The development process for Marvel Studios movies is still mostly a mystery to the outside observer. Though the studio goes by the traditional measures of hiring writers, developing scripts, and then ordering re-writes, when considering the story implications of how one film ripples out into the larger cinematic universe then a lot of things must considered. Like other studios when they're working on their major movies and franchises Marvel obviously considers their vast library of characters and actors who have multi-picture deals still in place, but now we know they have a unique way of handling that when working on their screenplays.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed that custom made trading cards for all of their characters are used at Marvel Studios. These cards help the writers visualize the scenes, moments, and overall movies they're planning while also providing a necessary tool for producer Kevin Feige: the cost of having each actor in the film. The writers revealed that they broke down the two movies in a conference room where one wall featured story beats for Infinity War, one wall featured story beats for Endgame, and the third included all of the trading cards of available characters.
“Marvel makes them,” McFeely said. “Some intern in-house makes them. They have a magnet on the back. They get dog-eared and bent and stuff. [Each one] says if we have them or not for this movie. And there was a little rating. We didn't know how much [money] each actor made, but it had either one dollar sign or up to five dollar signs.”
The pair revealed that at no point was there pressure from Marvel to make sure that they had multiple cards with “five dollar signs” in any given scene, instead the pressure solely being on developing a great story for the two films.
“You actually try not to leave the five-dollar-signs on the sidelines,” McFeely said. “In the beginning stages, it's a, 'Oh wouldn't it be interesting if Groot and Rocket and Thor went on a journey together? What kind of chemistry could you get from that?' But also, we took this job because it scared the hell out of us, because that first movie has 23 [main] characters in it.”
The pair went on to say that using the cards was actually a very useful tool for them in breaking down the movies, especially Infinity War, calling it like “pick(ing) dodgeball teams.”0comments
“'All right, that’s going to be a team, and we’re going to tell four small stories,'” McFeely says about bundling the cards together. “Infinity War was very simple. It feels complicated simply because things are being woven together, but the stories themselves are really easy.”
Despite having written six films in the MCU including all three Captain America movies, Markus and McFeely have no current plans to write any more Marvel movies, luckily they got to keep the trading cards.