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57 Things We Learned from the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Commentary

“Here we are setting up the world’s greatest moment in cinema.” – overheard on the commentary for ‘Avengers: Endgame’.
Commentary Avengers Endgame
By  · Published on August 14th, 2019

28. “This is, as declared by himself on set, Robert Redford’s last movie role.” The legendary actor declared this was his final acting performance the day he arrived for filming.

29. Rogers fighting his slightly younger self is meant to influence the decision he makes later in the film “because he sees his past self and what a hard nut he is.”

30. They remind that the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) can see the future but only up to the point of her death, and that’s why she’s unaware of Dr. Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) choice to willingly give Thanos (Josh Brolin) the stone in Infinity War. She can’t understand why but knows there must be cause, so it’s what finally convinces her to go against her own instincts and knowledge.

31. They went through variations of how Thor’s stone mission would unfold including having him focus on Jane (Natalie Portman) seeing as she has the stone, but “we realized that the work emotionally that needed to be done on Thor wasn’t romantic work, it wasn’t scientific work, it was a kind of absolution that only his mother could give.”

32. That’s not newly shot footage of Jane getting out of bed, it’s an outtake from Thor: The Dark World.

33. The beat where Nebula reaches through the laser/plasma/light show thingy to grab the stone sees it burn her arm down to the mechanical skeleton, and it serves two purposes. First, it offers a connection between her and War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as they’re both broken and made of metal parts. Second, it makes it easier to tell the two Nebulas apart later on.

34. The Stan Lee cameo here is based on his own actual look in the 1970s. They used Lola Visual Effects to de-age Lee back to his 70s self.

35. “The tone at the end of the movie changes without this chance encounter,” and that encounter is Stark running into his father Howard (John Slattery) in 1970. “It’s his final unresolved issue.”

36. They love that genre films and technology can allow this kind of storytelling. “You have the opportunity to take a son and put him in a scene with his own father where the son is older than the father, the son has a child so has more experience in parenting than the father whose wife is pregnant with the son.”

37. They give a shout out to Russell Bobbitt, Marvel’s resident prop master, for the vintage Ant-Man helmet seen at 1:42:10.

38. McFeely added a personal Easter Egg with Stark’s mention of bringing sauerkraut to his pregnant wife as his own mother craved it while pregnant with him.

39. Their first draft of the script didn’t include Rogers crossing paths with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) while in the 70s.

40. James D’Arcy, who plays Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis, is the only actor, as of yet, to go from television to the films.

41. The scene with Hawkeye and Black Widow on Vormir was shot previously with a faux attack by Thanos’ thugs pretending to try and stop them. They junked it as was overly complicated and interrupted the emotional flow.

42. They’re happy with the sequence and describe it as “two people who love each other fighting to see who’s going to jump off the cliff and kill themselves.” That’s accurate, but where they see emotion and tragedy I see stupidity. The cliff’s cost is supposed to be sacrificing something/someone you love — neither of them does that. When Natasha jumps it’s against Clint’s wishes meaning he made no sacrifice. By definition, he shouldn’t have gotten the stone.

43. They argue the “fine line” of the story as scripted and point out that Red Skull even says the death is irreversible and an “everlasting exchange, and everlasting would imply that it can’t be undone.” But you can’t play a death in comic movies as final in the same movie where you not only brought back billions of people but also used time travel to grab someone else — Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who also “died” on that cliff — from earlier in their life and bring them back into the present. That’s essentially a resurrection of sorts reversing death, and if it’s done once it can be done again for Natasha. “This is the end point of her character.” Sure it is Russos, sure it is, but even if they never follow through and bring her back the reality that she could return lessens the impact they’re aiming for.

44. They knew they needed two snaps and debated if the first should bring everyone back — itself a detail that required debate as how does that work anyway? — and then have Thanos arrive to attack everyone, but they realized that would keep them from the big hero beat of the cavalry’s arrival.

45. The big clue that the snap worked is that Clint’s wife calls him on the phone, “her cell service still active.”

46. I find this one hard to believe despite their sincerity, but supposedly an earlier draft included a scene “where Thanos opened up a large portal on the battlefield… walked up to them, and tossed 2012 Captain America’s head on the floor.”

