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Back to the Future writer Bob Gale discusses time travel with Avengers: Endgame filmmakers

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Jul 31, 2020

Is Paul Rudd's Ant-Man right? Is Back to the Future "a bunch of bullsh**"? Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale once again served up his answer to that Avengers: Endgame time travel question during a guest appearance on the season finale of the Russo Bros. Pizza Film School.

In addition to hosts Joe and Anthony Russo, the hour-long conversation also featured the Marvel scribes behind the biggest movie in history: Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus.

"You say [in the movie] 'You mean Back to the Future's bullsh**?' And at the end of the day, you guys end up going back into the first Avengers movie and into the earlier Thor movies, so it really is kind of like Back to the Future," Gale said with a laugh. He is, of course, referring to the team's "Time Heist" to retrieve the Infinity Stones and rectify Thanos' decimation of half of all life in the universe.

"Back to the Future II was perhaps a bigger influence than Back to the Future I," answered Endgame co-writer Stephen McFeely, referring to the moments in Part II where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) sneaks around the events of the first movie.

Both Markus and Joe touched on how Marty's adventure in 1955 is permanently fixed into our pop culture consciousness. The latter went so far as to claim that if you're going to mess with time travel in your own movie, you need need to reference Back to the Future first — almost as a sign of respect.

"As we discovered when we were testing Endgame, you created the popular conception of time travel," Markus said. "Every audience member's understanding of how time travel should work [comes from Back to the Future]."

"If you're gonna try to get an audience to understand that you want to alter time travel rules," Joe began, "that's why we literally had to invoke Back to the Future in the movie at several points, so that we could say to people, 'Alright, these are different rules than Back to the Future.'"

Watch the full conversation below:

Chatting with SYFY WIRE last fall, Gale echoed Markus' comments. Scott Lang's Back to the Future callback was indeed the result of early test screenings.

"One of the things that I'm really proud of is that we were able to explain time travel in a way that even a nine-year-old can understand it. That scene in Avengers: Endgame where they're sitting around and talking about time travel, I understand that when they first previewed the movie, [it] didn't have that scene in it," he told us. "I was told that in the focus groups, people said, 'Well, wait a minute, in Back to the Future they could do this and they could do that.' And the filmmakers realized, 'Oh damn, we gotta deal with that, because everybody's knowledge of time travel, today, in 2019, comes from those movies. So they had to put that scene where Ant-Man says, 'What do you mean? Back to the Future's bullsh**?'"

Back to the Future celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this month.


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