SDCC 2019 Panel Recap: Writing Avengers: Endgame with Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus

Avengers: Endgame is the biggest film of 2019, and it promises to become one of the greatest films [...]

Avengers: Endgame is the biggest film of 2019, and it promises to become one of the greatest films to ever hit Hollywood. Of course, San Diego Comic-Con is all for celebrating the superhero feature, and is here to breakdown all the best parts of Writing Avengers: Endgame with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.


The panel begins with Eddie Abraham giving opening remarks, and the crowd gets hyped up. The convention is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The moderator Jeff Goldsmith comes out to welcome in the guests. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely come out to welcome fans.

The moderator asks about Avengers: Infinity War. When asked about the biggest lessons they learned, Markus said Endgame was about 99% done before Infinity War came out; It was way too late to cut anyone by that point. This is why McFeely laughed they were sad about Spider-Man because everyone loved the hero so much.

There was a lost scene in Infinity War on Titan which the moderator says is Doctor Strange's magical mystery tour. Markus said they did not lose but the scene but took it out. It was partially inspired by Kevin Feige said Markus. Feige came into the conference room in Atlanta and brought a bunch of comic panels with him. Feige wanted to make sure there was no loss of psychedelic visions via Starlin, so Markus said they suck the Living Tribunal in the film. As Thanos and Doctor Strange fought, Strange blew Thanos' mind and blew him through the mindscape like how the Ancient One did to him. McFeely said Thanos would have been met with all his old crimes, and he would have been judged before the Living Tribunal who found him guilty. The fight was taken out because the LSD trip took the punch out of the fight.

When asked how the group handled the writing of Captain Marvel, Markus compared it to Black Panther. However, Captain Marvel came in a different order because the Endgame version would be 20 years older than the one which her solo movie tackled. McFeely said there were challenges, and he remembers asking the Captain Marvel writers (who had no written the film) whether their take on Carol in Endgame would line up with their vision.

As for an interesting note on the Infinity Saga films, the writers say Feige did have advice for them. Markus says you get handed these two movies and your first reaction is to panic. If they are bad, you will be embarrassed one year and then wait around to be so ago. However, Feige does not want to hear anything about that - box office or press. Feige just wants story, according to Markus. The producer told the writers to just stick the landing. If that means cutting the Guardians out of this movie or shrinking it to make it more manageable, then do so. That is why the film went under Mary Lou 1 and 2 after the gymnast. Mary Lou even sent a video to Feige and the producers to congratulate them on the films' successes.

When asked about their toughest day working on the films, McFeely said it was on Infinity War early on. There is a lot of trial and error going on. In mid-2016, no one liked what we had, and they flew to Burbank to have an emergency meeting. The Thor storyline "sucked rocks" because he had to go get the axe but he was fighting a serpent. Markus said it was too action related, so they created Etri to make Thor's story more character centric. McFeely says he did not feel like they did enough, but that is the nature of writing. "You cannot push the whole thing forward all at once," Markus said.

However, Markus said Marvel Studios is not a panic-based company. Marvel knows well what a first draft is; You may never leave the conference room, but you make a good movie.

As for Thanos' first death, McFeely says they wanted to take away expectations early. He is an all powerful and omnipotent villain, so they spent a couple of months trying to figure out how they beat them. Their assistant then asked why they can't just kill him, and they seriously thought it over. "Killing him helps him as a character," Markus said since Thanos did do all of this for his purpose. He meant what he said. He did not become a tyrant or steal all of the cookies in the universe.

The writers are asked about the timeline shift five-years ahead. Markus said it was delightful to be given that kind of leeway because it lets them tell a real story; They do not get out of this hole fast. "It is a chance to really see what happens," Markus wrote. "For five years, they lived in abject failure."

The second one was always going to be an Avengers movie, and McFeely said they knew they would be escorting many of the original ones off the stage. In the same way the What If comics asks questions, McFeely said they wanted to explore those stories for the originals, and the timeline let them.

