How 'Frasier' Influenced 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Frasier, the long-running NBC sitcom that starred Kelsey Grammer as pompous radio psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, helped inspire the relationship between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Avengers: Infinity War, screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus tell Yahoo.

It was the relationship between Frasier and his neurotic little brother, psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), that lead to the writers pairing up Stark and Strange, who spend much of Infinity War at odds despite their histories as arrogant, snarky a—holes-turned-superheroes.

Frasier was influential in our decision to put Stark and Strange together,” McFeely reveals.

The character originated on sitcom Cheers before being spun off into his own series, which subverted expectations by almost always partnering Frasier with his OCD-ridden and even more eccentric brother Niles.

“So you’re gonna do a spinoff of this character, and you’re gonna give him a family, you’re gonna give him a brother. And most people would say, ‘let’s give him a blue collar brother, and so we’re gonna get the opposite,’” McFeely says. “But they didn’t do that.”

Instead, the writers gave the pontifical radio personality a brother who is “even more like Frasier than Frasier,” Markus says.

“That made Frasier a little cooler by comparison,” McFeely explains. “And the sparks and the dialogue as a result is high, it's pitched, it's smart.”

“And it gives Frasier the opportunity to go, ‘Wow, I must be really annoying,’” Markus adds.

“And to take Tony and Dr. Strange who are quite similar — they both have goatees, they’re both arrogant — the impulse might be, ‘well, let’s keep them separate, because they occupy the same space and everyone will get their own arrogant goatee man.' But to put them together, one, is funny, and their powers are totally different. But also it helps, again, it helps Tony go, ‘arrogant people are really annoying. I’m arrogant, huh.’ This is how we become better people in life.”

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Having the tech-powered armored Avenger share most of his screen time with “wizard” Dr. Strange might not have been the obvious choice, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo said a wink and a nod to Downey's and Cumberbatch's acting history — both actors have portrayed famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes in high-profile productions — would have been “too obvious,” opting to forgo making a tacky Sherlock joke.

Avengers: Infinity War is now playing.