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Avengers: Infinity War will be the third MCU film helmed by brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. It’s a massive amount of worldbuilding that folds in 18 films worth of story and characters, and it’s a responsibility the co-directors take very seriously. In paired interviews from the set of their latest epic, the Russo Bros. shared how Infinity War will tie to their previous films.

“Since we entered the MCU as storytellers and picked up the story with Winter Soldier, we’ve been carrying a narrative thread forward from that point,” Anthony said. “And for us, this movie is very much about, how do we move forward from Civil War in a big way? What happens to that division between the Avengers and how does that affect them? What does that mean when the greatest threat they’ll ever face comes to them, in that kind of a condition, in that kind of divided condition?”

Set roughly two years after the events of Civil War, Infinity War will have the MCU’s heroes facing off against the villainous Thanos. And it will play as a “direct corollary…with the ramifications of [Civil War] at the forefront,” Anthony said. The film begins with the Avengers still divided, with Cap’s team on the outs of the law and Iron Man. Tony Stark leads those heroes who sided with the accords, including Spider-Man, whom he mentored in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Along with Cap, Falcon, Ant-Man, and Black Widow, Hawkeye is staying out of the spotlight. But Anthony teased, “He has a unique reaction to the Civil War situation that puts him in a special spot in this film.”

Infinity War will also fold in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange. The trick to picking scene partners, they told us, is figuring out the chemistries that will do right by the characters and by fans. “Each character represents a different theme,” Joe said, “Each character has different wants, and that can shape and color and re-tone an entire film depending on who you’re following.”

“Because you have to shoot every one of them. They’re all special. They’re all important to the storyline,” Joe explained. Then Anthony noted, “They’re all somebody’s favorite character.”

Character-building is the prime directive for these directors. “Everything’s always got to be character-based,” Anthony said, “If we’re sitting in the editing room watching the sequence for more than 20 seconds without a character having a point of view or moving the action forward, my brain just shuts down, or I start thinking about my laundry. The action for us, it’s always character based.”

“It’s not only a culmination of the last ten years of Marvel storytelling,” Joe added, “But for us, it’s a culmination of our journey as directors to the Marvel universe. And I think having at our disposal all of those characters and allowing ourselves to filter them through the way that we see the universe, the way that we feel about the characters, the themes that we really want to bring to the forefront, that’s what [Infinity War and Avengers 4] are for us.”

Never forget that Infinity War is a two-parter, intended to bring a fittingly climactic conclusion to phase three of the MCU. “In the way that the Winter Soldier relates to Civil War, Civil War  will also relate to Infinity War,” Joe explained, “There’s a narrative thread that is connecting these films, but at the same time, there’s an independence in terms of what the experience is or where the story goes. It isn’t a true two-parter.”

“I think the two-parter concept came back when Marvel decided they were going to culminate the MCU,” he mused,  “It was going to be a two-movie deal. But as we developed the movie, in execution, it ended up being more of two singular expressions.”

“If you were to think of the Marvel universe over the last ten years of the book,” Joe concluded, “This is the ending of the book. And then there may be new books written, but this is certainly the ending of this book.”

And how do you end a book that’s been ten years, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the making? The biggest most mind-blowing splash page of action cinema has ever seen.

Asked if Infinity War would have a showy battle on par with Civil War‘s airport showdown, Joe teased, “We have an equivalent that’s like if you had a comic book and you open it up to your double panel and then you fold it out. and then you folded it out again and again.”

Anthony interjected, “And you have another comic book laid out next to it.”

“So we have the equivalent of that in this movie,” Joe concluded with a confident smile.

Avengers: Infinity War opens April 27th. Look for more from our set visit in the coming days.

Images: Walt Disney Pictures

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