Every once in a while, we get presented with amazing stories of geekery that must be told. During your daily travels around the Internet, you may have seen the picture on the right. With all of the attention that The Avengers movie is receiving, seeing a picture of a young boy wielding a Captain America toy shield on the shoulders of Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, is a very cool thing.
The image has reached a viral level of popularity, with people all over the country sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, and every other form of social media imaginable. While the Internet loved the picture, a very simple question started to arise: “Who is the kid on Loki’s shoulders?”
Some had speculated that it was the son of Mark Ruffalo, who portrayed Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) in the film. Others thought it might be the son of one of the crew members who worked on the film. Conspiracy theories started to form, with some believing that Loki might have gone back in time and captured Captain America as a child.
The truth of it all? The boy on Loki’s shoulders is none other than Edison, son of our good friend Erin, who directs the web series, CASTERS. The story of how Edison got his picture taken with Tom Hiddleston is a great case of “right place, right time” that Erin was kind enough to write about for us.
We hope that you enjoy this epic tale of how a young boy got to meet his favorite superheroes and become an Internet sensation. If you want even more details, you can also hear Erin give the full story on the “But, I Digress” Podcast. Now all we need is to get the photos autographed for Edison!
How It Happened
Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true, told from the point of view of proud father, Erin.
The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
August 31st, 2011 – My wife, Jill, 5-year-old son, Edison, and I return to New York City from vacation.
September 1st, 2011 – My wife goes to work, while I have the day off. My son and I go to see Captain America: The First Avenger. It was my third time seeing the film, while it was the second for Edison.
September 2nd, 2011 – I have work, but get to leave early since a three day weekend is coming. I go home and kick back while my wife and son are spending a fun mother-son day in the city. I, being the nerd that I am, go online to see what’s up in the world of comic book movies and discover that The Avengers is filming in Central Park right now. I immediately call my wife.
So my wife, carrying four bags of school supplies, makes her way to Central Park East with Edison in tow. I should mention at this point that my son, having seen Captain America the day prior, is carrying his Captain America shield around with him (as any good, superhero-loving youngster would). My wife had been annoyed that she had to carry it for him throughout the day, wondering why on earth he brought it with him.
Luckily, it’s a good thing he did.
They walk around a bit, seeing various trailers and film equipment. Then, Edison sees a car–and, recognizing the insignia on the side, exclaims, “That’s Nick Fury’s car!” Indeed, it’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle! So my wife tells him to stand next to it while she takes a picture. Immediately, grips and guys in suits run over. “Excuse me! You can’t take a picture of this car without—” Upon seeing my son with his shield, the crew members kind of shrug and acquiesce, “Oh, okay. Go ahead.”
They walk around some more. My wife notices that grips are telling gawkers that they’re shooting a commercial. She gives the nearest grip a look that says, “Really? That’s the story you’re telling?” The grip shrugs, giving her a knowing smile. “Yes, it’s The Avengers.” Suddenly, about fifty feet away, two very tall, colossal men walk out, having a conversation and minding their own business. That’s when all hell breaks loose: Fifty feet away are Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in full Thor and Loki costumes, respectively.
Cameras come out, flashes go off, and the grips go in to panic mode trying to shoo everyone away. My wife (who is about 5 foot even) puts my son on her shoulders to get a better look. The grip who talked to my wife is pushing the crowd in one direction, shouting, “Go! Go!” Then, he turns and gives my wife a look, motioning over his shoulder in the other direction. “Go!” he says. Taking the cue, Jill walks past him and heads towards the Norse Gods.
By this point, Chris Hemsworth is walking away, so my son shouts out, “Thor!” Thor turns around, smiles and waves, then continues on his way. But there is Loki, the God of Mischief. He sees my son, and smiles.
“Hi, Loki!” my wife says (100% sure she didn’t know Tom Hiddleston’s name). “Can my son get a picture with you?” she asks.
“Um…okay?” is Jill’s response, and she hands Tom Hiddleston our son. He hoists him up on to his shoulders (I should mention that this guy is like 8 feet tall), and my wife takes out her Blackberry, only to find that it’s on its last battery leg. Nonetheless, she manages to get a couple of shots. Hiddleston puts Edison down, shakes his hand and says goodbye.
All in all, a good day. But wait…there’s more.
My wife and son begin to head towards Bethesda Fountain, where they come upon barricades, camera crews, and a whole lot more security. This is where the action’s at. Once again, my wife puts our son on her shoulders. Remember to keep in mind: Jill is 5 feet tall, carrying four bags of school supplies. They look around and see this massive set-up. Cameras on cranes, tons of lights, lots of crew. By this point, the cat is out of the bag – everyone is aware that “Group Hug” is actually code name for The Avengers. So my wife and son watch them prep a shot, looking around when suddenly my wife exclaims—
“Look! There’s Tony Stark and Bruce Banner! They’re talking to that stunt guy.” Sure enough, there’s Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo and a stunt man in a brown jacket, all chatting. When the stunt man turns to the side, my son responds with excitement and shock: “Mom! That’s Chris Evans!”
“Buddy, I don’t think that’s him,” she responds incredulously. (In her defense, she wasn’t wearing her glasses and my son’s vision is freakishly great.) My wife squints and, sure enough, it’s him–Captain America himself.
The production crew film a couple of things–Stark and Banner getting in to a car, Steve Rogers on a motorcycle. The security guard in front of Jill and Edison smiles, walks around a bit, and comes back again. My wife asks, “Do you think we might be able to get a picture of my son with Chris Evans?”
The security guard responds with, “Oh, your son likes Captain America?”
“Do you NOT see the shield he’s carrying?” my wife says jokingly.
