How 'Avengers: Infinity War' Was Inspired By '90s Crime Movies Like 'Out Of Sight'

Avengers: Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo are revealing exciting new details about their highly-anticipated superhero sequel. In a new interview with /Film, the Russo Brothers divulge the surprising inspiration for Infinity War: '90s crime movies. More on the duo's Infinity War inspirations below.90s crime movies infinity war

'90s Crime Movies

One of the things that makes certain Marvel movies so good is the way they play with sub-genre. Rather than be straight-up superhero yarns, the best Marvel movies borrow elements from other types of film. The best example of this is one of the very best MCU films – Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There, the Russo brothers borrowed from paranoid espionage thrillers like Three Days of the Condor to craft a truly memorable film.

During an Avengers: Infinity War set visit, /Film's Peter Sciretta and a handful of other journalists questioned the Russo Brothers about what other genres Infinity War might borrow from. According to the Russos, Infinity War takes elements from the heist genre, as well as '90s crime movies.

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.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.


Two Days in the Valley is a 1996 crime film that owes a huge debt to Quentin Tarantino. It's loaded with quirky hitmen, pop culture references, and separate-yet-interconnected narratives. You can practically see the film's screenwriter watching Pulp Fiction on VHS as he types up his script.Out of Sight is a stylish, cool-as-hell Elmore Leonard adaptation from Steven Soderbergh. The Russo Brothers actually have a history with Soderbergh, and with Out of Sight star George Clooney: Soderbergh and Clooney produced the Russos' 2002 crime comedy Welcome to Collingwood.

Does the mention of these films imply that the Russos are borrowing plot elements for Avengers: Infinity War? No, not exactly.

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Narrative Imagery 

In the interview, the Russos go on to explain that when they mention films they've used for inspiration, they're not specifically talking about plot inspiration. Instead, they're talking about narrative imagery.

Joe Russo: 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 [Christopher] Marcus and [Stephen] 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.


It will be interesting to see how the Russos employ these inspirations once Avengers: Infinity War arrives. The film is loaded with characters – at least 76, by last count. Using the multi-narrative thrust of Two Days in the Valley as inspiration certainly makes sense, and I'm very curious to see how this all plays out.

Avengers: Infinity War opens April 27, 2018.