Interview with Avengers: Endgame’s co-director Anthony Russo – ‘We Love You 3,000’ Tour

Marvel Studios celebrated the in-home release of Avengers: Endgame with the ‘WE LOVE YOU 3000’ tour. Those who have seen that movie knows the significance of that line, uttered by Iron Man‘s cutie-patootie daughter.

Nine cities and 3,000 giveaways, it’s Marvel’s way to thank fans who’ve invested 11 years in the MCU! Beginning in San Diego at Comic-Con International on July 20 and ending in Anaheim at D23 Expo 2019 the weekend of Aug. 23-25, special guests from Marvel Studios and the MCU greeted fans at various cities.

So, last Wednesday August 14, Best Buy hosted director Anthony Russo for fan meet-n-greet and signing. Thanks to Allied Global Marketing, I and three other MN film bloggers got a chance to interview Mr. Russo on the red carpet prior to the fan event.


On Display at Best Buy were a few props from Endgame, including the broken Captain America’s shield at the hands of Thanos’ mighty sword.


So I was part of the red carpet interview with fellow Twin Cities film bloggers, Paul McGuire Grimes from Paul’s Trip To The Movies, Jared Huizenga from Man Versus Movie, and Mark McPherson from TwinCitiesGeek.com. Each of us took turns asking Anthony Russo a question, but because of time constraints, we only got to ask 1-2 questions each.

Listen below for the Q&A with Anthony Russo:

Paul: I have to ask what your first thoughts were when Kevin Feige told you and your brother Joe that you’d be directing the last two Avengers movies?

Ruth: In regards to your time working in the MCU, what makes you the proudest?

I’m proud that we put our best work in and I’m also grateful that it ended up working for others.

Jared: Now that we’ve come to the end of the Infinity Saga and there are 21 films. Which one is your favorite?

Mark: There’s a lot of elements you juggled on Endgame. Was there any one key aspect that you wanted to maintain throughout Endgame as things were changing?

The important things for us is in regards to the character who’s going to die in the film. We made sure we give Tony Stark a proper arc, to give them the most we could do with that arc…

Paul: How has the technology changed now since The Winter Soldier. Was there anything that you could do in Endgame that maybe you could not have done in The Winter Soldier?

Ruth: How’s your working relationship is w/ the two writers, Christopher Markus + Stephen McFeely whom they’ve worked together for 4 movies. Was there ever any friction between all four of you, and if so how did you resolve that?

“Why my brother and I like to work as a team is because we have opposing points of views… it’s like point, counterpoint, point, counterpoint, it’s like a socratic dialogue we have all day long. We love that. So not disagreeing is actually a part of why the creative relationship has value, because it helps you heat up your ideas and pushes out of your comfort zone…”


Thank you Mr. Russo for chatting with us!
Your fans love you 3000 🙂


Have you seen Avengers:Endgame? Feel free to share your thoughts about the film and/or the interviews.

FlixChatter Review – AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019)

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the release of AVENGERS: ENDGAME as an event, at least to fans of the MCU. If you don’t know what that acronym stands for, but yet you’re curious enough to finally check out just what the fuss is about, I suggest watching a few Marvel movies first in order to fully appreciate what’s going on in this movie. There are 21 MCU movies up until this point, broken down in three phases. ENDGAME, as the title suggest, is the cumulation of the most of the heroes’ journey.

As I was watching the movie, I thought about how much I have come to care about these characters and what they have gone through. Since the release of Iron Man 11 years ago in 2008, there have been multiple new characters being introduced, but in the end, the film pretty much focused on the original six Avengers who survived Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War. Now, I know there have been calls NOT to spoil the major plot points, though it should go without saying for every movie. FlixChatter readers know I’m very careful about spoilers. That said, it’d be tough to review this film without potentially revealing some key things, so if you prefer to go into the film completely blind, you should stop reading this now [consider yourself warned].

