Avengers: Endgame Worked Backwards from Iron Man and Captain America’s Endings

When bringing the first chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its close with the two-part Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, directors Anthony and Joe Russo first worked to crack the endings for Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans).

“We knew the goal of these films was to provide an ending for this epic 10-year journey of 22 movies in the MCU, so we started from the endpoint, which was, ‘Let’s figure out where our central characters end.’ That boils down to the original Avengers, and then that boils down even further to the co-leads of the Avengers in Tony Stark and Steve Rogers,” Anthony Russo told Backstory Magazine.

“We really thought, ‘How do we bring Tony Stark and Steve Rogers through the most epic, satisfying, surprising conclusion we can possibly come up with?’ And that’s really where our jumping-off point started with [screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely] as well as with [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige.”

For the Russo brothers, who boarded the MCU with 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier before returning for 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, admit they had no sense of what the culmination of the Infinity Saga might look like until after post on their superhero clash-slash-breakup movie.

“We knew that Civil War really kind of set the stage, but it really didn’t fully resonate until post production,” Russo said.

“Even though this wasn’t necessarily our intention, we knew Civil War perfectly set up Thanos (Josh Brolin), meaning that this is the best point for the greatest threat the Avengers would ever face if Thanos should come to them at the moment where they’re at their lowest point.”

The focus in Civil War was instead the schism that erupts between Tony and Steve, which disassembled the Avengers before their failure to prevent Thanos from halving all life in the universe in Infinity War.

“We knew in Civil War as we were crafting that story that it had dropped them to their lowest point,” Russo continued.

“It divorced the Avengers, destroyed the relationship between co-leads Tony and Steve. That was very much when all of our brains started to open up to, okay, we’ve created a scenario in this film that is asking for Thanos and it’s asking for the final reckoning for who these people are and what they’re thinking.”

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Markus and McFeely detailed the “collective decision” behind the conclusions planned for Tony and Steve, saying in a San Diego Comic-Con interview, “The arcs have come to such a beautiful conclusion point [that] to deny that conclusion would just be wrongheaded.”

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