The Russo Brothers took the stage at San Diego Comic Con 2019 to talk all things Marvel’s Avengers, Future Movie Plans, and a desire to do a Secret Wars film. Plus, several surprise guests! Our Hall H resident, BC, reports…
When it’s SDCC season, the major players of the movie industry always show up and deliver. This year, at SDCC 2019, two of those major players were Hollywood’s hottest directing duo, Anthony and Joe Russo (Winter Soldier, Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame).
They held a panel at this year’s SDCC to explain what it took to bring Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame to life, what’s in the works for their production company AGBO, and to answer fan questions (which included some special guests).
Let’s start with their thoughts on Avengers: Endgame, the process to deliver such an iconic film and the reaction to its success.
What made this really cool was that the Russo Bros.‘ AGBO partners Markus and McFeely actually brought the storyboards they used to outline Avengers: Endgame. We wouldn’t normally see this type of thing ever, so to bring it to SDCC was a real treat.
In addition to discussing the storyboard, Joe and Anthony also divulged alternate ideas that ultimately didn’t make it to the big screen. For instance, there were ideas for scenes where it was Captain America that went for the Soul Stone, and worked with Red Skull to get the the Stone. Also a scene that Past Nebula trying to configure time for Thanos. Thanos eventually goes down to Earth in 2014, kills the avengers, and drops the head of Captain America.
Another change that didn’t ultimately happen had to do with Professor Hulk. Professor Hulk was meant to be in Infinity War. It was shot and edited that way, but it didn’t work. So they had to reshoot all of the pre-five years later stuff in Endgame because originally Bruce was Smart Hulk.
Below are the rest of the notes on the Avengers films:
- Russo’s say it is shocking that they are so close to breaking the avatar record, they are honored by the love of the fans
- They idolize James Cameron, and he has fed the passion for filmmaking since the beginning
- Last time the Russo’s got in a fight with each other, was over what kind of food to have for Lunch. They are always in agreement
- Captain Marvel’s hair discussion took several months
- Anthony Mackey and Mark Ruffalo ruined the most takes on Endgame. Ruffalo because he gets lost, and Mackey because he makes too many jokes
- Scarlett Johannson always nailed it in one shot
- The Dusting was the hardest VFX shot they ever had to do. They had to find a way to show that they were being taken out of the universe, and not just falling dead
- The Portals was another difficult thing to work out.
- They worked for a long time before Endgame to really find the balance for Smart Hulk. “What looks interesting, cool, and not fantastical.”
- They would love to relive the day of filming Robert Downey Jr.’s last day on set, which was the “I Am Iron Man” moment. It was poetic because it was his last line, and his last day, and just on a soundstage.
- As far as Infinity War they would love to relive the day they shot Iron Man and Peter Parker trying to wrangle all of the Guardians.
- Joe says Evans did a lot of the fighting himself in Winter Soldier. And it’s very important they do as much as they can. Hemsworth had to wear a substantially heavy body suit, that he had to fight in. Hemsworth hurt his back, because of the suit. Shooting had to be postponed.
Speaking of Marvel, the Russo Bros. don’t seem to want to be done with Marvel. They expressed major interest in coming back to do a Secret Wars film. For those unfamiliar with “Secret Wars” the 12-issue series saw a cosmic entity called the Beyonder choose a group of both heroes and supervillains and teleports characters against their will to “Battleworld,” a planet created by the Beyonder in a distant galaxy.
The panel then continued with the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Paul Rudd, Chadwick Boseman, and Robert Downey Jr. sending in questions for the Russo Bros.
- Mark Ruffalo sends in a question- Since Hulk and Banner have come to terms with each other, does that make Professor Hulk, the smartest and strongest. Russos still say Tony is the smartest, he solved Time Travel and Joe’s daughter Grace says Shuri.