47. The scene where Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor all approach Thanos was inspired in part by Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). They don’t explain how Thanos — a guy the Avengers almost beat when he had the gauntlet — is able to beat the shit out of the Avengers even when he’s gauntlet-less. Or how Captain Marvel — who can fly through spaceships — can have her ass handed to her by him as well. It’s just a weirdly unclear power dynamic that makes the Avengers look like chumps.

48. They call the game of keep-a-way with the gauntlet the “flea flicker,” but I call it the “lesser Game Night.” (I know, I’m a stinker.)

49. The ladies of Marvel shot showing all the female heroes sync up and come together at the same time may seem like pandering, but it was “just a chance to show off another amazing aspect of the Marvel roster, and there are just so many great female characters.”

50. Stark uses his nanotech to steal the stones from Thanos’ gauntlet rather than removing the whole glove. They don’t explain why he would snap rather than simply use the power to freeze all of Thano’s thugs or turn them into rabbits or whatever.

51. The very last shot filmed for the movie was Starks final snap while saying “I am Iron Man.” It was a late addition to the film and added during re-shoots in January of 2019 at Raleigh Studios on a stage adjacent to the one on which Downey Jr. screen-tested for the role twelve years prior.

52. There was *a lot* of conversation and thought as to what Stark would look like after the snap and before dying.

53. They refer to the funeral scene as “the most complicated scheduling shot in the history of cinema.” It’s legit with everyone in attendance and no one stitched in digitally.

54. “People have asked why Natasha didn’t get the same amount of screen-time post-death as Tony did, while Tony does not have another movie. Tony is done, and Natasha has another film.” Having seen Spider-Man: Far from Home, I gotta say this feels a bit disingenuous.

55. They applaud Marvel for “taking a lucrative commercial property and committing to finality and an ending.” I mean, finality? Really? I can’t cross that bridge with these guys, but they are right in regard to their comments about following Rogers’ story all the way from the beginning to the very end across numerous films, and they’ve done tremendous work by him. Captain America meant nothing to me before his first film, and he quickly established himself — thanks to Evans’ performance and these four filmmakers — as the best and most consistently compelling hero in the Marvel Universe.

56. The idea of Rogers passing the shield to Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) was up for debate elsewhere, but these guys always felt it was the right call. I’m not so sure if only because Wilson lacks powers, strength, invulnerability, etc meaning he’d just be a guy with a shield and wings. 90% of the action beats performed by Captain America across the films wouldn’t be an option for him. Their reasoning, though, comes down to Wilson “representing the idea of what this country could be, and Bucky represents what this country actually is, which is a kind of murky political situation.”

57. It was Kevin Feige‘s idea for the end credits to feature a curtain call for the original Avengers.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“This is basically like a scene from a horror film.”

“What’s most compelling for all of us storytellers is making characters travel the greatest distance.”

“Time travel doesn’t exist. It’s a ludicrous notion, a construct of genre film-making.”

“The Marvel Universe moving forward takes place five years in the future.”

“Robert’s ridiculously good with kids.”

“It’s three hours in part because we let people talk and work things out.”

“Each of these characters are in their own movie and have to be pulled out of it and brought back to the main story.”

“This is the stone collection section. We’re gonna go back and get six MacGuffins, god help me.”

“Fiber can be quite helpful.”

“Best not to dwell on it.”

“She’s the first major female character of the Marvel Universe. We did not make this decision lightly.”

“Here we are setting up the world’s greatest moment in cinema.”

“It’s an epic movie, there’s a lot going on, so you’re gonna have a few different endings.”

“What’s also unique about this film is that it’s the endgame for the four is us.”

Buy Avengers: Endgame on Blu-ray/DVD/digital HD from Amazon.

Final Thoughts

These four filmmakers have done commentaries for all of their Marvel films, and as always this latest (and possibly final) one is a great listen for fans. They’re informative and entertaining, but above all it’s evident that they love this franchise, these characters, and the casts/crews they’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years. That kind of enthusiasm and respect goes a long way in filmmaking, but it’s also beneficial to these tracks.

Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.