Joe Russo said that Kevin Feige had a different plan in mind for the original six Avengers in "Endgame."
Feige's "initial pitch" involved the superheroes dying, but the Russo brothers pushed back.
The film killed off Tony Stark/Iron Man and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, rather than all six.
"Kevin's initial pitch was that it was 'Toy Story 3' - a 'they're all gonna jump into a furnace together' concept," Russo said in a new behind-the-scenes book called "The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe" by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry.
According to the book authors, directors Joe and Anthony Russo pushed back against Feige's concept because the storyline wouldn't adequately celebrate the beloved superheroes. It would also be difficult for Marvel fans to process that volume of those character losses.
"Endgame," released in 2019, was a culmination of over a decade of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also wrapped up the Infinity Stone saga, which featured the Mad Titan known as Thanos (Josh Brolin) as the overarching antagonist.
Original Avenger Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) sacrificed herself on the planet Vormir so that Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) could acquire the Soul Stone and bring it back to the team.
Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) also sacrificed himself for the greater good, as he wielded all six Infinity Stones to wipe out Thanos and his army. In doing so, the radiation and energy killed him.
In the final moments of "Endgame," Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) traveled back in time to return the stones. But he ended up staying a little longer to reunite with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and live out a long and happy life with her. Steve returned to the present day much older and passed on his shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).
In "The Story of Marvel Studios," Joe said that they "easily could have killed Cap because that's the expectation."
"He is a very selfless character who would be the first one to take a bullet for anyone," the director said. "And we talked about Cap and Tony dying together."
It was producer Nate Moore who suggested Steve and Peggy get back together at the film's conclusion.
"When Nate pitched that, we knew that was the right way to go with Cap," Joe said. "And it's better to have varied outcomes for characters. It's less predictable and creates a richer ending."
Even though Natasha was killed off, Johansson reprised the role for a standalone "Black Widow" film that was released in July and set between the events of "Captain America: Civil War" and "Avengers: Infinity War."
Renner will star alongside Hailee Steinfeld in a "Hawkeye" series for Disney+, premiering on November 24. Hemsworth will return as the God of Thunder in an upcoming fourth "Thor" film titled "Thor: Love and Thunder," set for release on July 8, 2022. Ruffalo will reprise his role as Hulk for a "She-Hulk" series headed to Disney+ (release date TBD) starring Tatiana Maslany as the titular character.
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