- Chris Evans asks “After Steve returns the stones, and danced with Peggy, what was the first thing he did?” “Which marvel film was the most stressful and relaxed?” They say maybe they tried to make baby? Or he went to the bathroom. Anthony says Steve could have done anything. Many theories, and they all could have worked. They say the most stressful was Infinity War. Difficult to deal with both stories at the same time, stacked on top. Least stressful was Winter Soldier.
- Chris Hemsworth sends in a question, he asks the Russos, praises the fans, and asks who would be a better leader of the Asgardians of the Galaxy, Thor, or the other guy quince, or quail? Or Me? They say, there’s no question there, just a statement
- Paul Rudd asks “Who is the best Paul in the Marvel Universe?” Bettany is obviously 2nd. Rank America’s Ass. They ask the crowd Hemsworth, Pratt, Evans? Evans wins with thunderous applause.
- Chadwick Boseman sends in a video to say that the Russo’s are people he enjoys working with, and he is so happy they found him for Black Panther in Civil War. And on the first day they shot the end, and they were so assured of what they were doing, even though they didn’t tell him, and he enjoyed working with that dedication. He enjoyed their dynamic, and he was so happy to work with them again on 21 Bridges. They told asked him about it the night of the Infinity War premiere. Said he would love it because it was a New York film, and a about a detective.
- Robert Downey Jr. calls in, can smell Hall H. Biggest single difference between “I am Iron Man” in Ironman, and “I am Iron Man” in Endgame. Anthony says “It’s Stark getting to a place of putting others in front of him and sacrificing. And speaking as a father there is something that happens to you, and your job in the universe is to truly serve others in another way. And that’s the biggest change. Having a daughter, and going through his entire arc.”
Once the shenanigans with the Avengers had ended, the Russo Bros. turned their attention to the future with their production company AGBO. With AGBO, they are basically studio heads. They finance films, and greenlight movies. The idea for the company came about before the marvel films, they would get in rooms and break stories in a very focused fashion. Markus and McFeely are partners with them, and it is a very storyteller driven company. They want to use AGBO to open the door for other young filmmakers, like Steven Soderbergh did for them.
They’ve already got several films in the works under the AGBO flag. Magic: The Gathering, Cherry, Dhaka, Grim Jack, The Thomas Crown Affair, Battle for the Planets, and The Electric State. This is what they had to say about each.
- Russo’s next project is Cherry with Tom Holland. They start filming in October. Based on book, set in Cleveland, Ohio. Locations are locations they grew up in and around. The author of the book worked at the same restaurant Joe did. It’s a story about opioid addiction crisis that has touched them in a personal way. The author went through the same growth arc that they went through
- Tom Holland sends in a video about how excited he is for this project
- Joe says Holland is an amazing human being and very talented, and when they casted him, they wanted to cast someone close to the age in the books, and when they found Tom he was incredibly gifted.
- Cherry will be rated R, it is very complicated and mature movie says Anthony. It doesn’t have the entertainment value of a Marvel movie, but it is an important story to be told.
- They talk about the project Sam Hargrave is doing with Chris Hemsworth, called Dhaka. Sam was Evans stunt double on winter soldier, and the coordinator on Civil War, now directing Hemsworth.
- Magic: The Gathering is the next project from AGBO. Animated project with the potential to spin off into action. They love Magic: The Gathering, and are excited to tell stories. If you a fan of Jace or Shondra, get excited
- They are also doing The Thomas Crown Affair with Michael B. Jordan, with their own spin. Matt Carnihan is writing the script, Russo’s are producing.
- Electric State is a graphic novel that Markus found, and Markus and McFeely are writing the script.
- Grim Jack, a favorite comic of Joe’s is something they haven’t announced until now. Deep cut story, they are excited to bring to life. Russo’s are producing
- Battle of the Planets is one of their favorite cartoons growing up, they will convert it into a project they are very excited about. If Russo’s direct, it will be Live Action to early, no screenwriter
Overall, the Russo Bros. panel was an instant classic. It gave us loads of information, cameos, and plenty to be excited about in the future. Stay tuned for more coverage of SDCC 2019!