The first movie Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s wrote for the Marvel Cinematic Universe was way back in 2011 with Captain America: The First Avenger. Since then, they’ve written the two Captain America sequels, Thor: The Dark World, the Agent Carter television series, Avengers: Infinity War, and now, Avengers: Endgame. It’s kind of safe to say that, by this point, they kind of get how this all works.
The plot of Avengers: Endgame is still a heavily guarded secret, so this is one of those rare, strange instances in which an interview is conducted without seeing the movie and the interviewees not being able to say much about it. So, instead, we focused on how we got here in the first place. Namely, how was it decided who would survive Thanos’ snap? Yeah, we get Marvel wanted to keep the original Avengers together, but how were the newer characters decided? Of all the Guardians of the Galaxy, why just Rocket? Ahead, Markus and McFeely explain how they made their decisions. Baseball cards were involved.
(Editor’s Note: We will have a lot more with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely throughout the week.)
So, first question, what’s the plot?
Stephen McFeely: [Laughs] Well … dealing with loss. I mean, it’s not on the poster, but, yeah.
That’s the tagline.
McFeely: ‘Avengers: Endgame, Dealing With Loss’
After the snap in Infinity War, you kept the original core group together. With the non-core group, how did you decide? Like, for example, why did Rocket survive and not Drax?
Christopher Markus: You know, it was all a question of who had a story and you consider story and pairings and who’s going to feel least like a retread.
McFeely: Put yourself in our position. It’s the last four months of 2015 and we’ve got all these baseball cards on the wall and we’re planning two movies at the same time. So, part of it is just you put the baseball cards together and people in the room go, “Ha ha, I’d like to see that scene.” And that’s sort of what dictates whether that became a two-movie journey, or one movie journey, or what have you.
Markus: And also, you know, sometimes it wasn’t so much who lived as who died. If you kill only supporting characters, you pulled your punch. And if you do the opposite it just seems weird.
How did you keep all the original Avengers together without it feeling like a cheat?
Markus: You know, I guess we didn’t think it was a cheat. We figured that we’re going to kill roughly half of them, and some of them will be their own franchises, and we have what we think is a pretty great story for the characters we’ve chosen to keep.
But the original Avengers are all still there. And I understand why, as far as how movies work. But how did you make it still feel random?
Markus: I don’t know if it makes feel random, but part of what masks it is the people left alive are actually going through a worse thing than the dead people. It doesn’t look like you spared them. It feels like you’re putting them through something worse.
McFeely: It’s not like they won the lottery or anything.
[Again, we will have more with Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely throughout the week. Stay tuned.]
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