Marvel Studios is undoubtedly on a roll with Phase 4 thanks to the releases of four Disney+ series and two new movies. This all comes after an 18-month content drought following the theatrical debuts of Spider-Man: Far From Home and arguably the biggest cinematic movie of all time in Avengers: Endgame.
The stories behind Endgame's production are the stuff of legend as it brought together dozens of Marvel's biggest heroes for the fight of a lifetime against Josh Brolin's Mad Titan Thanos. That fight set the stage for a new era of storytelling within the MCU, serving as an ending for numerous individual journeys in the Infinity Saga and pushing forward new ones into Phase 4 and beyond.
A job this big needed the best team Marvel could offer, both in front of the camera and behind it. This led the studio to having Joe and Anthony Russo pull double-duty between this outing and 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.
Recently, fans gained a new perspective on just how daunting of a challenge this was, as co-director Anthony Russo shared some of his experience on set.
Anthony Russo Talks Sleepless Nights on Endgame
An excerpt from The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe detailed the immense challenges that directors Joe and Anthony Russo faced while making Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame.
Anthony Russo specifically spoke about how many sleepless nights he and his brother pushed through to complete the film.
The excerpt explained that the Russo Brothers would spend their days alternating between work on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, running around the set between as many as five different filming units to oversee the work being done. The directing duo spent the better part of a year working non-stop like this on both Avengers movies.
Having worked with Marvel Studios for years to that point, Anthony Russo explained that life "becomes so specific and regimented" while the studio "(cranks) that machine up" and goes hard into production. He described it as something that's "just running" with no signs of slowing down.
To combat the anticipated exhaustion, the Russos kept workout weights and steps with them in their main meeting room at the Atlanta production. During meetings, they made sure to keep moving around every half-hour and started taking vitamin IV infusions to keep themselves as healthy as possible.
The co-director revealed that the only way he and his brother Joe were able to keep pace, on top of all that, was by forgoing sleep on countless occasions. Working early in the morning and late at night, it simply became the norm as the directing duo gave everything they had in them to make the film that both Marvel and its fans wanted:
“All you can do, if you’re trying to direct that machine, is you have to stay ahead of that. The only way you stay ahead of it is if you don’t sleep. You get up in the morning, you get ahead of that. You go to bed really late at night and try to stay ahead of that. And that’s all it becomes. You’re doing that for so long that time just disappears.”
In the end, Russo admitted that those many sleepless nights between the pair of directors "took a big toll on (their) health" as Endgame came together. The two directors felt the need to be in peak physical condition due to the intense rigors of directing Marvel Studios' biggest movie to date, and it clearly made its mark as the duo pushed through:
“It actually took a big toll on our health. That’s one reason for the exercise equipment. Because I had this feeling like ‘Holy shit, man, we have to be in the best shape of our whole lives because we are only gonna go downhill, hard, from here.’”
No Sleep Until Endgame
Working on a Marvel movie is undoubtedly a major endeavor, no matter if it's a solo movie or an ambitious team-up outing. The Russo Brothers have more than a fair share of experience in both types of films after directing the last two Captain America movies and the last two Avengers films, the latter of which being two of the most popular movies in history.
Putting in a year's worth of work without stopping by filming Infinity War and Endgame back-to-back, director Anthony Russo clearly felt the strain of such a massive task, even as much as he and his brother loved working with Marvel Studios. Taking into account the studio's expectations and the unprecedented hype Endgame built, sleep was a rare and precious commodity during the entire process.
All that work clearly paid off in spades, with Endgame not only becoming an iconic outing in terms of storytelling, but also the highest-grossing movie in history (prior to an Avatar theatrical re-release in early 2021). The Russos may even find themselves working with Marvel again in the future, which shows just how passionate they are about what the MCU continues to put forth.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+.