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Interview: Marvel Studios’ Victoria Alonso on ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and the End of a Cinematic Era

April 26, 2019Ben MK

As the saying goes, it's not the destination, it's the journey. And when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what a journey it has been.

From Iron Man to Black Panther to Captain Marvel, the past eleven years have not only gifted moviegoers with a wealth of memorable films and pop culture icons, they've also redefined how we experience movies in general. And with Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios is marking the end of an era, capping off over a decade of filmmaking that has helped reinvent the superhero genre and delivering the epic conclusion to the saga that began with Avengers: Infinity War.

I sat down with Marvel Studios' Executive Vice President of Production, Victoria Alonso, to chat about Avengers: Endgame, to look back on the First Ten Years of the MCU, and to look ahead at what the future might hold for the franchise.

When did the idea for Infinity War and Endgame begin to take shape? Going back to the earlier films, when was it known that this was where the overall story was ultimately headed?

Alonso: We always hoped that we could have the fan support to create something that will have to have an ending. So, consistently, it kept growing to [where] at some point we [knew we] will have Avengers 3 or Avengers 4. The story that we wanted to tell was too long to be told in one film. That's why we separated it into two. I wouldn't say that we knew all along in 2008, but we knew a while back that this is where we were going to land.

I think, for us, finishing stories has to be a brutally honest journey. And although people want certain characters to return, the honesty in how we finish in Endgame is brutal, emotionally, but is real. Sometimes part of the journey is the end, and you have to accept that.

There's a very rousing moment in Endgame's final act where all of the MCU's female heroes (from Captain Marvel to Shuri to Valkyrie) can be seen assembling against Thanos and his army. Whose idea was that and how did that scene come about?

Alonso: That was a Joe Russo and Anthony Russo moment. We always wanted to have a moment where the women would be together as a team. And I think that when you're watching the film, it makes total sense that they're all there. Because the rest of the superheroes are engaged elsewhere, so they're the ones that are there helping each other. And it is the biggest girl power moment that I have experienced.

As for the visual effects, how does Endgame compare to Infinity War, which had 3,000 shots, out of which 2,900 were VFX shots?

Alonso: It's the same, except [Endgame] is a little longer. There's about sixty shots in this film that are not visual effects, so it's one big, long, three-hour visual effects moment.

And what was the most challenging visual effects sequence in the film?

Alonso: I would say the last forty minutes of the film are incredibly challenging. There's very little that is real, and what is real had to be helped in some way to fit [with] everything else. That battle zone was an incredible challenge to create, and [for] part of it we did the additional photography rather late, so time was not on our side. Which is always the case, by the way.

In the movie, Captain America says, "No mistakes, no do-overs" in his mission briefing to the team. But if you could do-over one thing in the MCU, what would it be?

Alonso: That's a hard one. There's one thing that I would like to do every time I make a movie — and I'm not able — and that is to allow more time. So if I could have the Time Stone, I would definitely try to give us a little more time at the end to make sure that perfection sets in, because we never have enough time. That would be the only thing.

But I think it's turned out to be pretty darn great. If I look back and say, "Oh, I would do this movie or that movie again," I think that would take away from what we've accomplished. And I think we've done something pretty extraordinary.

Speaking of extraordinary, Marvel Studios recently marked a major milestone — its First Ten Years. And you've worked on all but one of all twenty-two films so far. Endgame is certainly the end of an era, but what other movies do you consider to be the real turning points for the MCU?

Alonso: For me it's very, very clear — it's Black Panther and Captain Marvel. I think every other movie was defining a time, but I think that Black Panther and Captain Marvel have redefined our time.

And do you have any favorite or memorable moments from the past eleven years (either on-screen or behind-the-scenes) that really stand out for you?

Alonso: My favorite moment is not in a movie. My favorite moment was when we were in Atlanta and we did the ten-year reunion photo of everyone that had been in all of our films — actors, writers, directors, producers. And it was an amazing amount of people. There's a picture of all of us, and that was a career dream come true. It was sort of the Marvel Academy Awards moment. You have every actor that you could possibly think of — that you have so much respect and admiration for — and they were there, they were one of our actors. So that was pretty awesome.

Last but not least, Endgame teases some big changes for future films. How would you sum up Marvel Studios' approach toward the next era in the MCU? What in general are you most excited for?

Alonso: I'm definitely excited about the next decade. I think it's going to be filled with all kinds of unexpected returns of characters that we all have learned to love. I think it's going to be, hopefully, blessed with a level of diversity and inclusivity that we've started to see, but we haven't really gotten there yet. And I think that we are determined to make sure that every fan that is out there sees themselves reflected in our characters.

That, to me, is by far the most exciting thing, beyond the fact that you continue to tell as good a story as you can. But I think that we've started to move the needle a little bit in talking about inclusivity and diversity, and I think that we're not going to stop there.

Avengers: Endgame is now in theatres.

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