It was one of many parallels drawn between the superheroes who assembled to save the world from evil Thanos in the fictional films and the voters uniting at the ballot box to rescue the country from Donald Trump. The comparisons were made only partly in jest by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who served as moderators for the “Voters Assemble!” event, and Senator Kamala Harris, who joined midway through for some inspirational messaging and a round of Marvel-themed trivia with the films’ cast.
There was a little bit of a Twitter riot on the #VotersAssemble hashtag when the event didn’t start at 6:45 pm ET as advertised. (Saving the world doesn’t operate on a schedule.) But in the end, stars Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana joined the Russos and Sen. Harris for a light-hearted, though pointed call to vote, to channel the values their characters display on film, and to come together despite differences for the common good.
Fans who donated to the Biden Victory Fund for access to the livestream were treated to errant thrills like watching the biggest movie stars in the world grapple with bad Wi-Fi connections and trying to hear each other over a chaotic Zoom chat. (Even Black Widow needs to be reminded to mute her line.) And the event served as a proper coming out of Sen. Harris as a Marvel superfan; according to Joe Russo, she and her husband, Doug, tried multiple times to convince him to allow them to visit the Infinity War set.
And if things began tepidly with small talk about what each Avenger has been up to in quarantine—Saldana is now an expert at tie-dyeing, Rudd has lost fantasy football games to both Evans and Ryan Reynolds recently, and Ruffalo has a nice garden—the conversation kicked into gear when Evans was asked how playing Captain America has affected his politics. First he tried to deflect the idea that he’s a political person, but when pressed by Johansson he conceded.
“It’s tough right now, because I have strong political opinions,” he said. “But what I see happening right now, as I’m sure we all see it happening, is that we’re such a divided country. And not to start throwing bombs so early in this thing, but I think the fish rots from the head down.”
Donald Trump was never called by name in the hour-long event, but it was clear to whom the actors were referring.
“We have someone actively trying to divide us,” Evans said. “So my involvement in politics these days is just trying to get people engaged. I think people are turning off because it’s such a vitriolic, divisive landscape right now, so the task that I've dedicated myself towards is try and return to a place of civil discourse and finding commonality as opposed to finding where we disagree. Just to make the government work the way it’s supposed to work, and that only happens with engagement.”
When Sen. Harris joined the event moments later, she said to Evans, “I couldn’t agree with you more about the fish.”
She then took Russo’s initial lead and launched into a lengthy explanation of how the Avengers films are an allegory for what is going on in America right now.
“One of the things I love about these characters is that even those characters who start out having issues with each other or grievances or insecurities, then those characters suit up and they suit up when it counts,” she said. Traveling the country in recent months, “I’m seeing people willing to suit up.”
After joking that her team often mocks her for how often she brings up The Avengers, she said, “Everyone brings their own power and are appreciated for that. And then all those superpowers in particular coming together at the end to deal with Thanos, and I just think there is such symmetry around that in this moment.”
The cast then had the opportunity to ask Sen. Harris their own questions, which were on a spectrum of silly to profound.
Johansson asked what Marvel superpower Harris would want, and she answered the Wakandan princess of Black Panther Shuri’s ability to develop technology and see a future worth investing in. (She would use it to fight climate change and imagine a world of peace and equity.)
Evans asked what Marvel movie moment meant the most to her (when Gamora reaches out to save her sister Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Saldana asked what message she has for young women in America (her mother’s saying: “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last”), and Rudd asked who is her favorite Avenger... at this event... who is asking this question. (“Mama didn’t raise no fool.”)
The grand finale was an Avengers-themed trivia battle that welcomed Robert Downey Jr. as a surprise guest, and in which Harris proved to be a ringer. She knew all the different Infinity Stones, how many degrees The Hulk has, and that Howard the Duck made a cameo in the credits of Guardians of the Galaxy.
And that passion was in her rhetoric, too: “I guess if the Avengers can assemble from across the galaxy, then the American people can get together from wherever we are, whoever we voted for in the last election, and whatever language our grandmother spoke, and come together to get the country on the right track.”