The Russos Discuss the Epic Ending of 'Avengers: Endgame' (& More)
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo go over their favorite moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the spectacular conclusion of "Avengers: Endgame".
Avengers: Endgame just crossed $2 billion at the box office. If you haven't seen the movie now, then you're either stuck in a cave or purposefully ignoring it. As someone who's seen it twice, I can say I consider it to be top-tier filmmaking on every level. It's the culmination of the 20+ films that came before it, and we have the Russo brothers to thank for it.
Anthony and Joe Russo have been shepherding us toward Endgame for quite some time, but their journey in the Marvel Universe started like most of us: as fans.
Now that the spoiler embargo has been lifted, the directors have been doing the rounds and talking about some of the most special moments in Endgame and breaking down scenes from the movie. So let's jump into some great anecdotes and points they made.
Endgame spoilers will follow...
The Russo Brothers' Endgame Interview
My favorite parts of Endgame were the unabashed love of the genre and the anything-is-possible plotlines. So often superhero films get bogged down by being too serious or too goofy. Endgame found a great tone and never let it fall apart. In general, the Russo brothers have handled my favorite Marvel movies. their work, along with Markus and McFeely, found the tone of the Marvel universe.
And it pays off in a big way.
But how did they do it?
Check out the full video from GQ and then we'll dive into some key observations on the Russo interview.
The most inspiring part of this interview is the story of the Russos seeing Iron Man in theaters. I think everyone who reads this site has had a moment where they've been watching a movie or a TV show and wished they could be working within that world. The Russos already were working adjacent. They had TV directing gigs and had generally established themselves, but they kept dreaming.
This resistance to complacency feels like part of the Marvel mantra, they just didn't know it yet.
One thing they brought to the table was the desire to subvert expectations. That meant when directing a movie about Captain America and SHIELD, that Cap would go against the government he swore to protect. It also means letting humor and pain shine through people we usually see as invincible.
The way the Russos subverted Marvel was to honor the movies that came before them.
I love all the Captain America hero worship. Their movies lean into Cap being a god, and Cap resisting that call. He's a leader of a team, but not the whole team. And what about that Endgame scene in the elevator. The Russos admit that they were lampooning themselves there, but also wanted to show how Cap has grown. We know he can kick ass in the elevator. He's beaten these guys before. But this time Cap uses his head and not his heart. He's older and wiser.
Speaking of older but this time wider...
Thor is a muscular dude who has always had self-doubt issues. Once you take away the physique, Thor learns he has to conquer his emotions. Is he worthy to still lift the Mjolnir...what about the scene in Endgame when Cap lifts it!?!
The Russos speak openly about seeing Age of Ultron and speculating that when Cap moves the Mjolnir subtlety. They said Cap shows his leadership my letting Thor maintain his fragile masculinity. But in Endgame, look at Thor's face when Cap throws the hammer. Thor is genuinely happy. Not just because his life was saved but because his friend has figured out he's worthy.
Both guys have grown, and the way they do that is by having one another's backs.
And what about the final sacrifice of Tony Stark?
I love that the movie was able to show true heroism is the willingness to die for your friends. And I love that the Russos were able to tie that back into their love of the original Iron Man movie. The end of the original Iron Man has Tony Stark declaring with hubris and bravado that he is Iron Man.
It was a subversion of secret identities and fit directly into the story that the Russos would tell as Tony Stark acknowledged he got a heart, arced, and became a hero.
In Endgame, after Tony snaps, there used to be only silence and then his death scene. But when the Russos got into the edit they know something was missing. The editor of the movie, Joe Ford, came up with the idea of the line "I'm Iron Man" and the Russos flipped. This was the PERFECT ending to Tony's story. But the film was in the can.
They had to call Robert Downey Jr and convince him to redo the scene. Downey was wary of getting back into the mindset and emotional state, but producer and friend Joel Silver was at the dinner meeting with Robert and the Russos and flipped for the idea. He and the Russos convinced Robert and the rest is cinematic history. Who says reshoots aren't great?
What's next? Learn to write an Avengers movie!
Imagine being tasked with writing one of, if not the, biggest movie ever made. That's precisely what Markus and McFeely faced when they entered the Marvel Universe. It's all about size and scope, but you also have to handle the characters. With all this on your plate, it can be incredibly hard to start writing. So we assembled some tips from Markus and McFeely, thanks to the good folks at Behind the Curtain, to take you through the motions of writing an Avengers movie.
I'll try to lay off the Endgame spoilers but read forward at your own risk.
Let's assemble some screenwriting tips!