Russo brothers glad to take a break after directing four Marvel movies
With their magnum opus Avengers: Endgame hitting cinemas worldwide this week, US directors Anthony and Joe Russo can finally take a well-deserved breather. "It's time for a break," said Anthony, 49.
The Russo brothers, who joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2014 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and went on to helm Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), have upped the stakes in this 22nd film of the Avengers franchise.But they never envisioned Endgame while making Winter Soldier.
Said Joe, 47: "It was a step-by-step thing. Things just kept unfolding. We certainly love telling stories on a grand scale, and sharing them with people around the world. We are fans before film-makers."
There was so much secrecy around Infinity War and Endgame. Was it fun teasing fans with fake scenes?
Joe: Part of the fun in making these movies is that we want to keep misdirecting people so that nobody knows what the story is until they get to the movie theatre.
We live in a culture where we want everything yesterday. There's a small minority of people who like to spoil things, so we will do whatever it takes to protect the viewer experience. People spent 10 years of their lives caring about these characters and the last thing they want is to know the ending before they walk into the theatre.
Is Endgame your biggest challenge to date?
Joe: Naturally, it's the ending, so there is pressure.
Anthony: We never had the sense of "this is it" for our other movies. There was always the possibility of something else.
Of course MCU will go on, but there's a sense of finality that is very different from what we've done before. It ups the stake of the story we're telling. For us, that's a creative upside. It helps us change gears, helps us think about things differently when we're thinking about how to end this.
What do you think is one key factor that made the Avengers movies such a global success?
Joe: Marvel should really be applauded for this. They are really supporting diversity and new, young and global voices. Marvel is a leader in the industry, and that's special.
(Marvel Studios president) Kevin (Feige) is easily the most supportive executive we've ever worked with.
I can't really imagine any other movie studio telling us that it is a great idea to kill off half their expensive IPs (intellectual properties) and giving us a historic amount of money to do it. So real credit to them for bravery.
I think that's why Marvel taps into indie film-makers, trying to find people whose cinematic voice is more outside the mainstream to help bring a richer experience to what these movies can be in totality.
Marvel has a lot of characters and superheroes. Will you consider making another superhero film?
Joe: Growing up, I loved The Thing and Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four. Wolverine is also a favourite. There are lots of popular characters. Now that Disney owns Fox, there are many great characters that are going back to Disney.
What is next on your plate?
Joe: Our next movie Cherry will be with Tom Holland (who plays Spider-Man in the MCU). It's a smaller but much heavier film about an Iraq veteran with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
We have lost families to the war, so we thought it's an issue we should explore.