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Despite the fact that they started their Marvel Cinematic Universe journey with zero previous blockbuster experience, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have, to date, helmed three of the best films in the entire franchise. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War are individually absolutely outstanding pieces of big screen spectacle, and each one has made a distinct and separate impact on the Marvel world at large.
This isn’t easy for many reasons, but particularly because this is a brand that has created more than 20 movies in the last decade, and with each new release comes the demand to experience something fresh and brand new. For the Russos, however, there is a key way to getting that done, and they spoke with me about it this past weekend at the Los Angeles press day for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame. Said Joe Russo,
I think we always try to put psychological realism in our movies, and that's the one concept, if you go back and look at Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War, is there is a level of psychological realism beyond these fantastical costumes and fantastical circumstances that people are behaving in a way that feels psychologically truthful. And I think that tone is one of the ways that you can alter movies that are in a series from one another. It's one of the more significant ways you can do that. And trying to distinguish Endgame from Infinity War, I would certainly say that Endgame has a very different tone than Infinity War had.
Admittedly the Russos haven’t yet gone to the extreme of making a super fun, colorful adventure along the lines of Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy, but there is definitely a noticeable gradient in the tone of their Marvel Cinematic Universe features. What’s more, there has also been a significant progression. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a dark movie, playing with the aesthetic of a 1970s conspiracy thriller, but things get significantly darker in Captain America: Civil War when our heroes turn on each other and eventually disband. And as melancholy as that film gets, it still can’t hold a candle to Avengers: Infinity War, which features one of the most devastating endings in blockbuster history.
This, of course, leads us to Avengers: Endgame, and keeping in mind the Russos’ past, their comments about the film are exceptionally curious. There’s been some expectation that the upcoming sequel would share tonal qualities with its predecessor, given that the lead characters are all trying to pick up the pieces of their world after half their friends turned to dust, but Joe Russo’s comments suggest otherwise. But what does “a very different tone” mean, exactly? Does it mean that it’s going even further into the darkness than what we’ve previously seen them do in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or could it be that Avengers: Endgame is actually way more of a funny, fun ride than the marketing has suggested?
It’s an interesting mystery, and one that won’t have its answer revealed in the various trailers for the film. To date we have maybe seen a grand total of five minutes of footage from the blockbuster, and that equates to a little less than three percent of the full three hour movie. As we’ve seen with plenty of trailer remixes in the past, it’s possible to create any kind of tone with any kind of footage, so it’s not impossible that every preview we’ve seen for Avengers: Endgame has been hiding the blockbuster’s true nature.
We already thought that we know jack diddly about what to really expect from Joe and Anthony Russo’s fourth Marvel movie, but this quote honestly takes that sentiment even further. Fortunately, we won’t be tortured by this for too much longer, as Avengers: Endgame will be hitting theaters worldwide in less than three weeks – specifically on April 26th.