A behind-the-scenes look at 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Xinhua
The highly anticipated superhero movie "Avengers: Infinity War" hit screens on the Chinese mainland on Friday, fanning the flame of a decade-long craze for the MCU series.
Xinhua
Imaginechina

People visit the "Avengers: Infinity War" exhibition at the IAPM shopping mall in Shanghai, China, on April 25, 2018.

The highly anticipated superhero movie "Avengers: Infinity War" hit screens on the Chinese mainland on Friday, fanning the flame of a decade-long craze for the Marvel Cinematic Universe series.

Before the movie's release, brother directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, as well as other behind-the-scenes staffs, told Xinhua that it was both challenging and fun for them to work on the epic extravaganza.

Infinity War, the 19th movie of the MCU since Iron Man came out 10 years ago, brings together dozens of superheroes and other characters across the previous 18 episodes for a fight against the Mad Titan Thanos.

It was no easy task to balance the record number of MCU characters in Infinity War and its untitled sequel, said Russo brothers.

There were not "a lot of models that we can look to, for example of how you make something like this work on a dramatic level, on a structure level, as storytellers," Anthony Russo said.

According to Anthony, he and his younger brother Joe Russo had spent a long time trying to figure that out and reworking the material to a place where they "feel like giving all of these characters their due within the story."

There were "a lot of miles under the hood of these characters and the audience has a strong connection to them ... we have to do a storytelling that brings them together in a satisfying way and tells a really compelling story," said Joe.

To that end, Joe and Anthony had worked closely with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who have written all three Captain America movies, two of which were also directed by the Russo brothers.

The story of Infinity War was constructed "a little bit like Game of Thrones," McFeely told Xinhua, where "there are different areas for different people to have different parts of the story and eventually they will collide on their way to try to solve the problem."

The common enemy for the superheroes is Thanos, a mighty Marvel supervillain who wears the Infinity Gauntlet and eagerly looks for the powerful Infinity Stones across the universe.

Thanos' appearance has both excited Marvel's fans and made them nervous because the cruel, gigantic conqueror is so strong that he appears to be overwhelming for the avengers. But for the two screenwriters, Thanos is the "best" villain ever.

"He doesn't do anything small," Markus said, "that is a nice base from which to build."

Markus and McFeely, also screenwriters for Infinity War's sequel, said that writing screenplays for two consecutive movies allows them to deal with "the ramifications" in a way that a two-hour movie does not allow them.

"When you have four hours for two movies, you can actually take these things pretty seriously ... like what the actual ramifications of everybody's action are," Markus explained.

Describing their challenges in writing MCU screenplays, the long-time working partners said that they have to look beyond big scenes since "the important thing is the person."

In the MCU, suits and weapons are an inevitable part of superheroes and some other characters, used to strengthen both their images and personalities, and some of them are even superheroes' symbols.

Russell Bobbitt, who has created movie props for half of the MCU movies, called Thanos' gauntlet a key element in the movie. The iconic prop appeared in a quick shot in the first Thor movie, was teased across the universe and eventually became a main thread in Infinity War.

Bobbitt said that he cooperated closely with actors to help develop their characters and to determine what they should look like in most cases, with a formidable task of providing and managing props for dozens of characters.

"On any given day we might have 50 superheroes in one shot and there are truckloads of props that we bring in," the prop master said. "I have to make sure their weapons stay true and in continuity so that they always look perfect."

Among numerous props that Bobbitt has made, Captain America's shield is one of his favorite items. Since the start of the MCU, he has made around 140 shields.

Bobbitt said that thanks to computer graphics he now looks at props differently, though he always fights to create a practical prop that an actor could touch and hold.

Making props is now a collaborative effort between handcraft and computer graphics. "That will give the audience a much more grand imagination from what we have created," he added.

Having made costumes for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Hunger Game and a series of other fantasy and science-fiction blockbusters, costume designer Judianna Makovsky admitted that doing a superhero movie is the most difficult, especially a full-fledged MCU movie.

"The most interesting and difficult part is making sure that all the costumes from every different franchises all work in one film," Makovsky told Xinhua, adding that one of the ways to deal with the problem is controlling the color in one.

Makovsky said that Russo bothers like the superhero costumes to fit more in the real world, so she tends to make them "less cartoon, less comic." After all, "the film is more about the story and the people in it," she noted.

The Infinity War, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, will easily top the North American box office for the third weekend in a row.

As of Tuesday, it has made US$472 million domestically and US$754.9 million internationally. Its release on the Chinese mainland starting Friday is expected to boost global ticket sales a major boost.

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