Avengers: Endgame Directors Address the 3000 Minute Runtime Marvel Theory

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a carefully cultivated franchise, built over the last decade with over 20 installments on the big screen. Through post-credits scenes, Easter eggs, and references, producer Kevin Feige has created an intricate tapestry that all built toward the events of Avengers: Endgame. But sometimes, things just happen to occur by accident, despite appearing as if it's all part of the plan.

A recent fan theory suggested that the iconic "I Love You 3000" actually goes deeper than the surface, suggesting that it's a reference to the entire runtime of Marvel Studios' collective releases, which clocks in at just over 3000 minutes. This is one case of a major coincidence, however, as Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo confirmed that the line is not a reference to the accumulated runtimes.

"That is absolutely coincidental," Joe explained to Deco Drive. "We're not that smart."

"It's hard enough to make these movies," added Anthony. "To try and hit a minute count like that seems off the mark."

The directors previously revealed the genesis of the line coming from Robert Downey Jr. himself, putting poetic spin on his time as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Russos told Watching Hollywood that one of Downey's children coined that phrase, and that he injected it into the shooting script because it was such an an endearing phrase.

Previous reports indicate that the Russos are very collaborative on the sets of their Marvel movies and sometimes re-write lines on the fly. In fact, one of the most iconic moments in the film came at the suggestion of their editor while they were in post, and that they had to film the shot the next day — giving Downey the opportunity to say the line "I am Iron Man" one more time.

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"Tony used to not say anything in that moment. And we were in the editing room going, 'He has to say something," the Russos recently confessed at a Q&A for the film. "This a character who has lived and died by quips.' And we just couldn’t, we tried a million different last lines. Thanos was saying 'I am inevitable.' And our editor Jeff Ford, who’s been with us all four movies and is an amazing storyteller, said 'Why don’t we just go full circle with it and say I am Iron Man.' And we’re like, 'Get the cameras! We have to shoot this tomorrow.'"

Avengers: Endgame is returning to theaters this weekend with brand new footage.