Two more sleeps until we find out how our fallen heroes will be avenged by those left standing.
The story details are as closely guarded as the ending of Game of Thrones, so no one really knows what to expect when Avengers: Endgame’s opening credits start to roll, not even those who went hunting on Reddit for that five minutes of leaked footage.
With all that in mind, news.com.au chatted with directors Joe and Anthony Russo, to try and glean something, anything, of the ride we’re about to hop on.
I want to start with where Infinity War ended, which is that half the characters had died but some of them had confirmed sequels in the works so we knew they were coming back. Did you feel like fans having that knowledge took away from the emotional stakes of that finale?
Anthony: I think people have become accustomed to this idea that the MCU unfolds in a linear fashion, simply because it generally has.
Joe: But that doesn’t mean it will in the future.
Anthony: Exactly. As the MCU becomes more diverse and needs to push into new territories in the future, you can’t rely on your old assumptions about how the narrative will flow.
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That a cryptic clue. You guys came on during Winter Soldier and for the most part in all your movies since then, most of the time, you’re playing with characters that haven’t originated in your movie, they’ve originated in someone else’s movie and before that someone else’s comic book. How do you balance the baggage that comes with those characters with what you want to see for them?
Joe: We’ve made choices throughout our career at Marvel where we reset or readjust the characters to the thematics that are interesting to us, or the tone that’s interesting to us. When characters come into our movies, they are retoned in a way and they tend to get put through the psychological realism filter we like to apply to all the stuff we do for Marvel. So just think, if there are very funny characters, we keep an element of that but also deal with intense drama at the same time.
Does that involve some collaboration with not just the producers at Marvel but also the directors and writers of those other characters that have appeared in other films?
Anthony: Sometimes but we try to keep that to a minimum. Marvel has this wonderful process where they want every movie to have its own space to become whatever it wants to become. The vitality of the series as a whole is really linked to the variety of movies that is able to bring audiences and keep the experience fresh and surprising for audiences.
So the more diversity and individuality each movie has, the better for the whole of the series. So we only communicate with other filmmakers when it’s absolutely necessary. Those times are generally when things are happening at the exact time. Sometimes somebody is executing a movie at the exact same time you are and they may have something to do with what, there may be some overlap, whether it be a character or story idea. Occasionally we will do that. But we love the fact that it’s kept so independent of one another.
One of the things that have happened, at least for audiences, between Infinity War and Endgame is Captain Marvel, and that’s been a hugely successful character. Were there challenges in including this new character and dynamics into Endgame?
Joe: Anytime you get a new character, it’s fantastic because you’re bringing a new dimension and fresh storytelling to a serialised story that’s been playing out over a decade, whether it’s Captain Marvel or any other new character. And the more diverse Marvel keeps getting as they go, the more interesting and compelling the Marvel Universe becomes.
Anthony: I will say this about the difference of working with Captain Marvel. When we introduced Black Panther and Spider-Man in Civil War, at that point, none of those filmmakers for those standalone movies had been hired so we cast those characters. We completely created them original for their role in Civil War.
When we’re working with Captain Marvel in Endgame, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden had already been hired to make the Captain Marvel standalone film. So they actually cast Brie Larson, we didn’t cast her. So there were some smaller differences like that in the sense that their project was already moving forward. This is an example of a situation where we did need to stay more in touch with them about what they’re doing with that character.
Without going into the specifics of how she’s going to fit into that world, when I watched Captain Marvel and all her powers manifested at the end of that movie, it was just so far beyond what any of the heroes in the existing MCU had exhibited. I looked at it and wondered if she makes everyone else irrelevant because she’s more powerful than everyone else combined.
Anthony: Dealing with characters with that level of power is challenging on a narrative a level, and again, I don’t want to go into where we go with that, but we figured out one of the unique and interesting things about Captain Marvel and how she will blend into the MCU.
Kevin Feige is on the record saying that this movie marks the end of this phase of the MCU, more so than other phases of the MCU. Without giving away anything at the end, knowing you had to get to a certain point in setting up the MCU’s next phase, what sort of pressures did you have around that?
Anthony: Our goal was not to set up the MCU’s next phase. Our goal was, with this movie, as storytellers, was to simply bring a sense of conclusion and an ending to this journey that we’ve been on since the original Iron Man movie.
So this is the first Marvel movie we made where we were simply looking backwards, we weren’t looking forwards. Which was actually a great opportunity for Joe and I. Soon the MCU will move forward from this moment, but this story was not designed with any of those ideas in mind.
One of the things we do know is that it is a three-hour runtime, and it seems to be pretty divisive. Are you surprised at how much reaction there is to the running time?
Anthony: When you don’t know anything else about the movie, I guess that’s all they can talk about.
After this, are you interested in making any more Marvel movies?
Joe: Absolutely. We’ve loved working with Marvel and had an amazing time with them and if there’s another story to tell and we’re excited by it then we’ll tell it.
Would you be interested in taking guardianship of another Marvel character in a standalone story?
Joe: Sure, there are merits to working with a singular point of view and the dangers of chasing large event, ensemble movies is that you have to keep outdoing the last one you did in some way. So it’s certainly refreshing to work in single character’s point of view.
When all is said and done and the movies are out and you guys have finished promoting it around the world, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?
Joe: Go to Disneyland. Take a long nap.
(Edited for clarity and length)
Avengers: Endgame will be released in Australia on April 24
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