russo brothers q and a

Collider hosted a screening of Avengers: Infinity War last night, with directors Joe and Anthony Russo in attendance. Everything leading up to the screening seemed centered around whether or not the Avengers 4 title or trailer would drop. Spoiler: neither did. But the Russo Brothers did partake in a Q&A where they answered questions about Infinity War, and more.

Our own Peter Sciretta was in attendance, and brought back the following info. We have compiled what was learned during the Russo Brothers Q and A. Thanks to Collider for the invite.

Russos Star Wars Set

The Mandalorian 

The Russo Brothers recently visited the set of the Star Wars Disney+ series The Mandalorian, where they reunited with former MCU director (and current MCU actor) Jon Favreau. While the Russos were predictably tight-lipped about any specific details regarding the series, they did praise Favreau, and say that the series is “being shot in a way unlike any other TV show.”

Avengers Infinity War special feature

Shooting Infinity War and Avengers 4 Back to Back

The original plan was to shoot both Infinity War and Avengers 4 back to back, but the stories grew too complex. The Russos ultimately decided they wanted to treat the two movies separately since they are very different films. As a result, the decision was made a few months out to shoot them back to back instead as concurrent. This lead to crew in production meetings growing slightly confused about what scene was in what film, which in turn hurt some prep work.

infinity war clips

Fake Scripts, Rewrites and Unused Narration 

None of the actors in Infinity War actually had the entire script. Individuals who were in the film more than others had access to their scenes, and knew more than others, but in the end, the entire script remained a bit of a mystery. On top of all that, there was also fake scenes and redacted scenes to protect secrecy – one such fake scene involved Gamora throwing Thanos off the cliff in the Soul Stone sequence instead of the other way around.

There were ultimately three different drafts of Infinity War. One draft had Thanos as the narrator of the film, was non-linear in structure, and had backstories for the Black order. That script ran about 250 pages. Even though the narration didn’t make it into the final film, having it written out gave them more insight into the character.

Another draft of the script opened after Thanos had already secured the Power Stone, but it felt like he had too many Infinity Stones to start. So it was instead decided to open with the attack on the ship, in the middle of his plan

As the scripting processes went on, the plot was simplified, made more linear, and allowed more of the character moments come through. The Russos had what they thought was a very tight script going into production, but were very open during filming, and changed some things on set.

Thanos is Smarter Than Hulk, and Loki is Definitely Dead (Maybe) 

>At the opening of Infinity War, two major things happen. One: Thanos easily defeats the Hulk in a fight. And two: Thanos kills Loki. These events have lead to some questions, which the Russos attempted to set straight. According to the filmmakers, Thanos was able to easily beat The Hulk in the beginning not because of the Power Stone, as some have theorized, but rather because he was smarter and more calculated than the Hulk.

Another theory that popped-up as a result of this scene involves Loki disguising himself as Banner to escape (Loki can shape-shift, after all). But no, that’s not the case according to the Russos. In their definitive words, “Loki is dead.” Of course, in the past, the Russos have also said that all the deaths in Infinity War are final, and we all know there’s no way that’s true.

Bucky infinity war

Shooting and Editing

The shooting schedule for Infinity War was complicated – but not so complicated that it lead to creative changes. Instead, it just made shooting scenes a bit trickier, and required workarounds. For instance: one side of a scene would be shot with a stand-in, and months later, the same scene would be shot from the other side with the other actor.

Captain America: The Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War were both shot with mostly with three camera setups, while Infinity War was mostly shot with one camera setup. The three cameras facilitated the vérité look of the Captain America movies, but the Russos wanted Infinity War to look bigger.

The Russo Brothers learned from working in television that they like to move quickly, and try a lot of things – and they’ve taken that mentality to the editing room of their MCU movies. They edit many versions of a scene, structured in different ways. They also do something they refer to as “screen f’n”, where once they get the structure of the movie down, they start removing frames from shots and try to fast track the pacing of the film. On top of all this, the Russos try to get things right in the scripting process, and that’s why there isn’t many deleted scenes on their Blu-ray releases. As the Russos tell it, they’re very happy with their final cuts of their films, and consider them to be director’s cuts.

That said, the Russos explored other ideas for the final shot – but Thanos smiling at the sunset was an idea they came to very early on, when the writers realized it was Thanos’ movie. He was serving an idea larger than himself, and that’s why Thanos is a hero in his own mind.

Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art

Stormbreaker

Is Stormbreaker, the weapon Thor wields at the end, more powerful than the Infinity Gauntlet? Not really, at least according to the Russos. Their explanation is that Thanos didn’t know what was coming his way when Thor came at him with Stormbreaker, and if he had, he would have been able to use the stones to better react.

Avengers Infinity War - Red Skull

Red Skull? More Like Dead Skull! 

One surprise in Infinity War involved the return of Red Skull for the first time since Captain America: The First Avenger. As the Russos tell it, the character has been on a journey since the events of Captain America. He is now a slave to the stones, and he’s a ghost (tough break). The Russos thought about using someone else in this scene other than Red Skull, but kept coming back to the character. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote First Avenger, fought for the character’s appearance.

