Avengers: Infinity War was a massive undertaking for directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It’s not easy to craft the culmination of a decade’s worth of movies. Experimentation is necessary and breaking story on Infinity War gave the Russos different paths to walk down, one of which would have had Thanos telling us a very long story, out of order.
“We did three drafts of this that were all radically different,” Joe Russo told Collider during an Infinity War screening and Q&A. “One draft involved Thanos as the narrator of the film. It was non-linear in structure. It had backstories for the Black Order. They were all introduced in very cool sequences, but it ended up being like a 250-page script and we thought, ‘Alright, we can’t fit all of this storytelling.’”
That massive script may not have been filmed, but as Joe explained, it proved to be an invaluable resource. “A lot of times when you work on a movie of this scale and you wind up with a 250-page draft, it’s the bible for the movie,” he said. “You gain a lot of information. You write characters out in a way that you start to understand what it is they want.
“I think writing out Thanos’ narration gave us insight into who he was as a character and what he wanted to do in this film. So then it was much easier once we started pulling all that out to make it subtext for him as a character.”
Joe also added that the story shifted from non-linear to linear when they discovered that Infinity War was going to be a heist film with Thanos smashing and grabbing all of the Infinity Stones. With so many characters to include and properly serve, they felt the best move was to simplify the structure.
It would be very interesting to see (or at least read) Thanos’ narration and a non-linear version of Avengers: Infinity War, but the Russos made the right call. $2 billion and a bunch of satisfied moviegoers are more than enough to quell any second-guessing.