Aside from all of the Game of Thrones madness filling up the ether right now, another juggernaut looms large while preparing for release this week. That would be Avengers: Endgame, the not-quite-an-endcap installment of the MCU’s Phase 3. Joe and Anthony Russo are back in the helmers’ chairs after killing off half your beloved superheros in Infinity War, and while fans hope that Thanos’ snap can be reversed, they don’t know to what extent that can happen. The Russos are revealing no clues, but they sat down for the May Esquire issue (the one where Kit Harington tells Thrones critics to f*ck off) to discuss how they’ve enjoyed deconstructing superheroes during their Marvel Studios tenure.
The duo does reference their MCU entry point, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That film grew dark at times while avoiding the DCEU’s past “gritty” trap and zeroing in on Steve Rogers’ nuances. They do exist! You know, unlike with the comic books that the pair grew up reading that presented, as Joe puts it, a “boring” lead character that they worked to reinvent:
“We came in and pitched a radical reinvention of that character. I said, ‘Look, when I was growing up reading Captain America, I found him very boring. He’s two-dimensional — characters who don’t have a personality flaw are difficult. You can tell one story about them, but once you try to tell a second, where you have to have some narrative movement, you run out of gas. So we said, ‘Look, he’s been frozen in ice. He’s gonna wake up in modern times. We feel like we could use that as a reset. We can reset the tone and the character. We can create emotional complexity.’ … We pitched Captain America meets 3 Days of the Condor.”
Indeed, the first Cap movie played off his “golly-gee” qualities with dashes of humor, but Winter Soldier brought the Rogers character into the modern era. Alongside Anthony Mackie’s wisecracking Falcon and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Cap felt himself torn between his memories of Bucky Barnes and the need to stop his (monstrous) programmed incarnation, the Winter Soldier. The film also deconstructed S.H.I.E.L.D. after it was infiltrated by HYDRA following the first Cap movie. This forced Steve Rogers to forsake his rose-colored glasses and, as Joe tells Esquire, the brothers enjoy “tearing down things” in order “to build it back up.” Similarly, they’ve ripped the MCU in half with the ending of Infinity War, and now millions of fans are waiting to see how they resurrect the Avengers in a forward-looking incarnation.
Avengers: Endgame arrives on April 26.