Russos Explain “Avengers” Two-Film Split

One of the most visible behind-the-scenes changes to the MCU took place a few years back when it was revealed that the back-to-back productions of the third and fourth “Avengers” would not be called “Avengers: Infinity War – Part I” and “Avengers: Infinity War – Part II” as originally announced.

Instead the third would become “Avengers: Infinity War” with the fourth would not reveal its title until after the third was in cinemas because it’s believed to be something of a spoiler for the events of the third. What was to be one big interconnected story will instead be two separate films, though they will have some connections.

Now, ahead of tomorrow’s full trailer launch, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have attempted to clear things up for fans and say they are treating them as two separate releases similar to the way their two “Captain America” films are. They explained to multiple outlets this week:

“Our approach has always been … we look at the process, as with Marcus and McFeely, it’s simply the same thing in the way that The Winter Soldier relates to Civil War, and the way that Civil War relates to Infinity War. These two movies will also relate.

There’s a narrative thread that is connecting these films, but at the same time, there’s an independence in terms of what the experience is or where the story goes. It isn’t a true two-parter, and I think the two-parter concept came back when Marvel decided they were going to culminate the MCU, it was going to be a two-movie deal. But as we developed the movie, in execution, it ended up being more of two singular expressions.

They also say that the films don’t just include heroes for the sake of it, rather both films will put the focus on different leads and each of the heroes has to be impacted by the stakes of the life and death decisions being made:

We always try to make each film different so they don’t get repetitive. This kind of serialized storytelling, outside of ‘Harry Potter’ which was a distinctive story that was told over that eight movies, you have to keep evolving. You have to keep evolving who’s at the forefront, how you’re laying the story out, because I think rigor mortis will set in very quickly.

So for us, we absolutely are very, very particular about who carried the ball on this movie, and who will carry it on this movie because each character represents a different theme, each character has different wants, and that can shape and color and re-tone an entire film depending on who you’re following. Especially in stories this big.

Everyone is interwoven in this plot in a way where they have an emotional connection to the story, and are emotionally affected by the stakes of the movie. You can’t tell a movie with this many characters and not have each of those characters show up and honor them from the different franchises if they are not motivated to be there, if they are not in life or death circumstances, if they are not fighting to save their belief system or their way of life.

That of course ties to Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones. The pair admits the film isn’t so much an adaptation of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline as it is one of numerous Thanos-centric epic stories. However, they have a clear goal in mind with Thanos:

Joe Russo: “Our job with Thanos is to make him the preeminent villain in the Marvel universe. That’s his role in the comics, that’s his role in these movies, and in order to be a preeminent villain you have to do some pretty bad things. “

Anthony Russo: “This movie is catalyzed by Thanos’ decision and an opportunity for him to make a very aggressive move for the stones, a more effective move for the stones than he has ever in the past. So when Thanos decides to do it, he really goes for it, and he’s kind of one step ahead of our heroes through the movie and he puts them through a lot of pain in the process of that.”

The pair also confirms that Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel will NOT be in ‘Infinity War’ but is confirmed for the fourth film, and they cite John Herzfeld’s “Two Days in the Valley” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight” as two films that served as “inspiration for narrative imagery”.

Separately, Marvel’s Kevin Feige tells EW that the finale of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is an example of the kind of finale that is more in line with his plans for “Avengers: Infinity War” – it’s not about death, but rather about main characters choosing to do something they should have done a long time ago.

Finally, Scarlett Johansson confirms to ET that, timeline wise, this is set at least 2-3 years after ‘Civil War’ with the various SHIELD film characters like Cap, Falcon and Widow having: “been kind of part of some sort of counter-terrorism unit efforts but we’re flying under the radar.”