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Joe Russo Q & A

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May 3rd, 2018
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  1. Courtesy of the Little Hawk- Student newspaper of Iowa City High School- Transcribed by /u/anewthrowaway_quest
  3. Russo: So how many of you have not seen the movie? No spoiler questions we’re not going to ask any spoiler questions. (Indecipherable) it’s a beautiful high school and i don’t have really anything so I'll open up to question.
  5. Student: So hi, my name is (censored for privacy) and my particular question is regarding a certain line of dialogue in the Winter Soldier...
  7. Russo: Ok
  9. Student: In the certain scene with the hydra agent is- I can’t remember his name but in the scene with the hydra agent there was a particular line of dialogue that went something to the extent of “valedictorian from an iowa city high school”
  11. Russo: That’s right
  13. Student: Can you confirm for us that that valedictorian came from the school that leads!
  15. Russo: Well you know that was a reference to my roots and I don’t think it was in reference to anything more than that- you have a theory?
  17. Student: My theory is that he went to City High school
  19. Russo: Alright he went to city high school…. Technically from Iowa City High School- it’s the best high school...what else what else?
  21. Student: How did you manage to arrange such a chaotic chain of events into something that makes sense?
  23. Russo: Wasn’t easy- so she asked how we take such a chaotic chain of events into something you can follow and it wasn’t easy. Very few films have been made with the scale of characters- a lot of characters- the only kind of film that can be made in Marvel Cinematic universe because you need 18 movies with pre existing characters so the audience understands those characters and have an emotional connection with those characters. In order for us to blossom like that it was very- I can’t (indecipherable)- introduce to the audience your character in the movie in a 7-8 hour film- that’d be unwatchable- so you know Marvel Cinematic universe I think is a grand experiment in narrative because I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Where you have 10 years of storytelling made up of successful franchises all very diverse all diverse in tone. So I don’t think Infinity war could exist without that so you create this really interesting ending to that experiment where you can take all the characters and put them together. Fan secrets- you guys and the rest of the fans are so well versed in the mythology that we can make the movie followable. It really takes a lot of a lot of knowledge on the viewers. You guys are complicit in the movie being trackable. Up there
  25. Student: So- are you planning to make another one?
  27. Russo: That was it. Avengers 4 comes out next year
  29. Students: *APPLAUSE*
  31. Russo: We haven’t titled it yet because we don’t want the audience to think about that movie yet. We want you to keep experiencing the end of this movie for week on end. Anybody cry?
  33. Students: *Sad “yeahs”*
  35. Russo: Yeah- it’s hard not to
  37. Student: So why did Doctor Strange hand over the time stone?
  39. Russo: Uh… Yeah spoilers- I’m not going to say what he did but doctor strange- closure is given to doctor strange….But Doctor Strange- what did he say in the film
  41. Students (In chaotic unison): This is the only way.
  43. Russo: What did he do before that?
  45. Students: (Miscellaneous answers)
  47. Russo: He saw 14 Million futures, potential...futures. So maybe Doctor Strange knows something.
  49. Student: Kind of spoilerly question- but when you were writing the end of it- how do you make a character death impactful even though you know there’s some with sequels coming out- spoilerly but- spiderman has a sequel coming out
  51. Russo: That was very spoilerly- You should block your ears if you haven’t seen the movie. Yeah you should probably (Indecipherable over audience chatter)- I would hate to ruin it for some of you. We made those deaths impactful- emotionally, because you have an emotional connection with those characters and it’s difficult taking someone like Peter Parker and putting him in that position. What 16 year old wouldn’t want not to go in such the way it’s shown so we set up that relationship between he and tony stark in seperate movies to lead to that moment- it’s a father-son relationship. It’s painful to watch. Certainly the most painful to watch is the Gamorra sequence because Thanos is a horrible despicable creature- who believes that he sincerely loves her- which makes it a lot harder to watch. So we try to complicate things emotionally because our job as storytellers is to tell the best story we can and make your experience as many emotions as possible when you’re watch the film. Because ultimately it is a- you’re paying money to go see it and if we can make you laugh, cry, happy, sad and feel catharsis- you get a lot more for your money than just laughing or just crying.
  53. Student: How’s your day going?
  55. Russo: Pretty good- not bad so far- so that’s a plus
  57. Student: Did you find it difficult to try and make every death as impactful as it was- especially seeing as so many of them are close together
  59. Russo: We just planted the emotion of it- we love the characters as much as anybody- we think very hard about how the audience feels- how we feel and what can make the scenes complicated as possible- to make it as painful as possible- again the job of the story teller. And after 18 movies we;re really committed to making this cathartic and to tell a truthful story as possible. It’s not like we led you down the road in winter soldier took bucky and turned him into a villian for most of the film. So we took a popular character and made him a killer. Kills a lot of people in that movie. Then in Civil War was- the Avengers getting divorced in a very messy divorce- we keep trying to have game changers at the end of each film but we are slowly moving towards deconstruction- anyone know what deconstruction is?
