Sims: Endgame is all about these endings that feel so natural for the characters. Were you trying to think of an ending for Captain America at that earlier point?
Anthony: We wanted to go right to the heart of what we care about in these movies: the relationships between these characters. Once we came out of the edit of Civil War, we realized that we’d succeeded in divorcing the Avengers, destroying the relationship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. We’ve set the table for Thanos; we’re ready for him.
Sims: Was [setting the table for Thanos] totally intentional, or was it born out of the idea of Tony and Steve’s conflict?
Anthony: It was really just us running at the conflict. How do we tell the most wrenching family drama we can?
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Sims: When you were on set for Infinity War and Endgame, you had all these arcs to manage at once. How do you separate the signal from the noise for the actors?
Joe: You have to have a very cohesive plan. You’re making thousands of decisions a day. There are multiple filming units, there’s a whole visual-effects team, we have actors coming to us, saying, “I wouldn’t say it this way, I’d say it that way.” Our job is to collect all this information and be the arbiters of taste and provide focus for the entire process. You have to leave room for everyone else to be empowered and assist in making creative decisions.
Sims: Infinity War has so much action and wrenching chaos. Endgame is a lot slower, more deliberate on the character stuff, and I appreciate that viewers got the chance to slow things down and sit with the team for a while. Is there a scene that exemplifies that new approach that you particularly enjoyed doing?
Anthony: The scene that Joe was in, Cap’s counseling session [with other survivors of Thanos’s decimation].
Sims: A scene about which a studio would immediately ask, “Do we need this? Can this go?”
Anthony: You are very right [Laughs]. But it was very important to us! If you have a story point where you kill half of all living things, you have to move beyond the experience of the Avengers. To have an everyman in the story at that moment, and see Cap in a sensitive moment that spoke to his history as a character and the reality he’s living in now—that was an important thing for us.
Sims: For 11 years, these movies have been stand-alones that tell their own stories, but they’ve all been aimed toward Endgame. Do you think Marvel will continue that storytelling style, or will things get more diffuse now that you’ve done the big conclusion where everyone’s together?
Joe: You have to find a new path forward. That was always our [pitch], which is why I think they allowed us to make these really disruptive choices. You can’t keep giving people chocolate ice cream.