Joe Russo, the younger of the Russo brothers who’ve now helmed four films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is in Mumbai to promote their latest outing.
After directing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, the brothers are now all set to lift the curtains off Avengers: Endgame.
I asked Russo about the supposed departure of Iron Man and Captain America post Endgame, but got no answer. However, there are plenty of other interesting answers that he did respond to, including the influence that Rajinikanth’s Robot had on an Avengers film and a future project with Priyanka Chopra.
I began by asking him about his own favourite Marvel superhero and here’s what Russo revealed, “Spiderman, he was my favourite character growing up. I just related to him when I started reading comic books when I was ten years old. The idea of a boy who is tasked with incredible responsibility in the way of, sort of Shakespearean wake of the death of his uncle who’s his father figure seemed very powerful to me as a child. I think the things that impact you as a child stay with you and have the most impact through your life emotionally. So, I don’t know that I’d ever connect with any character the same way I connected with Spiderman because of this.”
When asked if India had was an important market for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Russo candidly said, “It’s incredibly important. I mean I think is the fastest growing market in the world for Marvel. You know it’s so important that this is the first stop of the press tour. This is the first place that we’re coming to talk about this movie, and I made it a mandate.”
“You know there was a recording of an Indian audience watching Infinity War and the moment when Thor lands, the cheers sounded like it was a football stadium, and we used to play that whenever we’re getting tired on Endgame because it took us two years to make that movie.”
“We just play that recording and you get re-inspired and then know that audiences here respond to movies that way, and these movies in particular that way. It’s just why we make these. We make them to interact with the audience and we know that there’s an excited fan base here that really cares is everything for us. So, it’s a mandate for us to be here.”
The secrecy around the plot of every Avengers film is taken so seriously that complete scripts of these films aren’t shared with even the main leads of the franchise. Russo confirmed that their scripts are kept from the actors to safeguard it from accidental leaks.
“We are the ones who withhold the script from the actors, we did it for a reason, because if they don’t know the whole story they can’t slip up in an interview. It’s a lot easier to not say things if they don’t know. So, on the first film only copy of the script existed on a single iPad. There were only a handful of people who read that original draft, every other script that existed was fake. We did the same thing on Endgame, the sets were cleared during the shooting of important moments, so there were very few people who knew actually what happens. But, the way that we work with the actors is, of course if they have any relevant scenes they are part of, you can usually discover your arc within the scenes that you are part of. So we have very thoughtful conversations with the actors about what their motivations are and what they are doing in specific scenes. If we are trying to hide something then we elicit a performance from them using different tactics.”
What’s more, Russo also let us in on the fact that they are in talks with Priyanka Chopra for a film. While talking about the Indian films he’s seen and Indian actors he knows of, Russo said, “I’m an action director, so I saw Dabangg years ago, I still have to see Dabangg 2, I thought the camera work was great in those films and the tone, energy was great.”
“So, I certainly know Salman Khan, Priyanka is transitioning into a global status right now and I think she is fantastic, would love to work with her. I’m smiling away because we are potentially talking to her about something. I’m just not going to say what yet.”
And it’s just not Bollywood that that Russo Brothers are catching up with, S Shankar’s Tamil film Robot, featuring Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was cool enough to inspire a sequence in an Avengers film.
“Robot almost influenced the climactic moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron. So, you know in Robot where all the robots come together and form the snake? So, there was a momemnt when all the ultrons in Ultron come together to form a large ultron and the Avengers had to fight that and that was inspired directly by that sequence in Robot.”
So, all those memes were indeed true, Rajinikanth did influence the Avengers.
Talking about if the Russo brothers would ever tire of making yet another superhero film, Joe Russo said, “We never reached that point because we would not have kept making these movies. I feel like, now we’ve been doing this long enough and we’ve been fortunate to have a really great career. We were incredibly successful on television for a decade before we made these movies.”
“I feel like we’ve learned that unless you’re getting out of bed excited every day to tell the story that you’re about to tell, you can’t do it. And you certainly cannot do movies on this scale. They’re just too hard and they take a lot of your life, blood and energy and time away from your family.”
“And I think I don’t know that we’re ever going to have a moment like this again in movie history where you had the Marvel Cinematic Universe climaxing at the end of its first phase. Who knows it could get bigger from here, could not, I have no idea. What I do know is it that both Infinity War and Endgame have an incredible amount of pop culture attention around the globe, and the opportunity to be able to infuse that with relevant thematics is just too important for us to pass up.”