Avengers: Infinity War came out on Blu-Ray and DVD this past week. As such, I thought it’d be appropriate to list dive into the fun ways that some of the actors and actresses prepared for their stunts. Without further ado, here are some of the top ways Avengers actors prepared for their roles. If you somehow have not yet seen Infinity War, beware of spoilers below.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
When it comes to stunt and magic work, Benedict Cumberbatch is no novice. Have transfigured himself into a life-size dragon for the filming of The Hobbit series, Doctor Strange is a cakewalk for the actor. In the scene pictured above, the character splits himself into several dozen apparitions in order to confuse Thanos.
During initial filming of the sequence, actor Josh Brolin was not providing the reaction Cumberbatch desired. So, to make things easier on his costar, Cumberbatch legitimately duplicated himself several dozen times over. Insiders report that it took the actor several hours of intense concentration to perform the duplication. Reportedly, several of the duplicate doctors escaped and are still on the run.
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Perfect balance. That is all that Thanos desires. He achieves this by eliminated half of the universe’s population. What kind of toll does this take on a man’s soul? What does he feel as it occurs? These are the questions that Josh Brolin wanted answered.
The actor typically plays characters that are hard as nails. However, he decided that Thanos needed a more emotional and humanistic approach. To prepare for the act of snapping away half of the population, Brolin annihilated half the population of a small South American country. Recording his feelings in his diary, Brolin wrote the following:
The most difficult choices indeed require the strongest of wills. I don’t know how many more people I can lure up onto this mysterious mountain. My arm tires from hurling them off. I haven’t stopped crying dramatically for nearly a week.
Tom Holland as Spider-Man
Tom Holland may have a knack for spoiling various twists in the MCU, but he also has a knack for authentic performances. Going undercover at a preppy New York High School for his role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the actor decided to up the ante for Infinity War. You may remember an emotional scene between Holland and Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man towards the film’s end. This scene is where Holland pulled out all the stops.
Following in the footsteps of Benedict Cumberbatch, Holland trained himself rigorously in mysticism and transfiguration. Those flakes you recall seeing as Peter Parker disintegrated were all real. The British up-and-comer trained his body to disintegrate and reintegrate on command. This emotional scene reportedly took six weeks to film as Holland required six days to reintegrate after every take.
“So. You’re wondering why I wrote this article.”
Why did you just read three ridiculously untrue facts about Infinity War? Why did someone take the time to write those facts and this article?
I wrote this article for the same reason that Disney keeps churning out Marvel movies; to make billions of dollars in merchandising. No, I wrote this article for the sake of fun. I feel that often times the MCU, though not exclusively, is cast aside because it is primarily entertainment. These films, along with many blockbusters, are looked down upon because they aren’t of the same caliber as say, The Dark Knight.
This is true. The Dark Knight is in a completely different class from any MCU film, save possibly The Winter Soldier. From a critical standpoint, the The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie. It breaks genre norms, has a grounded and gritty plot, well-developed characters, and new twists. However, does this mean that the film is objectively better than Avengers: Infinity War?
Feeling, Not Thinking
No, I would argue that Infinity War is the better film in the grand scheme of things. Yes, The Dark Knight is superior when judging these films through the lens of a critic or the Academy. However, it does not retain the same level of escapist value and long-lasting impact. Infinity War is a project over ten years in the making, and it is the culmination (or at least half of it) of over a dozen story arcs. Everyone has seen these movies. An entire generation has grown up along with these characters.
But most importantly, these movies are a fun two-hour escape. For the majority of Marvel movies, you don’t have to think. The core of the MCU is in the characters, and is therefore centralized in feeling over thinking. This not only makes the stories and characters more relatable, but ensures their continued relate-ability over a longer period of time.
2008: The Best Year in Superhero Movies
2008 features three stand-out superhero movies, among a slate of several dismal ones. However, the top three stand out so much that 2008 is one of the most influential years in superhero cinema. Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army each changed superheroism in their own way. For the sake of this argument, I am focusing exclusively on the first two.
Iron Man is a story of a narcissistic, alcoholic, playboy who finds a path to redemption. Battling the demons of his past and present, he discovers his true purpose and redefines his legacy. The core of what Tony Stark/Iron Man fights with Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger for is legacy. Tony and Obadiah fight for control of Stark Enterprises, the company that Tony’s family built. The score is settled when Tony sacrifices that legacy (both his life and his building) in order to stop what he had inadvertently created (The Iron Monger). Iron Man is a light-hearted and fun addition to the superhero genre.
The Dark Knight is the story of an out of touch crime fighting billionaire who is searching for an end to his one man war on crime. Batman fights to wrest control of his city from the likes of The Mafia, The Joker, and eventually Two-Face. What Batman and the Joker ultimately fight over is the literal soul of Gotham City. Batman tries to prove that Gotham is redeemable and good, Joker tries to prove that it is irredeemable and evil. The score is settled when the citizens of Gotham choose not to blow each other up to save themselves. The Dark Knight is a gritty addition to the superhero genre, it is decidedly not fun.