My wife looks down, realizing for the first time that day that the shirt she chose to wear says “I Only Date Superheroes” with pictures of Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America. As she said to me later on: “I have never felt more like a nerd in my life.”
The security guard has a laugh and then looks back at the filming. They’re in between shots when the guard moves the barricade and says, “Walk with me and we’ll see what we can do.” My wife takes my son off her shoulders, and they proceed on to the glorious side of the barricade we all wish to be on: The Set!
They walk over, Jill’s heart is pounding. Who is that walking right by her? Why that’s Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johanssen, who play Hawkeye and Black Widow! Initial impression? They’re short! Oh look, there goes Mark Ruffallo!
There’s a lot of crew walking around, looking at this strange woman with four jam-packed bags from Staples and the little boy with the Captain America shield. The Security Guard stops my wife and son, a mere 10 feet away from Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans.
“Wait here for a second” the guards says, then takes a few steps forward, waiting to see if he can interrupt the talent. There is a woman standing next to my wife and son. She looks at Edison, shield in hand, staring in awe at his heroes, and then turns towards the stars.
“Chris!” she shouts. Chris Evans stops, mid-sentence, and turns to the woman. Robert Downey, Jr. looks over, frowns, but seeing a little boy with a Captain America shield, gets it and shrugs.
This woman that called to Evans has got his attention. She points to my son and exclaims, “Look at this! Look at how adorable he is!”
This woman? Chris Evans mother.
Chris Evans starts walking towards my son and says, “Now I bet you’re thinking, ‘That doesn’t look like Captain America.'”
“Oh no, he knew it was you from waaaaay over there,” my wife assures him.
Edison, face-to-face with the man he saw on the big screen merely 24 hours earlier, does what any self-respecting five year would do in front of his hero of the hour: he holds his shield up in front of his face, overcome with a case of The Shy.
“Edison,” my wife says, “put the shield down and shake his hand like a gentleman.”
Evans crouches down next to Edison, who extends his hand and shakes the hand of The First Avenger. “Can I see your shield?” Evans asks and Edison hands his battered toy shield over. “Wow, you’re getting a lot of use out of this. You fighting a lot of bad guys with this?” he asks. Chris Evans and Edison proceed to have a conversation about the finer points of shields and fighting the enemy.
“Not at all!” Evans says.
My wife pulls out her Blackberry, aims it and…it goes black. Dead. It’s possible that she begins to pee herself a little bit, I just can’t be sure. She frantically pushes buttons and manages to get it to come back to life. Meanwhile, Chris Evans’ mom is having a little fun, busting my wife’s chops on not being able to work a Blackberry. Jill gets the phone up and running and snaps a picture. “To be safe, can I get one more?”
“Sure,” Evans says, and my wife manages to get one more picture.
Just then, a quiet-spoken gentleman walks over. “Chris, sorry, I need you for one more shot.” The gentleman looks at my son and apologizes. “Sorry, little buddy, I need Captain America for a minute.” This is the only time during the entire story that I am jealous of my son and beside myself that I wasn’t there. One of my writing idols, Joss Whedon, has just spoken to my child.
My wife apologizes for taking up their time, with Whedon and Evans smiling and assuring her that it is fine. Then she takes a picture with Chris Evans’ mom, who was instrumental in making this meeting happen.
My wife and son watch the crew film a couple of shots and then decide to leave. Thus ends their trip to the set of The Avengers.
September 6th, 2011 – I return to work with my son, who didn’t start school until the next day. A co-worker (whose son is also at work) says she saw my Facebook status, saw the pics and thought they were cool. Our kids sit together for the day, drawing and playing. Later, my co-worker pulls me aside and says, “You know your son is on the Internet?” Fearing that I’m in some sort of Clive Owen interwebs scandal flick, I ask her to clarify. Lo and behold, there is a professional picture of my son with Chris Evans on socialite life dot com or something or other.
This continues for the next few days, with new pictures of him springing up on various sites. I even broke down and went to a Chris Evans fan page to see if there were pics.
Side Note – I now have access to screen caps from The Nanny Diaries if anyone needs those.
Fast forward to New York Comic Con 2011
I surprise Edison and tell him we’re going to go to The Avengers panel at NYCC 2011. I tell him Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston are going to be there signing and we’ll try and get his pictures autographed. We arrive and make our way to where The Avengers panel line is, only to find out that Evans and Hiddleston are signing at that moment! So we hurry over there and discover that you need a ticket handed out earlier in the day to get on line for autographs.
I make my way to the side of the stage and call someone over. I show him the 8x10s we got made up with hopes of having them signed. I don’t even finish my sentence before the guy goes, “That’s the kid! Yeah, I remember when he came to the set!” He gets security to OK us to get in the autographs line.
So we’re in line, waiting…waiting…waiting…realizing that the window of opportunity to get these pics signed AND make our way to the line for The Avengers panel is slowly closing. That’s okay, though, because while we’re in line there are these five women dressed up in various Thor character costumes. One of them turns around, sees the 8×10 in my hand, looks at my son, then back at the picture and exclaims, “Oh my god! It’s the kid!”
They all freak out and begin to tell me how my son is all over tumblr. They ask if they can take a picture with him. “If he wants to,” I say. Edison agrees and they take pictures with him, and then more people start gathering around and taking pictures. The one girl says to me, “You don’t understand, his picture is all over the Internet!” She goes on to explain tumblr and how the pictures got liked and linked all over the interwebs.
We’re five feet away from making it to the signing when someone’s publicist decides they want the talent off the stage, and they are whisked away. Alas, we didn’t get the pics signed. But, we ended up walking around, taking in the sensory overload that is NYCC 2011, and having a great time.
All in all, the entire experience was a good adventure for a cool, five-year-old geek–if I do say so myself.