Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have been with the MCU since Captain America: The First Avenger, and have gone on to write all the Captain America films as well as Thor: The Dark World. Now, having written Avengers: Infinity War, and currently in the edit on its untitled follow-up, we talked to them about what to expect from Marvel’s latest.
Are the Avengers still tackling the fall-out from Civil War in Infinity War?
Christopher Markus: Emotionally, yes, although a fair amount of time has passed. They’ve gotten into a new way of life that is interrupted by a purple man. But they’re still fractured, and we never wanted that to get brushed aside by some new plot that has come along… We wanted that to really resonate and be one of the reasons why Thanos has a chance of beating them. The whole point of the first Avengers movie is that they’re more powerful together, so what happens when they’re not together?
How have you approached Thanos?
Stephen McFeely: James [Gunn] gave us a great sandbox to play in, in that our main villain has two adopted daughters that feel very specifically about him. They can provide not only exposition for us but real emotional stakes throughout. That’s one of the things that we tried to crack early on was to make sure that this wasn’t just Thanos going out and checking off stones. Every stone has some sort of emotional connection to somebody that we like. Vision’s is obvious, Doctor Strange’s is obvious, everyone is invested in some way.
CM: It also goes a long way towards making Thanos not just a cardboard villain who wants to take over the universe. He’s got a family and family is never not messy, even for Thanos… He’s an amoral, philosophical seeker. When his plans and his investigations involve murdering trillions of people, that’s not necessarily out of malice. I don’t think that matters to the trillions of people he just slaughtered, but it makes him pretty deeply compelling.
Wakanda features heavily in the Infinity War trailer – you must have been relieved when Black Panther did so well.
SM: We were writing for characters that had barely been cast, they certainly hadn’t been acted or edited or anything, so we were like ‘boy, people better like Shuri’. ‘I hope Okoye is popular because we’ve given her a lot of stuff to do!’ We were in untested water for quite a while.
Fans are so scared that someone will die in Infinity War because these are characters we’ve been watching for 10 years now.
SM: We know that you are invested so we can play with that, and we also know that good storytelling requires some finality to it eventually, so that it’s not just tiny little bites with very little consequence. Civil War, I thought, had tremendous consequence, but no-one died. That’s all we’re shooting for, tremendous consequence. And, sure, some people might die.
CM: Grief is a part of life.
Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas on 26 April. To read more of our interview with Markus and McFeely, check out our magazine on sale on 4 May.