How avengers: endgame was made: creating an mcu conclusion

An in-depth look at the story changes, reshoots, and more that went inlớn making "Avengers: Endgame".




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“How the MCU Was Made” is a series of deep-dive sầu articles that delve sầu inlớn the ins và outs of the development history, production, and release of all the Marvel Studios movies


In the run up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the film was described as a “culmination” of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that had come before. That mô tả tìm kiếm was somewhat apt, but only because we knew absolutely nothing about Avengers: Endgame yet. As it turns out, Infinity War is really Thanos’ movie—it’s the story of a galactic villain who brings all the major heroes of the MCU khổng lồ their knees… & wins. And it’s Infinity War that really makes Avengers: Endgame so satisfying, because the latter film truly is the culmination sự kiện. It’s a genuine conclusion to lớn the 22-film arc that precedes it, & puts a “period” on the kết thúc of the sentence for Iron Man and Captain America (Blachồng Widow, meanwhile, gets her own solo movie to lớn go out on…). It’s also three hours long, three different movies in one, and the second-highest-grossing film in history. It’s a miracle of a thing, and this is the story of how it was made.


The early days of development on Avengers: Endgame are the same as the early days of development on Avengers: Infinity War, because these two movies were planned together, khổng lồ be shot back-to-baông chồng. For a more extensive sầu rundown of the early development I suggest reading my How the MCU Was Made piece on Infinity War — I don't want lớn repeat too much here — but the idea to lớn make two Avengers sequels at the same time originated on a Marvel Studtiện ích ios corporate retreat in năm trước. Shortly thereafter, Marvel Studtiện ích ios announced release dates for Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 & Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2, but the name would change when the team decided they wanted these to lớn be two distinct movies. Of note: an early title for Endgame was Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet, but that was eventually changed lớn Avengers: Endgame.


avengers-infinity-war-russo-brothers-chris-evans Image via Marvel Studtiện ích ios
JoeAnthony Russo—the filmmakers behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier—were hired to lớn direct both films, while MCU veterans Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were hired to lớn write them. The quartet began brainstorming while they were all shooting Captain America: Civil War, and after much trial & error, they hit upon the idea of telling Thanos’ story in Infinity War and then refocusing on the original Avengers team heroes in the second film. As the writing got more specific, this would eventually turn into lớn the team writing themselves into lớn a corner, allowing Thanos to win at the over of Infinity War. Figuring out how lớn then follow that up became a bit of a roadblochồng, and is one of the reasons the filmmakers abandoned their plans to crossboard Infinity WarEndgame & shoot them at the same time—the script for Endgame simply wasn’t done yet. Kevin Feige explained:


“Initially, we thought there’d be great savings—which on a movie of this kích cỡ is relative—shooting them at the same time, and we’d be able khổng lồ vày what’s called crossboarding where we shoot all the scenes in Avengers Compound all at the same time, all the Infinity War scenes all the Endgame scenes, và then strike that set & move sầu on. A few months before we started filming we knew we weren’t gonmãng cầu be able khổng lồ do that because we were still writing Endgame. Chris and Steve, our amazing screenwriters, were still writing Endgame and still finishing Infinity War, và we knew we had khổng lồ shoot them one right after another. So any sort of clever savings went out the window at that point.”


avengers-endgame-jeremy-renner-scarlett-johansson Image via Marvel Studios
The Snap was one of two major beats that the filmmaking team came up with early on for these two Avengers movies, và they had khổng lồ decide exactly when to vì chưng it—in the middle of Infinity War, or at the very end? When they decided khổng lồ use it as the shocking cliffhanger, the other major piece of the puzzle became figuring out when to lớn bring everyone baông chồng, as McFeely explained:


“Another big plot point is when everyone comes bachồng. So the question is, is it early in the second movie? Late in the second movie? You notice the players left on the board are the O.G. Avengers , và let’s give them their due. It meant that we were likely going to lớn bring people baông chồng late. So that if you were a big fan of Doctor Strange or Black Panther or Bucky or Sam , you’re only going to get a little brief window on them. It can’t be all things to lớn all people.”

