Avengers: Infinity War directors on how they decided character deaths

It’s been almost a month since Avengers: Infinity War bowed out in theaters and by this time, presumably everyone who’s interested in watching the movie has had a chance of seeing it on the big screen. We’ve been holding off on certain spoilery posts for a while now but decided it was about time to let things loose, seeing as people have had enough time to catch the movie in theaters. One of the biggest questions fans have had since the release of Infinity War is how the movie’s directors decided on which characters live and which ones die. Ever the cryptic ones, the Russo Brothers offered a vague explanation to assuage fans to some extent, even though the answers aren’t as clear as you’d expect.

To refresh those poignant memories, Avengers: Infinity War saw Loki, Heimdall, Gamora and Vision killed at the hands of Thanos whereas characters like Bucky Barnes, Scarlet Witch, Mantis, Drax, Star Lord, Black Panther, Groot, Sam Wilson, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man perish as a result of Thanos’ devastating Infinity Gauntlet snap. In an interview with Comic Book that was published quite a while back, directors Anthony and Joe Russo were asked about their motivations for choosing the characters that were sent off. They responded by explaining that the character deaths were largely informed by the story of not just what had transpired in the MCU until that point, but what was about to come in Avengers 4. Speaking to Comic Book, the directors explained:

Joe and I can’t go into too much detail because we’re not gonna talk about where the story goes from here. All of our choices are based on story. It’s based upon the road that these characters have traveled, in not only this movie, but throughout the entire MCU up to this point because, again, these movies are the culmination. So all we can say is that they are very focused story choices. That’s our motivation for everything. And, again, that’s why we love Marvel so much is they never let the tail wag the dog. The creative choices always lead the process and then they figure out how to pull off the miracle of making it work on a business level.

It’s good to see that plot informs the choices made in the movies which are then worked upon at the studio level, even though it’s hard to believe no business consideration is made before killing off major characters. We know Marvel President and Producer of all MCU movies Kevin Feige is actively involved in the creative process that goes behind the movies and one can only be hard pressed to imagine that he’d give the Russos free reign to bump off half their slate of characters if it were not for a solid reason. That solid reason, as it turns out, could be the return of the said characters in Avengers 4 through a bizarre plot that involves time travel.

Even so, the Russos are trying real hard to sell the notion that these character deaths are all permanent and there’s no bringing them back. This despite the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming set mere minutes after the events of Avengers 4 and obviously starring Tom Holland as the masked web-slinger. Still, here’s what the directors have to say on the consequences of Infinity War.

I think that people are understanding that the story comes first and a lot of these people have really amazing careers and lots of films that they want to make so, ultimately, I think they go through a grieving process like anyone but you come out the other side at some point and understand what being part of the Marvel Universe did for you. And, like with us, when we move on from Marvel, it’s done amazing things for us and allows us a lot of other opportunities in our careers.

I guess the marketing machine is going to try hard to sell the general audience the theory that these new Avengers are dead. This could pretty much end up as one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood, much like Jon Snow’s eventual return in Game of Thrones after he was stabbed brutally by his own men at the end of Season 5.

Avengers 4 arrives in theaters on May 3, 2019. Check out our coverage of the movie here and don’t forget to read our extensive Road to Infinity War.