If you haven’t heard of directors Joe and Anthony Russo at this point you’ve probably been frozen in a glacier for the last eighty years. These two film makers are responsible for directing the culmination of a 20 year saga, the single most financially successful film in history, and the only comic book movie to make grown men weep (shut up, you can’t prove it was me).
Now that they are done with Avengers: Endgame and Marvel one would assume the Russo brothers have a bit more free time on their hands. Because they are wonderful, the duo took some of their time and sat down for a good old fashioned Reddit AMA. Here’s what we learned.
The Agent Carter Cameo
Hey guys, congrats on directing the #1 movie of all time! I was wondering if you could talk about your decision to include James D’Arcy from Agent Carter into Endgame, which came as a shock to all fans of the show, thanks!
Because we love James. Also, because Markus and Mcfeely were instrumental in engineering that show, and because I directed one of the episodes. It seemed appropriate.
Though the MCU has long since left the ill-fated ABC show Agent Carter in the cinematic dust, there are still die-hard fans who will always remember the early days of Shield. It would appear one of these fans just happened to direct the biggest film in Marvel history. So, when The Avengers found themselves bumping into Howard Stark at a top secret military base in the 1950s, who could resist bringing back one of their favorite actors from the series to reprise his role as Howard Starks butler Jarvis! This cameo is one of very few moments in any MCU film to directly acknowledge the existence of any television series that, supposedly, shares its universe.
The Disney Fox Fusion
Hello Joe and Anthony, huge fan!
If the Disney-Fox deal had gone through earlier, how many heroes would you have wanted to incorporate into Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame? Endgame felt like the culmination of every single hero and character we knew coming together to stand off against Thanos, but the Fox properties obviously weren’t present.
Double the amount.
Filming of Avengers: Endgame wrapped on January 11, 2018. One year, two months and ten days later the behemoth that is Disney absorbed 21st Century Fox, and all of the previously licensed properties that went with it. It is a bit difficult to imagine a film packed with even more super powered protagonists, but if Disney had been a bit quicker with its negotiations we could have seen the likes of The Fantastic Four and The X Men join the fray against Thanos. Fans have long desired to see these lost heroes join the ranks of the MCU and with that merger it will now be possible, just slightly later than the Russo brothers would have liked.
Avengers Kneeling Scene
I just wonder: why didn’t The Avengers’ kneeling before Tony scene make it into the final cut? Personally, I find it extremely emotional.
Also in Infinity War, the decimated are randomly chosen, so how did Doctor Strange know for sure that Stark wasn’t one of them ?
I hope that you guys will answer my question. Love you guys 3000 !
We found the Avengers kneeling scene incredibly emotional as well, but when played in the run of the film, it felt incredibly similar to the moment when all of the heroes stood on the shore at Tony’s funeral, paying their respects to him outside his home. The two scenes, when in the film together, seemed to fight one another, and created a repetitious ending.
The scene in question was released online and features a moment when super humans, aliens, kings and gods all knelt before a mortal man who sacrificed everything to save the universe. From the moment footage was released of this extremely powerful scene, fans have questioned what logic led to it falling on the cutting room floor. The Russo brother’s reasoning does make sense here. The kneeling sequence is powerful, but it still exists within the moment of the battle, where the funeral scene serves to pull the story forward into a post Thanos world.
Avengers Fans… Asemble!
Are there any Important Easter eggs in Endgame that haven’t been found yet?
Well, you heard them everyone. Once Avengers: Endgame is released on Blu-ray and 4K, on August 13th, you will be able to comb over each and every scene looking for these “Important Easter eggs”. Better clear your schedule for a week or so.
Some Good Advice
What advice do you have for any young/aspiring directors who want to get started?
Get out your iphone and shoot short films on it. Post those short films on youtube. Do this as much as humanly possible, because it teaches you how to tell stories, and it gives you exposure. We found Donald Glover for Community because of a series of insanely hilarious comedic shorts he and his friends had shot and posted on Youtube while he was a student at NYU.
One of the inspiring things about the Russo brothers is their relative obscurity prior to Kevin Feige anointing them directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They were around, for sure, but helming films such as You Me and Dupree, Welcome to Collinwod, and A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (their television credits are a bit more impressive having produced the NBC comedy Community). Because of this, The Russo brothers know what it takes to be discovered.
