Even if you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War a million times (or just seven), there are still things to learn. We watched the voiceover commentary with directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and we learned that not all is as it seemed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe megafilm. Here’s what we learned from the commentary and how these new reveals may change Avengers 4. (Please know I’ve attributed the quotes below as best I can, but have you ever tried to distinguish between four voices you’ve never heard at once? Phew.) If for some reason you still haven’t seen it, spoilers abound below, so head to this page for every way you can watch Infinity War right now.
Thor’s director voices the Asgardian distress call at the start
Kenneth Branagh, director of the first Thor film, was given the honor of the first lines of Infinity War. On the radio he says, ‘This is the Asgardian refugee vessel Statesman. We are under assault. I repeat, we are under assault. The engines are dead, life support failing. Requesting aid from any vessel within range. We are 22 jump points out of Asgard. Our crew is made up of Asgardian families. We have very few soldiers here. This is not a warcraft. I repeat, this is not a warcraft.’
‘This movie is so jam-packed, you have to use even the opening credits to tell a story,’ said McFeely.
Hulk isn’t impotent, he’s just frustrated
Throughout the movie we see Hulk and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) fighting for control of Banner’s body. When he goes against Thanos in the beginning, we see that the purple thief is ‘a more polished fighter than Hulk,’ say the directors. We even see the Maw tell the others to hold back and let Thanos ‘have his fun.’ And after getting his butt handed to him in that first showdown, the Hulk is starting to seriously reconsider this arrangement.
‘What if Banner — who typically uses the Hulk to solve crisis situations — what if the Hulk was no longer interested in solving those problems for Banner? So the relationship is becoming increasingly dysfunctional,’ Joe Russo said.
‘Several Asgardians have escaped,’ the directors confirmed. We know Tessa Thompson’s character from Thor: Ragnarok survived both the Thanos attack and (as we previously learned) the Snap — and hopefully lives to tell many more stories. (On a new featurette, the directors explain the reason why they chose which heroes survived and which did not. But no need to worry about Thor’s roommate, Daryl, he’s safe.)
Yes, everyone knows the flip phone is ridiculous
Even the Russos admit that burner phone is slightly hilarious. ‘Conveniently charged!’ joke the filmmakers.
But honestly, who wouldn’t carry a burner from Cap everywhere if he had handed it off? The Russos said they had a scene showing where the phone came from on reshoots, but cut it in favor of the now canon Pepper-Tony in the park scene.
Hair-raising Spidey sense was not CGI
Perhaps hilariously, that was ‘achieved by a gentle blowing in Tom [Holland]’s ear.’ (I find this super believable. Have you seen Holland’s social media? He’s like a puppy.)
Doctor Strange’s powers have advanced since we saw him
Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, generally comes across ‘as the adult in the room,’ according to the commentary. He goes toe-to-toe with Tony Stark (verbally) and Thanos (physically) and may be the only human who has any idea what will happen to the future of the Avengers.
With 14,000,605 versions and only one winning scenario, we’re all pinning our hopes on him knowing what he’s doing.
The screenwriters wanted to show that Strange has been putting in time advancing his learning and powers and is now one of the strongest MCU characters. (Feels like something important to keep in mind for Avengers 4.)
Infinity War takes place in less than two(!!) days
The entire movie can’t be more than two days, the directors say. From the moment we see Thanos on the ship to the Snap, almost no time passes at all. This explains the speed of so much of the film and, as the Russos explained, why each scene has to pull ‘double duty’ by answering at least two questions.
The Avengers theme is only used twice in the film
The first time is the introduction of Captain America and the (somewhat) ‘Secret Avengers.’
‘We knew we were delaying his entrance. And we wanted him to have a powerful entrance back to the movie, and one that also spoke to this edgy version of Cap,’ said Joe Russo. ‘It’s without question the most emotional piece of music in the MCU.’
And the second use is when Thor returns to Earth with Stormbreaker later.
Thanos is a sociopath, no question
‘An extreme sociopath with a messianic complex,’ to be clear. Yeah, we kinda figured that one, but it’s nice to have an ‘official’ ‘diagnosis.’
Make no mistake, though, Gamora’s death is *the worst thing* that could happen to him. ‘The end of Act Two, for us, is always the darkest moment — usually on a character level, but it might be on a plot level,’ said McFeely. ‘Sort of an easy look at it might be ‘Oh, we lost Gamora, that’s bad for the Avengers, that’s bad for us as an audience member.’ That’s not why it’s the end of Act Two. It’s the end of Act Two because it’s bad for Thanos, it’s the worst thing to happen to Thanos.
‘It’s the one person he loved more than anything, it’s the one thing that stands in the way of him getting what he wants.’
A 15-minute version of Thor meeting the Guardians may be out there
Yes, please. I am patiently waiting for the Avengers: Infinity War-Avengers 4 dual Blu-ray release to see it. Or, better yet, the 10-year anniversary Blu-ray package I imagine is being prepped for this holiday season (fingers crossed).
Every character has a ‘topic line’
That one moment where you learn exactly why the character is fighting this war. Spidey tells Stark, ‘You can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood.’ Stark tells Doctor Strange that Thanos has been haunting him for ages. Thor wants revenge for his brother and home and friends. Strange has to protect the Time Stone.
