Avengers Director Joe Russo and ESPN's Matthew Berry on the AGBO Superhero Fantasy Football League

If you're a fan of Marvel movies or fantasy football, or perhaps both, you're probably familiar [...]

If you're a fan of Marvel movies or fantasy football, or perhaps both, you're probably familiar with the AGBO Superhero Fantasy Football League. Several Marvel films stars, along with Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo and ESPN Fantasy Football analyst (and Endgame SHIELD agent) Matthew Berry, each represent a charity of their choosing in this 14-team fantasy league, with more money going to their specific charity based on there they place by the time the season is through. To make things even more fun, the members of the league have been active on social media throughout the entire season, talking trash to one another on Instagram and Twitter ahead of their matchups.

With the league open to the public, AGBO (named after the Russos' production company) has become a movement for fans to follow each and every week. Marvel and football lovers alike are continuing to check in to the standings and see who has been beating who. With a few more weeks left to go in the season, we sat down with Russo and Berry to get the scoop on how the league got started, and which Avengers truly are the best players.

How did the AGBO Superhero League actually get started?

Matthew Berry: Well, I mean Joe and I, our friendship is based in fantasy football, or at least started as a result of fantasy football. So we talk all the time. So we're sort of talking fantasy. And so we had talked about trying to do something, and Guillermo [Lozano] is the guy I had been talking about. I kind of have been talking to Guillermo about the other league that they run. There's a league that is made of mostly Avengers, but also there's some other actors in it. That they've run just privately on the set for the last couple of years. And Joe can talk about that. He's in that league. And so I've been on the waiting list to get in that league for two years and they've wanted to get me in, but no one has left the league.

And so we're just sort of talking about that. And we had been talking about, Hey they're looking at expanding the league and all sorts of different things. And then Guillermo had the idea to like start a separate league. Because in addition to me, there had been other people that he had wanted to get into that league that he just didn't have room for, like they could've made it a 16 team league, based on all the people that wanted to get into that league. I was on the waiting list and there were a couple of others as well. And so then Guillermo had the idea of like, "Why don't we just do a separate league?" And he brought it to Joe and me and said, "What do you guys think about this?"

Joe Russo: Yup. Yup. Guillermo was the spark plug on this one. Yeah, so he gets all the credit. Guillermo works with Chris Evans and has for years. I've gotten to know Guillermo through working with Chris for the last seven years, Guillermo plays in our other league, Bloodsport league. He's the league manager. And then, yeah, as Berry had mentioned a few people were trying to get in the other league, but no one's going to leave that league. So ultimately the idea came up, let's start another league and make it a charity league and populate it with folks who have appeared in superhero movies. And the way that Matthew and I qualify for that league is because we both had cameos in Avengers: Endgame. We feel like we fulfill the main qualification having appeared in a superhero film.

MB: Yeah, that's a very important distinction that you don't have to be a superhero, you just have to have been in a superhero movie. And that lets Joe and I sort of slide in under the wire.

JR: Superhero by proximity. That's the qualification. Evans and I used to talk about it on the set all the time on Winter Soldier, and then I think on Civil War is when we started the league. And it's filled with a lot of Marvel actors and then a lot of friends of Evans. But in that league, if you want me to name it, it's me and Evans, it's Guillermo. It's Renner. It's Mackie. It's Paul Rudd. James Marsden, Garrett Hedlund. Joel McHale. Who else? Is that nine? Krasinski. John Krasinski, Chris Pratt, and Miles Teller.

What was the response from the various actors when you finally decided to do this? It feels as though it was pretty overwhelmingly positive.

JR: Yeah, I think we put the league together in a weekend. That's how fast it happened. Everyone was interested in playing. And I think everyone... All of these actors do great charity work and have charities that they're very passionate about so... You try to assign some value to the wasted hours you spend playing fantasy football. But charity is a good way to assign value to it.

