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Infinity War: A secret Thor cameo you probably missed and more reveals from the directors' commentary
Hear us and rejoice. Avengers: Infinity War is now out on Blu-ray, allowing you to relive the hardest two and a half hours of your life so far. If you can't handle the emotional heartbreak again, may we suggest the directors' commentary with the Russo Brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely?
The creative forces behind the biggest blockbuster in recent memory will gingerly hold your hand and walk you through the epic comic book crossover film, softening the blow of each tragic moment with explanations behind how they were conceived and filmed.
Not only that, but you'll also learn and discover a ton of new stuff you'd never guess, see, or hear in fourteen-million-six-hundred-and-five watches. If you've seen it that many times, then you know that figure is the number of realities Doctor Strange viewed before the upcoming struggle with Thanos.
And just as in that case, there's only one outcome where SYFY WIRE relays the fun facts it learned from the movie's commentary. Here they are...
A very sly Thor cameo:
No, it's not Korg, Miek, or Valkyrie, although any of them would have been awesome. Avengers: Infinity War brought back a very old face, whose face isn't seen at all: the director of the first Thor movie from 2011, Kenneth Branagh. The classically trained actor can be heard at the very start of the movie as the Marvel Studios logo comes onscreen; he voices the Asgardian sending out a distress signal during Thanos' attack on the vessel that left a crumbling Asgard at the end of Ragnarok. Listen closely and you'll hear it's none other than Gilderoy Lockhart in what is a very nice throwback to Thor's introduction into the MCU. According to Joe Russo, the decision to ask Branagh to set the stage for the movie came rather late in the game.
Speaking of Asgard...
Joe confirmed that a few Asgardians, including Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), did indeed escape Thanos' assault. Note, he said "Asgardians," not aliens. So the fates of Korg and Miek are still up in the air. The only thing McFeely can offer is "Pray for Korg."
Close encounters of the Black Order kind:
The moment where the Black Order ship containing Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) arrives over the skies of Manhattan was a direct nod to the works of Steven Spielberg (who is no stranger to alien invasion), stated Joe Russo.
It's unclear whether he means Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the director's 2005 remake of War of the Worlds, but the moment where Tony is walking up the windy street and witnessing the ship's effect on New York was meant to be a down and dirty look at what's going on, placing the viewers in the thick of the action.
"The idea here was to embed you with the characters to heighten the tension as they move up the street," says Joe. "Also to ground the film and present this really giant spaceship in a way that came from your point of view and the characters' point of view collectively. I would not deny that Spielberg was a big influence on this sequence."
There are also two references to Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark following the spaceship scene.
One involves Maw reaching for Strange's Eye of Agamotto, which has a protective spell cast around it. As a result, Maw burns his hand, gaining a nice little Agamotto-shaped burn on his palm. This links to Ronald Lacey's Gestapo agent Arnold Toht reaching for the burning Staff of Ra medallion in Marion's tavern in Nepal and receiving a nasty burn.
The second Raiders homage comes in Maw's ship, when Tony, Spider-Man, and Strange's cloak concoct a plan that will send Thanos' hype man into the cold vacuum of space. Maw prepares for a fight with Tony, but Iron Man simply shoots a hole in the ship's hull, killing our villain quick and easy.
"There was a lot of discussion of how to dispatch Maw," Joe says. "Eventually we decided that like Indy with the [swordsman], he puts the whip down and pulls out his gun. Something quick and efficent will be more surprising than something belabored, because there's an incredible amount of action in the movie. We felt like we did not need another five-minute action sequence."
Speaking of Thanos' "Children"...
"There were earlier drafts of the script, I think, with the Black Order, in a more stylized draft, where we did backstories for each of them," says Joe. "Ultimately, the movie was getting too crowded, too hard to follow."
One of the things they would have elaborated on was that Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight are married, something from the comics. Their relationship is only hinted at in Avengers: Infinity War.
The Infinity Stones strike back:
There's no denying that Infinity War is the darkest of all the movies in the MCU; Anthony describes it as "a kick in the nuts." Not only does the villain win, but he succeeds in killing off half of all life in the universe. That's pretty bleak no matter how you spin it, and naturally Empire Strikes Back had a bearing on the film's ending.
Considered to be the best Star Wars movie ever made, the Irvin Kershner-directed Episode V finishes up on a note of unease and uncertainty for our characters. Luke just had his hand sliced off and discovered Vader was his father while Han was double-crossed by Lando, captured by Boba Fett, and frozen in carbonite.
So too, Marvel Studios wanted to emulate the darker side of serialized storytelling.
"The choice in this movie, which, I think, is a very bold choice, and everybody really, to everyone's credit, from Marvel to Disney, really embraced the choice of ending a commercial movie in the most tragic and sad way that you could possibly end it," explains Joe. "And it's been a long time, I think, since we've seen a film on this scale where the heroes lost."
"We point to Empire Strikes Back a lot," McFeely adds. "That was seminal for us. I was 10 years old and watched it six, seven times that summer."
Shoot for the Starlins:
It's no secret that a major influence on the film was Jim Starlin's seminal Infinity Gauntlet storyline from the early 1990s. As such, you can see little nods to the comic in the movie's writing and design.
For example, parts of Ebony Maw's cinematic counterpart were based on Mephisto, Thanos' grandiose and sycophantic confidant in the Gauntlet story arc. Bits of Starlin's dialogue, like "My humble personage bows before your grandeur," were ripped straight from the comics and put into Maw's mouth.
The ways in which Thanos dispatches with or slows down his enemies in the movie are also photorealistic recreations of the iconic illustrations done by George Pérez and Ron Lim. Turning Mantis into a pile of ribbons, transforming Drax into a pile of cubes, and ripping Vision's wiring from his body are all things you can see in the pages of Infinity Gauntlet.
Finally, you can see a nod to the ending of Starlin's comic at the very end of Avengers: Infinity War, when our main villain sits down to look out at "a grateful universe." When Thanos is defeated in Starlin's book, he becomes a simple farmer and creates a scarecrow out of his old battle armor. Look for that very scarecrow outside of MCU Thanos' cabin.
Whenever Thanos inserts another stone into his Gauntlet, you can see him sort of bracing against a sort of pain. A byproduct of wielding these objects of immense power was something the filmmakers wanted to get across. You can't just hold the elemental powers of the universe in your hand without it exacting some sort of toll on your body, Markus offers. After the snap that kills off half the universe, both the Gauntlet and Thanos are damaged permanently. With the glove burned, it's a wonder how our heroes will be able to 1) pry it from an arm it's probably now fused to and 2) reverse its effects.