The filmmaking team spent a good khuyễn mãi giảm giá of time trying khổng lồ figure out how Thanos fit into Endgame until executive producer Trinch Tran suggested just killing hyên ổn at the beginning of the movie:


"Remember, is omnipotent. He is omniscient. It is ridiculous how much power he has at the opening of the movie, so for a good solid three weeks, we are trying lớn figure out, what is movie two with a character with that much power? At one point, I think Trinch Tran, our executive sầu producer, in frustration said, 'God, I really wish we could just kill hlặng.' We all went, 'slow down. What does that mean? That's interesting,'" McFeely said. "It's absolutely within his character. When we asked, 'Why would he let you?' Because he did what he wanted to lớn vì chưng. It's svào for hyên to lớn vì chưng that. We've sầu been at it a long time & that's the kind of thing I beat myself up for not thinking of earlier. If I'm being consistent khổng lồ his character, this is on the table."


avengers-endgame-paul-rudd Image via Marvel Studtiện ích ios
The filmmakers additionally came up with the idea of using time travel as a way khổng lồ revisit past MCU films and moments, since the entire notion behind Avengers: Endgame was for the film to be a celebration of everything that’s come before. Luckily, they had yet lớn use a character who was about lớn introduce a mode of time travel in Ant-Man & the Wasp:


"Time travel pops up in your head early in almost any difficult situation. Well, if I travel baông chồng in time, this date would have gone much better. Generally in a movie, 'eh, that's way too easy.' We couldn't have sầu Tony just invents a time machine," Markus said. "But delving inkhổng lồ Ant-Man, who we hadn't used because he had a movie coming and we didn't want to lớn taint Ant-Man and the Wasp any more than we did at the very kết thúc. ... We were planning on Ant-Man because we had access to lớn him in the second movie, & the fact that he was bringing a whole subphối of công nghệ that did have sầu something to lớn vì chưng with a different concept of time was lượt thích a birthday present."

The team consulted with quantum physicists on the mechanics of their version of time travel, which inspired the lively conversation at Avengers Compound about how Back to the Future is largely BS. But the notion of bringing time travel to lớn the fold was also rooted in character, as the team also knew the endings they were going to be giving to lớn Tony Stark & Steve sầu Rogers.


avengers-endgame-mark-ruffalo-hulk-diner-scott-lang Image via Marvel Studquả táo
Indeed, early in the brainstorming process, Markus và McFeely discussed “What If?” scenarquả táo for all the different heroes, which would eventually morph inlớn Act I of Avengers: Endgame. McFeely elaborates on the film's audio commentary:

“When Chris and I sat down while we were all shooting Civil War, and in the afternoons when people are doing their jobs, Chris và I have sầu nothing to lớn vị. So we came up with this manifeslớn of the many, many things you could vị in these two movies, & one of them was the What If? section. What if we were able lớn show alternate versions of our heroes? But instead of a fantasy, it’s really just the natural progression of a five-year jump after a terrible sự kiện. So we did call this the What If? section.”

The idea to jump ahead five sầu years in time was partially inspired by the Season 1 finale of the FX series Fargo and the flash forwards in Lost, và the idea was to lớn be able to lớn reflect how time has changed the OG Avengers characters, paving the way for these "What If?" evolutions lớn play out in a grounded, realistic fashion.


One major character change, obviously, is Smart Hulk — but Bruce’s transition was actually planned (and shot) lớn appear in Infinity War before some late post-production work removed Smart Hulk from the movie. McFeely revealed how Hulk was originally going khổng lồ appear in Infinity War:

was fighting in Wakanda, & the whole arc of the story was Banner và Hulk were not getting along, Hulk wouldn’t come out lớn help hyên ổn, & in his hour of greachạy thử need they made some sort of compromise & Smart Hulk rips out of the armor và beats the crap out of Cull Obsidian and destroys hyên ổn. It was pretty clear that the movie could not handle this weird success. The movie needed khổng lồ just stay in a succession of losses in the third act, which meant some hustling on the part of visual effects.”




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There’s also “Lebowski Thor,” which reflects the deep depression the character finds himself in, và Natasha's persistence in running Avengers HQ while Steve sầu tends to lớn others’ needs in true Captain America fashion. And then of course Assassin Hawkeye. Tony is the only one who is ultimately “happier” after the five-year time jump, which provides dramatic tension when Cap và the team show up khổng lồ ask for his help.


And of course all of these arcs were crafted knowing that Tony và Natasha would die, & Cap would travel back in time & stay there with Peggy. McFeely says Natasha’s death completes her character’s emotional journey:

“Her journey, in our minds, had come lớn an over if she could get the Avengers back. She comes from such an abusive, terrible, mind-control background, so when she gets to lớn Vormir và she has a chance khổng lồ get the family baông xã, that’s a thing she would trade for.”

However, that’s not khổng lồ say there wasn’t debate over whether Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) or Blaông chồng Widow (Scarlett Johansson) would die in the Vormir sequence:

"Jen Underdahl, our visual effects producer, read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over. And she goes, ‘Don’t you take this away from her.’ I actually get emotional thinking about it,” says McFeely. “And it was true,” adds Markus, “It was hlặng taking the hit for her. It was melodramatic to have hyên die & not get his family baông chồng. And it is only right và proper that she’s done.”


That said, the sequence was written và crafted knowing full well that Johansson would be spearheading her own Black Widow movie after Avengers: Endgame came out (it takes place before the events of Infinity War), which is why Natasha’s death doesn’t get the same grand sendoff as Tony’s.


