How The 'Avengers: Endgame' Directors Assembled The Most Star-Filled Shot In Marvel History

Avengers: Endgame is an unprecedented blockbuster event for a number of reasons. But one of the most impressive moments in the film brings together one of the largest Hollywood ensembles in the history of cinema for a single shot. At a recent Q&A in Washington DC, directors Anthony & Joe Russo and producer Kevin Feige talked about the challenges of pulling off this particular shot (naturally, this is your warning about someĀ major spoilers lying ahead), as well as the epic Avengers Endgame final battle.

/Film reader Will C. was lucky enough to be in attendance at the event and sent over the audio from this nearly hour-long Q&A session with the filmmakers behind Avengers: Endgame. During the event, the moderator asked how they went about planning the single shot take that happens during Tony Stark's funeral, which features nearly all the important players from all the various franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mourning the fallen hero. Believe it or not, they were all present on set for the shot.

Here's one one of the Russo brothers had to say about getting this pivotal moment together:

"Once we conceived the shot, early on we realized we were going to get all of those people on set at the same. And we thought, we gotta do something really interesting that works with the story, to show the incredible amount of star power being together. It's really an homage to the universe at that point, groups of characters from every franchise. Pretty staggering. So we conceived this one that made its way up from the flowers and Tony's [arc reactor] all the way up to Nick Fury.

We rehearsed it the entire day before. Because you're gonna get a group like that, and they're gonna stand in front of a camera for about two hours without speaking. We knew we had a limited window to in which to execute the shot. We shot it at least 30 times with stand-ins, so the next day, when they got there after three or four hours of hair and make-up, you got everybody out there. I think it took about 10 takes. I don't remember which one [made it into the final cut], but it was early, so it might have been take four or five."

It seems like such a simple shot, the camera panning through the group of somber heroes watching as Pepper Potts lays Tony Stark's first arc reactor on a bouquet of flowers out onto their lake. Just the shot of that original arc reactor alone is enough to pull tears from your face, but it's the slow shot through everyone else's sad faces that keeps the tears streaming. And like the co-director says, it acts as an homage to everything that came before it.

Shooting the Final Battle

However, infinitely more challenging to execute was the final battle. Sure, getting this whole cast together for a single shot was surely a logistical nightmare. But how about planning an entire battle where all of those characters and hundreds more are squaring off with Thanos and his army? Kevin Feige said:

"It was hard. It was very emotional, as you can imagine. To be able to work with these characters again after what's happened was a very cathartic experience for us as filmmakers. When we set out to shoot these movies, we scheduled these movies back to back, which is a very unusual way to shoot movies. So we shot Infinity War, we literally went down for two weeks, and then we started shooting Endgame. The proper time between these movies would have been more than a year, if you're doing it the normal way. So it was already a challenging way to approach it."

The Russo brothers echoed those sentiments, and revealing that they were still getting shots finalized as recently as this past January:

"I'll be honest, it was probably the hardest thing we did in all these films. The end of January 2018, after a year of shooting, we had to stop the third act of Endgame because we had to get Infinity War finished to release the movie. So we came back [this past] September, in the fall, and did two months of work on that ending. That third act was really down to the wire. Some of those last shots, actually the last shot that got delivered, was "I am Iron Man." That was the last shot that came in from VFX. Interestingly enough, the last shot that we shot ever for Marvel, as directors, was "I am Iron Man." And that was done in January, I think, when we did our traditional pick-ups."

That's right, that epic final moment for Tony Stark, right before he goes out a true hero, wasn't even shot until January. And it's kind of appropriate that it ended up being the final shot the Russo brothers worked on, as well as the final shot turned in from the visual effects department.

Personally, I hope there's an extensive documentary covering the making of Avengers: Endgame, especially with regards to that final battle. I want to know how many different shots were combined in order to have everyone present for that final battle sequence when Captain America says "Avengers assemble." Hopefully the home video release brings the goods.

Avengers: Endgame is in theaters everywhere now.