russo brothers infinity war interview

In June of 2017, we visited the set of Avengers: Infinity War and talked with the cast and crew of the epic Marvel film. Today, we are publishing our full roundtable interview with directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who have been on this journey since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The Russo Brothers tell us what the story is about, how the world has changed since Civil War, sorting timelines, cinematic inspirations, filming on IMAX cameras, balancing tone, the troubles with shooting the biggest ensemble movie of all time, crafting character-based action, James Gunn’s role in the production, their Fantastic Four dreams, collaborating with the other Marvel filmmakers, what to expect from Captain Marvel, how Infinity War will connect to Avengers 4, the possibility of death in this film, comic book inspirations, the evolution of the Guardians of the Galaxy, how the other marvel films connect to Infinity War and the importance of the Infinity Stones. Let’s dive in.

Captain America Civil War Credits Scenes

So, aside from the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what is this movie about?

Joe Russo: We can’t really tell you.

Anthony Russo: Endurance. … For us, since we entered the MCU as storytellers, and we picked up the story with Winter Soldier, we’ve been carrying a thread forward from that point, a narrative thread. And for us this movie is very much about, how do we move forward from Civil War in a big way, and what happens to that division between the Avengers and how does that affect them. What does that mean when the greatest threat they’ll ever face comes to them, in that kind of a condition, in that kind of divided condition.

Joe Russo: It’s been a personal journey I think, for us as filmmakers from Winter Soldier, of a theme set in that movie that I think we then tried to expand upon in Civil War, that then led to Infinity War. It’s how we feel about the characters, as comic book fans, the story that we want to see. Re-imagining these characters to a very personal point of view. So it’s not only a culmination of the last ten years of Marvel storytelling, but for us, it’s a culmination of our journey as directors to the Marvel universe, and I think having at our disposal all of those characters and allowing ourselves to refilter them through the way that we see the universe, the way that we feel about the characters, the themes that we really want to bring to the forefront, that’s what these two movies are for us.

What can you say about the state of the world? Are the Sokovia accords still a thing, what’s Captain up to? I mean, he’s been growing that beard, did he get highlights?

Anthony Russo: It’s a direct corollary to the end of Civil War, you’re going into this film with the ramifications of that film at the forefront of this film.

How long later in the timeline is this one? 

Anthony Russo: We always do everything based on when the last movie came out.

Joe Russo: It’ll be roughly two years.

So Winter Soldier was more of an espionage thriller, Civil War was a psychological thriller, what will we expect to see in terms of genre and tone in Infinity War?

Anthony Russo: There’s a lot of characters in this movie that have tones that they’re bringing from their own franchises. I think it’s a very unique film, I don’t think there are a lot of movies that have the kind of tone that this movie has, because it’s a combination of franchises and I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before on this scale. So I think it’s got a really unique tone to it, and I think it’s impulsive, I would say it’s an adventure film, but it has elements of … we were inspired by ’90s crime films when we were working on the script. So it’s got an energy to it, a bit of a smash and grab energy.

Joe Russo: Like the heist genre.

What would be some of those titles specifically, in the ’90s?

Anthony Russo: The movies that we looked at, Two Days in the Valley, Out of Sight. We always look to movies for an inspiration for the energy that we’re looking for, or a narrative construct that we want to be inspired by, and those two films in particular-

Joe Russo: And again, for us it helps when you are dealing with all these different types of characters and all these different tones that have been established in the various films and storylines, it becomes our organizing principle for tone. In terms of what the world is that we’re creating, what rules are we playing by, how does that filter and every character, no matter where they’re coming from, has to intersect with the sort of reality of that tone.

I think sometimes people have misinterpreted in the past when I’m talking about movies, how we’re using them. Really as inspiration for narrative imagery. These movies are so complex you need a unifying peace, or a sense of cohesion, and that cohesion can come from a narrative construct that you can apply all the characters to. It’s hard to find movies with this many characters; you can look at Altman films, which have a tendency to be more veritè. Where we found Two Days In The Valley, which really had a narrative thrust to it, and had an energy that we were looking for. Again, just purely something inspires us in the room when we’re working on the script.

Anthony Russo: Yeah, I would say that comes from those many, many months that we spent with writers Marcus and Mcfeely in the room, exploring the possibilities of where we can go with the storytelling, where we can take the characters, and finding ideas that most excited us and starting to shape things around that.

russo brothers scarlett infinity war

Can you guys talk about filming the whole movie with the IMAX cameras? That whole process?

Anthony Russo: Amazing.

Joe Russo: They’re beautiful cameras, the chip is unbelievable, it’s stunning. We have a lot of characters who … are tall, unnaturally tall. So it really helps with the frame, because that IMAX aspect ratio works for those types of characters, and the landscapes are stunning. There are some really exotic landscapes in the film, and to be able to put those on an IMAX screen, it’s an incredible tool to have as a filmmaker to be able to exploit that scale of aspect ratio.

What’s it like doing the quieter scenes with these gigantic cameras?

Anthony Russo: The good news is, we’ve been working with IMAX very closely on this, and the technology of the cameras continues to evolve. So there’s a new iteration of the cameras that is much more user friendly than they have been. Because we, in our style, we like a very active, aggressive camera, so it’s always been important to try to convert their system into something that is a little more mobile, and something that camera people can actually move in a way that’s not gonna just drag them to the ground. So we have a brand new camera that we’re using that’s called the Arri 65 which is finally completely synced up with the IMAX needs as well and it gives us a lot more latitude, in terms of what we can do with the cameras.

Joe Russo: IMAX branded Arri 65.

Each of these movies have their own tone in the MCU, but the one that really stands out as the most distinct is the Guardians, and you guys are bringing them in. What is the approach with getting them to mix together? Are they going to bring their own music?

Anthony Russo: Everybody does.

Joe Russo: [Doctor] Strange brings his own energy, Ant Man brings his own energy, Thor has a whole different … Taika has a new approach to Thor, as you’ve seen in the trailer. So all that energy is combined. Specific to the Guardians, we have to find a way to bring those tones and honor them, but also make them work with what we’re doing with the movie. Again, I think the way that we find the best way to do that is to filter these things through our very personal expression of them as characters. It’s not dissimilar to what we did with Captain America: Winter Soldier. There is a movement of the characters towards a more “Russo brothers” execution.

What kind of role would you say they have in this film?

Anthony Russo: They have a great role in this film. Everyone is interwoven in this plot in a way where they have an emotional connection to the story, and are emotionally affected by the stakes of the movie. You can’t tell a movie with this many characters and not have each of those characters show up and honor them from the different franchises if they are not motivated to be there, if they are not in life or death circumstances, if they are not fighting to save their belief system or their way of life.

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