While Red Skull is back, the actor who originally played him – Hugo Weaving – is not. Weaving has gone on record in the past saying he has no desire to return to the MCU, but the Russos say he was asked to return and reprise the part. They wouldn’t elaborate further, but it’s safe to say Weaving said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Ross Marquand plays the character in Infinity War.

netflix marvel tv shows

The Netflix Marvel Characters 

The Russos  considered involving the Netflix Marvel characters – Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil – in Infinity War, but it was ultimately deemed too complicated to correlate story between not only the other Marvel films in production, but also the TV productions. In the end, everyone decided the best way to tell the story was to keep it MCU-centric.

Stan Lee in Spider-Man

The Stan Lee Cameo

The late Stan Lee was always told about his particular cameo right before he came to set, and never turned down any of their cameos. Lee’s running joke on set was: “Why do I always only get one line?”

Avengers Infinity War VFX Reel

Spidey and the Snap

The Russo Brothers always knew which characters in Infinity War they wanted to be dusted at the end of the film after Thanos snaps his fingers. Still, speaking as fans and not directors, the brothers said that Peter Parker/Spider-Man was the one character they wish they could’ve saved.

Speaking of Spider-Man, someone asked the Russos to address the timeline discrepancy in Spider-Man: Homecoming. A title card in that film sets the main events 8 years after the first Avengers film, but that doesn’t really line-up with the current Marvel timeline. The filmmakers gave a blunt answer: they didn’t make Homecoming, and their own film is correct as far as the timeline goes. ‘Nuff said,

Marvel Themed Lands Officially Announced For Three Disney Parks

Marvel Land

Disney is bringing Marvel-based lands to their theme parks – “the new Super Hero-themed land will begin recruiting guests in 2020, with even more new experiences to follow. The Guardians of the Galaxy will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers in what will become a completely immersive Super Hero universe, furthering the evolution of Disney California Adventure park.” So will the Russos have any input there? The filmmaking duo said they’ve been in a room with Disney Imagineers, giving a presentation about their films and explaining what’s important to them, but they are not actively involved in the Disney parks rides. So, no.

IMAX

The IMAX version of Infinity War didn’t make it over to home video. Why? It’s “complicated”, but reading between the lines, it seems like it’s partly an IMAX decision. The Russos said that it doesn’t mean that the IMAX ratio version of the film won’t ever be available on home video. In other words, don’t be surprised when you end up double-dipping on a new Blu-ray.

Beta Ray Bill

Beta Ray Bill

Beta Ray Bill, the first being outside the Marvel’s Norse universe deemed worthy to wield Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and the owner of Stormbreaker in the comics, was discussed as a possible character several times. But the Russos and the screenwriters could never work him into the story. Honestly, that’s fine – Infinity War has approximately 50,000 characters, so Beta Ray Bill can sit this one out.

avengers 4

Favorite Moments

The Brothers Russo each have their own favorite moments in Infinity War. Joe Russo’s favorite Thor’s epic arrival in Wakanda during the final battle. Anthony Russo, meanwhile, loves the emotional scene where Wanda is forced to destroy Vision’s stone.

Marvel Studios Logo

Diversity and Strong Points of View

When asked about the possibility of Latino characters in the MCU, the Russo Brothers said they didn’t want to spoil anything, but that they think we’ll find the MCU will continue to diversify. This is a painfully vague answer, and while I get not wanting to offer spoilers, it seems way too wishy-washy, and I wish they had provided something more concrete. The Russos also said that Marvel is looking for “directors to come in with a strong point of view that is different from what they are thinking.”

Winter Soldier / Falcon

Winter Soldier and Falcon

There have been stories of a Winter Soldier and Falcon spin-off TV series for the upcoming Disney + streaming service, but if that’s happening, the Russo Brothers aren’t involved. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening –  just that the filmmakers have nothing to do with it.

Avengers Infinity War - Thanos

What’s The Deal With the Soul Stone

You have Soul Stone questions? The Russos have answers! Sort of. In their own words, the Soul Stone has the ability to “manipulate your soul and your essence of who you are.” Thanos uses the Soul Stone to pull Doctor Strange out of his own body during the scene where Strange multiplies. Thanos also uses the soul stone to talk to Gamora.

Avengers Infinity War Trailer Breakdown

Thanos is Probably a Liar

At one point in Infinity War, Thanos says that all the children on Gamora’s planet “eat well” after the purge, But in Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora says she was the last of her race. Is this a goof? A plot hole? A big ass blunder? Not according to the Russo. When asked about this potential mistake, they responded: “Who do you believe, Thanos or Gamora?” In other words: Thanos is a lunatic who wants to wipe out half the universe, so maybe don’t take him at his word.

guardians of the galaxy vol. 3 script

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was all set to ramp up production, and then all hell broke loss. Writer-director James Gunn was fired by Disney due to backlash involving some old, offensive tweets. This left the future of this particular franchise in doubt, and as of now, it’s on indefinite hold. But that hold didn’t cause any issues with Avengers 4, according to the Russos, because the film was already finished shooting when Vol. 3 was put on hold.

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