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Modern blockbuster filmmaking can be tricky, particularly if you are working within the confines of a franchise. At a recent CinemaCon event featuring Elizabeth Banks, Anthony and Joe Russo, Dexter Fletcher and Olivia Wilde, the directors were talking about what the real trick is to keeping people excited for what’s coming next.
It was actually Elizabeth Banks who hit the nail on the head when she mentioned she makes sure “there’s a surprise built-in somewhere for the audience” particularly noting for people “who think they knew who this person was but there’s another layer, something more.”
Riffing off of Banks’ initial comments based on her work in Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie’s Angels, Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo revealed Banks hit the nail on the head. That is, in fact, exactly what he and Anthony Russo try to do to keep Marvel audiences excited. He elaborated:
I think that’s actually the critical kind of a something [Anthony] and I talk about all the time is that, in the age of social media the job of storyteller is to surprise because that’s what generates conversation. And I think just looking at the work we do on these Marvel films, the choices that we make, at the end of each film there’s something dramatic that happens to surprise the audience and then generates an incredible amount of excitement as they wait for the next movie.
At a CinemaCon luncheon, Joe Russo mentioned generating a conversation is key to keeping a narrative alive in the age of social media, but I also think this factor is important for keeping a conversation alive when there are more films coming in a franchise.
While Avengers: Endgame is being billed as the culmination of a 22-film narrative, certainly the Russo Brothers’ other films with Marvel have had to continue a through storyline in the franchise, and even Marvel as we know it won’t be just completely ending after Endgame. Instead, it'll likely just look a little different with a focus on different characters moving forward.
Joe Russo also admitted the whole goal is to start a conversation about what just happened so that the fans can engage with the storytelling as they wait for the next chapter.
They can discuss it and argue about it. It’s a really critical factor in modern storytelling, this notion of surprise.
I don’t think anywhere has this concept been clearer than in the final minutes in Avengers: Infinity War in which our heroes almost defeat Thanos only to lose. In those minutes, Marvel fans worldwide saw many of their heroes disappear into dust and it’s an idea and a surprise we’ve been chewing on for a year as we wait for Avengers: Endgame.
Luckily, that wait is nearly over. Avengers: Endgame will be out on April 26 and we’ve already seen a full scene from the upcoming film, which also dropped during CinemaCon this year.
Now, the only question is: What surprise will the Russo Brothers have in store for us this time?