This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame...
Since the self-imposed spoiler ban on details from Avengers: Endgame was lifted by the folks over at Disney and Marvel Studios, fans have been treated to all manner of tidbits from behind the scenes of the film.
The studio’s decade of storytelling to this point built to the spectacular climax of Endgame, in which the massed forces of just about everyone who has ever appeared in a Marvel film squared off against Thanos and his army.
Howard the Duck is even in there somewhere, according to directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
It is an enormous undertaking of acting, stunts and visual effects that will take some beating by future superhero spectacles.
And thanks to the people involved, fans have a chance to look under the bonnet at some of the moments that made the conclusion so dramatic.
Building the Battle
The climactic scuffle between the forces of the Avengers and the army of Thanos in the wreckage of the Avengers compound is a feat of visual effects flair, with more moving parts and A-list actors than just about any action scene in living memory.
Marvel has recently released a selection of intriguing VFX comparison images that show some of the work that went into realising these sequences.
There were also new comparison images showcasing some of the computer-generated imagery that created Hulk’s wielding of the Infinity Gauntlet and the demise of Thanos after Iron Man brings about another iteration of The Snap.
The power of the gauntlet clearly took a toll on Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Kevin Martel, who worked on the character’s new ‘Smart Hulk’ look in Endgame for ILM, told the Yahoo US site that this was one of the most difficult parts of designing Hulk.
He said: “We kept telling ourselves: ‘this is the most pain he’s ever been in’. A lot of the discuss was about how many veins are going to pop out on his forehead, and how much stress was going to be on his face. We wanted to push it to the max, and kept reevaluating where we could add some extra anguish.”
A Stark Farewell
Endgame allowed Robert Downey Jr to deliver an affectionate farewell to a character who has been part of his life since he took on the role in September 2006. Tony’s arc has always been at the centre of the movie and, based on the information he has shared from the set, Downey Jr is a big part of the cast too.
The special dinners he held for cast members have already become legendary thanks to the cast sharing them on social media, and Downey has also posted a selection of Instagram posts detailing the process behind his final moments as the character.
These moments include his battle to keep the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos and his emotional reunion with Peter Parker.
In a podcast interview with Reel Blend, the Russos revealed Downey Jr’s cathartic final delivery of the words “I am Iron Man” was a late addition, and one that Downey Jr was initially not completely sold on.
It was producer Joel Silver - a close friend of Downey Jr - who talked the actor into it, as he was present when he met with the Russos to discuss coming back for the moment.
“That’s the greatest line I’ve ever heard,” he said. “You gotta say this line!”
Cap-ping off Steve Rogers’ Journey
Avoiding the same grisly fate as Iron Man, there’s a happy ending for Captain America in Endgame. After returning the Infinity Stones to their rightful timelines, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) decides to stay with his first love, Peggy Carter, and live out his life with her.
He returns to his original timeline as an old man in order to pass on his shield to Falcon (Anthony Mackie), hinting that he will take up the Captain America mantle.
Read more: Endgame writers confirm Cap theory
Anthony Russo told EW that the ageing effect on Evans was achieved via “a very elaborate makeup job that was then augmented with CG”, with Joe adding that everything else, including the voice, was left to the actor.
“Everything you’re seeing is exactly his performance, just with his face aged,” Joe said. “That’s it. We didn’t change anything about it.”
Evans himself shared a picture from the set, showcasing a half-finished take on his convincing make-up, which made him look a lot like Clint Eastwood in the finished movie.
And finally, just to dispel any notions that making one of the biggest movies of all time is easy, Downey Jr also shared a huge, panoramic picture of the entire cast and crew of both Infinity War and Endgame, with the caption: “It takes a village...”
He’s not wrong.
Avengers: Endgame has made more than $2.5bn (£1.95bn) at the global box office and is now within a whisker of smashing the all-time record of $2.79bn (£2.18bn) set by James Cameron’s Avatar.
Read more: Stan Lee never got to see Endgame
It also stands as one of the most critically lauded films in the MCU with a 94% approval rating on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.