Anthony and Joe Russo Talk Raising the Stakes in Avengers 4 [SPOILERS]

Posted by May 1, 2018 Comment

There were quite a few new things in Avengers: Infinity War, but one of the most impactful ones was how the ending seemed to punch you in the gut. All weekend people have been talking about the ending and how surprising it was, so Variety decided to sit down with directors Anthony and Joe Russo to talk about the stakes of Avengers: Infinity War and the stakes going into Avengers 4. However, to do that, we’re going to have to get into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet it’s probably best to avoid this interview.
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When it comes to blowing up the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems that the Russos are the ones you call. In their first movie with the studio they blew up the very concept of SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and then in their second movie they blew up the concept of the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. Now they have blown up the concept of the universe itself.

“When we started working with Marvel on ‘Winter Soldier,’ we wanted to do such a radical departure from their first [Captain America] film,” Joe Russo says. “We said, ‘The character is moving forward in time. The interpretation we’re interested in is much more modern than what you had done on the last one,’ and they said, ‘Great. Do it. Let’s see what happens.’ So they’ve always been risk-takers … If you look at every film we’ve done for Marvel, there are huge, game-changing events at the end of the movies. We are interested in pushing the boundaries and pushing the story forward in unexpected ways, surprising the audience as much as we can.”

anthony and joe russo
Editorial credit: DFree / Shutterstock.com

As beloved characters fell to ash, it wasn’t what anyone expected. If someone had money down on characters dying in Infinity War they probably lost because no one expected characters like T’Challa or Peter Parker to go. The original Avengers were the ones left standing, which wasn’t what we expected. That was deliberate, according to Joe Russo, because following the audience expectations is one way street to making “mush”.

“We do our best work when we follow our instincts and tell the story we want to tell,” Joe Russo says. “We’ve had one or two experiences early in our careers where we didn’t do that and we learned a very hard lesson: When you try to predict what an audience wants, you’re going to make mush. When you commit to the story you want to tell, it tends to have a much more resonant impact on the audience … The audience can tell you they love chocolate ice cream, but if you give it to them every day, they’re going to get sick of it real fast. You’ve got to stay ahead of them.”

The stakes for the characters on screen have never been higher, and while some of the deaths feel like they could be easily undone, there are others that feel much more permanent — such as the deaths of Loki or Gamora.

“Unless you have real stakes, you’re sort of limited in terms of the emotional impact a story can have on you,” he says. “You have to go to very difficult places for the stakes to feel real, for the characters to feel like they have something to lose, for the audience to feel like they have something at risk. What we’re looking for in storytelling or art is emotional catharsis. And that’s not simply getting what you want. It’s getting an emotional experience that makes you feel and respond to it and energizes you on some level.”

Kevin Feige talks Infinity War Thanos

We all know that T’Challa and Peter Parker and some of the Guardians aren’t going to stay dead though, mostly because we know they have more movies on the way — which means that the stakes have to shift going into the next movie. However, the Russos seem to imply that if we’re expecting everyone to come back to life maybe we shouldn’t be hedging our bets on that. You need stakes and turning back the clock on everyone we just lost might not be in the cards.

“I will say this: There is a real commitment on our end to the stakes,” Anthony Russo says. “Yes, this is a fantasy world, and yes, remarkable things can happen in a fantasy world, but-“

Joe finishes the thought: “They come at an incredibly high cost. For us, there will always be stakes and the stakes have been progressing from film to film. And I think you can extrapolate that they will continue to deepen in ‘Avengers 4.’”

Now the money is on the table for characters like Steve Rogers or Tony Stark to bite the dust in Avengers 4, but the Russos aren’t giving away anything. When asked about it, all Joe Russo could say was:

“Just you wait,” with a sly smile.

Because time travel can be involved in bringing some people back to life, this first movie put emphasis on sacrifice. Do the original Avengers have to die to see the next team live? We’ll just have to see in a little over a year.

Summary: As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, and Anthony Mackie. It will be released on April 27th.

(Last Updated May 1, 2018 2:22 pm )

About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is a film nerd, a comic nerd, an all around nerd that has a love for female superheroes and independent cinema. When she isn't watching movies Kaitlyn loves fiction writing and watching political satire. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at http://www.nerddomepodcast.com

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