When the newly crowned highest-grossing film of all-time comes home, it doesn’t need many bells and whistles. People being able to experience Avengers: Endgame in their homes is likely enough. And the release, which has about an hour of special features, leans into that. It doesn’t give us a lot but what it gives us is good.
There are six deleted scenes (which we discussed with the writers here, so definitely check that out), a gag reel, and seven featurettes ranging in length that collectively run 46 minutes. Those are largely nostalgic, as they look back at the Marvel Studios careers of Stan Lee, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson, only getting into the nuts and bolts behind the scenes a little bit with featurettes on the directors, the Women of the MCU, and “Bro Thor.”
If that was the entirety of the release, it would be a little disappointing, as if Marvel Studios was holding back for a larger release in the future. Which, you have to assume, it probably is.
The real gem on the disc, however, is the commentary track comprised of directors Joe and Anthony Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The four men (who collectively wrote and directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame) have an excellent, honest rapport, and listening to them talk about the film offers not only a lot of really cool little tidbits but some real reflection on the entire process.
For the most part, the discussion focuses on things we kind of knew subtextually but are interesting to hear about specifically—why this character did this, why they chose to show that. For instance, it’s pointed out how many of the scenes in Endgame work because the audience is bringing their knowledge all of the other MCU movies into it. They explain how the scene in the elevator with 2023 Captain America taking the scepter from the Hydra agents works because not only do you have the knowledge of what Cap has to do in this movie, but who these people are from The Winter Soldier, and the expectation of the elevator fight. Same goes for the scene between Tony and his dad, Howard. That only has an emotional impact because we’ve seen Howard all through his life, and we’ve seen Tony’s complex relationship with him. The audience carries all of that into the scene.
There are tons of examples like those where the directors and writers applaud the way serialized movie-making in the MCU makes their jobs that much more rewarding. Even more interestingly, though, they do point out that it has its downsides. The group defends moments of fan service in the movie, such as Cap lifting Mjolnir, but admits those things only work because the fans are so invested. They believe if someone comes to the movie without that attachment, they won’t work, and acknowledge as much. They’re 100 percent playing to the crowd. However, they’re also not afraid to point out holes in logic they skip, such as Cap being so good with the hammer so quickly, or that they have no idea what happened when he reunited with Red Skull off-screen on Vormir.
Discussions even go as deep as the Russos admitting the one year wait between Infinity War and Endgame was probably just the right amount of time for people to be really excited about what comes next but not forget about it completely. But if the movie had taken a longer or shorter time to release, maybe the impact wouldn’t have been as strong.
Then, of course, there is a near-endless stream of awesome Easter eggs pointed out, and quick behind-the-scenes revelations. Here are some of our favorites:
- Ava Russo, Joe Russo’s daughter, plays Hawkeye’s daughter Lila. Those are also Russo kids who take photos with Smart Hulk later in the film.
- Yes, Captain Marvel saving Tony Stark happens after the post-credits scene of Captain Marvel.
- There were cuts of the movie where the reveal of Captain Marvel saving Tony and Nebula was saved for when the ship got back to Earth.
- There’s a joking tease that the rat who saves the universe could come back.
- According to the team, the Avengers put Clint on a clock when he tests out time-travel. They knew he may want to stay and this forced him to come back. In fact, there was a version of the scene where Clint returns and attacks Hulk for bringing him back at all.
- There was also a scene where Ant-Man offered Clint an orange slice as a callback to Civil War.
- When Chris Hemsworth delivered his drunken, sad, retelling of Thor: The Dark World, the cast clapped after the take.
- During the Time Heist research, Hulk is eating his Ben and Jerry’s namesake ice cream referenced in Infinity War.
- The moment when Smart Hulk impersonates his old self in 2012 New York wasn’t originally in the movie. Animators did it as a joke but the Russos loved it and had Ruffalo recreate it on the motion capture stage.
