Everything We Learned About Avengers: Infinity War From the Russo Brothers’ Q&A

 avengers infinity war

Everything We Learned About Avengers: Infinity War From the Russo Brothers’ Q&A

Warning: There are MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War. If you still haven’t seen the film, are you sure you’re on the right site? 

Last night, we were lucky enough to attend a special screening of Avengers: Infinity War with the Russo Brothers. The event – which was presented by Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood and hosted by Collider’s Steve Weintraub – featured an IMAX presentation of the film, followed by an extensive Q&A with Joe and Anthony Russo.

During the nearly 2-hour chat moderated by Weintraub, a variety of topics were discussed with the directors. In their first extensive interview conducted for Infinity War since it’s release, the brothers shed some additional light on one of the most ambitious productions of all time.

While the duo is hard at work on Avengers 4, they immediately made it clear to everyone that they wouldn’t be answering any questions about the upcoming film or it’s impending trailer. Joe even went as far to establish that an air-horn noise from his phone would play any time that Avengers 4 questions were asked. In short, don’t expect to learn anything about Avengers 4 from this Q&A.

So without further adieu, here’s everything that we learned about Avengers: Infinity War from the Q&A with the Joe and Anthony Russo:

  • After Avengers 4 is completed, the Russo bros. are planning to take a break from comic book movies. Joe half-jokingly says they’ll come back if Marvel makes a Secret Wars movie.
  • Principal photography on Infinity War and Avengers 4 lasted for nearly a year in total.
  • When handing out scripts to the cast, Marvel redacted scenes so that actors only got the pages that they were in. In certain cases, fake scenes were used so that it would be misleading if the script were to be leaked.
  • Infinity War and Avengers 4 entered pre production with the intention of shooting both simultaneously. This proved to be a nightmare in pre-production, so the movies were ultimately split up and shot back-to-back to avoid as much logistical confusion as possible.
  • With that said, some scenes from both films were shot on the same day – mostly due to actor availability.
  • Three “radically different” drafts of the script were written. The original draft was non-linear in structure, featured voiceover from Thanos and backstories for the Black Order.
  • At 250 pages, this draft is what Joe Russo calls “the bible for the movie.” What he means by this is that it gave the filmmakers a lot of information about the characters and what they wanted to do with Thanos in particular. This information eventually gave them the subtext that would remain through the final film.
  • Due to the amount of characters in the story, the filmmakers latched onto the idea of simplifying the plot as much as possible. This allowed the duo to focus on the character moments.

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  • Because these movies are complex and so many different people are involved, the directors prefer to go into production with a clear story arc in mind. At the same time, they are also open to ideas the actors bring onto set.
  • When asked where the Hulk was when everyone was slaughtered on the Asgardian ship, they said, “it’s a very big ship.” Additionally they cited the fact that Banner and Hulk are “kind of having a thing.” That implied that Banner struggled to become the Hulk even before he appeared in the movie.
  • There was a previous draft of the script which depicted the scene where Thanos acquired the power stone from Xandar. They ultimately settled on the film’s opening scene to “knock the audience off balance” and immediately define Thanos’ presence.
  • When asked how Thanos was able to defeat Hulk, Joe Russo said, “He’s just that powerful.” While the Russos admit that Hulk is probably slightly stronger, his fighting style is a bit “mindless.” Joe Russo calls Thanos the “Genghis Kahn” of the MCU, due to his skilled fighting style and the fact that he’s much smarter.
  • Marvel has a very “secretive” screening process that allows the filmmakers to find “surgical” ways of making the movie better. The filmmakers call this “plussing,” which is another way of saying additional photography.
  • The shooting schedule allowed the filmmakers to grab pick-ups for Infinity War while they were shooting Avengers 4.
  • An alternate opening scene was plussed where Dr. Strange arrived to grab Tony from his new home. Ultimately the park had more energy in it, so this alternate scene was cut.
  • Besides that alternate scene and the ones presented on the Blu-ray, there were no additional scenes left on the cutting room floor.
  • The directors are “very accurate and efficient” when it comes to their story work. As a result, they admit to being very hard on their scripts and they are also “aggressive” with the development of them.
  • When asked how they were approached about helming the movie(s), they jokingly mentioned that they had to “wrestle Joss Whedon.” They cited Civil War as “setting the stage” for what would become Infinity War, making the transition seamless.
  • When asked to describe what Josh Brolin looked like on set, Joe Russo described the motion capture getup as “ridiculous.” The actor said that doing the performance capture felt like doing experimental theater.
  • Actor availability helped shaped the film. Anthony Russo says that they had to be very “judicious” about scheduling the production. Russo also made a point that “the tail doesn’t wag the dog” in terms of story. In other words, story and creativity are paramount; everything else comes as a result of that.
  • The first scene of the production was the scene where Tony, Peter and the Guardians of the Galaxy make the plan on Titan. Scheduling wise, all of Guardians scenes were front-loaded.
  • On certain occasions, actors in the same scenes were not available on the same day. As a result, the production would be forced to stage the scene and shoot only one actor’s side of the scene with a stand-in. Then, several months later, the filmmakers would then need to re-stage the scene to shoot the other side of the scene.

