Avengers: Infinity War's ending has left moviegoers speechless and in disbelief but the directors of Marvel's ensemble film never had any other plan for movie's conclusion.
Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow. Major spoilers!
Shortly after Thanos arrived in Wakanda and formed each of the Infinity Stones into his Infinity Gauntlet. Despite Thor's best efforts for revenge, the Mad Titan managed to snap his fingers and erase half of the universe's living beings from existence. According to the directors, the plan was always to go beyond the finger snap to trigger an emotional response from fans.
"It was always a plan to show beyond that because when we made the decision to have the snaps themselves, that's a plot trick to cut to black after an incident like that happens," Joe Russo told ComicBook.com. "And it doesn't give you any emotional resonance or catharsis. What he said thinking about it realistically; the true heartbreak doesn't lie in the fact that he snapped his fingers, it lies in the fact that people have to watch loved ones, and we have to watch characters that we care about die. And that's where the real heartbreak lies for the characters who live in the Universe and for those of us watching the movie."
Though Avengers: Infinity War did not have Thanos' name in its title, the film was very much the Mad Titan's movie.
"We always knew that that would be the most profound or some of the most profound beats of the film," Joe Russo said. "We wanted the story, Thanos, even though he's the villain, to follow the traditional arc of hero beats. In that you have to follow through with what he did and carry him to the ending, self-satisfied, sitting on his porch, feeling the weight of what he's done in order for him to have the completion. That's how it wraps up for us and that's why we say it's a self-contained story and that there is an ending, it's just not the ending that you're used to. And Thanos, if you track all his major beats, they tell a complete story."
The ending, however, might look a bit out of place by comparison to previous Marvel films. It's impossible to name a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where the Avengers flat out lost. The Russo Brothers admit, they did see the touch of risk which came with such a finale.
"We certainly knew that it was a difficult choice to make, but that's what excited us about it," Anthony Russo said. "Joe and I, I think, we run at... when something makes you nervous or scared on a creative level it's usually because there's something really good there. So, we knew it was a complicated proposition, but it's something that sounds good or exciting to us. The next step to me, to continue to surprise audiences and surprise ourselves with where these stories can go and what kind of an emotional experience that they can give us, it's so important to keep pushing forward and keep these movies evolving and treading new ground. And it's just, we knew that was a very rich choice that would lead us and audiences to new experiences. And I think, seemingly, it's having that effect."
Of course, the dark ending might not just effect moviegoer opinions of the film, but also the business side of the movie. "There was a part of us that always wondered if it would dampen the movies' sort of financial prospects, but we could never answer that question," Anthony Russo admits. "But so far it seems like it's not." Avengers: Infinity War ended up breaking the record for the largest opening weekend in history.
"It's an innovators market, I think," Joe Russo said. "And I think that theatrical filmmaking since the advent of social media is driven by social media and the most successful films are the ones that are driving conversations. I think that's Marvel has succeeded and tied up with sort of global interconnectivity and people being able to express their feelings and their passion for these movies as each one unfurls. So, we ultimately were interested, not only as fans and as storytellers, in real emotional catharsis and taking the audience on a journey. We think we live in a really complicated world and we wanted to tell a really complicated story."
Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War are now playing in theaters. Ant-Man and The Wasp is set for release on July 6, 2018. Captain Marvel will follow it on March 6, 2019, with the untitled Avengers 4 set to tie everything about the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a bow on May 3, 2019.
Leave your Marvel questions and thoughts in the comment section below or send them to @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!