With “Avengers: Infinity War” now playing in cinemas everywhere, those involved have now begun discussions of spoilers regarding the story and how they play out into the next film.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The new film ends on a dark cliffhanger, effectively shooting down the talk that next year’s fourth film is very different to the third. It could well be, but only in tone as story wise it is very much the first part of a two-parter with many of the apparent deaths – especially in its last 10-15 minutes – likely to be to be reversed next year.
Anthony and Joe Russo certainly racked up one hell of a body count, even before Thanos enacted his lifelong plan, but the pair says this represents a natural progression for them from their previous films. Joe Russo tells Variety:
“When we started working with Marvel on ‘Winter Soldier,’ we wanted to do such a radical departure from their first [Captain America] film. 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.”
To maintain the mystery, everything from the marketing to the project announcements was tightly controlled with the message steering people towards the likes of Captain America and Iron Man dying, as opposed to the actual ones who did. Joe Russo says:
“We do our best work when we follow our instincts and tell the story we want to tell. 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.”
Brother Anthony adds that with such powerful characters, you have to focus on their vulnerabilities to make them relatable:
“Unless you have real stakes, you’re sort of limited in terms of the emotional impact a story can have on you. 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.”
Of course, a valid criticism of the film is there isn’t much in the way of real stakes here. Certainly two of the victims who turned to dust – Spider-Man and Black Panther – are getting their own sequels in 2019 and 2020 so there’s zero chance either character will not be returned in the next “Avengers” – especially when you’re dealing with a macguffin that can change reality and manipulate time. They respond:
Anthony: “I will say this: There is a real commitment on our end to the stakes. Yes, this is a fantasy world, and yes, remarkable things can happen in a fantasy world, but…”
Joe: “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.'”
For now it’s expected many of the characters who were killed off in the first two acts of the film will not be back, while those that survived are more at risk than ever. As Marvel’s Kevin Feige has said from the beginning, we won’t really know the future of the MCU until the end of the next “Avengers” next year.
One thing Feige is willing to clear up right now though? He tells Collider that the fourth film’s title is remaining under wraps for now, but confirms it will NOT be “Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet” as some have speculated.