Given the fanfare with which Avengers: Endgame was released, it feels like we heard directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely talk about pretty much every single aspect of the film. But you may be surprised to learn there’s even more insight to be gleaned from the audio commentary track on the Blu-ray release of the movie, in which the Russo Brothers, Markus, and McFeely talk about the making of Avengers: Endgame for three hours.
This is the highest-grossing film of all time, but also one of the most complicated productions in recent history, so it’s fascinating to hear the ins and outs of how this was achieved from the people who were on the ground daily. We’ve listened to the commentary track and pulled together a list of over 30 interesting nuggets of information that were revealed, from the major scenes that were reshot to how the biggest story twists were conceived. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I would highly recommend you listen to the full track yourself. But if you’re interested in the making of Avengers: Endgame, I can guarantee you’ll learn something new from this here list.
Check out the Avengers: Endgame trivia bits below, and for an even more extensive rundown of the film’s creation, click here for my Endgame installment of How the MCU Was Made.
Ava Russo, the daughter of Joe Russo, plays Clint Barton’s daughter in the opening scene of the film.
- The opening Hawkeye scene was originally supposed to be in Avengers: Infinity War, but after the first cut they decided the film was already cutting away to too many different people, and opted to remove it and put it at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame
- Joe Russo says the film’s arc plays an important role in completing the journey of Tony Stark: “Tony started in the universe as an egotistical, self-involved character and by the end of this film is selfless.”
- Captain Marvel saving Tony occurs directly after the events of the Captain Marvel post-credits scene, in which she showed up at Avengers compound having responded to Nick Fury’s beeper call. She finds Tony by tracking a honing beacon on the ship, explains Joe Russo.
- Various cuts of the film didn’t reveal what the shining light on Tony’s face was, and instead introduced Carol Danvers when she drops Tony’s ship off at Avengers compound.
- Brie Larson shot her scenes for Avengers: Endgame before she shot Captain Marvel, so it was her acting debut as the new superhero.
- Paul Rudd saying “You’re so big” when Scott sees his daughter for the first time in five years was an improv line.
Co-writer Stephen McFeely says the Five Year Jump section of the movie actually originated as a “What If?” scenario idea when they were plotting out what these two Avengers movies could be: “When Chris and I sat down while we were all shooting Civil War, and in the afternoons when people are doing their jobs, Chris and I have nothing to do. So we came up with this manifesto of the many, many things you could do in these two movies, and one of them was the What If? section. What if we were able to show alternate versions of our heroes? But instead of a fantasy, it’s really just the natural progression of a five-year jump after a terrible event. So we did call this the What If? section.”
- A typical shoot day for the Russo Brothers on the Marvel movies saw them rehearsing in the morning, and then when the actors would leave to get ready to actually shoot the scene, Markus and McFeely might rework the scene a bit or retouch some of the dialogue, then they’d shoot the scene in the afternoon.
- The plot of Avengers: Endgame begins when Scott Lang shows up at Avengers compound.
- The creation of Smart Hulk originally took place in Infinity War, and the decision to reverse course was made after the movie was shot. McFeely explains: “He was fighting in Wakanda, and the whole arc of the story was Banner and Hulk were not getting along, Hulk wouldn’t come out to help him, and in his hour of greatest need they made some sort of compromise and Smart Hulk rips out of the armor and beats the crap out of Cull Obsidian and destroys him. It was pretty clear that the movie could not handle this weird success. The movie needed to just stay in a succession of losses in the third act, which meant some hustling on the part of visual effects.”
The entire Avengers team suits are CG—the actors weren’t actually wearing them on set.
- Thor talking to Rocket in the Asgard hallways was shot at Durham Cathedral in April of 2017, making it one of only a few scenes from Endgame that were shot during the production of Avengers: Infinity War.
- When shooting his cameo, Robert Redford declared on set that this would be his last piece of acting before retirement.
- They initially considered having Thor’s mission to Asgard revolve around him interacting with Jane, but instead decided the emotional work necessary for the character made more sense for Thor to interact with his mother.
- The shot of Natalie Portman in Avengers: Endgame is actually just an outtake from Thor: The Dark World. She didn’t shoot any new scenes for Endgame.
- The first draft of the script did not include Steve seeing Peggy Carter when Steve and Tony go further back in time.
- Initially they tried to keep the audience in the dark about Thanos swapping Nebula for his Nebula, but the screenwriters said it was too complicated and didn’t work. So instead they decided to let the audience in on the secret.
- The editing of the other time travel stories changed a bit in post-production, but they always saved the Vormir sequence for last and never tried to cut to it earlier in the film.
- The scene with Hawkeye and Black Widow on the cliff on Vormir was reshot. In the original version, Thanos sent an army to pretend to try and stop them, which spurred them to make their decision more quickly.
- It took the team a month or two to figure out what happened after Hulk brought everyone back from the snap, knowing they still needed to bring Thanos into the fold somehow.
One idea that didn’t make the final cut had Thanos throwing Captain America’s head at himself, as co-writer Christopher Markus explained: “I will remind you that there was another version where Thanos opened up a large portal on the battlefield where it became evident that in his own timeframe he had come to Earth, and he walked up to them and tossed 2012 Captain America’s head on the floor.”
- For inspiration for Tony, Steve, and Thor’s final showdown with Thanos, the Russo Brothers looked at the classic Sergio Leone western Once Upon a Time in the West.
- The Russo Brothers say that the fact that Thor is not threatened by Cap’s worthiness in holding Mjolnir at the end of the film is another signal that he’s on the road to recovery, after beginning the movie at a lowpoint.
- Tony saying “I am Iron Man” and snapping his fingers was the very last shot that was captured for the film, which was shot during reshoots in January 2019 in Raleigh Studios adjacent to the studio where he first auditioned to play Iron Man.
- They wrote a lot of dialogue for Tony’s final scene of people saying goodbye to him and him saying goodbye to them, but Robert Downey Jr. was adamant that Tony not speak in the scene.
- The “I love you 3000” line at the end of the movie was added in post-production, which is why Robert Downey Jr. says it offscreen.
- The final funeral scene with the entire MCU cast was not stitched together—all the actors were really there at the same time. They shot five or six takes.
- In addressing people who were upset that Black Widow’s death didn’t get the same amount of screentime as Tony’s, Joe Russo says, “Tony doesn’t have another movie,” referencing the upcoming Black Widow.
- The filmmakers confirm that Bucky was clued in to Steve’s decision to not return to the present.
- One of the first things the filmmakers figured out story-wise was that Cap would go to the past and stay in the past at the end of Avengers: Endgame.
- The scene with Peggy and Steve dancing at the end of the movie takes place very shortly after Steve first showed up to her house.
- The curtain call in the credits with all the cast members was inspired by the credits for Star Trek.