Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie Avengers: Endgame is poised to become the biggest movie of all time at the box office. We've rounded up the essential news stories about the movie.
1. James Cameron applauds directors the Russo brothers for their success
It can't have escaped your attention that earlier this week, Avengers: Endgame surpassed James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic at the box office. Cameron's fact-based disaster epic took $2.18 billion at the global box office, but was sunk by Endgame's haul of $2.19bn (and counting).
Will the new Marvel movie overtake Cameron's other blockbuster (and the reigning box office champ) Avatar? It currently stands proud at $2.7bn worldwide, so while we anticipate next week's box office results, here's Cameron himself with a congratulations aimed at Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
2. The Russos tricked the cast about the ending
How does one convey the magnitude of the Endgame climax to the cast? It turns out you play games with them – at least, if you're the Russo brothers.
Joe Russo tells EW Radio (via Comicbook.com): "It was an interesting day because getting all of those actors together at one level is very celebratory and joyful but it was for a difficult reason in this scene. And also, the story point in the scene was one of the biggest secrets in the movie so we had to be very, very quiet about it."
He adds that call sheets didn't even refer to Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) funeral: "Nobody ever used the word funeral. It was always a wedding.
"90 percent of those actors showed up and they had no idea what they were doing. They thought they were there for the wedding, so we had to tell them 'Here’s what’s happening in the story…' because again, we’re just trying to protect information. People that don’t have information, it makes it easier for them to not spill the beans accidentally."
Sneaky – and judging from the authenticity of the performances in the finished movie, more than a little effective in eliciting emotions. Well, that's what the death of Iron Man will do to people.
3. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans & Elizabeth Olsen share set videos
4. Endgame once had a different title
Given the significance of the Infinity Gauntlet to both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it's perhaps not surprising it once informed the latter film's title. (Maybe there's a double-meaning in there as well, as in our Avengers have to run a literal gauntlet to retrieve the Infinity Stones and reverse everything.)
On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Russos acknowledged that the original title for Avengers 4 was Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet. This was also hinted at by Zoe Saldana back in 2017 when she let slip that 'gauntlet' acted as the name of the movie. As it turned out, those who placed stock in Doctor Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) line, "we're in the endgame now" were correct. The official title was revealed with the first Endgame trailer back in December 2018.
5. Katherine Langford's deleted character revealed
We reported last year on the blog that 13 Reasons Why actor Katherine Langford was down for a key role in the movie. However, upon viewing the finished product, she was nowhere to be seen. As it turns out, Langford did in fact film a scene as the older Morgan Stark, Tony's daughter, but it was cut from the movie for pacing reasons.
"There was an idea that we had that Tony was going to go into the metaphysical way station that Thanos goes in when he snapped his fingers," Joe Russo tells the Happy Sad Confused podcast. "And that there was going to be a future version of his daughter in that way station."
Russo adds: "The intention was that his future daughter, because these films are dealing with magic, his future daughter forgave him and sort of gave him peace to go. And the idea felt resonant. But it was just too many ideas in an overly complicated movie."
Maybe we'll return to Morgan Stark later in the MCU as she takes on her father's mantle?
6. The Russos discuss Captain America
Endgame ends on a refreshingly intimate and quiet note as Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) exploits the wonders of time travel to live a happy life with Peggy (Hayley Atwell). He then returns to the present day as an older man, handing his characteristic shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) – does this baton-passing indicate that Sam will become the new Captain America?
More importantly, were you wondering how Evans gave such a convincing performance as the aged super-soldier? In an era when CGI is routinely used to adjust an actor's physical appearance, it turns out the magic of make-up and Evans's own acting skills were all that was needed to sell the illusion.
"Obviously, if it doesn’t work perfectly, it can undermine the emotional intention of the scene," Anthony Russo tells Entertainment Weekly. "We did a lot of practical effects, so it was a very elaborate makeup job that was then augmented with CG, because there’s certain things that you can’t do with makeup in order to make Cap credibly that age.
"You can’t shrink Chris Evans’ neck on set, you know what I mean? He’s still got that yoke neck. [CG helps] things that you can’t achieve, like the way the face drops. It’s a balance we want to always strike between making him feel credibly aged, but also not compromising the performance."
Joe Russo adds that it's Evans's own voice we hear in the scene, with no digital augmentation required: "We always say this about Chris — he’s so technically sophisticated as an actor and you can see it in that scene when he plays an old man. Everything you’re seeing is exactly his performance, just with his face aged. That’s it. We didn’t change anything about it."
Chris Evans – the most underrated actor in the MCU? We'll leave you guys to think about that one.
7. Captain America and Mjolnir
Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) impossible-to-pronounce hammer Mjolnir found a worthy successor during Endgame's final battle: Captain America himself. One of the most spectacularly rousing moments in the film comes when Cap summons the weapon to do battle with Thanos (Josh Brolin) – a nifty throwback to a scene in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron where he came within a whisker of lifting it.
Once again speaking to the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Russos say that Cap was only faking it during the Age of Ultron scene, and was capable of lifting the hammer from the start: "In our heads, he was able to wield it. He didn’t know that until that moment in Ultron when he tried to pick it up. But Cap’s sense of character and humility and, out of deference to Thor’s ego, Cap in that moment realising he can move the hammer, decides not to."
It turns out that Cap's greatest super-powers don't reside in strength, agility or endurance – it's his humanity, something that made him the optimum tactical leader in the Avengers team, and one of the most quietly affecting characters to feature in the franchise.
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