"I love you, three thousand."
That's what Morgan Stark tells her father Tony in Avengers: Endgame
and the line has since taken on a life of its own online. Now, it's been revealed that writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely got that now iconic quote from an unexpectedly touching source.
"Well, as much as we'd like to take credit for what is inevitably going to be one of the most memorable lines in MCU history, that is something that Robert and his children actually say to each other," Markus revealed. "He brought it from real life onto the set." McFeely added that the line was originally going to be "Love you tons" which obviously doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
It's amazing to think that both this and the "I...Am...Iron Man" line almost didn't make it into the final cut of Avengers: Endgame
because they're arguably among the most memorable moments in the movie. Thankfully, they did make it in and will more than likely adorn t-shirts for years to come.
What did you think of these lines in the Marvel Studios movie? Share your thoughts below.
Hit the "View List" button below for more big reveals from the Avengers: Endgame writers!
Why Thanos Was Killed Off So Quickly
In the first fifteen minutes or so of Avengers: Endgame
, Thor beheads Thanos, but it achieves absolutely nothing because he's already destroyed the Infinity Stones.
"We always had this problem,"
McFeely explains. "The guy has the ultimate weapon. He can see it coming. It’s ridiculous. We were just banging our heads for weeks, and at some point, [the executive producer] Trinh Tran went, 'Can’t we just kill him?' And we all went, 'What happens if you just kill him? Why would you kill him? Why would he let you kill him?'"
"It reinforced Thanos’s agenda. He was done,"
Markus adds. "Not to make him too Christ-like, but it was like, 'If I’ve got to die, I can die now.'"
"What If?" Comics Heavily Inspired The Movie
We know that an animated What If?
series is coming to Disney+, but those comic books actually inspired a lot of what we saw in Avengers: Endgame
. "Chris and I wrote a master document while we were shooting 'Civil War,' and one of the things we were interested in exploring is, remember the What If comics?"
"Well, this is our what if. If you lost, Thor becomes fat. Natasha becomes a shut-in. Steve becomes depressed. Tony gets on with his life. Hulk is a superhero."
Markus continues: "Clint becomes a murdering maniac. When we were spitballing for 'Endgame,' we started with, Thor’s on a mission of vengeance. And then we were like, he was on a mission of vengeance in the last movie. This is all this guy ever does! And fails, all the time. Let’s drive him into a wall and see what happens."
Professor Hulk Was Supposed To Debut In Infinity War
We saw in the trailers for Avengers: Infinity War
that The Hulk was supposed to factor into the final battle, but reshoots changed that and the Jade Giant was nowhere to be seen. Well, it turns out that the emergence of "Smart Hulk" was originally set to take place during the battle of Wakanda.
"There was a time when Banner became Smart Hulk in the first movie," Markus confirms. "It was a lot of fun, but it came at the wrong moment. It was an up, right when everyone else was down." Adds McFeely: "It happened in Wakanda. His arc was designed like, I’m not getting along with the Hulk, the Hulk won’t come out. And then they compromise and become Smart Hulk."
While scenes in the Gamma Lab Bruce mentions were written, they decided to jump straight into it with that scene in the pancake house.
Hawkeye's Family Very Nearly Died In Infinity War
"There was a time where we contemplated having that archery scene in the first movie, after the Snap,"
reveals Markus. "You snap, and then you pop up in Clint’s farm — what are we watching? — and that’s the first indication it had a wider effect. But he literally had not been in the movie prior to that point. It’s cool, but it’s going to blunt the brutality of what [Thanos] did."
Why We Didn't See More Of Captain Marvel
Despite the success of her solo movie, Captain Marvel's role in Avengers: Endgame
is relatively minor and much of that boils down to the fact the superhero ensemble was shot before her origin story! However, McFeely offers up another explanation for why her screentime was relatively limited.
