Infinity War writers tease the ‘delight & terror’ of character team-ups
By now you’ve heard the tale of how many characters will be in Avengers: Infinity War. Stories floated all around the internet ranging from sixty to over seventy, how a wall of characters was erected at Marvel Studios.
Well, it’s true.
All of it.
A wall of characters existed when directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were developing the script for the film, and it wasn’t just to keep track of who they could put in the movie and what their arc would be. It was used as a springboard for deciding what the best combinations of characters to put on screen would be.
“We had wall of characters and at a certain point you just go…,” Markus says before gesturing his hands in the air. “‘That’s funny and that’s funny. What’s a story that could get those two (characters) together?’”
McFeely adds they had a word for their character combos. “It’s a Joe Russo term, ‘strange alchemy.’ What is it when you put the two characters together, even in a fairly normal traditional situation, but since we’ve invested in those characters and known them, we sort of delighted in the idea of those two people rubbing against each other. So, we always chased delight – and terror. Lots of terror. “
The character interactions are not only dictated by the potential fun that could come from them, but because they offer some levity to a scene that has none. The conflicting tones of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe will have to mesh together instead of conforming to one type of tone for the whole film. Sure there will be an impending sense of doom given the incoming Thanos, but your Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man types are still going to be themselves.
“You cut to the Guardians and it’s a breather,” Markus says of mixing the tones. “If you’re going from T’Challa and Captain America being very intense, you cut to Quill and Drax and it’s like, sighs. It doesn’t mean they’re not carrying as much plot, it just means the tone is different. But it’s also fun to drag people into each other’s tones. Pull someone into the Guardians and have them go, ‘What the f*ck is with you guys?’”
These particular combinations, if they all work, are what will make Infinity War a success for Marvel. They managed to combine four different franchises with the first Avengers movie, and now they’re bringing together even more into a full culmination of the MCU. The type of on-screen magic that made The Avengers movie work so well is what they’re hoping for here, but when they talked about crafting the film, The Avengers wasn’t the movie they modeled themselves after. The film they used was Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville.
“One of the challenges we’ve had is how do you make sure this is not 25 people moving from one scene to one scene to one scene?,” McFeely teases. “So we talk, being a little facetious about it, but we talk about how it’s like ‘Nashville,’ right? So you’ve got four or five different stories weaved together and then come together and then break apart. So, you get all these different pairings and groupings of four and five and six.”
The storytelling possibilities are endless for some of the combinations that are possible in Infinity War, but Markus and McFeely also had to keep in mind both the preceding story beats and the story beats for films that will arrive between Avengers: Infinity War and the Untitled Avengers 4.
“And there’s also…we’re coming off ‘Civil War.’ We’re coming off ‘Winter Soldier.’ So that’s there’s lots of backstory that still needs to play out in addition to the Thanos situation,” Markus says. “Like, I just walked by Sebastian Stan out there. You could put Bucky in a room with anybody and they’re going to say, ‘Oh sh*t! He’s a maniac.’ He’s shot Black Widow twice as far as I can keep count, so it’s going to be interesting.”
Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters on April 27.
Check back here on Friday for our interview with Don Cheadle (War Machine) from the set of Avengers: Infinity War!