Back when it was still the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., that storied Bethpage facility built the Grumman TBF Avenger, a World War II torpedo bomber that first saw action in the Battle of Midway.
Now another kind of Avenger will be taking over the former factory floors and airplane hangars of what is now Grumman Studios, when the all-star Marvel/Disney feature "The Avengers" prepares to assemble there.
" 'The Avengers' will be shooting here," Grumman Studios president Parviz Farahzad, 61, says of the Marvel Comics movie being directed by Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and scheduled for release in 2012. "Sometime next month they start building sets. They'll be shooting elsewhere, too - here and at Steiner. It's not all us," though Grumman, he says, has been retained "until the spring at least."
The superhero ensemble film, based on the 47-year-old comic-book series and its many spinoffs, will "be taking all seven stages" of the 30-acre complex, says Farahzad, a former Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist and mathematics professor who serves on the board of Gold Coast Bank and counts Grumman among his real-estate ventures.
Grumman's 160,000 square feet of studio space, which includes the massive, 37,200-square-foot Stage 3, was home last year to the Angelina Jolie-starrer "Salt."
"The Avengers" is part of what Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige last year dubbed the "Marvel Cinema Universe," a shared narrative that includes the two "Iron Man" films, 2008's "The Incredible Hulk" and next year's "Thor," directed by Kenneth Branagh, and "Captain America: The First Avenger," directed by Joe Johnston.
The cast, which appeared together at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, features Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Clark Gregg reprising their roles as, respectively, Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, Nick Fury, Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson from the "Iron Man" films; Chris Hemsworth (Thor); Chris Evans (Captain America); Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye); and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner).
"It's very exciting," says Farahzad, who negotiated the "Avengers" rental himself, explaining, "I do things on a personal level. You have to be involved."
But the studio-space chief, who emigrated from Iran in 1967, himself isn't a comic book aficionado. "I know a little bit, but I'm not that savvy. The cartoons I used to watch were 'Tom & Jerry' and 'The Flintstones.'"