×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Playback: The Russo Brothers on ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and Raising the Marvel Stakes

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

Avengers: Infinity War” is the talk of the industry, busting records across the globe and becoming the second chart-topping film from Marvel Studios in three months. The film’s most dazzling accomplishment is the balancing act achieved by directors Anthony and Joe Russo. The landscape isn’t simply littered with nominal moments featuring beloved characters. Everyone has a full experience on the screen and for the most part, complete arcs to play through. And for the sibling filmmakers, it represented a natural progression for an ever-expanding ensemble.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

“It seems like every movie we’ve doubled or more than doubled the size of the ensemble,” Anthony Russo says. “Joe and I have always thought about our creative process — we’ve analogized it to being mad scientists. We like to take disparate elements and kind of smash them together in unusual ways and just see what that makes, see what that brings you creatively. Starting with ‘Civil War’ and certainly continuing through ‘Infinity War,’ that has been the very process of making these movies. We have been taking these characters from different films, different tones, different styles, and figuring out how do they exist in a single film together? What does that do to them when you mix them?”

The duo admits the task can get overwhelming, sitting in a room hammering out story while surrounded by ideas and plot threads and the accoutrement of a cinematic universe. With screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who have penned all the Russos’ Marvel escapades, the directors forge a path through the chaos by, naturally, focusing on character every step of the way.

“We have a very disciplined process,” Joe Russo says. “It’s part of our collaboration with [screenwriters Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely that involves getting in a room together, the four of us, for months on end assessing story, character, potential arcs for characters, where did we leave them last, where do we want to lead them, what are we trying to say? Thematics are important to us. It’s a process Anthony and I forged through years of producing television. It’s got a bit of a writers room approach to it. Once we have a script, we then sit in the room again for many weeks and each day we spend time on each character. Like, ‘Today is Tony Stark day. We’re going to read the script from Tony’s point of view.’ The next day is Steve Rogers’ day or T’Challa’s day. You really comb through and go, ‘What do they want at the beginning? What are they getting by the end? Where are their moments in the movie? What are we trying to say about the character?’ So it’s just a process of putting coat of paint on the house after coat of paint.”

What’s the plan after the saga-closing (and currently untitled) fourth “Avengers” installment next summer? Joe Russo says there aren’t plans to pick up stakes. Marvel has become home in many ways.

“We’ve had the best experience of our careers with Marvel,” he says. “We have a great relationship with them and we love telling these stories. They’re very important to us. It would really be a function of, ‘What is that story,’ if we do stick around. Certainly it’s enticing when all these new Fox characters will show up. It’s a very complex universe to continue to build out. We also have very personal movies we want to go make, but we’re workaholics and we tend to put a lot on our plates and I think we can tell our personal stories and tell some big stories with Marvel as well. I think there’s room for all of it.”

And that’s just a taste. For more, including plenty of spoilers about the direction of this film and what the addition of characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four could mean to this ever-expanding on-screen world, listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link above.

iHeartRadio
Hear more episodes of “Playback” at iHeartRadio.
Subscribe via iTunes.

Anthony and Joe Russo photographed exclusively for the Variety Playback Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

More Film

  • The Wizard of Oz

    'The Wizard of Oz' to Return to Theaters for 80th Anniversary

    “The Wizard of Oz” is returning to theaters this weekend for a special limited engagement marking the 80th anniversary of the film’s Hollywood premiere. Fathom Events, TCM, and Warner Bros. are re-releasing the beloved family film in select theaters across the country beginning on Sunday, Jan. 27, with additional dates on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and Wednesday [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jacek Bednarczyk/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

    Jonas Mekas, Influential Experimental Filmmaker, Dies at 96

    Jonas Mekas, the Lithuania-born filmmaker who started Film Culture magazine and the organization that became New York’s Anthology Film Archives, died Wednesday. He was 96. Anthology Film Archives wrote on Instagram, “He will be greatly missed but his light shines on.” View this post on Instagram Dear Friends, Jonas passed away quietly and peacefully early [...]

  • Annapurna Hire

    Annapurna Ups Sue Naegle to Chief Content Officer, Names Ivana Lombardi President of Film

    Sue Naegle has been named chief content officer at Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Naegle joined the company as head of television in 2016, and will now oversee development and production in film, TV, video games, and the company’s fledgling theater division. As part of the reorganization, Ivana Lombardi has been named president of film, a [...]

  • Michael B Jordan Warner Bros

    Michael B. Jordan Signs First-Look Deal With Warner Bros.

    “Black Panther” and “Creed II” star Michael B. Jordan has signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros. for his production company Outlier Society. The deal was announced Wednesday by Toby Emmerich, chairman of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. The studio noted that the alliance marks a continuation of their partnership following the unveiling of a [...]

  • Sandra Bullock Reborn

    Sandra Bullock Re-Teams With Netflix to Produce Sci-Fi Movie 'Reborn'

    Sandra Bullock is re-teaming with Netflix to produce the science-fiction movie “Reborn” for the streaming service. Chris McKay has been signed to direct the comic book adaptation. “It” producer Vertigo Entertainment is also on board to produce. Bullock starred in the Netflix movie “Bird Box,” which has been viewed in more than 80 million households, [...]

  • A still from Mike Wallace Is

    Portrait Docus Dominate at Sundance

    It’s not entirely surprising that portrait documentaries dominate this year’s Sundance nonfiction lineup. Two of the biggest nonfiction films of 2018 – “RBG” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” – are profile films that premiered at last year’s Sundance and later made the Oscar docu shortlist. The success of both docs could help explain why [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content