Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and more talk the cinematic achievement that is Avengers: Infinity War
The culmination of a decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe-building, Avengers: Infinity War and its unnamed sequel next year are not just the most ambitious comic-book movies of all time. Arguments can be made that they are the most ambitious Hollywood achievement ever.
“What’s about to happen, no one has ever faced anything quite like it. It’s going to blow people away,” claims Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in the MCU. “We shot Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 back to back, most of last year. The film is the biggest thing in film history. There are 70-something cast members that had to be wrangled together, and the inner workings and complexities of all of these stories coming together and these relationships…
“I said to Joe and Anthony Russo after we’d wrapped, ‘I don’t know how you’ve gotten this far and how you’re now going to edit and put all these things together,’” Hemsworth continues, referring to the brothers who directed the last two Captain America movies, and now Infinity War and its follow-up. “But it has just been such a joy, and beyond impressive, to watch them orchestrate this thing together.”
There was, as you might imagine, quite a bit to orchestrate. The broad plot of Infinity War finds the space villain Thanos — who’s haunted the background of previous Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and is now played by Josh Brolin — coming to Earth to gather more of the powerful Infinity Stones. Once he has the six stones known to exist in the universe Thanos will essentially have the power of God. And if past behaviour is any indication, he won’t use that power benevolently.
Of course, the Avengers would be the perfect band of superheroes to foil Thanos and protect our planet. Trouble is, the group isn’t really around anymore. Following the schism of Captain America: Civil War, many members are at odds with each other. Some, like Chris Evans’ Captain America, are essentially fugitives, and the fate of Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor and some of their potential allies are in question after they encountered Thanos’s ship in the post-credits scene of last year’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Fortunately, fellow do-gooding superheroes Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and all those Guardians join the fight. Although, as welcome as those newcomers are, they may have created more headaches for the Russos, who had to finesse their characters and storylines into the film. But the Russos had a little expert help from James Gunn, who wrote and directed the two Guardians movies.
“It’s different, but it’s weird,” acknowledges Dave Bautista, who plays the comically forthright Guardians strongman Drax the Destroyer. “My first day on set, I was really nervous and worried that the Russos were going to try to be controlling of our characters, which we had already established through two films. The one luxury that we had was that James did a lot of the writing for the Guardians for Infinity War. That was a huge relief, but also the Russos were very encouraging of letting us be ourselves. We knew who our characters were, we did business as usual, bounced off each other a lot and threw stuff out there to see if it’d stick. A lot of times it did, and the Russos were super-excited about it.”
Smoothly integrating elements from all of the Marvel movies is also the function of a higher power.
I think that Kevin Feige keeps a pretty good eye over the whole mechanism, making sure that all of the wheels are turning properly and all of the pistons are firing,” says Sean Gunn of the Marvel Studios’ president and overall MCU mastermind. Gunn plays Kraglin, Yondu’s first mate in the Ravagers, and does the on-set body work for the animated Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in his brother James’s Guardians movies. “So I think everything worked together. I didn’t notice any problems making Infinity War, I think it all fits together pretty well.”
Some returning Avengers even marvel about how well their characters’ personal stories are explored in the massive narrative.
"I get to have a great arc with Paul Bettany,” says Elizabeth Olsen, whose Scarlet Witch — if you know your comic books — ends up marrying the sentient android Vision played by Bettany. “There is a new storyline that I get to be invested in, a new relationship with a different character that we get to explore. I’ve always been grateful that the writers and Feige and whoever else is in control allow me to have interesting arcs in these movies. They continue to do that, so it really is a lot of fun to go back and do more of them. I just keep my fingers crossed that they will keep me on board!”
Others are simply thrilled to jump on the Avengers train.
“It was definitely different from working on Black Panther, different directors and such,” notes Danai Gurira, who introduced her formidable Wakandan supersoldier Okoye in Marvel’s most recent box-office, and cultural, phenomenon. “But it was very cool. It’s like you really realize when you’re in it that the Marvel Universe is a real universe, and you’re stepping into a very new realm. It was like an expanded realm, like infinity! You’re on an Avengers set with all of these artists that you’ve seen on the big screen for a long time, and who have brought so many of these stories to the world before. And now you’re there with them, that was pretty surreal.”
Big changes are expected in that MCU when Infinity War and its sequel are done.
“A lot of things get turned on their head in this one,” promises Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye. “There’s a lot of stuff that people most likely won’t see coming.”
Whatever those changes are, everyone from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to Ant-Man (Paul Rudd, who headlines his own sequel between the two Avengers films later this summer) will all have been part of a greater — some may say the greatest — cinematic endeavour.
“You know what they can do?” questions Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, of the groundbreaking studio. “They can do whatever they want. This is the beauty of Marvel, they’ve really been surfing this wave of knowing how to bring new people in but not put themselves in a box. No matter what they add on, they always have an escape plan. So however they want to push it, there’s nothing they’ve tackled they haven’t succeeded in. It really is unbelievable. They have somehow managed to do something that we’ve not seen in cinema, and they keep nailing it.”
Avengers: Infinity War Hits Theatres April 27th. Click here for advanced tickets!