With the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War set to kick off 2018’s summer movie season, Boxoffice recently had a chance to discuss the film and its decade-long lead-up with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The team is responsible for penning a number of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, beginning with 2009’s Captain America: The First Avenger, followed by its direct predecessors The Winter Soldier and Civil War (they are also credited on Thor: The Dark World).
Infinity War marks Markus and McFeely’s fifth film as writers in the MCU, and they’re also in development on 2019’s Avengers 4. Although they’ve worked in the sprawling Marvel universe for nearly 10 years, they’re quick to avoid claiming too much credit for the success of the franchise, instead showering praises on the franchise’s directors and—especially—the vision of Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige and his commitment to staying true to the spirit of the comics and character. Their own modesty aside, there’s little doubt that Markus and McFeely have left a mighty stamp on an entire era of superhero films.
When discussing the shift from solo films for Avenger Steve Rogers/Captain America to the larger ensemble movies, they agreed that one of the major advantages of their experience on Winter Soldier was getting to incorporate Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Falcon in significant roles. That experience prepared them to effectively handle multiple leading heroes in an ensemble when it came time to write Civil War, which in turn provided another stepping-stone toward Infinity War, which will host more than 70 heroes and villains previously established within the MCU. Still, the two men took pains to reassure fans—they know that everyone in the audience has a favorite character, and they promise that even in a film with such massive scope, every character will have “their moment.”
The duo’s richly productive collaborations with Feige and his filmmakers on various MCU titles have evolved since The First Avenger, but what remains a constant is that their ideas—at all times in service to overarching storylines that demand cohesion and continuity—are always respected and often embraced. Although they wouldn’t provide details, the writers confirmed having asked—and been granted—permission to use certain story developments that pertain to Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, the only two MCU titles that are scheduled between the release of the third and fourth Avengers centerpieces.
When it came to Infinity War, it was crucial to nail down the tone early on. Each character in the superhero ensemble has his or her own complexities; these are roles that have been independently developed by specific actors and filmmakers across a slew of films that all vary in tone. The writing duo cited the Guardians of the Galaxy films and the recent Thor: Ragnarok as prime examples of the challenge in bringing characters from two different sets of films into the same narrative. That challenge, however, may also present exciting new possibilities, like the potential chemistry between actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt—a pairing that, the writers agreed, immediately sparked a feeling that something special would happen as soon as the actors came together on the set.
Just as important, the writers say, was their intentional effort to adhere to what those and other actors had already established in the MCU—to write a part that best fit the version of X character as played by Y actor. So while some fans reject any and all detours in the depiction of their favorite Avenger, McFeely and Markus say their priority—and Marvel’s—has been to write the best possible story to best serve the medium of film, which may include modernizing certain elements and other creative changes.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are hard at work on the forthcoming Avengers 4, with a possible eye toward more Marvel films and perhaps more original works of their own. Yet, even after 10 years, despite their accomplishments and the many promising projects ahead, they admit that nagging opening-weekend anxiety still lingers. It needn’t. With their deep respect and affection for the franchise, and their impressive track record, we’re pretty sure they can rest easy. Legions of fans are sure to turn out—and cheer—for this newest Avengers film.