How the Russo Brothers Kept the Avengers ‘on Their Toes’ While Filming

With each MCU installment leading up to Avengers: Endgame, the cast members evidently grew more comfortable in their roles — adapting their respective characters with ease, and squeezing into those skin-tight costumes like a pair of pajamas. Several of the cast members also became very close; how could you avoid bonding with people you see daily for nearly a decade? You can’t; and the Russo Brothers were well aware of the benefit, and the drawback, of such a circumstance.

MCU directors The Russo Brothers
MCU directors Joe and Anthony Russo | Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

While boasting a cast of characters all quite intimately familiar is a great facet when it comes down to on-screen chemistry, it could also lead to a bit of goofing around, and some non-work related conversations. For, with time, it’s quite likely that Robert Downey Jr. began to turn his Iron Man switch on like a lightbulb, Chris Evans picked up his shield like a can of soda, and Johansson pulled a gun as if it was a cellphone — without hesitation, and quite naturally. 

While being comfortable in a role is essential, being too comfortable is a drawback. During an Ask Me Anything for Reddit, Joe and Anthony Russo explained how they kept the MCU actors on their toes. Let’s just say the Avengers were subject to some funny, yet mixed signals.

The Russo Brothers talk ‘contradictory notes’ and keeping the Avengers ‘on their toes’

One Reddit user asked the Russo Brothers, “with both of you directing, do you find that one of you’s particularly good with one actor and then play into that to get the best out of the actors?” Joe Russo stated:

We like to give them contradictory notes to keep them on their toes. And also to see who of us they like better :)

The Russo Brothers Reddit

While the bit about seeing who the actors like better is probably mentioned for a laugh, the first part seems entirely believable. The MCU actors have played these roles for years; directors need to get creative to keep the environment unpredictable and exciting.

Providing contradictory information here and there would definitely not hurt too much; not to mention, letting the actors choose between one or two options for a given scene allows the actors to provide their input (based on how they have come to identify with their characters). Though humorous, a strong underlying strategy also exists beneath the contradiction.

So, if this is true, one question remains: which Russo won out in the end, Joe or Anthony? Whose suggestions were followed 51% of the time? Following their reply, fans chimed in to explain the artistic genius, yet also the evil nature behind such a decision. The two never mentioned their divergent notes again; however, cast members have yet to confirm or deny the report. 

MCU directors Joe and Anthony Russo talk ‘process’

Joe and Anthony Russo also explained the nature of their “process,” explaining that film, at its core, is a “collaborative art form.” Anthony Russo stated:

Film at its essence is a collaborative art form and that process begins for Joe with our partnership. There’s this thing known as the mastermind principle that says two minds are not doubly better than one they’re exponentially better than one. And when we disagree it’s generally whether we want Indian or Italian for lunch.

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It’s no surprise that these two brothers almost always see eye-to-eye; if that wasn’t the case, we would not have received the masterpiece we did with Endgame. Given the critical and audience reception, as well as the box office success, it may be several years before we see another cultural phenomenon at the level of Endgame.