The movie clocks in at 3 hours 1 minute. It’s perhaps the longest superhero movie ever, but there’s just SO much to cover. It actually goes by relatively fast, but that’s not to say there aren’t any slow moments. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is organized in phases, this movie is comprised of three specific ‘chapters’ if you will. The surviving superheroes (and a powerful new ally) only have one thing in their mind, that is to go after Thanos. It’s quite amusing to see the supreme villain is actually living a rather domesticated life, seemingly not losing much sleep after wiping out half of all living creatures. I’m not going to say how that ‘avenging’ business goes, but the movie then jumps ahead five years.

The second act is perhaps the slowest part of the movie, but I feel like the quieter moments are necessary. Naturally those who survived the snap are in mourning, some have lost more than others… some lost absolutely everything they hold dear. It’s not something people can just move onward and upward, not even those as mighty as the Avengers. As Steve Rogers said in the trailer, ‘Some people move on, but not us.’ Some are dealing with this new ‘post-Thanos snap’ era better than others. One could say they’re all dealing with an intense case of PTSD. Rogers is shown in a therapy session, while Hawkeye and Thor are dealing with this trauma in very different ways. I actually love how this movie is playing with our expectations of certain characters. Let’s just say, some of their um, evolution, for a lack of a better word, is truly amusing and not at all what I expected.

Themes of loss, anguish, regret, vengefulness, sacrifice are all we expect in a film that promises to be ‘the end of the line.’ Those themes are explored well here by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, brought to life brilliantly by Joe & Anthony Russo. By this time, most of the actors have convincingly embodied their characters. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner who made up the original six are particularly strong here, with Josh Brolin’s Thanos as the perfect villain. This movie has plenty of genuine emotional moments without being too heavy handed. It’s dark at times without being too brooding or overly gloomy. In fact, there are plenty of funny, witty scenes that provide the perfect levity to balance out the heartbreaking moments.

I’m glad my bladder held out well despite the three-hour running time, so I didn’t miss anything. I have to say though, the level of satisfaction this movie is would depend on how much you care about the characters that have been carefully crafted in the past decade. By the same token, if you’re not familiar with the previous movies, especially the previous Avengers movie, you’d find this movie utterly discombobulating. Even I find the plot rather convoluted and some things don’t make any sense. But most movies involving SPOILER ALERT (highlight if you want to read) time travel, especially involving quantum physics, is bound to be a head-scratcher. Yet that plot device also allows for backstory for certain characters, a walk down memory lane for others and perhaps even a farewell of sort given that the ‘end is near.’ If I were to nitpick however, I find the action spectacle in its finale to be too bombastic for me. It’s a problem for most superhero movies that even the best ones can’t seem to overcome. Fortunately, the Russos remain focused on the characters and what they have lost/stand to lose, which keeps the story grounded despite some overblown action sequences.

We all have our favorite character(s), and mine happens to be the first Avenger. My heart constantly went pitter-patter wondering what’s to become of Captain America. I have avoided reading all the incessant fan theories, and I’m glad I did. Part of the journey is the end. This movie delivers on that premise and it completes many of the characters’ arc in such an emotional way. It also lives up to the ‘whatever it takes’ premise as the Avengers face one impossible odds after another. Thor’s line ‘because that’s what heroes do’ was delivered facetiously in Thor Ragnarok, but here it holds a whole new meaning.

What made the MCU franchise so successful and gratifying to fans is that there’s a unifying thread throughout the movies. Yes, there are parts that have continuity problems–I mean what happened to Wanda aka Scarlet Witch’s Russian accent after Avengers: Age of Ultron?? But in the grand scheme of things, the storylines are so tightly-interwoven that by the time they all assembled in Endgame, we know just how high the stakes are for these characters. It also helps that earth mightiest heroes have a worthy adversary to fight against, which in and of itself is quite a feat. For a movie with such a compelling premise and a humongous build-up, it would be a shame if the payoff is weak. Thankfully that’s not the case here and for that I’m grateful. I’m also glad I packed tissues as it’s an emotional roller coaster of the best kind. Endgame made me laugh out loud one moment, then bawl my eyes out the next.

