Avengers: Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo are known genre nuts. Just look at their work on the TV show Community, where the sibling directors dissected and parodied genres from the western, to sci-fi, and high fantasy. It is that knowledge of genre that probably landed them the job for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the touted “political thriller” of the MCU that lifted imagery and themes from classic films like Three Days of the Condor.
The Russos raised a few eyebrows by classifying Captain America: Civil War as a psychological thriller, specifically citing Seven and Fargo as influences. But looking past all of the brawling and superhero nonsense, one could see the comparison within Zemo’s (Daniel Brühl) twisted manipulation of Tony Stark. And now Joe Russo has spoken more about his cinematic influences on the upcoming Avengers sequel, telling ComicBook.com at Comic-Con:
My brother and I like use movies (because we’re film geeks) as influences for us. Sometimes, with so many people working on these films, it’s just great to show them footage or talk about a film that everyone knows so you understand the tone, or the theme, or the structure that you’re playing with. Structurally, with this first film, Avengers 3, we’ve been using the smash-n-grab ’90s heist films, so there’s a real urgency to the film. I feel like it adds a level of excitement and relentlessness to the pace of the movie. And it’s a lot of divergent narratives coming together into a climax.
When working on a large-scale production, directors will often cite a well-known film to get everyone involved on the same page. And while I expect Infinity War to still look like a giant CGI slugfest like the previous Avengers films, the reference to heist films should not be ignored. We don’t know too many specific plot details about this upcoming blockbuster, but it is easy to assume that a big aspect of it will be a “MacGuffin quest” for the Infinity Stones. With new players such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more opposing threats in the Black Order, you can imagine the race for the stones being “smash-n-grab,” as Russo says.
While Russo didn’t cite any specific ’90s heist movies, one I’d like to see influence Infinity War is Michael Mann’s epic crime film Heat. The 1995 film features a multitude of viewpoints in a sprawling story about bank robbers and the police officers trying to catch them aka cops n robbers. Characters from both sides are diverse in personality and skill, and one large action sequence in the middle of the film has most of the characters converging. Similarly, Christopher Nolan cited Heat as his main influence for The Dark Knight.
About a year ago, the Russos referenced Robert Altman’s Nashville as another main influence for Infinity War. While I don’t expect to see Thanos belt out any country tunes, it will be interesting to see what the Russos learn from Altman’s vignette style of storytelling when juggling the vast number of characters in Infinity War. I also don’t expect Infinity War to be as explicitly a heist movie as much as Ant-Man, but if the Russos successfully emulate a sense of scale and urgency towards the quest for the Infinity Stones, then I think we’re in for a real cinematic treat.
Got any ideas which films might have inspired the directors? Tell us in the comments!