If you just pitched Infinity War as ‘there’s a wizard and a guy in a metal suit fighting a purple guy,’ you’d be laughed out of town, the filmmakers joke. Instead, the movie is built on the 18 stories that have come before it in the franchise. Providing these moments of quick synopsis are great for new viewers. But if you’re invested, it’s about the payoff and the bonds.
Infinity War is about exploring relationships
And there are so many to explore: Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) and Peter Quill (also known as Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt); Scarlet Witch and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany); Spider-Man and Iron Man (Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr.); Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and his General Okoye (Danai Gurira); Gamora and Thanos (Josh Brolin). You get the idea.
The intricate relationships of the MCU are what move it forward and, for some, separate it from the DCEU. To the writers and directors, it’s exploring those intimacies that drives Infinity War forward at each turn. And at the end, those relationships maximize the emotion of what happens after the Snap.
‘What was interesting there is that not only is it the horror of who goes, who disappears, in this random act of violence, but how the people who are left behind feel,’ Joe Russo said about the post-Snap scenes. ‘I don’t get sad when I see sad things, nearly as much as I get sad when I watch people like Danai reacting to sad things happening,’ added McFeely.
Why Thanos doesn’t just double all resources
Because it’s about free will. Doubling resources, said McFeely, ‘doesn’t solve the problem. We’re just going to get there millions of years from now. This is an opportunity for people to get it right.’
Instead, strikingly, Thanos trusts the universe to figure it out once everything is perfectly balanced.
Gamora is the bravest hero of the film
Not only is she able to leave an abusive familial relationship, but later she’s able to tell Thanos he’s insane to his face without flinching. Plus, ‘she’s willing to die twice to save the universe.’ Sure, her death isn’t by choice in the end, but she tried to make it be on her own rules multiple times.
Red Skull reappears because you need an expert (and the writers had a fetish)
When you get to Vormir, you need an expert to fill you in on what’s there and what the rules of Vormir are, said McFeely. And he and Markus had a minor fetish about seeing where Red Skull ended up. (This isn’t that weird: The duo wrote the screenplays for the first three Captain America films. This isn’t just something they were randomly thinking about.)
‘Cinematically, he’s the first one ever to be obsessed with these Infinity Stones in the MCU, and he clearly did not die at the end of (Captain America:) First Avenger, so the idea of where he might have gone was so tantalizing,’ said Markus.
One credit scene was a purposeful decision
We wanted audiences to really sit with this ending. Basically, the filmmakers wanted to you feel the emotionality of that final scene and weren’t going to give you any hope or take it away quickly.
You can read our in-depth description of the post-credits scene. Even with the glimmer of hope it offers, there’s very little to hold on to as we move forward to Avengers 4. ‘These movies are at their best when they’re cross-pollinating genres, and… certainly once he snaps his fingers, it becomes a horror film,’ the filmmakers said.
We also learned that every single time they filmed that final scene (at least a dozen times), Samuel L. Jackson said his entire catchphrase each time, because of course he did.
- The opening was written before anyone knew how or where Ragnarok would end. In 2016 Markus and McFeely had a draft of Infinity War, but there was no plan for the third Thor yet.
- It was also written and filmed before anyone knew how big Black Panther would be. The filmmakers wanted to take them to Wakanda because logically you’d want to protect an Infinity Stone in the most technologically advanced place in the world, they say.
- Transporting Hulk to Earth is not a cheat: Heimdall uses his remaining Dark Magic. ‘In Avengers 1 where Thor comes back saying that ‘Odin used all his dark magic to get me home,’ and people say, ‘That was just a cheat because you broke the Bifrost.’ You just saw where the dark magic came from: Straight out of Heimdall.’
- Doctor Strange hid the Time Stone in the stars.
- Chris Pratt contributed the line: ‘For the record, this was my plan.’
- Thanos uses two stones to throw the planet at Stark: The Power Stone to destroy it and the Space Stone to pull it to the surface of Titan.
- Rocket cannot resist an artificial body part.
- There was a draft where Cap’s first entrance in the film was when he tackles Corvus Glaive to save Vision in Wakanda. Yes, that late. ‘They called us insane,’ said McFeely.
- The first use of the Soul Stone is when Thanos uses it to ‘see’ which Doctor Strange is the real one during their fight on Titan.
- That final scene in the Soul World is Thanos and a ‘spiritual representation of his daughter,’ say the filmmakers. But honestly, they misled us with trailers and teasers and so much already. Who’s to say this commentary is any different??! Remember when they released this ‘official’ photo from Infinity War? We still haven’t seen it anywhere. Don’t think they are above misdirection.
- Terry Notary, who plays Cull Obsidian in the film, also played Doctor Strange’s cape one day, according to Markus.
- There’s a scarecrow of Thanos’ armor on the bottom right, in the final scene when we see him look to the horizon.
- The filmmakers really think they may have a record number of credits for this many people working on a film. ‘I honestly think it has to be a record… We have whole departments that did not exist [years ago],’ said McFeely. ‘I think we used every major VFX company in the world,’ said Joe Russo.
‘Thanos set out to save the universe, and the movie is over when he does,’ the filmmakers say. Guess we’re living with this reality until Avengers 4.