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  • When asked how Stormbreaker is able to withstand the blast of the fully powered gauntlet, the directors said that Eitri made both weapons – implying that they are equally as powerful. Joe also mentioned that Stormbreaker “has the ability to counteract the powers of the gauntlet,” and that Thanos wasn’t expecting it.
  • When asked how their experiences in TV shaped the way that they make editorial decisions, Anthony replied that it taught them to movie quickly and be experimental with their editing. They described editorial as a thorough process where they try “exhaust all possibilities.”
  • There was never a much longer version (assembly cut) of the movie. The directors tried to be studious about putting an emphasis on pacing and forward momentum.
  • When asked about the Red Skull cameo, Joe says that they needed someone on Vormir “who the audience could trust” to explain the rules of how to obtain the soul stone. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – who also wrote Captain America: The First Avenger – championed the Red Skull’s inclusion.
  • The Russos also said that Hugo Weaving “was asked” to return.
  • When asked if Vision could still be part of the mind stone, the directors dodged the question, That appeared to imply that this could be an element of Avengers 4.
  • There were discussions of including the Marvel Netflix characters, but it would have ultimately convoluted the movie.
  • When Weintraub asked how the tears of fans tasted, Anthony responded “very sweet.”
  • The Russos describe their collaborative process with other MCU directors as “rubbing off on each other” in terms of inter-connectivity of the larger universe. They “have to collaborate or nothing would make sense.”
  • Black Panther and Infinity War were both going into production around the same time in Atlanta. The Russos met with Ryan Coogler and his design team, who walked the brothers through an “incredibly elaborate and beautiful presentation” to give them an idea of what was happening with that film.
  • The brothers had a full-scale Infinity Gauntlet built for practical reference when shooting.
  • Joe described the creation of the action sequences as a “painstaking process,” involving all of the departments being interconnected. There’s on overall collaborative process where “action has to be driven by story and character.”
  • When asked about crafting Chris Hemsworth’s performance, the Russos admitted that Thor: Ragnarok had a big influence on the direction the character in Infinity War. Thor: Ragnarok was also shooting around the same time as Infinity War, so it “took a lot of conversations” between Hemsworth, Taika Waititi, and the Russos to find Thor’s arc.
  • Anthony compared Thor’s arc in the movie to that of Cap in The Winter Soldier, in the sense that the character has been “stripped of everything, and without a home in many ways.” The directors tried to “undermine the character on an emotional level.”
  • Joe Russo brought up the question of whether it’s Thor or Thanos’ movie. “Had Thor put the axe into Thanos’ head, it would have been Thor’s movie. He didn’t, so it becomes Thanos’ movie.”

