How Heroes Ride — The ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and Harley-Davidson

Cheers rang out as a throng of superheroes made their way down Hollywood Boulevard on Monday night. No, they weren’t there to defend Los Angeles’ The Dolby Theatre from heinous villains. Instead, the star-studded cast from Marvel Studio’s Avengers: Age of Ultron— Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany and Linda Cardellini to name a few – were there for the film’s world premiere. Joining them on the red carpet were six Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

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The evening’s audience wouldn’t have to wait until the film’s May 1 theatrical release to learn why the Harleys were front-and-center. The reason was soon apparent, as the Harley-Davidson Street 750, ridden by Captain America (played by Chris Evans), burst onto the opening scene, taking on, and besting, a tank. Yes, Harley-Davidsons would be making their presence known in the film.

“When we read these scenes we said, hell yes, we’ll be a part of this,” said Dino Bernacchi, Director of U.S. Marketing at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, about Harley-Davidsons being approached to be featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Upon seeing the film, this reaction makes total sense. Avengers: Age of Ultron’s plot is riveting, with the team of superheroes going up against the evil Ultron (voiced by James Spader), whose unlikely tactic for achieving peace involves global destruction. Aligning themselves with Ultron are siblings Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen). Wanda’s powers expose several Avengers to their dark sides, leaving the journeys of some still in the balance at film’s end. Along the way, good and evil clash in a fight for dominance.

Going into battle with Captain America wasn’t new for the motorcycle brand. “In 1941, Captain America was created as a wartime piece to lift up spirits of the soldiers,” said Bernacchi. “The characters rode WWII WLA Harley-Davidsons, the same motorcycles real war heroes were using to charge into battle. It was authentic, credible, real and something the comic book fan would have expected them to do.”

The superhero’s motorcycle evolved in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when producers chose the Street 750 for an action sequence. “It’s cool, nimble, sleek and adds an element to the character,” said Bernacchi. “When someone throws their leg over a Harley, it means something. It makes every character sexy, cooler and more badass, period.”

With Avengers: Age of Ultron, Director Joss Whedon and the producers wanted to introduce another new Harley. This time via Scarlett Johansson’s character Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. How Project LiveWire, Harley’s first electric motorcycle, makes its entrance is legendary — by high-tech airplane into a city under siege. Recalled Bernacchi, “When the filmmakers saw Project LiveWire, they said, ‘It seems like something from the high-tech world of Tony Stark, and the fact that it’s actually real is cool.’”

It’s moments like these that garner Harley-Davidson fans. “There’s such a cultural relevance when films feature Harleys in a magnificent way,” said Bernacchi. “(That moment), it sticks with you. That’s the power of entertainment.”

So will Marvel fans be seeing more Harley-Davidsons grace the silver screen in the near future? Bernacchi left it at – “We’re excited about other movies coming up.”

Hell, yes.

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