Relating to Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne
Tony Stark begins the story as a narcissistic, selfish, billionaire with an excess of personality. He’s certainly off-putting, but he’s equally charming and charismatic. He’s not perfect, but he’s easy to root for without even knowing what the plot is. Tony Stark is also overwhelmingly fun, he brightens the mood of almost every scene.
Bruce Wayne begins the story as a detached, uncharismatic, brooding billionaire with a complete lack of charm. He’s certainly more noble than Tony Stark, but he lacks nearly all of Stark’s grace and charm. He is doing what is right, he is being just, but he is terribly difficult to root for without the context of the plot. Bruce Wayne is anything but fun, often glooming up the scenes and situations around him.
Now, think back on both of these films. As hard as you can, try to remember something that Bruce Wayne (not Batman) said. Try and remember something that Tony Stark (not Iron Man) said. Odds are, you can recall more of the charming, off-kilter, and charismatic lines of Tony than you can the always serious and ever focused lines of Bruce.
Think back on these films again and flip the equation. Focus now on something that either Batman or Iron Man said. Odds are, you can remember more of Batman’s quotes this time.
Analyzing the Experiment
Why is it easier to recall what Tony said versus what Bruce said, but is then easier to recall what Batman said over what Iron Man said?
The answer is in the role that each character plays. For the sake of this article, think of Batman and Bruce Wayne as two separate characters, and do the same for Tony Stark and Iron Man. There is a duality to these superheroes, as they are definitively separate from their alter-egos, but the same.
Tony Stark is the heart of his film, Iron Man is pretty irrelevant to the theme. Iron Man is very important in regards to the plot, but the core of the theme is told via Tony Stark. Flip that equation for Batman. In his film, Batman is core to the theme and Bruce Wayne is core to the plot. The problem with this is that the superheroes have much less screen time than their billionaire alter-egos.
So, Tony Stark has much more time to resonate with and leave a lasting impact on the audience. Not only is Tony’s fight easier to relate to (legacy vs the soul of a city), but the character is much more charismatic and compelling. Tony Stark’s ability to be fun, leads him to more memorable lines and moments with the audience.
Tony Stark connects in Iron Man in a way that Bruce Wayne simply does not in The Dark Knight. From a film-making and critical standpoint The Dark Knight wins across the board. However, it loses in the one category that makes any film endearing, and that is the ability to connect personally with the audience.
Bruce Wayne is not interested in having fun, he hides his humanity, and he operates via Batman. Bruce Wayne intentionally distances himself throughout the trilogy, delivering fewer and fewer memorable moments without the mask.
This victory of connectivity is what sets the entirety of the MCU apart from other monster franchises and even most superhero movies. It is this idea that separates Thor from Superman. It is even this idea that makes the Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy and Homecoming stand out against the Amazing Spider-Man Duology. These characters come first, and they connect first. Yes the fight scenes are great, the stories are entertaining, and there is a lot of charm, but it all stems from the core characters.
In my experience, the films that produce likeable characters and ones easy to empathize with are those that stand the test of time. The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Ben-Hur, The Wizard of Oz, all of these “Classics” share the ability of their main characters to be empathized with. Most people can understand the burden that legacy can be, as it is with Michael Corleone. Most people can understand what it’s like to be void of hope, and to want to escape like Andy Dufresne. It isn’t the situations and plots these characters are in that makes the stories so relatable, it is the characters inside of them.
“What is Fun?”
Marvel has fun characters. Because these fun characters are allowed to be fun, they are allowed to have fun. Because of the humanistic approach taken to story telling in the MCU, the movies are allowed to be fun. That’s why Marvel can make a space comedy about a god of Thunder set out to kill his sister. That’s why Marvel can make a coming of age story about a spandex clad vigilante fighting a working man trying to take care of his family. In short, fun gives the MCU freedom. Not all of its entries have to be serious, and Ant-Man and the Wasp is a perfect example of this. It is just a fun movie. However, the need and appeal of fun movies is often overlooked.
The MCU is often dogged for its lack of stakes and its often aloofness with the severity of its plots. These claims are often true, but this does not always indicate that the films are “bad”. Sometimes it is okay for a movie to be just fun. There doesn’t always have to be a grand statement or a deep saying, sometimes it’s just fun to watch a charming hero punch bad-guys and sling one liners for a few hours.
Not all great films are character first. Not all great films are fun. However, often times a great film becomes and remains great because it exists primarily to be fun. There are many phenomenal films that don’t take this approach, The Dark Knight being a prime example. However, those that do take this approach often stand out longer amid the test of time.
It is great that many films exist to make a statement or change an idea, however that shouldn’t always be the expectation. Sometimes a film exists just because it is fun. This doesn’t mean that it will be great, or even good, but it shouldn’t be expected to be.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of Fun Movies? Comment down below!
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