend to do is I go back and read the older stuff because I have all the original Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. books. I was a huge fan of Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos prior to that. I read the S.H.I.E.L.D. books because I’m always thinking is there something that I can mine from those to use as the character of Blake? Because there’s so much cool stuff in it.
What was it like when you came with your family to be greeted by Agent Blake?
It’s a little strange, but it was pretty funny. It’s not like going into a museum. You know, you come in and it sort of thrusts you into your own private movie. So I think for children, that makes it so exciting. But what I really love about this is the connection of real science to this. The kids will come out of this learning something. It’s not like it’s a fan museum. It’s actually teaching them some really interesting science at the same time.
Can you tell us about your upcoming role in Transformers 4: Age of Extinction?
I actually went to the premiere last night and saw the film and it’s truly amazing. The scope of the film is enormous and there are a lot of new characters. Some new Autobots. All new human characters. Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammar to name a few. New looks. Optimus has a whole new look. Bumblebee, too.
It was just overwhelming. The film is just amazing. I had a lot of fun making the film. It was an incredible experience. I think people are going to absolutely go nuts. I think it’s very different from the other films. I think it’s stronger in that there’s a real grounding in the human story of this, more so than in the other films. Which doesn’t diminish the other films, it’s just that I think there’s more in this film than just the usual targeted demographic for this. I think adults are going to see this with their kids and you’re going to have a lot of adults that are really going to enjoy the film. Because it has a great story, a father and daughter story but it’s a huge adventure. There’s a lot of humor in it but there’s also some really intense dark and sad moments as well. I think it’s just an all-encompassing experience for people.
When you were filming, of course, you didn’t get to see any of the Autobots. Did it take your breath away to see them on film?
Yeah, because it’s seamless. Since the last film was made, the technology has expanded exponentially, so it’s amazing what they can do now. What you’re doing when you’re shooting the film is you’re reacting to a PVC pole with a graphic of the Autobot’s head on the top of it and they’re kind of moving it around so you know where your sight lines are. So then to actually see it is amazing. Literally, these things come within inches of you on the screen, you’re going, “wow” because there was nothing there. It’s just amazing!
How would you compare walking through this exhibit to being on set for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
The sets on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are amazing. I mean, they’re super super detailed. This was made by the art directors of the Avengers, so you, as a kid, and as an adult participating in that, you feel like you’re really on the set. It’s all connected. It enhances the whole experience of this. You know, your imagination is open, but you don’t have to use imagination because it’s right there in front of you and it’s tactile. You can actually touch these things. I think it’s amazing. I really feel honored to be a part of this. It’s incredible.