Needless to say, there are going to be spoilers in this article, so only proceed if you want to know some secrets.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had solo adventures. It has had team-up films. And every few years, the doors are kicked open for massive ensemble superhero adventures under the "Avengers" banner. Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War will be the third such excursion into the MCU, and as has been the case in the past, new faces will be added to the mix in time for the fight. But Mark Ruffalo has been a constant through the previous two Avengers films, so while CinemaBlend was on the Atlanta set of Infinity War, we asked him how the concept of an Avengers film has evolved, and how he continues to approach them. The MCU veteran opened up and told us:
Oddly enough I joke with people that this is like doing a TV show where you shoot one episode every three years. There's a continuity to it, and when we talked about it with Marvel or [Marvel President] Kevin [Feige], we really do talk about it as the character's progression and where... I've been able to have a lot of say in where it goes, and you're also dealing with a new script and a new world, but the characters feel like they're making a journey, you know? And it does feel like one goes to the next and goes to the next. It feels like a long serial, which is nice, I think.
This speaks to the ridiculous accomplishment that Marvel Studios has been able to pull off since launching its Cinematic Universe back with Jon Favreau's Iron Man in 2008. The studio knew that it was building something special, but only 18 films later are we able to fully understand the scope of the big picture formed by the interlocking pieces that arrive in the form of each new movie. And as new films like Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming or Thor: Ragnarok expand the canvas on which directors are able to tell stories, it means that when actors like Mark Ruffalo meet up with Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson or Jeremy Renner -- co-stars they haven't seen in years -- they all feel like they're just continuing to develop the larger story that's being told.
For this reason, I truly don't think we, as a moviegoing audience, appreciate the difficulty of this level of storytelling that's happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio takes huge risks, but also has a firm grasp on the larger picture that's being served, and therefor frequently enjoys big rewards. They know that Black Panther has to come before Avengers: Infinity War, because Wakanda has to be established if audiences are going to invest. At the same time, Civil War has to drive the team apart, because there's more power in seeing these heroes transcend their differences when a larger threat invades our planet. It's this attention to detail, and a rare patience in storytelling, that sets the MCU apart from rival cinematic universes that are struggling to find their way (or collapsing altogether under the weight of expectation).