The Russo Brothers Break Down All Of Avengers: Endgame's Biggest Moments

How do you take down an iconic villain? Killing him twice-thats how.

The Russo Brothers (Joe and Anthony Russo) alongside Tom Hiddleston on the set of Avengers: Infinity War.

Josh Brolins Thanos has dominated much of the discussion and coverage of both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame over the last year or two, and Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of those films, wanted to make sure they subverted subverted filmgoers expectations.

So, when Thanos-fresh off his victory over the Avengers in Infinity War-gets his head chopped clean off his body early on in Endgame, its safe to say it wasnt what fans expected to see. When Thanos dies again later in the movie-his past self having traveled forward through time to once again fight the Avengers-again, it was something audiences probably didnt have in their Endgame outcome pools.

Thats the kind of stuff that tickles Joe and I-that we can kill the villain twice in a single movie, especially after not being able to do that in the prior film, Anthony said in an interview with Mens Health.

As the first person to kill Thanos, Chris Hemsworths Thor has one of the most interesting arcs in all of Endgame; his early murder of Thanos is shocking and fun, but given all thats transipred, just doesnt feel quite right. We next find him five years later in a depressed, overweight, and constantly drunk state. Given that Chris Hemsworth has a reputation for playing, well, super buff heroes, what would his reaction be to his superhero in such a state?

Just as Hemsworth was finishing up his work on Thor: Ragnarok, he gave the Russos a call, knowing that hed be working with them on both Infinity War and Endgame. He was really excited about the humorous, irreverent direction that director Taika Waititi had taken the character in Ragnarok. He was so excited, and he was really concerned Joe and I would find a way to move that forward, and that was his prelude to the phone call, Anthony says. We were like, guess what, Chris? Youre never going to guess what weve got in store for you.

Downturn in physical appearance and upturn in video game-playing and beer-drinking aside, Thors storyline in Endgame might just be the most compelling piece of the entire movie. After losing his mother and father in the Thor movies, he loses his brother and best friend in the opening parts of Infinity War, and fails to stop Thanos at the end of the movie.

Thinking about all of this made the brothers wonder what they could do with a character dealing with this level of tragedy, and this level of devastating failure. Eventually, they landed on the idea of depression, and how someone like Thor would deal with that fallout. Of course, on one level, its very sad, but on another level, theres humor to be found there, Anthony says. Because, where do you go when a character is that low? The only place to go is humor, because you cant drive them down any more with pathos. When he eventually makes his way to the end of the story-relinquishing Asgard and teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy aboard their ship, it just feels right.

He just felt like he was in a very Guardians place, in the sense that he was this, sort-of, misfit, Joe says. It just seemed like well, where does a lost soul like that go? Thats basically what the Guardians are-a collection of lost souls.

A bummed out Thor was obviously an easy target for Robert Downey Jr.s Tony Stark-at one point, Stark calls Thor Lebowski -and when you realize the God of Thunders get-up consists of sunglasses indoor, a beard, a beige cardigan, and a drink constantly in his hand? Well, it just makes a whole lot of sense. Not to mention the fact that Obidiah Stane, Iron Mans very first nemesis, was played by The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges.

Im sure that Downey was thinking of that when he threw that out there, Joe said, noting that the entire production, internally, would sometimes refer to this version of Thor as Lebowski as a joke. But Downey was very clever to drop that as an improv on camera.

Its a relief that Tony Stark has a few of his signature quippy moments like these, because one of the most emotionally devastating moments of Endgame is Starks funeral. In this scene, groupings of characters from just about every MCU franchise come together to mourn their fallen leader. Getting so many different busy actors together was no easy task-so the directors made sure to get it just right, rehearsing the shot that pans from character to character for four days before finally assembling everyone to put it to film.

We knew exactly what we were doing, because we wanted to shoot it at the exact right moments of the light, we knew we werent going to have a lot of runs at it, and we needed to make sure there were no mistakes made, Joe said. We were extremely, heavily prepped for that shot.

For their own protection against anything leaking about what they called the spoiler of spoilers, that scene was always referred to as the wedding, and not the funeral, so no one would be cued in about the major death that was on the horizon.

The final moments of Endgame come when Captain America travels back in time to return the Infinity Stone-but rather than return back immediately, as his friends expect, he decides to stay in the past, living with his first love, Agent Peggy Carter. Given that the Russos began their Marvel journey with a pair of Captain America movies, its a wonder if they felt like they started there; they have to end there, too.

We had been following his storyline so specifically in our own brains, but it just fit the movie, Anthony said. While theres a nobleness in Tonys death, and a hopefulness, in the sense that its the completion of an arc of a guy who started as a very self-centered character, and finally found a way to be truly selfless. So, theres some silver lining to his death-there was a little more hope and uplift in Caps denouement, so I think thats really why we ended with Cap-simply because we wanted to send the entire narrative off on a more positive note.

When Captain America re-appears as an old man on a bench in the films closing moments, he does something many speculated he might do: name his successor. There was a lot of speculation on whether Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) or Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) would be the next to hold the shield, since both have stints as Cap in the comics. But the Russos see Sam- who ultimately takes the shield -as a kindred spirit to Captain America, from his first appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Right from the moment they met, they sort of shared this bond, Joe says. They come from a very similar place as soldiers-a real desire to serve. A lot of strength, a lot of integrity, but also a humility. I think theyre very similar on that level.

Bucky, meanwhile, is still working through the lasting issues that he faced in both Winter Soldier and Civil War. While he may seem to be back, the idea of him taking over for Cap might not be quite right at this point in the MCUs story.

Hes had his brain corrupted, Joe says. Hes had trouble with that before, and it may not be the kind of person you want to trust with a new weapon.

In lieu of the typical Marvel mid- and post- credits scene, instead Endgame has a sequence that honors the original six Avengers: Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Jr, in that order. Slides come across the screen, depicting some of their earliest appearances, finishing with the actors signatures stamped in the middle of the slide. In many ways, it reads as a curtain call: a way for people to further reflect on what these characters have meant for the last 11 years and 22 feature films.

Working with an NYC-based company called Perception, the Russos went back and forth in a months-long process, trying to figure out what they could do with the closing credits to properly express the real ending feel of Endgame.

As the movie was coming together in the edit room, and youre really recognizing the weight of the story, and the finality, and the end of the arc of the characters, and the journey that weve all been on with these characters, it just ended up feeling very right to us to do a specific curtain call like that, especially adding the personal touch with the signatures.

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