When asked about Smart Hulk, the pair said they wanted to put that in the third act of Infinity War. Markus said the films were worked on up until release, and they shot what they needed. Bruce was going to achieve union with the Hulk while in the Hulkbuster to beat Obsidian, but it did not work. But it was the wrong tone; A victory towards defeat. We already shot Endgame where he was smart, so it required adjusting said McFeely. The five-years could be that transition. In order to balance story with character development, they had to cut some of Hulk's combination.

The pair talk about the Time Heist, and they said they spoke with scientist. The professionals said Back to the Future was "bullsh-t", but the writers did look to previous time-travel films to figure out how to pull off the heist. McFeely says travel does not work like Back to the Future if it works at all, but it might work a certain way using Quantum power.

Did the Quantum realm get snapped? The writers say the stones do no differentiate, so Scott surviving was the lucky flip. Ant-Man was really lucky, it seems.

In the first draft, it turns out Endgame did not think to go to the original Avengers movie. When the group was asked how hard it is boiling down explanation for time travel, they said they started with 40 pages and cut from there. It has to start with the stones, Markus said. They needed someone to explain, and they could use Tilda Swinton to do so and the Hulk. The "Hot Tub Time Machine" part was put in because fans were confused why Nebula did not disappear when Nebula shot herself.

A discussion of the multiverse is had; Into the Spider-Verse and Far From Home are mentioned. When asked if they wanted to get into that, the writers said it clearly exists because Doctor Strange has talked about. McFeely said he doesn't know where Marvel Studios is going, but he likes stakes. If you can go get another Iron Man, he asks where are the starks. Markus said we are heading to resolution, and the idea of 75 billion Iron Man heroes out there hurt the drama.

The next question asked is about when they knew Thor would meet his mom in the heist. Markus said they knew Thor was going to crumble, and they wrote a scene with him and Jane - they she is not the one who can put the hero back together. Neither is Odin. However, his mom is. The line she gives him was what reset him.

A scene was cut where Rocket and Jane talked to one another, and he tried to explain what was happening when he took the stone out of her. However, they had too much going on to fit that in.

The throwback with Tony and his father is asked about next. Markus said it was meaningful because the writers have worked with the man for a long time. Bringing that closure was really satisfying.

As for the emotional tracking between Black Widow and Hawkeye, the writers said they are 2-3 iterations of that. Joe and Anthony had lots to do with that choreography. McFeely says they both feel like they are the ones who need to do this. When asked about the Red Skull's part, they said they knew he would be in it early on. They wrote a big document with everything possible in the films, and they mentioned the Red Skull was alive and in space. Markus said he is awesome, and they want him back in. Markus said they did not know where they were sending him to, so they are asked about Natasha coming back when the Soul Stone is returned. Markus said that is not how it works, and neither said they wrote a moment with Captain America and Red Skull. But they did have an original idea where the two did meet in space.

The original idea was to have Thanos walk into the main timeline at the Endgame climax throwing down the decapitated head of Captain America a la 2012. This extreme idea was cut real quick, but Markus joked it was awesome. Markus said Giant Man's corpse would be in the background a la Old Man Logan after the team tried to work the time-travel device for the first time.

When asked how everyone came back from the snap, all of the Avengers returned to the compound, and Peter was there to greet Mr. Stark. They went to get pizza then, but the writers said they had to make up hard rules. Markus said they had to decide people came back to life where they disappeared, and those heroes would have to make it to the big battle then. The writer said they needed to bring in the heroes once Thanos was returned even if they were really revived earlier in the film.

When asked about Extremis, the pair said they never wanted Pepper to use them lest she die. Also, no Nick Fury.

As for Tony, they wrote lots of lovely dying words for Tony. Robert did not want that; He knew that there is more weight to Tony when the hero doesn't talk. The star wanted to do much less. So, Robert had the most influence along with the producers.

When asked if there are two Captain Americas on Earth, Markus will not answer. He is entertained by that theory.

So, where does this film rank amongst your favorites of the MCU? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!