Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow below.
With a cast as massive as the one assembled for Avengers: Infinity War, we knew not every character would get equal screentime. But it was still a bit surprising to see who, exactly, got the short end of the stick. Characters like Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) ended up being pretty significant, while Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) were actually kind of inconsequential in terms of screentime.
It’s important to remember that Infinity War is very much a “Part 1” and was shot back to back with Avengers 4, so one imagines these characters will get their due in the next film—especially since a lot of the characters who had heavy Infinity War screentime are now (extra spoiler alert) dead.
Indeed, screenwriter Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely recently spoke with THR about that ending and the screentime of characters like Captain America, revealing that they felt they had to go for the Thanos snap in order to craft a fulfilling conclusions:
“There are still questions. What are they [The Avengers] going to do, and all those sorts of things,” says Markus. “But if you had stopped it before he snapped his fingers, or with four stones, that really is just a pause button. That really is just going, ‘What’s he going to do?’ ‘Will your hero stop dangling from the cliff?’ And we wanted to put a much more definitive ‘Yes, this happens. Deal with it,’ tone at the end of it, rather than jerk you around.”
As for the lack of screentime devoted to Cap and Black Widow, Markus says it mostly came down to character:
“Some of the people, when you weigh up who you are seeing, seem to take a little bit of a back seat in this one. When we did crack them, what we realized was they had far more potential in the movie coming next year, just in terms of how their character would be tested by the story. I’m not telling you what the story is. I will say there is less Steve Rogers and Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) than you might expect in this movie [Infinity War]. Because they are such hard-bitten people, when a threat comes, they stand there and they take the threat. They don’t crack. They don’t whimper. They don’t start talking about all their failed opportunities. So, there isn’t that much to explore, especially when you don’t have a lot of time. But there’s a lot later.”
McFeely added that they broke the story of Infinity War and Avengers 4 at the same time, so they could dole out the entire story arc over two movies simultaneously:
“We cracked them both [Infinity War and Avengers 4] together, so we had to give ourselves permission to say that some people are going to get more in the next movie.”
As for the complete lack of Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), McFeely says they had to consider Ant-Man and the Wasp and how Infinity War would affect that film, with Markus adding that Ant-Man in general is a more lighthearted character who may not have fit with the tone of Infinity War:
“Ant-Man the franchise is very light-hearted. It’s fun. It maybe even skews younger. If we were to put Ant-Man in this extremely heavy movie, and then have to say to the guys who are making the Ant-Manmovie, ‘Yeah, he went through hell, but now go ahead and have your little romp and we’ll pick it up afterwards,’ that’s why we have to really sort of manage your interconnections and go, ‘Let’s go and hold off so you can enjoy that without feeling a bad taste in your mouth.’”
Indeed, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of Infinity War and we’ll see Ant-Man join the shenanigans in Avengers 4 alongside Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and presumably Hawkeye, although everyone has been pretty tight-lipped with regards to Renner’s absence in Infinity War. Hmm…