Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame represent two of the MCU's biggest achievements, taking a plethora of characters, conflicts, and concepts and managing to wrap them all into one cohesive finale after ten years of films. Even three years after their release, the conversation surrounding them hasn't quite died out, as evidenced by the numerous bits of information that continue to come out about the film.
In doing the rounds for their latest film, The Gray Man, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers, have spoken at great length about their tenure with the MCU, especially concerning their work on the last two Avengers movies. For instance, in a recent interview, the pair finally addressed the so-called "nerfing" of the Hulk in those films, explaining that they "just didn’t know what to do with him."
Even though the Russo Brothers seem to have departed the MCU for good, rumors abound about a potential return for a future Avengers film. While the directing pair originally refused to comment on this question, they eventually decided to respond to it directly, noting that they are "always open to it," though also citing their full production slate as a possible obstacle to that reunion.
While the future seems bright, for both the Russo Brothers and the MCU, the past isn't done with them yet, as curiosity surrounding an extended version of their previous work remains bright.
Is There a Directors Cut of Avengers: Endgame?
Speaking with Wired for an Autocomplete Interview, the brothers Russo Brothers answered a question about a possible six-hour director's cut of Endgame, with Joe commenting that "you have the director’s cut."
Joe: “I think the longest we ever had, it was like 3 hours and 40 minutes.”
Anthony: “If we did a super cut of Infinity War and Endgame, we, there’d probably-
Joe: “Could probably between the two. There could be a six-hour cut.”
Joe: “I think those 40 minutes deserve to be on the editing floor.”
Anthony: “Yeah. That’s why they went there in the first place.”
Joe: “You have the director’s cut.”
Joe: “That’s it. There’s nothing else, sorry.”
The Russos aren't set to have any further interaction with the MCU, at least beyond a rumored role in the unannounced Avengers 5, but that doesn't mean they don't have their own thoughts on the direction of the franchise.
Speaking about their hopes about Phase 4, Anthony Russo commented that he'd like to see "more of what they're doing. Just more adventurousness, exploration, experimentation." His brother, Joe, was in agreement, specifying his interest in "risks, diversity, everything that they're doing, yeah."
Endgame Is as It Was Meant to Be
The concept of director's cuts are nothing new to comic book movie fans. While the most noteworthy example of this is likely the colossal endeavor that was Zack Snyder's Justice League, many other movies have seen more minor extended or director's cuts released. Spider-Man: No Way Home, for instance, is set to return to theaters in September with an additional seventeen or so minutes of footage.
Taika Waititi recently addressed the idea of a director's cut for his newest project, Thor: Love and Thunder. While Waititi noted that such a cut would likely include a great many more jokes, he also made clear that "director’s cuts are not good," saying that "directors need to be controlled sometimes."
The Russo Brothers, while not as direct as Waititi, seem to be in agreement, seeing the version of Endgame that made it to the big screen as the ultimate fulfillment of their vision.
Even at its most bloated, Endgame was only ever about 40 minutes over its eventual runtime, an added bit of fat that needed cutting, according to the pair. So, even if fans dream of a version of the film twice the size of the theatrical cut, not only would it be worse, but also impossible, according to the men behind the project.
The Russo's have even addressed the idea of Endgame's runtime in the past, noting that they were "still looking at a similar time [approximately three hours]," while also voicing their thoughts on extended movie lengths, saying "we don’t like excessive run times; it’s just very difficult wrapping up 10 years of storytelling.”
More broadly, the Russos' comments shed light on the importance of cutting down a film. With a movie like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where a great deal was cut, from additional cameos to brutal deaths, the fan reaction has been somewhat mixed. However, with the Russos' comments in mind, and even some from Sam Raimi, director of the Doctor Strange sequel, it seems that the decision to pare down is almost always a good one.
There are clearly extreme cases, like the mutilated theatrical cut of Suicide Squad, but it seems that, for the most part, the celluloid shearing that occurs in the editing room is not only necessary but also productive.