Speaking of which, Tony Stark’s death at the end of Avengers: Endgame was an idea that came about very early on in the process. As an endpoint, Tony’s final act needed lớn be one of selflessness, contrasted with the selfish character we meet in Iron Man.

Anthony Russo admitted that Robert Downey Jr. had mixed emotions when he was first pitched Tony’s ending:

"We did pitch Robert his arc, because he kicked off the entire MCU. The Tony Stark arc is the longest & perhaps fullest in the MCU. Once we decided we wanted this kind of ending for the character, we certainly wanted to make sure Robert was comfortable with it, just because of his enormous contribution lớn the MCU. We did pitch it out. We went over khổng lồ meet with hyên và we pitched it out lớn him. A lot of the actors are not opinionated about what we bởi vì. They lượt thích the fact that we are sort of in control of these stories and we are driving where they should go và we have sầu a vision for where they should go và they trust in that. I think Downey may have had mixed emotions about thinking about Endgame>, but I think at the over of the day, he totally accepted it."

Downey was first approached about this idea just as he was renewing his contract for Spider-Man: Homecoming & two additional Avengers movies, so you can imagine it may have sầu felt a bit weird to lớn begin plotting out your character’s death at the same time you’re signing on khổng lồ these big, exciting projects. But obviously Downey came around lớn the idea.


Similarly, Cap’s ending was plotted out from the very first outline—that he would get his dance with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). But McFeely admitted that he wavered on whether that ending was too bạn service-y:

“From the very first outline, we knew he was going lớn get his dance. On a separate subject, I started to lớn thua thảm my barometer on what was just người service & what was good for the character. Because I think it’s good for the characters. But we also just gave you what you wanted. Is that good? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you, it’s satisfying. He’s postponed a life in order khổng lồ fulfill his duty. That’s why I didn’t think we were ever going to lớn kill hlặng. Because that’s not the arc. The arc is, I finally get to lớn put my shield down because I’ve earned that.”

If Tony's arc over the course of the MCU and culminating in Avengers: Endgame is moving from selfishness to selflessness, then Cap's arc is moving from complete selflessness lớn finally being able lớn live sầu a life of his own choosing. And these two ideas are beautifully executed over the course of Endgame's runtime.


While filming on Avengers: Infinity War began in January 2017, filming on Avengers: Endgame didn’t fully get underway until August 2017 — again, the productions were split apart a few months before filming began. But even then, executive sầu producer Trinh Tran explained that they were juggling both movies at once:

“We filmed all 2017. And the longest shooting period that Marvel ever had. And every day there was somebody new coming in. There was never a dull in that sense. Then towards the latter half of it, of 2017 we were filming Endgame as we were doing additional photography for Infinity War, as we were posting Infinity War.”


mcu-class-photo Marvel Studtiện ích ios “The First Ten Years” Class PhotoFront Row L to lớn R: Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Hannah John-Kamen (Ghost), Director Scott Derrickson, Executive sầu Producer Trinh Tran, Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), EVPhường, Physical Production Victoria Alonso, Zoe Saldamãng cầu (Gamora), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Director/Actor Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Executive Producer/Writer Stan
The most monumental day of filming came in October 2017, when they shot a scene that in the script was called “The Wedding.” This was, in fact, Tony’s funeral (dubbed “the wedding” khổng lồ keep the death under wraps), & Marvel Studgame ios assembled all of those actors you see in that scene in Atlanta, Georgia at the same time for the shoot. It coincided with the photoshoot for Marvel Studios’ 10th anniversary, and Feige looked baông chồng on the day fondly:


" was shot in October 2017, the day we shot the 10th anniversary pholớn," Feige reveals. "That's why we did that photo then, because we had everybody there. And it was astounding, having all those actors there, và it's very solemn in the movie, because they're all great actors, it's very effective. On the day it was just insane."

Lest you think everything came out perfectly, even after wrapping Endgame on January 11, 2018, there was still work lớn be done. An entire sequence was shot featuring actress Katherine Langford as Tony’s daughter that was ultimately scrapped because audiences didn’t understand who the character was supposed to be:

“There was an idea that we had that Tony was going lớn go inkhổng lồ the metaphysical way station that Thanos goes in when he snapped his fingers. And that there was going to be a future version of his daughter in that way station,” said Joe Russo. The intention was that his future daughter, because these films are dealing with magic, his future daughter forgave sầu hyên ổn & sort of gave sầu him peace to lớn go. And the idea felt resonant. But it was just too many ideas in an overly complicated movie.”

That & there was no emotional connection lớn this new character right at the emotional climax of the entire film:


“What we realized about it,” said Anthony Russo, “Was we didn’t feel an emotional association with the adult version of his daughter. So it wasn’t ringing khổng lồ us & resonating with us on an emotional level.”


