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Markus and McFeely Explain How They Wrote Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame

They even explain why we didn't get much Captain Marvel.

Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War scribes Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely say down with Vanity Fair’s YouTube to discuss the nuts and bolts of how they wrote many of their Marvel Blockbusters. It’s a great conversation that really gets into the inside baseball of how a massive Marvel Cinematic Universe production is made. Here are a few of our favorite revelations from the talk.

Thanos’ first death in Endgame was a late idea

Dealing with Thanos as a threat was big problem. “We have a villain who has the power of a god,” McFeely laments. “So we’re faced with telling a story where even if you don’t defeat him, how do you even start?” It was producer Trinh Tran who suggested, according to McFeely, “I wish we could just freaking kill him.” And that’s what made sense, since Thanos’ task is done. That allowed for the time jump and the drama of characters living with the consequences of The Snap, rather than the threat of Thanos and the arc of Endgame became how to make things right.

Women of Marvel in Avengers: Endgame

They did talk to actual quantum physicists

When addressing the idea of time travel, the writers started with…google? Well, yes, but Markus also revealed that they consulted actual experts on quantum mechanics and time travel who confirmed that said “If it could happen, that’s one of the ways it could happen.” And sorry to all 80s fans but I guess Back to The Future is B.S.. Also, the sequence of the Avengers figuring out their time travel routes is pretty much a recreation of what it was like for the writers.

Writing a screenplay is just as hard and messy as any other writing

The Markus-McFeely process sounds pretty much like most other writers. There’s lots of outlining, there’s a focus on structure, which Markus called “a framework so you don’t dive into despair.” Then a slow back and forth between the writers as they hack out pages and produces a “Frankenstein draft” that eventually will be edited into a function first draft. The process for screenwriters however never stops until the film in in theaters, with re-writes and changes happening during and even after shooting.

Hawkeye’s family was originally supposed to disappear in Infinity War

Initially, Infinity War was set to end with the dusting of Hawkeye’s family, but that stayed in for only one cut of the film. Moving the scene to Endgame did a lot to put viewers right back in the emotions of the moment. “The audience is ahead of the character and now you’re watching going, oh no,” McFeely explains of the scene and the much greater impact it has in setting up their story. it “reinforces what you felt at the end of Infinity War“says Markus, so that the audience is right back in the story.

Writing Captain Marvel was particularly difficult

The fact that Endgame shot before the Captain Marvel solo film was even written was a huge hurdle, as was the extent of Carol’s powers. “It is a tough balance to strike when you have a character that powerful,” Markus explains. “You don’t want it to seem like you just brought in this person who can clean the house that you didn’t clean in the last movie.” The writers note that Endgame was about wrapping up the stories of the original six Avengers, and that having Carol solve all the problems wouldn’t be satisfying for that story so the character was less emphasized. They also had the same problem to some extent with T’Challa in Infinity War, who was there, but not the focus.

The writers also have some great insight into the writing of Depressed Thor and Tony Stark’s death and funeral, and what moments make them choke up. Oh, and they were so committed to “sticking the landing” that the code name for the film was “Mary Lou”—as in, famous gymnast Mary Lou Retin.

(via, Images: Marvel/Disney)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.