  61. Student: Break apart
  63. Russo: Yeah that’s right- so we deconstruct a mythology, we take it apart. So we’re slowly deconstructing a universe over 3 films (indecipherable). It trains the viewer while you’re watching these films that the stakes are getting higher and higher and prepares you to watch something like that. I think the reason this film is so successful because it’s cathartic and you’re experiencing something you’ve never experienced before and that’s true lost.
  65. [The next student’s audio did not come out clearly- from what I remember and from what I could understand- the student was asking why Gamorra appeared as a child towards the end of the film]
  67. Russo: Yeah it’s- it’s implied it’s the soul stone. It’s all orange around, then he’s inside the soul stone with the amount of power that it took to snap his fingers- he has this out of body experience with Thanos. When he goes inside the Soul stone he has this kind of conversation with the younger version of his gamorra-
  69. Student: So she’s there?
  71. Russo: She’s in fact is yes.... It was an attempt an attempt on our part- because we don’t like two dimensional roles or three dimensional villains every villain is a hero in their own story and as insane and psychotic and brutal and violent as Thanos is he’s a more complex villain if you go on a journey with him emotionally. He does care for things and it is complicated for him to execute his plan and it cost him something. He said at the end “It cost him everything” and that it was the only thing he loved which was gamora which is why we put him back with her at the end. I just want to reiterate with the audience that he does feel true emotion even though he is a monster.
  73. [Once more indecipherable audio for exact wording but the student was asking something to the extent of what it was like to present such an iconic moment from the comics as the snap]
  75. Russo: It was great, something we knew we were going to do from the very beginning- one of the first things we knew we were going to end with. And we wanted the ramifications of the snap- to feel it as you watch it. So it wasn’t a plot cliffhanger to end the film, it was an emotional cliffhanger to go beyond the snap and like a horror film make you watch every character you love disappear. That’s the catharsis and had we not done that we wouldn’t have the emotional reaction that we did- we don’t have- your imagination might not be as horrific as watching them go and watching the other characters watch them. Did anyone specifically notice who was left at the end?
  77. Students: Various answers- coalescing around the original avengers.
  79. Russo: Yes the original avengers...interesting...the original avengers. Who hasn’t asked a question?
  81. Student: So after the end- we see a symbol- Captain Marvel’s symbol on Fury’s contact device- how involved is she going to being next MCU film.
  83. Russo: Well she has her own film prior to the Avengers 4- so Ant Man and Captain Marvel I can’t say that- it’s spoilery. I can’t say how much or if she’s involved that’s spoilery.
  85. Student: What’s the possibility of Thanos killing himself when he snaps?
  87. Russo: The possibility of him doing it?
  89. Student: Yeah
  91. Russo: As apart of his random execution? He could’ve- and you can ask if he allowed himself to be apart of that random process. He does have a very interesting look on his face. When we come back to him after the snap before he disappears a look of surprise.
  93. Student: How hard was it to keep all the actors in line… (audience laughter)... someone put itching powder in Tony’s suit-
  95. Russo: No there were a lot of pranks- a lot of these people have fun- most of these people have been working for almost a decade. So we laugh a lot everyone hang out together, we have lunch together- Robert Downey Jr. became pretty good at hosting everyone for lunch and there’s no difficulty in keeping them in line other than (indecipherable)
  98. [As Lunch is transferred- a pause in questioning takes place while people leave their seats to head back to class]
  100. Student: So this is a two part question- are hawkeye and antman going to come back to help out- and is Ant Man on the time stone on the poster?
  102. Russo: Ant man just planted himself on the time stone from the very beginning?
  104. Student: Yes
  106. Russo: Well he’s very patient- I can’t get into Ant Man or Hawkeye- gotta wait a bit to find out what Ant Man is up to.
  108. Student: What kind of relationship does Black widow and Hulk have?
  110. Russo: Look he disappeared for two years- she’s pretty self-sufficient, he didn’t wait around for him- there’s a sort of unspoken truth that there’s need to be a spoken resolution.
  112. [Next question- unless there is significant interest was about a random name in the credits of Thor Ragnarok that was so trivial I’m not even willing to write out the full transcript of what happened.]
