Avengers: Endgame Directors: Downey Jr. Deserves the Oscar

Not everything lasts forever! exclaims Joe Russo.

Im with the filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo, aka the Russo Brothers, at the Venice Film Festival where their latest movie, Mosul, is making its world premiere. The film, directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan and produced by the Russos as the debut feature for their studio AGBO, tells the remarkable true story of the Nineveh SWAT Teaman elite group of Iraqi soldiers fighting to reclaim their city from ISIS. Its akin to a more kinetic Black Hawk Down, minus the shitty politics and Ewan McGregors mystifying accent.

As these are the Russo Brothers who rejuvenated the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Winter Soldier, introduced Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, and then closed out Phase Three in crowd-pleasing fashion with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, our talk eventually drifts to the news that Marvel has cut ties with Sony-owned Spidey, jettisoning the webslinger from any future Marvel films. Given how the Russosalong with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feigefought tooth and nail to incorporate Tom Hollands Spider-Man into the MCU, theyre sad to see him go, but enjoyed the ride.

We were extremely passionate about it. This is something we really wanted to happen, and fought a long time internally at Marvel to make it happen, Anthony Russo says of bringing Hollands Spider-Man into the fold.

It wasnt easy, adds Joe Russo. Kevin [Feige] went through a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs, and he kept walking into our office and wed go, Look, weve got to do it with [Sony], and hed go, OK, Ill figure it out, and walk back into his. He was looking for the way out. He wanted to open that door and have us go, We figured it out! We dont need Spider-Man! because its a lot of work to get two major corporations to play nice with each other, and the fact that it happened at all, we should all be dancing and celebrating that we got that little bit of time.

I think thats why Joe and I are not so devastated or surprised that theres been a falling-out, because it was so hard to make it happen in the first place, offers Anthony Russo.

Then theres the matter of Avengers: Endgame and its awards prospects. Since the film received rave reviews, and eclipsed Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever, it stands to reason that there will be some Oscar chatter surrounding iteven though it is a superhero blockbuster, a genre which, with the exception of Black Panther, hasnt exactly won over Academy voters.

But the Russos feel that awards pundits and voters often overlook just how difficult it is to make a big studio production like Endgame, employing thousands of workers and incorporating dozens of A-list movie stars in the service of a thrilling, large-scale film.

I just want to stump for one thing, and thats Robert Downey.
Joe Russo

Its certainly as difficult as it getswithout question, says Joe Russo. On a scale of 1-10, this is a 12. Well say this: there certainly is a disconnect between the Academy and popular audiences. It started about 20 years ago. If you go back and look at the Academy Awards up until that point, they were in sync with popular audiences.

Much of the blame for this rests on the gross shoulders of Harvey Weinstein, who relentlessly harassed and manipulated Oscar voters into caping for his arthouse films under the Miramax bannermany of which, e.g. Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, and The Kings Speech, werent worthy of the Best Picture Oscar.

Thats what happened, chimes in Anthony Russo of Weinsteins influence. And to its credit, the Academy seems very focused on trying to champion smaller movies, which is awesome, but you dont want to have that be the only thing they try to do.

Because then it just becomes an independent film festival, which were all in support of, but if you want to draw an audience, and you have to draw an audience for the Oscars to keep working, then at some point youve gotta listen to the audience, adds Joe Russo. We dont make movies for awards. Yes, making this was exceedingly difficult. We made the two most expensive movies ever back-to-back. But I just want to stump for one thing, and thats Robert Downey.

Both the Russo Brothers believe that Downey Jr.s final turn as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Endgame is not only worthy of Academy Award consideration, but that he should win it.

I dont know if I have ever seenin movie historya global audience react to a performance the way they did to Robert Downey in that movie, claims Joe Russo. There were people bawling in movie theaters, hyperventilating. I mean, that is a profound performance, when you can touch audiences all over the world to that degree. Weve never seen anything like that, and if that doesnt deserve an Oscar, I dont know what does.

Our longer feature with Joe and Anthony Russoalong with fellow producer Mohamed Al Daradjion Mosul, Trump and more will run Sunday.

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