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Feature Article

Why Avengers: Endgame's Directors Wanted To "Write Themselves Into A Corner"

Plus Chris Evans teasing the "completion of the arc."

Avengers: Endgame is beginning to premiere all around the world, and we have our full review right here. And don't worry--whether you're wondering if Endgame has an after-credits scene, when the best times for pee breaks are, or if Stan Lee has a cameo in Endgame, we've got you covered.

"How did the surprise ending of Avengers: Infinity War affect the tone of Endgame in the aftermath of Thanos's destruction?"

The question was posed by Iron Man director and Happy Hogan actor Jon Favreau to Joe and Anthony Russo, the brother directors shepherding the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its phase 3 conclusion with Avengers: Endgame. Favreau was moderating a Los Angeles press conference featuring the directors along with much of the cast, from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).

In the lead-up to Endgame, everyone involved with the movie has been hesitant to discuss it in any detail--understandably--but the Russos gave a satisfying answer nonetheless.

"One of our favorite storytelling adages is 'Write yourself into a corner,'" Anthony Russo said. "And what we take that to mean is put yourself in a place on a narrative level where you have no idea how you could possibly move forward from here, and that's a very exciting place to be. It forces you to come up with some really creative ways forward. And we tried to do with the endings of every single Marvel movie we've done, never more so than Infinity War."

Of course, Infinity War's ending featured the destruction of most of the Marvel heroes we've come to know over the last decade of MCU movies. As fans, it's easy to believe that most of that damage will be undone, whether by time travel, the heroes wresting control of the Infinity Stones away from Thanos, or some kind of Quantum Realm hijinks. But the Russos said they want the weight of Infinity War's ending to continue to matter even after whatever happens in Endgame.

"We are very committed to the ending of that movie," Anthony said. "We think that stories lose their meaning and relevance and resonance unless there are real stakes. And for us, moving into this new movie--into Endgame--the story is very much about how do these characters--how do these heroes--deal with loss? Resounding loss, true loss, devastating loss--that's what they've experienced in Infinity War, and that was a unique experience for all of them. How does a person move forward from that moment? How does a hero move forward from that moment? The way we wrote it into the story is, How is everybody on an individual level dealing with that experience, and then how do they collectively deal with it?"

Joe Russo also teased Endgame in his own vague terms, predicting "satisfaction" for fans. "This is, I think, a really unique experience in movies, this grand mosaic, depending on how you count it up, 11 franchises that have been interwoven into one big mural," the co-director said. "With Endgame we get the opportunity to finish off one of the grandest experiments in movie history and bring it to--as Kevin [Feige] said--an epic conclusion. What we're hoping for is that people feel satisfied with the conclusion."

When asked for a single word they think describes Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo took several moments to think, then responded with "cathartic."

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Some of the actors present during the press conference also tried their best to describe the movie without revealing any details, including Chris Evans. "I think just the completion of the arc--I mean that's safe to say, right?" he said. "That this movie does kind of provide kind of an ending to a lot of--"

That came a little too close to providing actual information about Endgame, so Favreau interrupted him with a loud buzzer noise directly into the mic. "Let's just talk about Scott Pilgrim," the moderator joked.

Robert Downey Jr., on the other hand, managed to discuss the weight of some of the decisions made during Endgame's creation without anyone feeling the need to step in and stop him from saying too much. "It's one of those things where you go like, 'Wow, I think we just made a pretty serious choice here.' But I think audiences like that," the actor said. "I think audiences are so smart, and they require to not be fed the same drivel as even 20 minutes ago. So we need novelty, and I think what the Russos and Kevin [Feige] have tried to do is provide that in spades."

Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner/Hulk, remarked on the movie's bittersweet tone, and how it has bled into the way the cast and filmmakers discuss it. "We're all talking about like we're dead. 'Oh, I loved working with these guys, it was great knowing them. They were great Boggle players,'" he said, half joking. "There's something very bittersweet about the tone."

The franchise's newest hero, Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), added her own perspective. "The whole thing has always felt like a dream, and this film will always be personally dear to me, because it was my first time playing Captain Marvel," she explained. "We shot [Endgame] first, so I had to stumble and try to figure out who this character was with no [full] script for this and no script for Captain Marvel either, and perform for the first time in front of legends. But it was incredible."

"I'm super excited for this to come out so that I can talk about it," she continued. "I want to be able to talk about my experience, which I haven't been able to do for a very long time."

Avengers: Endgame hits theatres on April 26. Tickets went on sale this week, and unsurprisingly, pre-sales are setting records and crashing ticket-selling websites. Check out our trailer breakdown for a look at all the minor details in the latest trailer, not to mention everything we learned from watching 10 minutes of footage.

Read next: How Much Time Passes Between Infinity War And Avengers Endgame? New Footage Reveals The Answer

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mrougeau

Michael Rougeau

Mike Rougeau is GameSpot's Senior Entertainment Editor. He loves Game of Thrones and dogs.
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