RELATED: Chris Evans Elaborates On His Avengers 4 Wrap Tweet

  • When asked about working with Stan Lee, Joe Russo had this to say: “It was always a blast, and he was always fun to have on set. Whenever he came on set the crew would light up.”
  • Anthony Russo added, “when [Stan Lee] would hit set, he was just exuberant. The energy that he would bring to set – especially at his age – was stunning. You could just tell that he loved to be there. It lit him up. He always wanted more lines, and he always wanted to do more, which is fantastic.”
  • When asked if Thanos pays a physical price for the snap, Joe responds, “It’s evident in the movie. His arm is burnt to a crisp. The power that it took to enact his plan – he paid for physically. When he sits down at the steps at the end of the movie, you can see that it actually carries up his neck and onto his face.”
  • The ending of Thanos smiling into the sunset was around “for a long time.” It was pretty early on in the development process where they started to think of Infinity War as Thanos’ movie, treating him as the hero of the film. The idea that Thanos was serving “an idea larger than himself” was a notion that the directors clung to, saying “we like complicated villains, and that ‘s what makes Thanos – at least in his mind – heroic.”
  • According to Joe, the hardest and most complicated VFX sequences were the Battle(s) of Titan and Wakanda, despite praising the Thanos work.
  • The film was shot in the IMAX format, but it didn’t change their shooting style or scheduling. The digital Arri 65 camera allows the filmmakers to capture the IMAX aspect ratio, while at the same time allowing the format to “become part of our process, rather than having us becoming part it’s process.”
  • The film was shot mostly using single camera setups, except for when action or stunts are involved.
  • When asked about how they work on set, Anthony responds that it depends on the style that they are going for with a particular project. The mention “specific” camera framing for Infinity War that requires months of planning and “all of the elements working properly in the shot before you execute it.”
  • When asked who ruined the most takes, the brothers jokingly cite Anthony Mackie. They note that anytime an actor has expository dialogue, “it requires usually five takes to get the line right. I think that it’s just that they’re not emotionally processing what they’re saying because most of it is made-up science.”
  • When asked if an adaptation of Secret Wars might ever get made, they put an emphasis on focusing on the present more than the future.
  • A fan asks about the famous continuity error in Spider-Man: Homecoming, to which they respond “we didn’t make Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

RELATED: Russo Brothers Wrap On Avengers 4 Reshoots

  • The brothers cited Okoye as the one who was the most affected by the snap. Anthony added that “her job is to protect the king. And for her to have to watch him disappear in front of her eyes – that must have been really hard for her.”
  • When asked about the character pairings that they eventually landed on, Joe described “cards with magnets that would shift all the time.” They explored just about “every possible pairing” of characters.
  • The Russos brought Marvel Studios head-honcho Kevin Feige early into the process of crafting the story, while Disney CEO Bob Iger came in later after the physical production is finished.
  • Joe said that he would save Peter Parker from the snap to avoid “a crying ten year old boy.”
  • The brothers jokingly cited Groo The Wanderer as an origin story that they want to adapt in the future. However, Groo is not a Marvel character.
  • When asked about what was going through Tony’s mind when he realized he couldn’t save Peter, Joe said that “ he’s feeling like he’s lost a child. It’s about as painful about as it could get for him.”
  • Although the script was solidified going into shooting, Anthony cited that the scene where the Guardians meet Thor “took on a whole new life” once the actors got a hold of it on set.
  • When asked about which characters would be taken by the snap, Joe responds that it was “something that we knew from the very beginning.”
  • Joe and Anthony both called Iron Man their favorite MCU movie that they haven’t directed. Anthony added that “the original Iron Man was the first film. It was our introduction into the whole thing. I remember when I saw that movie I was just blown away by it. I was like whoa – I can’t believe we didn’t make that.”
  • When a fan asked the Russo’s about why the IMAX aspect ratio didn’t make it to the Blu-ray, Joe responded by saying “that’s an IMAX question. They have agency over that format, and it’s complicated. We spent a long time trying to make that happen.”
  • Joe called Thor’s entrance in Wakanda as a moment “that makes you think the good guys are going to win.” This was intentional misdirection on the part of the brothers.
  • The reason that Beta Ray Bill wasn’t used in the story was because there were already too many characters, although it “has been discussed many times.”
  • The filmmakers weren’t sure if they could pull off as many characters as they did, mostly due to the film’s unique structure.
  • Joe also called Thor’s arrival in Wakanda as one his favorite moments in the movie, although some of the more emotional moments were their favorites as well.
  • Anthony said that the moment when Wanda has to destroy Vision’s mind stone was a “heartbreaking experience to watch. There’s a certain nobility with those characters in that moment that is really affecting to me.”
  • There’s no significance to 14,000,605, the number of possible futures witnessed by Doctor Strange through the time stone. According to the brothers, this was something that was “shouted out in the writer’s room.”

What was the most intriguing revelation from the Russo brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War Q&A? Let us know in the comment section below!