The film is an artistic and technical marvel. The set pieces are great, which is to be expected for a film of this scale. Alan Silvestri, the original composer of The Avengers, delivers rousing music with his iconic score, but it also sounds perfectly melancholy when it needs to be. What a bittersweet and worthy send-off for a bunch of beloved characters. I don’t even mind watching it again before its theatrical run is over, it’s THAT good.

Bravo to the Russos once again for completing a satisfying finale to such a behemoth franchise. There must have been an enormous pressure on them to deliver and I think, all things considered, they did an astounding job.


What do you think of AVENGERS: ENDGAME? Let’s hear it!

FlixChatter Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War. It’s not just a movie… it’s an event. The buzz is quite overwhelming even when I only occasionally browse Twitter & Facebook as I’ve been preoccupied with a local film festival. The nice thing about being busy is that I barely have time to read any articles on it, and given how even Marvel studio has been begging fans NOT to spoil anything, it’s best to go into Infinity War not knowing much about what’s going to happen to earth’s mightiest heroes.

On that note, I’m going to keep this review relatively brief and I won’t go into any details. I’m also not going to put the actors’ name as most of you already know who they are anyway, or you can easily just go to IMDb if you forget.

Now, there are apparently 40 characters featured in this movie, which is absolutely insane! Yep that is waaay more than in DC’s Justice League, however, the advantage of this latest Avengers film is there have been two films done previously with multiple heroes, AND many of the heroes featured here have had their own individual films (even a trilogy). Therefore, we already know quite a bit about some of their background and why we should care. That is I think, one of the reason Infinity War is not a huge jumbled mess that was Justice League. The Russo Brothers miraculously able to juggle a dizzying number of MCU heroes, and also presented an adversary that poses enough threat to warrant this huge assembly.

I’d imagine one of the toughest tasks for the directors (good thing there’s a PAIR of them, two heads are always better than one) is how the heck do they transition from one to the next? I think for the most part the transition work pretty well with using certain music and superimposing the location at the start of a scene. Some of the character entrances are better than others. I particularly love how Steve Rogers  & his besties are introduced, but then again Capt is easily my fave Marvel hero of the whole bunch. He looks even more bad ass with longish hair and scraggly beard, yowza!

It’s also exhilarating to see T’Challa and Wakanda again after having enjoyed Black Panther relatively recently, and the battle against Thanos’ army is quite exciting. You could say Thor is perhaps the MVP in this assembly, and there’s also a new character we haven’t seen before that’s made a pretty big impact in the movie. I’m going to let you find out for yourself who that is but it’s definitely a memorable one.

Another mighty challenge to get this film right is the tone. I think it’s admirable that the Russos + writing team Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely can balance the lighter tone with the more emotional scenes. Admittedly, some of the humor are on the goofy side, such as whenever the Guardians of the Galaxy posse show up. That bit when they meet Thor for the first time is quite hilarious, yep even amongst a throng of heroes, Chris Hemsworth’s physique is quite something to marvel at. The one liners and repartee between superheroes are a hit and miss, though the banter between Dr Strange and Iron Man did make me laugh. Bruce Banner/Hulk is especially hilarious here and Spider-Man also continues to be a comic relief. His relationship with Iron Man has grown to the fact that Tony Stark’s practically his adopted (billionaire) uncle. The relationship between Wanda and Vision is explored more here as well, but thankfully it didn’t make me cringe the way Black Widow + Hulk was in Age of Ultron.

For a film called Infinity War, naturally you can expect a long battle sequence. Fortunately, there’s more that happened leading up to it that isn’t all about action, action, action. That fact alone is quite a feat, but that’s been the strength of the last two Captain America films that the Russos directed. The action, no matter how bombastic, has to punctuate and support the story instead of overpowering it, and the writers didn’t lose sight of that here. Yes there are perhaps too many plot threads that at times feel overkill, but I’m glad that there is still a singular focus and that is to defeat Thanos. Now, as I mentioned above, despite that rather ridiculous chin, he is actually not just a odd-looking monster hell-bent on taking over the world, but there’s surprising ‘humanity’ to him despite his decidedly twisted logic. I remember cringing every time I see an image of Thanos in all the promos because he looks so silly to me, but fortunately, in the film he’s much more menacing.

