When you think of the massive, movie-making monster in Marvel Studios, president Kevin Feige is the first executive that comes to mind. In addition to the baseball cap-wearing producer, there are dozens of other producers in the wings helping create this massive blockbuster films including Avengers: Endgame executive producer Trinh Tran.
Tran got her start at Marvel Studios nearly 12 years ago as an assistant on Jon Favreau's Iron Man. Throughout the past decade, she's risen the ranks to major league status, eventually receiving executive producer credits on both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. In preparation for the home media release of Avengers: Endgame next week, we spoke with Tran about the film. Here's what she had to say about killing Thanos, Marvel's next slate and movies, and more.
ComicBook.com: Even beginning with The Avengers and Age of Ultron, Marvel had these massive event movies, right? When you, Kevin, the Russos, and everyone else started developing this movie, was there ever a serious conversation...I mean, did you expect that you were going to end up having the biggest film of all time?
Trinh Tran: I think it's always been in Kevin's mind that one day we would all get a chance to be able to make Infinity War and Endgame and that was just a dream over 10 years ago. So the vision, he really hoped that one day that would happen. I can't remember specifically at what point we started talking about Infinity War and Endgame in detail, but it must've been in one of the movies when we were shooting with the Russos. We're like, "Okay, we're getting somewhere," you know? Like, "This is going to happen." But it's always been in Kevin's mind that we would start off with these characters and create their different franchises and their narrative separately and then have them ultimately come together with Avengers. That was step one and we got through that first.
Okay. Wow. The first Avengers came out and people really embraced it and loved it. Let's introduce new characters like the Guardians and get them into the mix and then go onto Ultron, but to be able to have every single character in the MCU be in Endgame is just remarkable. I mean, it was like a dream come true to be able to put them all in. The shot of them portaling out still gives me goosebumps because it's like I'm standing there and I remember vividly how amazing that feeling is to be able to be involved and see all of the heroes from the last 10 years evolved and they're all dressed up in their costume and they're holding their props and they're ready to go. I was like, "I'm living the dream."
You bring up having every character on-screen. I think it was earlier this week, there was a video of Joe and Anthony Russo circulating on social media. They mentioned something about Robert Downey getting Oscar nominations and the like. On the flip side, how many directors have been able to direct 40 some A-list characters in one scene, right? In terms of award consideration, is that something you think the studio plans on pursuing quite extensively come awards season?
I mean that would be great, right? I think, with RDJ, he spent the last decade bringing this character to life since the first Iron Man. To pay tribute to him in Endgame and where his journey ends, I hope everybody embraced what we felt emotionally was impactful to his character. So I think that the Russos mentioning that it would be great that he gets acknowledged for the endeavor that he did...just speaking to any directors being able to put all these characters on screen, it really just ... It couldn't have happened in Phase One. We obviously couldn't have started a movie like this and dump all these characters in and have people actually know who they are. It took time. I think that's the biggest thing is it time allowed us to be able to get to the point to be able to make this movie because we were allowed the time and the opportunity to tell each and every one of their stories separately before we gathered them all together.
Like I mentioned earlier, it took 10 years to be able to get us to be able to make Endgame and that's the time that we needed to spend on a narrative aspect on each and every one of these characters, because how do you give them enough time with 64 characters in this movie to be able to give them enough real estate to be able to tell their journey without their past narrative in public, if that makes sense?
We took the time to be able to make their own movies in order for them to appear in here given some of these characters only had like a minute on screen, but yeah, we definitely would not have been able to do this 10 years ago.
So I'm watching the Endgame commentary track and right out of the gate, Thanos gets decapitated and they all place the blame on you. They say, "Hey, this is Trinh's fault." Where's this suggestion come from and why do you think it's so important to get rid of present timeline Thanos, I mean, as early as one can, really?