The True Mystery
Can you tell us something we don’t know about one of your Marvel films?
We’re not really brothers. One of us is an actor playing a brother.
Well, we certainly didn’t know that. Now we must solve the mystery of which one is the true Russo! I’m sure the answer will involve traveling to far off lands and escaping dangerous booby-traps. Seriously though, what do you think the casting for that was like?!
Vormir and the Soul Stone
Hi Joe and Anthony, thank you for visiting!
One of the coolest things I think you created for the MCU is Vormir, it’s such a mysterious place with very little comic origin and it really gave the Soul Stone a gravitas to it. My question for you is what the design process was like for creating Vormir, and what made you want to keep the Soul Stone as a big reveal in Infinity War instead of having it pop up ahead of time in another movie like the other stones?
Anthony: For the centerpiece of Vormir where you retrieve the stone, we referenced ruins that were used for human sacrifice as an inspiration.
The choice to keep the soul stone out of the storytelling wasn’t entirely ours, any of the other Marvel storytellers could have gone to that stone at any opponent. But, we were thrilled that the stone had remained a mystery in the MCU and that we were able to use it for such a surprising purpose.
It is always interesting to hear about a film makers inspiration for locations such as the ancient and dire home of the soul stone, Vormir. Their second answer sheds light on an interesting phenomenon of the MCU. Though it might seem that Kevin Feige, Disney, and Marvel have had a detailed master plan since the beginning, each new instalment has the ability to shift the plot, to varying degrees. Had the soul stone been revealed in, for instance, Thor: The Dark World then significant moments in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame might have played out quite differently.
An “Awkuard” Reunion
How did the meeting between Cap and the Red Skull go when he returned the Soul Stone after Endgame? Is there a story there and will we ever see it in a future movie?
Anthony: It was probably more awkward than you imagine it was. Red Skull felt slated because Cap didn’t recognize him.
This question has plagued MCU fans since the moment the credits began to roll at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Captain America, the first Avenger, comes face to face with his original foe and the Russo brothers let it happen OFF SCREEN? Thankfully, all the wild speculation has now been resolved. Now a new question. How on Earth (or Vormir) could Captain America not recognize the guy who stole a magic glowing cube from him and has a BRIGHT RED SKULL for a face?!
Was Thor weaker in Endgame’s final fight than in the end of Infinity War or did noticing he was still worthy return him to normal?
Anthony: The difficult road that Thor’s traveled ultimately gave him strength. He was stronger than ever by the end of Endgame.
One of the most dramatic arcs in Avengers: Endgame was that of Thor, the alien/Norse god with a touch of the blues. During the film it is revealed that the mighty Thor has taken the loss his family, the world he called home, and half of all the Asgardians who trusted him to protect them a bit personally. Over the course of Endgame, the god of thunder must climb out of his own self destructive spiral and become a hero once more. We all struggle sometimes, but if we persevere, and learn to believe in ourselves, we too will emerge “stronger than ever”.
Fight with a Purpose
Hey Joe and Anthony Russo! Just wanted to say the Winter Soldier is one of my favorite action films ever.
How much of those fight scenes did you have visualized in your head or on paper when you pitched the idea for the film to Kevin Feige? Or how important were the fight scenes to your pitch?
First question: Sometimes we do have a very clear idea that we want to build scene around and sometimes it takes months working with our stunt team and visual effects team trying to figure it out. We also think about action scenes the same way we think about dialogue scenes that we need to move the story forward or find a way to explore the characters in an essential way, or the action scene does need to be in the movie.
This is the kind of thinking that separates average film makers from true artists. Not a single moment of the film should feel wasted. Even when fists are flying the focus should always be on driving the plot ahead.
As the AMA came to a close The Russo brothers left us with a parting message:
Awesome questions, gang. We could sit here all day and hang with our peeps at Reddit (we’ve been spying on your comments for years). We can’t thank you enough for your passion, insight, imagination and support over the last decade. You have inspired us, and you’ve helped shape the MCU. Keep your conversations healthy and constructive. And be a positive force in the world…
All the best…
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