Avengers: Endgame had some theaters crying real tears by the end of its runtime. One clever poster on Reddit noticed that it wasn’t the only film under the Disney umbrella to garner that emotional response from viewers. Toy Story 4 also released this year to tie Woody’s adventure up in a nice bow. But, even more interestingly, the staging of the closing moments mirror each other in ways you might not expect. Both films feature a main character saying goodbye to their closest friends. Then, handing down a great responsibility to a figure in their lives. Then, going to enjoy another life with a different purpose than the one that they have carried with them for their individual narrative arcs. It’s absolutely striking and gut-wrenching to see the two put right next to each other and see how close the beats are.
That ending of Endgame was always going to be a tear-jerker for fans who stuck with the series from the beginning. But, Joe and Anthony Russo had the stunning end in mind for a long time. They talked about it in an interview with Collider.
“When we were working on both Infinity War and Endgame, the first thing we did was break the ending of Endgame. Because we wanted to know where we were going,” Joe Russo said.
He continued, “It’s very hard to tell a story if you don’t know where you’re going. So we have a very specific process with [writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely] where we spent months in a room just talking about a three-page outline. Literally, page one is act one, page two is act two, page three is act three. Because you have to know in a contained document like that, ‘Here’s where we start, here’s what happens in the middle, here’s where it ends.’ If you know that, it’s a lot easier to get to script. A more malleable format to work in a short outline like that, spend your time talking about it and thinking it through. We knew fairly early on how this was gonna end.”
With that knowledge, the story wasn’t warped by audience expectations, but the directors’ own compasses.1comments
“For as much as we love the audience — and we do really love the audience, one of our favorite things about being filmmakers is experiencing a movie that we made with the audience — we don’t really think about the audience while we’re crafting a story,” admitted Anthony Russo.
“We generally only think about our own reaction to the story we’re telling. We use that as our meter for the choices we should make, in terms of how we structure the story, where we spend time, where we don’t spend time. I would say that, in general…it’s really our tastes and our emotional reaction that we’re having is what guides us through it.”