MB: And I'll just pop in real quickly, Charlie, and say Joe's being modest, but it came together in a weekend for a couple of reasons. Number one is because to Joe's part, these are all people that care deeply about charity and specifically who they're playing for and they all have big hearts, but also the power of Joe Russo's cell phone because like Guillermo, myself and Joe were on a text chain and Joe would be like, "Let me reach out to, whoever, let me reach out to Pratt." And then 10 minutes later, "Pratt's in." "Oh, I'm reaching out to Ryan Reynolds." "Reynolds is in," three minutes later. So it's really sort of a credit to the affinity all these actors have for fantasy football, for charity and candidly to Joe.

Joe, you've been playing with a lot of these actors for years now. Which of them worries you the most when you see them on the schedule?

JR: A ringer for the last few years in Bloodsport has been Renner. He's been a real ringer. Although, I'd say Evans has consistently been the best player. I think he's won two championships in that league. Let's say Evans. Evans' consistently been the best player, and he's won two championships. He's in last place this year, so he's getting his comeuppance.

You're shooting Cherry with Tom Holland now, and he's in this league with you. Has there been a lot of trash talk between you? He is currently ahead you in the standings...

JR: Yeah. I would argue that my job in that league is to not let any celebrities finish in last place.

MB: Joe, whether he's behind the camera or in a league, Joe is always protecting his actors.

Berry, how crazy has this whole thing been for you? It probably doesn't touch your Avengers: Endgame cameo, but playing fantasy football with the Marvel stars has to be a close second.

MB: It has been insanely cool. It has been so much fun. Look, nothing's going to top being in Endgame. Right. Not only because of my own fandom but also because of how that movie turned out and how brilliant it is and the popularity of it. Like nothing's going to top that. But I will say that marrying two things that I truly love, which is the MCU and fantasy football and doing it for something that's near and dear to my heart as well. Being able to raise money for charity and I'm playing for the Jimmy V Foundation, and I think we all hate cancer, but I've done a lot of work for the Jimmy V Foundation over the years. For a dumb quote unquote quote dumb fantasy football league with celebrities for charity. I care way too much about it, you know what I mean? Like I'm really into this league and not even from a like, I want to win. Right now I'm scheduled to make the playoffs, I think I'm either tied for fourth or fifth, had a couple of injuries that I've dealt with, a couple of tough losses. But I'll make the playoffs and I have a good enough team and I'm fine.

But it's just more about, the trash talk has been terrific and a lot of fun and engaging with them, whether it's trade talk or on the message board. It's been truly awesome. It's been truly, truly awesome. And what's been fun for me is seeing how into the league everyone has gotten. Right. And so like, I won't share the substance of them, but DMing with Ryan Reynolds, I didn't know Ryan obviously, I met Ryan through this league and he's super into it. And by the way, his trash talk I think was the best of the year so far.

He seems to be as good at trash talk as you'd expect him to be.

MB: He's unbelievable. He is just like jaw-droppingly good. So it's like one of the things like when it was your turn. Like I did one with Hemsworth and it was just like, "Oh God, okay. I got to get on that level." And I don't know that I got on that level, but I put a lot more effort into it than I would have had I not seen what Reynolds did. But anyway, it's been a tremendous amount of fun and so, yeah. Pinch me, dream come true. And we're already sort of talking about plans for next year and how we can make this even bigger and better.

From your perspective, which actor has been the biggest surprise so far in AGBO? Who goes on to win the whole thing?

MB: Hemsworth has surprised me the most. Yeah, his team is great and he had an early draft pick, which helps, but Hemsworth has been the one that surprised me most. He has a very good team and he's Australian, like how much does he know about sports? You're not really sure. So Hemsworth has been a really pleasant surprise as has Ryan Reynolds because I just didn't know how much either one of those guys really played fantasy football. In terms of who I think wins the league, I think it's one of four people. I think its Reynolds. I think it's Hemsworth. I think it's Pratt. I'm sorry. I think it's Teller. Not Pratt, sorry. Although Pratt has a decent team. But I think it's Hemsworth. I think it's Reynolds. I think it's Teller or I think it's me.

Paul Rudd's got a pretty good team too. Paul's a really good player. I mean, I think Paul's certainly got a shot and I would say Pratt's got a shot, Pratt's a really good player too.

You can read more about the AGBO Superhero Fantasy Football League and check the weekly standings here.