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‘Avengers 4’ and ‘Infinity War’ Directors Look Ahead: ‘Sometimes Villains Win,’ But ‘Nobody Can Guess’ What Happens Next

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo spoke with IndieWire about that shocking ending, and how it will impact their upcoming sequel.

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..L to R: War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2018

“Avengers: Infinity War”

Marvel Studios

And while fans of the series and its many heroes are still recovering from the impact of the end of “Infinity War,” the Russos are eager to impress on their audience that the choices they made were in service to them, not simply to make everything go boom for the hell of it. The market has changed in the decade that Marvel has been churning out films, and what better place to reflect that than within its most-hyped film ever?

“It’s a massive time of disruption in media,” Joe said. “I think it’s an innovator’s market, and I do think that we consume so much content that we’re predictive now. I think that people are craving new kinds of storytelling and different kinds of storytelling. I would put this in that category…Which, I think, at the end of the day, is why we made so many challenging choices with the movie. Because we felt like we owed it to the audience for them to, of all that time and energy that they spent, to not just hand them an ending, to take them on a journey through that ending.”

Still, it’s hard to take the concept of an earned ending seriously when the pair are set to get back to work on the film’s sequel, the as-yet-untitled fourth “Avengers” film, this very week. (Joe put it mildly: “We have a ton of work to do.”) How are audiences expected to swallow a jaw-dropper of a “conclusion” when there’s a sequel headed to the theaters in just a year’s time? That’s not really an “ending,” is it?

“That could be a new beginning,” Joe cryptically answered of the upcoming film.

Marvel Studios

As the Russos tell it, that potential new beginning shouldn’t take away from the emotion and impact of “Infinity War.”

“There may be another film, but the commitment to the stakes of the story are real,” Anthony said. “Joe and I cite this filmmaking adage, or really it’s a writing adage, which says, ‘Write yourself into a corner,’ meaning, ‘Put yourself in a place where you have no idea how to get out of it.’ Then the fun, the creative thrill, is figuring out how you get out.”

It’s hard to imagine a more complicated corner to be trapped in than one that cleaves the universe, including the very heroes expected to help save it, into two.

“There’s always a road forward. That road may not be successful, but there’s always a road forward,” Anthony said. “We’re putting all our chips on the table. We’re making very bold choices that rock the whole entity that Marvel has become, and there may be a road forward. We’re looking for that on a creative level. We think we know what that is in terms of ‘Avengers 4,’ but we’ll see whether it works.”

There’s also the small matter of the rest of the MCU’s slate, including a number of other already-dated features, including “Spider-Man 2” (July 5, 2019) and “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3” (2020 TBD).

“These movies are growing and developing and maturing, [and] for as surprising as this movie was, there are so many more surprising places that the story can go,” Anthony said. “People have become accustomed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving in a linear, chronological way. That doesn’t have to move in a linear, chronological way.”

That notion of unpredictability certainly applied to “Infinity War,” and while the Russos are understandably tight-lipped about what’s to come in their next film, they couldn’t help but hint at still more big changes to come.

“There are creative roads open to the storytelling that nobody could have guessed at, and some of them can contain surprises that we couldn’t have guessed at,” Anthony said. “We don’t want to get any more specific than that, but I will say that as far as what’s coming in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as far as what’s coming specifically in ‘Avengers 4,’ I don’t think anybody can guess at it.”

“Avengers: Infinity War” is currently in theaters. The fourth untitled Avengers film is scheduled to be released in the United States on May 3, 2019.

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