What makes a superhero film worth watching is that there’s an actual grave threat that actually requires their superpower. The film also asks just what it actually means to be heroic? It’s not enough that one simply has a superpower, but how much is one willing to sacrifice in order to help others? For some of the Avengers, this battle is a personal one. The personal sacrifice narrative is what gives this gigantic movie its heart and emotional resonance.

Now, as far as all the suspense of which Avengers die in this movie? Well, I gotta say, I did gasp a few times and even shed a tear or two. I wouldn’t say this is a brutal film given it’s a PG-13 flick, but there are some darker moments the fact that there’s a lot at stake for even the most powerful team in the universe and beyond. For the most part, it’s a mostly-thrilling roller coaster ride for Marvel fans, though I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite in the MCU canon. Some parts are overlong and some went by way too fast. Given there are SO many plots to cover, there’s barely any time to immerse in a single one as by the time that happens, it’s already moved to the next one.

Still, I applaud the filmmakers tasked with this gargantuan task of bringing the pinnacle of 19 (nineteen!!) Marvel films. That’s a colossal ambition equal to Thanos wanting to collect ALL infinity stones! I also love the rousing music by Alan Silvestri who’s done the first Captain America and The Avengers movie). As far as the ending, well, they certainly made sure that you know that the war goes on. This is just Part I so things are deliberately left on a major cliffhanger. If you stick around for the end credits, you just might get a hint on what’s in store for the next installment.


So have you seen Infinity War? Well, I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The buzz over the latest Marvel blockbuster has been through the roof. It’s already made over $200 mil internationally before it even opened here in the US, so no doubt it will wipe out any competition here this weekend.

I have to say that despite my increasing superhero fatigue, I was still looking forward to this one mostly because I love the first two Captain America films, and I have faith in the Russo brothers’ direction. Like Zack Snyder with Batman V Superman, Anthony & Joe Russo had the tricky task of not only continuing the thread of the Avenger story, pulling off a large ensemble cast AND help launch/introduce individual standalone films (Black Panther, Spider-man). Suffice to say the Russos did a much, much better job than Snyder in delivering an entertaining Summer blockbuster that’s actually has depth and thought-provoking ideas. Interesting that The Avengers and Superman share a similar predicament in their effort to safeguard humanity, and how the DC and Marvel tentpole movies are dealing with the issue of accountability.

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The ‘Civil War’ in the title stems from an ideological conflict about what should be done in that issue of accountability and collateral damage, and whether a governing body (in this case the UN) should oversee them. Now, the fact that the perceived common enemy happens to be Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) BFF Bucky a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), it’s easy to see which side the Cap is on. The events in The Winter Soldier has undoubtedly made Cap wary of big government and how a centralized power could be manipulative and corrupt. So it makes sense that he won’t be so easily persuaded to sign something like The Sokovia Accords that’d essentially put the Avengers under UN control.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Just because it’s the path of least resistance doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. Staying together is more important than how we stay together.

Steve Rogers/Captain America: What are we giving up to do it?


Whilst the motive behind Captain firmly believing in self-regulation is more clear cut, I’m not as convinced why Tony Stark would support it with little resistance. A cameo by Alfre Woodard briefly reveals the burden of guilt on Tony’s part as the Stark companies supplies most of the weaponry (including Captain himself who was created in the lab of his dad Howard), but still I’d think he’d be more apprehensive about government interference in the Avengers.

I have to say that the film has a pretty slow start. I understand they’d have to establish the conflict and a reason for all the fighting, but it went on a bit too long for my liking and frankly, it all feels a bit tedious. Thankfully, things do pick up as soon as an incident happens at the UN meeting and before you know it, Captain becomes a hunted man wanted by the government along with Bucky. It’s there that we meet new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s member Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and he certainly looks the part. This is perhaps one of the most diverse cast in a Marvel film aside from the X-Men franchise.