Two key sequences also had khổng lồ be reshot. One was Black Widow và Hawkeye’s scene on Vormir, which originally involved them being attacked by a Thanos army (as revealed on the audio commentary). The army was meant lớn urge the characters to make a decision as to who was going lớn be sacrificed, but ended up taking the emotion out of the scene.

The other scene that was reshot ended up being the last scene ever shot for Avengers: Endgame: Tony’s snap. Originally, he just snapped his fingers without saying anything. In post-production, the Russo Brothers felt he needed to say something but weren’t sure what:


“Tony used khổng lồ not say anything in that moment. And we were in the editing room going, ‘He has lớn say something. This is a character who has lived và died by quips.’ And we just couldn’t, we tried a million different last lines. Thanos was saying “I am inevitable.” And our editor Jeff Ford, who’s been with us all four movies và is an amazing storyteller, said ‘Why don’t we just go full circle with it & say I am Iron Man.’ And we’re like, ‘Get the cameras! We have lớn shoot this tomorrow.'”

Downey was reluctant to lớn return lớn the iconic turn of phrase that ended the first Iron Man, but Joe Russo revealed on the ReelBlover Podcast it was actually producer Joel Silver who convinced hyên ổn it was the right call:


“It’s an interesting story. I had dinner with like two weeks before we were supposed to lớn shoot it. And he was lượt thích, ‘I don’t know. I don’t really want lớn go baông xã và get into lớn that emotional state. It’ll take… it’s hard.’ And crazily enough, Joel Silver, the producer, was at the dinner. He’s an old buddy of Robert’s. And Joel jumps in và he’s like, ‘Robert, what are you talking about? That’s the greatest line I’ve ever heard! You gotta say this line! You have sầu to lớn do this!’ So thank God that Joel Silver was at dinner, because he helped us talk Robert into doing that line.”


The new scene was shot in January 2019 — mere months before the film’s release. But due lớn a laông xã of soundstage availability, they ended up shooting it at Raleigh Studios, adjacent lớn the soundstage where Downey first auditioned to play Iron Man a decade prior. Feige recalled the serendipity of it all:


"That was shot in a stage right next door to lớn the stage where he did his audition for Iron Man," Feige recalls. "And it was the first time we had been on that lot together since then. I thought, how amazing that the stars have aligned & his very last shot as Iron Man will be done in this place where he first performed Tony Stark. And how all of our lives had changed so dramatically from that first audition to lớn that last shot."

Avengers: Endgame was released in theaters on April 26, 2019 and it surpassed all critical và commercial expectations. The nhận xét were pretty uniformly rapturous, và the box office was downright monumental. With $357 million on opening weekend the film broke Infinity War’s record for the highest-grossing opening weekover of all time by a whopping $100 million. And while it took a few months, the film surpassed Avatar to stvà atop the worldwide chart as the highest-grossing movie of all time with an astounding $2.796 billion total (although Avatar reclaimed the title in March 2021).


Audiences kept going bachồng and back & baông xã again to see the film in theaters, made all the more impressive by its three-hour length. But Avengers: Endgame is a movie that delivers on tín đồ service without sacrificing organic emotional arcs. It’s all thiết đặt and payoff, and while the first hour is a serious grief drama, it lays the emotional foundation for the fun-filled time travel romp second act & the truly epic final showdown third act. It’s a film that rewards knowledge of and passion for the previous MCU movies — a genuine celebration of all things MCU, and in that regard it’s a movie unlượt thích any other ever made. It can't be like any movie ever made, because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a franchise unlượt thích any other. And this concluding chapter is a massive sầu, hugely entertaining, wildly emotional series finale with eye-popping spectacle. And on top of all that, the characters’ emotional cores resonate throughout.


As you’ve sầu no doubt seen from reading this relatively brief rundown of how Avengers: Endgame was made, the finished film is the result of years of hard work, brainstorming, jettisoned ideas, and fine-tuning by Feige, Markus, McFeely, the Russo Brothers, và the Marvel Studios creative team. That it works as well as it does is a testament khổng lồ the specifithành phố with which the Russo Brothers steered this ship into harbor after 21 movies out at sea, và it’s doubtful anything lượt thích this will ever be replicated again.

And yet, the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t over. Avengers: Endgame certainly marks a stopping point, and concludes the arcs of three major characters who helped kichồng this whole thing off, but the next film after Endgame starts to lớn pave sầu a path forward for the MCU & expands the universe even further, while still carrying the emotional weight of the events in Endgame.




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Next week, we dig inlớn the making of Spider-Man: Far from Home.

If you missed my previous How the MCU Was Made articles, click the link below:


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