  114. Student: What was the point of making Black Widow and the Hulk a couple when it doesn’t even follow the comics?
  116. Russo: That was a Josh Whedon decision so it’s not something I can speak to. We don’t directly translate the comics to the films- why go see the films when you know how it’s going to end? And it isn’t a translation. It’s our interpretation for the MCU- I think Josh was trying to find interesting ways of pairing up the characters and create dynamics between them. I know it seems to be a generally unpopular choice- you know you can’t win them all.
  118. Student: How come in the movie Thanos has the Black Order- we don’t experience a lot of their backstory
  120. Russo: I think people have been waiting 10 years to have the Marvel heroes together in a 2 and half hour film. So If I started to go into the history of them- that’s a whole another movie all together. I felt like they did their jobs in the film. And the audience got enough of them in the film- as much as they needed them in the film. As much as I like those characters- and as much as I like comic books I feel that if I started deaveling into their backstory it would become unwatchable- only so many characters you can keep in your head.
  122. Student: So they were killed off pretty easy too
  124. Russo: Well Thanos is the true bad guy of the movie you don’t want the sub villains overshadowing the super villain
  126. Student: well I think it make sense- his mission is to collect all six infinity stones
  128. Russo: Yeah and we want to save him for the final showdown between him and the heroes. They weren’t easy to dispatch all of them- it certainly took a few nasty fights.
  130. [Wording was hard to hear for this part- but the next question boiled down to why wasn’t thanos acquiring the power stone in the film?]
  132. Russo: Because we thought it’d be one too many- there’s so many stones he has to collect and you get into a trap and we thought- we knew where it was in Guardians- so it was easy to deal with it off screen.
  134. Student: I have two- is the new venom movie going to be in the MCU?
  136. Russo: No that’s a Sony property
  138. Student: So at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 there’s a cutscene where the gold people were making that like super being- they call him “adam” what’s the deal with that?
  140. Russo: That’s a James Gunn thing- we never intended to put Adam Warlock in Infinity War we have so many heroes we have to service that you guys love and give them screentime- because you want to see the hero and villain to have an emotional connection. You wouldn’t have a connection to them- doesn’t have a connection with Thanos and built up story-
  142. Student: What made you decide to put the very end credit scene at the end?
  144. Russo: Because we wanted you to be in pain until the very end- if we gave you a credit scene right after the end- frankly we considered not putting any credit scene.
  146. [Audible audience gasp]
  148. [Next question was related to his personal career- if demand requests it- I’ll put in what was said]
  149. Student: How hard was it to keep focus in the film with all the characters?
  151. Russo: I mean it was very difficult- it took discipline- we spent months in a story room with white boards- we write descriptions of each characters- we write 10 drafts of the story to find one we’re satisfied with. Took a lot of focus and discipline to pull it off.
  153. Student: We know that you somehow managed to film it without letting anyone know what was going on. Throughout the entire film- because they’re not good at keeping secrets- but how did you figure out how to do that? Of having actors acting out the scenes not knowing what was going on?
  155. Russo: They knew as soon as they got on set- then we’d explain what was going on- so Tom Holland certainly knew what was going on- but he didn't know until that morning. And then he improvised most of that scene so in my direction to him “make it as painful as possible” don’t- I said “you don’t want to go.” So he used that phrase and I started tear up watching it on the monitors- so I think that was going to work. The job again- is about catharsis in mature storytelling- and it really about going to the movie theater and having an emotional experience and I think we live in a very complicated world and sometimes villains win and it’s a sort of story that we can all share in and sometimes with Thanos we can deal with thing emotionally that we can’t deal with in the real world and so it’s important that we tell a brand new story when we can as a way we can have a sort of collective experience- purging- so we weren’t interested in backing off in any way from the heartbreaking events- life is filled with heartbreaking events- that’s truthful it cost a lot to do what’s right- and that’s an important message in the film- but it is all of our jobs to do what’s right- and it may cost a lot to do what’s right- otherwise humanity tilts in a way we don’t want to go in.
  157. Student: One question that’s confusing fans online is the exact fate of the asgardians at the beginning of the film- were there any survivors and what happened to the supporting characters of ragnarok?
  159. Russo: There certainly were survivors- thor does say to the guardians that he slaughtered half his people- prior to the start of that scene escape ships were deployed for asgardians- including Valkyrie
  161. Student: Valkyrie lives?
  163. Russo: Yes-
  165. Student: What about Korg?
  167. Russo: You’ll have to wait to see. Gave you Valkyrie living- it’s going to be all across the internet tomorrow because of City High.
  169. -End of first half hour of discussion-
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