- The 2013 Asgard scenes were shot at Durham Cathedral in the United Kingdom in 2017, during the filming of Avengers: Infinity War. It was one of only a few Endgame scenes shot during production on Infinity War.
- Several moments in the film were very difficult to figure out. The first of which was how to get 2014 Thanos into the story, which was eventually solved by Nebula having two frequencies of consciousness. In fact, they had to reshoot the Nebula scenes to make that whole thing clearer.
- The writers and directors suggested that the moment Captain America fights himself is a huge motivator for him staying back in time later in the movie. Seeing his more naive, “square” self through more experienced eyes convinced him he needed to “get a life.”
- Why does Howard Stark have sauerkraut? Because Stephen McFeely’s mom craved sauerkraut when she was pregnant with him.
- The Peggy Carter scene in 1970 wasn’t in the first draft of the script, but him getting back to her at the end was almost always there.
- The way they justify Thanos figuring out how to use the Pym Particles is that he travels through space with a giant army. He’s just a pretty smart and tech-savvy character.
- Much of what happens on Vormir with Hawkeye and Black Widow was reshot. The original version had Thanos sending an army there to pretend to stop them, which was supposed to give them a sense of urgency. In the editing room, though, they realized it was too much and it had to be more personal.
- In some versions of the script, all of the heroes instantly reappeared when Hulk snapped them back, but it took away the big heroic reveal, so it was canceled.
- Another very difficult thing to figure out was how Thanos gets to the Avengers and when. It took about two months of brainstorming to figure out the logistics what happens post-hulk Hulk’s snap, including Laura’s (Hawkeye’s wife) phone call, the moment with the birds, and Thanos’ ship arriving and firing on them, etc.
- As discussed out of Comic-Con, a version of the film had 2014 Thanos come to 2023 with 2012 Captain America’s severed head.
- The Russos fully credit Alan Silvestri’s score for making the big return at the end work so well.
- In early concepts of what the Russos referred to as “the flea-flicker” sequence, where various heroes pass the gauntlet around, almost every hero ended up touching it, but they ended up settling on the ones they did (Black Panther, Spider-Man, etc.) because they worked the best.
- Having a few characters scrum to get the gauntlet at the end was always in play.
- How did Tony get the stones off Thanos’ hand? Nanotechnology. It was two similar gloves talking to each other which transferred the stones.
- The team suggests that Tony’s Iron Man suit is the only thing that made it possible for him to stay alive long enough to snap.
- Thanos sitting on a rock waiting to die was supposed to mirror him sitting on his porch at the end of Infinity War.
- There was a lot of debate over how Tony should look in his death scene. Too gruesome and you couldn’t look. Too normal and you’d hope he’d survive.
- Tony saying “I love you 3,000″ at the end was a late addition, which is why it’s delivered off screen. It was added during additional dialogue recording.
- Tony’s funeral was the most difficult day to schedule because all of those people are actually there. The crew practiced the camera move all day the day before and then they did it in five or six takes. The aim was to take you, in one shot, all the way back through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “It’s a bit of a flex,” said McFeely.
- Black Widow doesn’t get the same send off Tony does in this movie because she has her solo movie coming out.
- Gamora’s fate was intentionally left vague.
- Though they didn’t say how, the team did say Bucky knew what Captain America was going to do, which is why he says he’s going to miss him even though he’s only supposed to be gone a few seconds.
- Though fans debated who would take over the mantle of Captain America, internally, it was always going to be Sam. And they hope that gets explored because they think the idea of passing a mantle in the MCU is one that’s very rich.
- They point out that, in the second to last shot, the door to Peggy’s house is open, so they believe Steve just arrived minutes ago.
- The idea for putting the signatures of the stars over the final credits was Kevin Feige’s and he was inspired by the end credits of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Avengers: Endgame, with all these features, is on digital now. It comes to Blu-ray tomorrow, August 13.
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