The stars of Avengers: Endgame met throngs of excited kids at Disneyland in Anaheim, California on Friday to launch Avengers Universe Unites, a charity event and part of the Disney Team of Heroes philanthropic effort to deliver comfort and inspiration to seriously ill children around the world.
East Hampton’s Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Amagansett resident Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Hamptons visitors Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) drew huge cheers as they gave out all the newest toys from Avengers: Endgame to the brave kids visiting Disney’s California Adventure Park. The event celebrated a more than $5 million donation to nonprofits supporting children with critical illnesses, including $1 million in cash from Disney to Starlight Children’s Foundation, and $4 million in toys from The LEGO Group, Hasbro, Funko and Amazon, which were handed out at the event and sent to hundreds of children’s hospitals throughout the country.
“The superheroes in Avengers personify traits like courage, perseverance, bravery and hope – the same traits countless kids and their families in children’s hospitals exhibit every day,” Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger said during the kickoff celebration. “We are grateful to have the Avengers cast take time out of their day to be a part of this effort to lift spirits and bring comfort to children during a difficult time.”
Dressed in red, the Avengers stars joined kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim and Garden Grove to play at a larger-than-life LEGO build at The LEGO Store in Downtown Disney and were treated to a visit by Amazon’s Treasure Truck stocked with Avengers: Endgame toys, including Hasbro action figures, Iron Man MK50 robots by UBTECH and Funko POP! vinyl figures.
“The first time I saw my character as a LEGO, that’s when I knew I’d really made it,” Johansson said, laughing in an onsite interview, before adding, “I’ve played so many characters over the past 25 years and I don’t think any of them could ever possibly have been made into a LEGO.” She also noted how cool it is to see her daughter recognize her likeness on all the many toy iterations.
“Any time you can do anything to help take a kid’s mind off the situation or just provide any kind of joy or happiness or fun, it’s time well spent and it’s the best thing in the world,” Rudd said, also admitting, “Selfishly, it makes us feel very good.”
Hemsworth pointed out that while the characters embody such heroes, the true heroes are the brave kids who are dealing with illness. “For most of us playing these characters, the heroes are the kids to us,” he said. “The most joy I get is meeting these young kids and seeing their faces light up, and seeing their bravery. That is a real inspiration…”
It’s nice to see these guys using their powers for good.
Avengers: Endgame opens on Friday, April 26.