I remember sitting in that conference room and we have spent weeks on end trying to figure out where his character goes in this movie. We were just struggling and struggling and just kept circling back and couldn't quite figure out Thanos's journey. It's like, "He defeated the Avengers in Infinity War. Where does he go from there? How do we continue a story where audiences are going to go, 'Oh, this is new, this is different,' rather than just tell the same story again?" We wanted our heroes to be able to go back in time, like that's the fun of it, right? So I just went, "Okay, this is a crazy idea. They're probably going to think I'm nuts for saying it, but let's talk about it." I just blurted it out and it's like, "Okay, what happens if we do kill him?"
I remember they all looked at me like, "That's crazy. How are we going to ..." but it started a conversation and I think that was key to it was that we were able to take that and whether or not we ended up with that, I wanted that conversation to go, "What if this can happen? What if this crazy idea can happen and what happens with the Avengers if we do that?" And that actually kind of just took a role of its own and we made that happen. I'm like, "Oh my God, we're going to kill him off in the beginning. Now, how are we going to fix this all?" So, it led to a lot of fun conversations that we had about, "Well, then, how are they going to get all the stones back if he's destroyed and he's killed?" And, and so the movie and that moment ended up being in there.
You started with Marvel Studios on Iron Man and now Endgame's here, does it almost feel like ... I mean, does it feel like a chunk of your life is over? Are you more retrospective on what's happened or are you excited to hit the ground running with Phase Four and beyond?
You know, it's a little bit of both. It's bittersweet. This September will be my 12th year at Marvel and I started as an assistant on Iron Man. Being a part of this journey, to be able to be a part of Infinity War and Endgame has been crazy. The last four years have been dedicated to just these two movies alone because we did it back to back and I've been able to work with the Russo Brothers and [Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely on the last four projects, which is a good eight years. But it is bittersweet because when I'm in the process of it all and it's pretty ... There was a period of time where it was pretty grueling because it's two big gigantic movies and we were doing it all together.
First of all, we couldn't say a single thing about this movie because everything about it was a spoiler but now, I'm just really excited that people are able to watch it and the passion and energy and the time that we poured into creating this movie and it translating to the world. I remember, actually, we went to watch opening night with Kevin, the Russo Brothers, and Markus and McFeely, a bunch us just went in and watched Endgame opening night, Thursday night at the Westwood, I think, and sat there. We went through the whole entire movie with the crowd and that energy from the audience, just embracing every moment that we felt so passionate about, it was unbelievable.
I'd never experienced anything like that before and it was really...it was like this made the four years and the process so worth it, because I love the movie and I'm so happy that people love it as much as I do. It's rewarding, but it is bittersweet because it's come to an end. But I am very, very excited about phase four and looking forward to all of the new characters that we're going to be introducing into the MCU and how that's going to evolve into, knock on wood, another decade worth of storytelling that we can do with these characters.
Endgame culminated the 10 years of films. What can fans expect from the next 10 years or at least Phase Four?
I think, you know, what I'm excited about is the obviously more female representation and more diversity. Me being a minority and a female and a part of the MCU, I think to be able to see that translate into film is very important because we live in a world where everybody is different. To be able to have Shang-Chi and to be able to have Black Widow and more of that, I think that's going to represent the world that we live in and that's going to be relatable to the audience.
I think I'm looking forward to really introducing different characters like that and having people you know love it as much as they did with Iron Man, Thor, Cap, and the previous characters that we've introduced in the past 10 years.
Can you say which projects you're helping oversee moving forward?
I'm on one of the Disney+ series first and then I have a feature that I can't really say much about because it hasn't been quite announced at Comic-Con, so, my focus right now is one of the Disney+ series and I'm on Hawkeye.
As a native Iowan, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stoked about Hawkeye.
I look forward, too. Look, I'm very excited about Kate Bishop and having Clint Barton to be a part of her...or both of them being a part of each other's stories.
Avengers: Endgame is now available digitally ahead of a home media release August 13th.
Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images