The superhero movie to end all superhero movies is finally here.
Ten years after Iron Man hinted at a potential shared superhero universe with that post-credits scene where Nick Fury told Tony Stark about the “Avengers Initiative”, 18 movies and 10 TV series have been released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far.
But none of them have been on the scale of Avengers: Infinity War, arguably the most ambitious and possibly greatest superhero movie ever made.
How big is it? Well, for one, almost every single superhero Marvel has ever put on the silver screen (sorry, Defenders) is in this one – including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Loki, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Falcon, War Machine, Spider-Man, the Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vision and Scarlet Witch.
And the villain they will be facing is the biggest, baddest of them all – Thanos the Mad Titan, played by Josh Brolin, who is on a quest to gather the Infinity Stones, which will give him the power to destroy the universe with a mere snap of his fingers.
Much has been said about how Infinity War is the end of the story that began with Iron Man 10 years ago, with rumours that some major characters will die, and that Thanos’ attack on Earth will have major repercussions for the future movies in the MCU.
However, while it may mark the end of Phase Three of the MCU, it will then kickstart Phase Four, marking a brand new era that may not include some beloved older characters, but is no less exciting for fans of Marvel.
Three members of the Infinity War cast – Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange) and Karen Gillan (Nebula) as well as Joe Russo, who co-directed the movie with his brother Anthony, and producer Trinh Tran were in Singapore recently on a promotional tour. Star2 was there to speak with them about filming the movie, as well as the future of the MCU.
Strange but fun times
Although Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange made a cameo in last year’s Thor Ragnarok, Infinity War marks the first time the actor is involved with the rest of the Avengers.
“I felt like a small part of a bigger picture. I was preserving a character cherished by fans of the origin story, but at the same time opening up to a bigger purpose, and serving a different story line than just a solo one for Strange,” Cumberbatch said during a group interview at the event.
It was the same for Gillan, who said that although the space-based Guardians Of The Galaxy has not met any Earth-bound superheroes in its last two movies, she is still playing the same character.
“For me it was more about adjusting to the director. I had only ever worked with James Gunn (the director of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies), and he made those characters sort of extensions of himself in some way.
“So, to go off and play the characters without him … I think we were all a little bit intimidated at first,” she explained.
“Then we walked onto this set and met the Russo brothers, who immediately had new takes on things. They knew so much about the characters and it felt like we were in safe hands.”
Cumberbatch said that despite the large cast and massive scale of the film, making the movie was a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun at the same time.
“It is a really fun set. It’s hard work, but there was a lot of joking around,” he said.
“This is a big happy family!” noted Russo when asked about making the movie with such a large cast in a separate group interview.
“Many of them have been working together for more than a decade. We’re all very close. I’s a bit like summer camp – we get to hang out together, laugh a lot and have a lot of fun.”
The Russo brothers and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely had previously worked on two Captain America solo films before – The Winter Soldier, and Civil War.
Although they had experience with working on a big superhero cast with Civil War, Infinity War is twice that size.
Russo and Tran both said that juggling the massive number of characters was the most difficult part of making the movie.
“The challenge was just to bring them all together for certain scenes,” Tran said.
“We sat in a room for many, many months and went through every character in the Marvel universe, talking about who would be the most interesting to pair up together and what kind of story we wanted to tell,” Russo recalled.
Thanks to the filmmakers’ attention to details, actors like Cumberbatch said that he didn’t have to do much preparation for the film, unlike his 2016 solo Doctor Strange movie.
“I’d already absorbed so much from the films and the comics I’d read since I started watching the (Marvel) films, plus all the heavy lifting was already done by the studio bosses – the ultimate fanboy Kevin (Feige, president of Marvel Studios), Joe and Anthony … so I trusted them as far as the script went,” the 41-year-old actor said.
The future of Marvel
With Chris Evans already announcing that he won’t be playing Captain America after 2019’s Avengers 4, uncertainty surrounding Downey Jr’s commitment to playing Iron Man again and Thor’s story seemingly reaching its zenith with his ascension to the throne of Asgard in Thor Ragnarok, there is a sense of finality to Infinity War.
Asked about sustaining the popularity of the franchise in the coming years with the potential phasing out of these older characters, Russo and Tran didn’t seem concerned at all.
“Two words: Black Panther! It’s been by far the most successful solo movie that Marvel has done!” Russo said with a laugh.
“Moving forward you’ll see the mantle being handed off to new characters, rather than revisiting characters that you’ve already seen.”
He also said the next phase of the MCU is definitely going to be much more diverse.
“There are global audiences that love these movies. I think as filmmakers, we need to make movies that reflect that global audience,” he said.
Gillan, for one, said she would love to be in an all-female Marvel superhero movie, and even approached Fiege about it once.
“There was this big photoshoot where everyone who has been in a Marvel movie got together and took a photo. We all had some champagne afterwards, and me and some of the other girls thought it would be a good idea to corner Kevin Feige and get him to make an all-female superhero Marvel film.
“He seemed really into the idea, though to be fair, he was cornered by A LOT of women!” Gillan, 30, who was last seen in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, said.
“We have Captain Marvel shooting right now, which will be the first Marvel movie with a female lead,” said Tran referring to the film featuring Oscar winner Brie Larson in the titular role.
“And as we go from chapter to chapter, there’ll be more characters to explore and more franchises to create. As long as we keep telling good stories, people will keep being emotionally invested in the characters we create.
“Ten years ago when we made Iron Man, who would’ve thought we’d be here 10 years later?”
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