Avengers Infinity War Trailer Breakdown - Thanos

And now time for one of our most interesting interviews from the set of Avengers: Infinity War — a sitdown discussion with Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely,  the screenwriting masterminds behind it all.

During the interview, we talk about what the film is about, how this is Thanos’ story, who they decided to include in this mega mash-up film, how the Guardians of the Galaxy fit into the mix, comparisons to the grand ensemble storytelling of Game of Thrones, their comic book research, how much of the film takes place on earth, how the Infinity Stones helped to shape the story, Thanos’ villianous motivations, how cosmic and crazy does the film get, how Infinity War connects with Avengers 4, Captain Marvel‘s involvement, how much of Infinity Gauntlet’s story made it into the film, how the film connects to the movies around it, balencing the tones of the different franchises, why awards reward epic trilogies but overlook superhero franchises, giving thanos an emotional arc and more.

Can you tell us what [Avengers: Infinity War] is about?

Christopher Markus: What isn’t it about? This is about the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is about everyone getting together, or trying their hardest to get together, to fight a guy named Thanos.

Stephen McFeely: Who hopefully will come together in a way that will be satisfying? We’ve been teasing Thanos for many movies in 30 second clips, so hopefully all the lead-up will allow us to really go to town with him and make him a villain that requires this epic level of storytelling. That is the word I would use most often. It’s ridiculously big.

How long does it take for Thanos to take the screen?

Stephen McFeely: It’ll take 18 movies. [laughter]

Christopher Markus: We won’t tell you exactly, but you’re going to get Thanos and you’re not going to feel like we’ve continued to jerk you around and kept him in check.

Stephen McFeely: In many ways, it’s Thanos’ movie.

You’ve talked, obviously, about how you’ve brought all these characters together, but are there any character pairings that you think people will be very surprised to see?

Christopher Markus: I don’t know about surprised, because it’s very hard to surprise people…

Stephen McFeely: That’s not true at all. I think we will surprise the hell out of people.

Christopher Markus: Okay. We will surprise people.

Stephen McFeely: I don’t know if we can tell you what the pairings are but yeah, one of the goals… After Civil War, we got in a room for four or five months trying to crack these two ridiculously big things.

Christopher Markus: We had wall of characters and at a certain point you just go [motions hands] – “That’s funny and that’s funny. What’s a story that could get those two [characters] together?”

Stephen McFeely: Right. We talked a lot about, it’s a Joe Russo term, “strange alchemy”. What is it when you put the two characters together, even in a fairly normal traditional situation, but since we’ve invested in those characters and known them, we sort of delighted in the idea of those two people rubbing against each other. So, we always chased “delight” – and terror. Lots of terror.

Christopher Markus: And there’s also…we’re coming off Civil War. We’re coming off Winter Soldier. So that’s there’s lots of backstory that still needs to play out in addition to the Thanos situation. Like, I just walked by Sebastian Stan out there. You could put Bucky in a room with anybody and they’re going to say, “Oh sh*t! He’s a maniac.” He’s shot Natasha [Romanoff] twice as far as I can keep count, so it’s going to be interesting.

What about bringing in the cosmic universe? That seems to be something we’re all very curious about. How are the Guardians [of the Galaxy] coming in?

Stephen McFeely: That’s part of the “strange alchemy,” right? One of the reasons that first Avengers movie was so popular and so exciting is, you were taking four franchises and [claps] smashing them into each other. Hopefully, we have the same kind of magic here, where we bring this completely different set of characters and smash them into varying groups of our characters. Another thing to think about, one of the challenges we’ve had is, how do you make sure this is not 25 people moving from one scene to one scene to one scene? So we talk, being a little facetious about it, but we talk about how it’s like Nashville [the Robert Altman film], right? So you’ve got four or five different stories weaved together and then come together and then break apart. So, you get all these different pairings and groupings of four and five and six [characters].

Christopher Markus: And even now, not unlike something like Game of Thrones, where you have this vast canvas with characters you’ve been watching this guy over here molesting this girl over here in the East for years and only now does it have that feeling of massive plates shifting and finally bringing these characters near each other.

Are you saying this movie is going to be on par with Daenerys finally meeting Jon Snow? [laughter]

Christopher Markus: I’m absolutely telling you that. Yes!

Stephen McFeely: It’s going to blow that away.

What we just watched was them coming to Wakanda to kind of warn them that something happened. Looks like they may have taken some sort of beating before that. But it’s early to the film. What can you say about how it starts? Because as it stands now, all the characters in the MCU are scattered. Where does this pick up?

Christopher Markus: That is something we didn’t want to blow off. Didn’t want to devalue Civil War by having a phone call saying, “Let’s all get back together because there’s an even worse guy.” Nah, everything’s fine now. So we dragged that a long way through it so that we are valuing the resentments we’ve built up between these characters.

Stephen McFeely: They’re ill-prepared to handle this.

Christopher Markus: Yeah. And it shows.

You mentioned that this is Thanos’ film but I know that M’Baku has also been added to the cast as a villain. 

Stephen McFeely: It’s M’Baku and Thanos – that’s it. [laughter] But no, there’s a substantial war coming.

Are there any other villains coming that we should expect to see?

Christopher Markus: Uhhh…I don’t even confirm villainous.

Stephen McFeely: I would not confirm M’Baku’s villainous in this for our purposes.

Christopher Markus: Villain is a derogatory term that Thanos wouldn’t agree with. Another one of the things we set out to do in this was, if Thanos is just a bad guy, then you’re dead in the water. It’s just a bad guy, you know? You get bored pretty quickly after he’s torn off the first few heads and we have two movies.

Stephen McFeely: That’s sort of metaphorical but uh…I’m not really sure.

Christopher Markus: Hopefully, you’ll come away from this the same way you do in the comics. He started off as a rogue villain but he’s his own thing now. Where you go, “I can’t say he was wrong.” [laughter]

Speaking of the comics, when you guys were cracking the story, can you list any comics that you read?

Stephen McFeely: Oh geez, almost all of them. That cheeser piece had some close ups of that omnibus that we had sort of over-posted it.

Which comic?

Stephen McFeely: It’s like an octopus.

Christopher Markus: It’s a giant bound Infinity Gauntlet but we read anything that had Thanos in it. Anything that had the [Infinity] Stones in it. A lot of Archie [laughter]

Can you talk about how much of this will be on Earth? How much will be cosmic?

Stephen McFeely: We can’t give you a percentage but it’s fairly split. That’s part of the nature of all these groups coming together.

Christopher Markus: And we wanted to give it, not have it be the feeling that it all comes down to Earth every time. It’s this sort of “Earth-ist” point-of-view that you have to tell. “In order to conquer the universe I have to take over this one little tiny planet.” We needed a broad canvas the whole time, so that it didn’t feel like, coincidentally, every stone is on, is in America. [laughter]

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