Since filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe way back for the 2014 release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the MCU has released eight other films led by six different directors. That’s a lot of potential creative conflicts complicating the overall architecture of the shared story, and Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has spearheaded the Herculean effort required to keep all of these moving parts together. But that doesn’t mean the individual directors operate in a vacuum or take direct marching orders from Feige; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
During the set visit to the Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War production last year, our own Allison Keene joined a group of journalists to find out everything they could about the highly anticipated film (check out the full interview here). The Russos talked about how their third MCU project together is both a culmination of all the movies that have come before it and a foundational film for everything that’s yet to come. But since those other MCU installments are headed up by the likes of James Gunn, Scott Derrickson, Peyton Reed, and Ryan Coogler, you best believe they’re in on the larger overall story as well.
Here’s what the Russos had to say about that collaboration (keeping in mind that the set visit was conducted prior to the release of Thor: Ragnarok.):
I understand that James Gunn is working on this film. [Gunn has an executive producer credit for Avengers: Infinity War.] Outside Guardians stuff, are there other aspects of the story that is he collaborating with you guys on, and what’s that experience been like?
Joe Russo: It’s been very similar, I think again, it’s very much a piece of how we’ve interacted with all the voices in the MCU. Whether it be Taika or James —
Anthony Russo: Peyton [Reed] or Scott [Derrickson]. I would say collectively, everyone in the Marvel Universe has been involved in this movie. We’re very close with all the directors, we love them all. We have a lot of conversations with people constantly, we have a lot of talks with Taika — because that movie isn’t finished and he had executed things on set that we needed real information about, tonally, about the direction it was going in. The Guardians’ two movies existed in the same world, so we had an understanding of how those characters behaved.
I think James has functioned the same way that everyone has been functioning. I think it’s a nod to James, the EP credit, that he really helped create those characters. But as far as how we’re working, we’re working in a real collaborative united artists approach to the movie. In respect to hearing people’s … where people are taking their characters, Ant Man 2 is just about to start shooting, so we need to keep in communication with Peyton constantly about story elements in that that may affect this. [Ryan] Coogler. Sorry, we didn’t mention him. Ryan was in the middle of shooting Black Panther, and he was here and we had several conversations, met with him many times, met with the crew many times with him, his production design department, we looked at fight vids from the story. We had a lot of interaction with Nate Moore, the producer, many text messages back and forth with Ryan. It’s really just trying to do the job of managing the universe as it’s progressing.
Joe Russo: And I think here’s really where it becomes most relevant, if a movie has been completed there’s really nothing else to talk about, right? The movie exists, everything you need to know about that movie is in the movie, is on the screen. That’s the expression, that’s the story, that’s the experience that we all had of it, and that’s what you need to know to carry that story forward and those characters forward.
For the movies that haven’t been completed, that’s where it gets into a tricky spot for us, because we want to make sure we’re being sensitive to what’s happening during the execution of those films, the process of discovery that they will go through in the execution that’s different from what was on the page in the scripts, because of course we read all the scripts. So that’s really where it becomes critical that we communicate with other people, just to understand how things are evolving while we’re executing, while they’re executing.
Anthony Russo: And what we need from their storytelling to help move us forward. I think in particular on this one that was Ryan. Because he was shooting while we were shooting, and there was a lot of cross collaboration there. He’s done an amazing job with the level of detail that he has brought to the Wakandan universe. Incredible. You see it in the trailer, it’s mind-blowing.
Joe Russo: James and Taika, because they were both executing and finishing while we were developing —
Anthony Russo: And Peyton, who’s about to get going —
Joe Russo: Peyton’s ramping up, so yeah.
Anthony Russo: There’s story elements shared. It’s part of the fun with us!
I’m curious, have the directors of Captain Marvel come by?
Anthony Russo: Not yet,
Joe Russo: No, they’re newer to the —
Anthony Russo: I’m sure they’ll be by soon, but I think they’re just getting their feet wet. They’re figuring out the story that they want to tell. That’s where Marvel is respectful, everybody gets to —
Joe Russo: Have their space —
Anthony Russo: Have their space to come up with their individual visions for what they want to do, and then there’s a point where it makes sense for us to intersect with them and talk about the storytelling. I’m assuming we’ll be meeting with them in the next month or so.