Marvel: Why Filming ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’ Was so Difficult
Everything seems to come so easily to Marvel that it’s startling to hear that they regret filmmaking decisions, especially regarding the twin successes of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. However, those twin successes were also twin behemoths that wore the team out.
Making just one of those movies would be exhausting for anybody. Marvel not only made two but put them out only a year apart. They were able to do that because they shot back-to-back, but one of their lead producers said that wouldn’t ever happen again if she had her way.
Why the producer regrets going back to back
Producer Trinh Tran has been with Marvel since Iron Man, working her way up through the ranks until she became an executive producer on Captain America: Civil War and the Avengers two-fer. She gave an interview to Screen Rant, and they asked her about the difficulty of the back to back shoot. She replied:
“First, don’t do them back to back. It’s two of the biggest movies ever at Marvel, and we decided to actually just bunch them all together because it made sense. You know, we had all the talent together, so rather than having them disappear and come back, you get the whole entire year of shooting.”
Marvel even changed the title of the second film. The two movies together were going to be called Infinity War Parts 1 and 2, but as the production ebbed and flowed, it was decided to come up with a more concrete title that suggested finality.
The two movies ended up being very different in tone, with the first being an escalating series of fights and the second being far more somber and even contemplative. Not many people expected Endgame to open with a quiet but haunting scene of Hawkeye losing his family to the snap.
Other movies have filmed back to back
A number of franchises have shot movies concurrently, with one of the first examples being the first two Superman movies. The script had been massive, so the producers decided to split it up into two movies, filming the first movie and the sequel at the same time. Eventually, after finishing the first movie, director Richard Donner was fired, and director Richard Lester was brought in to reshoot and finish Superman II.
Much of the time, if sequels are shot back to back, it’s so the movies can come out in a short span of time from each other so the audience doesn’t have to wait years between follow-ups, but the pressures of doing that arguably lead to diminishing returns.
Back to the Future parts 2 and 3 were shot concurrently so 2 could come out in late 1989 and 3 could come out in the summer of 1990. The Wachowskis pulled the same trick with the Matrix sequels, so that Matrix Reloaded came out in May 2003 and Matrix Revolutions came out the following November.
In both those cases, however, many people thought the sequels were considerably inferior to the originals. What Marvel ran into was similar to what Quentin Tarantino experienced with Kill Bill, which was originally intended as one long movie before he decided to split them apart and release the halves a year apart, with the two films having different styles and tones while still telling one overarching story.
When shooting back to back pays off
Ultimately the most famous example of filming movies concurrently was Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which resulted in those movies coming out in three consecutive years, and audiences being satisfied with all three.
The result was a great financial success and an Oscar sweep by the third movie, Return of the King.
As tiring as the Avengers shoot was, Marvel saw major success for both, with Infinity War grossing $678 million and Endgame making $858 million. And that’s in the United States alone, with the films being numbers 5 and 2 on the all-time box office chart.
Still, Tranh says, “I would say not to do them back to back like that. But I wouldn’t take it back, because it was such an incredible experience; we will never experience it in that same way again. Because we’ve learned lessons of what worked, what didn’t work, and how we can do better if we get to 10 years later and we get to make something like this again.”