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I think the fact that the same writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, are involved in the Captain America trilogy so far makes the film flow nicely and has a cohesive storyline. They also did a decent job showing the events in previous films to viewers who might not be familiar with the Avengers story, i.e. the battle in the fictional Eastern European country Sokovia in Avenger: Age of Ultron that caused massive collateral damage. Marvel fans would especially enjoy the references and inside jokes, especially during the actual civil war battle involving a dozen MCU superheroes. This is also the first time we see the new Spider-man (Tom Holland) as part of MCU and he’s definitely a highlight. Spidey is supposed to be a wisecrackin’ teenager and Holland’s captured that. All his comments as he’s fighting the other heroes, like referencing Empire Strikes Back and saluting Cap before he fights him, are a hoot.

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Spider-Man (to Bucky): You have a metal arm? That is awesome, dude.

The intro to the appropriately-aged character is full of good humor as he’s fanboying over Iron Man, who somehow still has time to flirt with aunt May (Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr’s co-star in the rom-com Only You) despite a brief 36-hour deadline to arrest Cap. There’s a lot of fanboy-ing going on in this movie that’s so hilarious. My fave part is when Ant-Man (the immensely affable Paul Rudd) meets Cap which got one of the biggest laughs in the theater.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man: Look, man, I know you know a lot of super people so… thinks for thanking of me.

Captain America: Civil War is commendable for having the right balance of story, character, emotion, humor AND high-octane action. The fight scenes are well-choreographed that you can actually see the action despite the sheer number of people fighting. It wasn’t so bombastic that it’s headache-inducing. The story never feels cartoonish even with SO many characters involved and the battles feel sprightly and fun without being frivolous or silly. When one character is injured, we feel the emotion of fellow team members and the sense of solidarity is definitely there. The Captain America trilogy benefits from the strong base of Steve/Bucky relationship established in the first film. I totally believe why Cap would go to such length to protect his best friend and stand by his side regardless of what he’s done, and I think Bucky would’ve done the same if the situation were reversed. I love Evans and Stan even more as they become more at ease in their respective roles, and Anthony Mackie is always so charming and fun as Falcon. I also have to mention how I appreciate Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow more and more, and the fact that she’s undeniably torn between the two sides is a testament to her intriguing character arc.

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The key in making a huge ensemble cast work is they have to have a reason for us to care for the characters. It’s getting immensely tricky here but I think keeping the focus on just a small group helps. The final battle between Cap, Iron Man & Winter Soldier is not only cool to watch but it also carries a certain emotional weight because there’s something personal that affects the three of them. It’s perhaps one of the most compelling dramatic moments from RDJ that I’ve seen in all the Iron Man & Avengers movies so far.

That said, I don’t think this film is perfect and I don’t think it’s the greatest MCU film so far, as many critics have said. I’ve mentioned about the rather sluggish start, but there are also moments that don’t really work. Daniel Brühl is a perfectly capable actor but he barely makes a dent here amongst an ocean of characters, though I think the character’s motive is a pretty decent one. The romance between Cap and Sharon Carter also feels so obligatory and the lack of chemistry between Evans and Emily VanCamp doesn’t help. Oh how I miss Hayley Atwell‘s Agent Carter who’s such a strong female character who doesn’t need any superpowers to make a difference. I also find the music unmemorable as I barely remember any of it, which is odd given I LOVE what Henry Jackman did with The Winter Soldier.

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All in all, it’s a VERY good film that ties all three Captain American movies superbly well and would rank amongst the best film trilogies. After this, I’m even more confident in the Russo brothers’ directing talent and MCU is definitely in capable hands if they continue to make Marvel movies. I love the end credits of the first two Captain America movies and they did an excellent job here as well. In terms of replay-ability value, this one ranks third after The Winter Soldier and The First Avenger, both of which I actually just re-watched last night and I still enjoyed them immensely!

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So have you seen ‘Captain America: Civil War’? Let me know what you think!