the director of “Avengers: Finale” Joe Russo claims the secret of Marvel’s success is that the plan is not as fixed as everyone thinks.
“Avengers: Finale” director Joe Russo said Marvel never had a clear plan for the MCU. Marvel Studios has built a reputation for playing the long game. It all started with “Iron Man” in 2008, when the post-credits scene clearly steered the burgeoning common universe along its trajectory to “The Avengers” in 2012.
Then, in 2014, Marvel Studios announced its entire Phase 3 plan, up to and including “Avengers: Infinity War, Part II,” which comes out in 2019. Marvel’s plans for Phase 3 have changed a lot over the years; movies have been removed, added, shuffled and even reimagined, and “Avengers: Infinity War Part II” has been changed to “Avengers: Finale”. But nonetheless, the studio has maintained its reputation, and viewers continue to assume that Marvel Studios has plans for years to come.
Speaking to Deadline at the Sands International Film Festival in St Andrews in Scotland, Joe Russo of “Avengers: Finale” suggested that its reputation is overblown. According to Russo, the secret to Marvel’s success actually lies in its adaptability.
“The way it works at Marvel, and I’m sure someone will talk about it in detail at some point, but part of the genius of [the president of Marvel Studios] Kevin [Feiga] is that there really isn’t a plan. an idea, but you can’t have a plan if the movie you’re making is tanks. After that there is no plan. Right? So it’s really about how the movie was a success, there was some enthusiasm about good, what else can we do? And then new ideas appeared, and there was hope. Oh, we hope one day we can get to the story, if we keep doing it right, maybe we can all get there, you know, like Infinity War and Finale. But a lot has been invented in between the movies. And some of the best redirects or callbacks are invented after the fact.”
As an example, Russo cites the idea that the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents. According to Russo, it was a simple “coincidence” that Captain America: The Winter Soldier hinted that Bucky was responsible for the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark; Marvel reconsidered this idea after the film’s release and decided to “modernize” it into the MCU story. This eventually became the centerpiece of the movie The First Avenger: Standoff, which drove a wedge between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and tore the Avengers apart.
Russo’s comments are likely a true reflection of Marvel’s creative process. Marvel is known to be working on a five-year plan, but there seems to be a degree of flexibility in it; after all, it allows Marvel to note audience reactions, recognize specific ideas that viewers like, and choose how they respond to them. Given this, it’s probably no coincidence that “Captain America 4” was only announced in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” as the popular and critical response to this show prompted Marvel to choose a direction for “Captain America” from Sam Wilson. Meanwhile, another advantage is that screenwriters and directors are not as limited by the general universe model as is commonly believed. The overarching character arcs are probably much more in a state of flux than most viewers think, and many specific plot points can be swapped out without breaking anything.
Ironically, Marvel’s flexible approach to storytelling may have caused some problems in Phase 4. There were already glitches in Phases 1-3 – Odin’s fake Infinity Gauntlet being the most egregious example – but the multiverse arc going through Phase 4 was challenging. one for navigation, with obvious inconsistencies between Loki and Marvel’s What If…? Marvel only held a creative summit to define the rules of its multiverse after production on several Phase 4 movies and TV shows was completed, suggesting the MCU really could have planned this moment better.