The two directors of “Avengers: Infinity War” answered spoiler-filled questions at Lisner Auditorium Wednesday for fans left in disarray after watching the film.
The film, which was released Friday, features an all-star roster with the most superheroes yet. At the event, hosted by Smithsonian Associates, directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed stories from behind the scenes and signed a contract to donate memorabilia, like Captain America’s Shield, to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Linda Holmes – writer and editor of NPR’s entertainment and pop culture blog, Monkey See – and the Russos discussed various topics like the character development in the latest film and the shocking ending.
Here are three main takeaways from the event:
1. Inspiration from past films
Joe and Anthony Russo said they learned from previous forays like “Black Panther” that they wanted to include more diverse characters in upcoming films. Joe Russo said he wanted to apply that to “Avengers: Infinity War.”
“These movies have a global reach and they appeal to audiences all over the world and everybody has the right to experience these characters on a cultural level, race level, sexual orientation level and gender level,” he said.
The Russo brothers also directed “Captain America: Civil War,” and in the new film they wanted to continue the Avengers’ division, specifically between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
Joe Russo also said in “Avengers: Infinity War” that he wanted to bring together the colliding movie series and create groups of superheroes with conflicting personalities, so the film could be balanced with humor and emotion. Joe Russo used the relationship between Iron Man and Doctor Strange as an example.
“Wouldn’t it be interesting it to take two narcissists – one is a man of science and one is a man of magic – and to put them in a room together and let them fight it out like fish in a tank?” Joe Russo said.
2. Vulnerability of the characters
Anthony Russo said it was challenging to create characters that would resonate with the audience – especially when characters in the film struggled with difficult situations, despite their superpowers.
The audience saw a different side of Thor in this movie. The brothers put Thor on a hero’s journey and gave him moments that could show him grieving amid casualties.
The brothers said this was also true of Hulk and Captain America. Hulk struggled throughout the movie, Joe Russo said, because Bruce Banner and Hulk are two different identities living in a single body. Captain America showed emotion as well on the battlefield.
“When dealing with characters with extraordinary powers and strength, how do you make them vulnerable?” Anthony Russo said.
3. Questions that baffled the Russos
The moderator allowed kids under the age of 13 to ask their questions first. The young attendees asked questions, like if it was tough mixing all the different superheroes while maintaining their vision, and more plot-specific questions, like why characters made certain decisions.
Anthony Russo said just as readers of comics personalize the characters, the brothers go through the same process when translating the characters from different stories and visions to bring them on screen together.
For the children’s questions that veered into unwritten fan theories, the brothers said they’d pass on the questions to the writers and gave high fives to all the kids for their creative thinking.
Another attendee asked the directors if they would ever work for DC Comics, a rival of the series.
Joe Russo answered the question, and said he grew up collecting Marvel comic books. He thought a character should be human and flawed, while DC characters, apart from Batman, don’t really portray that aspect of humanity.
“I have trouble identifying with DC characters,” he said. “It’s hard to tell stories with really powerful characters. If they can solve the problems at the start of the movie, then you don’t have a lot of places to go.”