"Certainly, Captain Marvel is in ['Endgame'] a little less than you would have thought. But that’s not the story we’re trying to tell — it’s the original Avengers dealing with loss and coming to a conclusion, and she’s the new, fresh blood."
Markus adds to that by noting, "She’s been in space nearly half her life. She has obligations."
The Living Tribunal Nearly Appeared In Infinity War
"We did try to put the Living Tribunal in the first movie,"
Markus confirmed when asked if there were any characters they weren't able to include across the two movies. "We wrote a scene in which he appeared during the Titan fight. And everyone was like, what?"
"Whoa," McFeely adds. "He’s got three heads. It would indicate a whole different level of architecture to the universe and I think that was too much to just throw in." It's easy to see where he's coming from but Markus was quick to say that, "The idea’s still in [Marvel Studios President] Kevin [Feige]’s court."
Why Does Avengers: Endgame Jump Forward By Five Years?
Unexpectedly, Avengers: Endgame
jumps ahead by five years after Thanos's death, and the writers have explained why it was important to them for a significant amount of time to have passed by the time Earth's Mightiest Heroes formulated their plan to travel through time.
"We wanted it to be real and for a long time — both in movie time and in chronological time for the characters," Markus says. "You couldn’t end Natasha, Tony and Steve the way we do without knowing that they’ve done their time and this is taking them to the brink."
Iron Man Was Going To Travel To Asgard
Initially, the writers didn't want to revisit the events of The Avengers,
and the first draft instead saw Iron Man head to Asgard to retreive the Tesseract according to McFeely. "[There’s] a moment in the M.C.U., if you’re paying very close attention, where the Aether is there and the Tesseract is in the vault. In that iteration, we were interested in Tony going to Asgard. He had a stealth suit, so he was invisible, and he fought Heimdall, who could see him."
That would have been very cool, but it wasn't the only change made. Thor was originally going to share a lot of screentime with Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, while "They went to the Triskelion at one point to get the [Tesseract], and then somebody was going to get into a car and drive to Doctor Strange’s house."
How Does Time-Travel Work In The MCU?
Doing away with the idea that travelling back to the past changes the future was a "necessity"
according to McFeely, as "If you have six MacGuffins and every time you go back it changes something, you’ve got Biff’s casino, exponentially. So we just couldn’t do that. We had physicists come in — more than one — who said, basically, “Back to the Future” is [wrong]."
"Basically said what the Hulk says in that scene," Markus continues, "which is, if you go to the past, then the present becomes your past and the past becomes your future. So there’s absolutely no reason it would change."
How They Managed To Get Robert Redford To Return
Robert Redford played Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
but he recently announced his retirement from acting, so how on Earth did Marvel Studios manage to get him to reprise the role for Avengers: Endgame
"That was one where we thought, should it be Nick Fury?"
McFeely reveals. "We also wrote a version for Maria Hill. That whole time, they’re announcing “Old Man With a Gun” as Redford’s last appearance on film. It’s the last time you’re going to see Robert Redford. And we’re going — [shoots conspiratorial look at Markus] [Laughter]"
The Final Battle Was Originally Even Longer
Markus reveales that "We wrote and shot an even much longer battle, with its own three-act structure,"
and that means there must be a lot of deleted scenes out there for us to enjoy somewhere down the line. However, it doesn't sound as if all of it worked!
"It didn’t play well," McFeely explains, "but we had a scene in a trench where, for reasons, the battle got paused for about three minutes and now there’s 18 people all going, 'What are we going to do?' 'I’m going to do this.' 'I’m going to do this.' Just bouncing around this completely fake, fraudulent scene. When you have that many people, it invariably is, one line, one line, one line. And that’s not a natural conversation."
"It also required them to find enough shelter to have a conversation in the middle of the biggest battle," Markus concludes. "It wasn’t a polite World War I battle where you have a moment."
There's a very cool moment in the movie when the Marvel Cinematic Universe's female heroes assemble to take on Thanos. It's a little on the nose, but it works. How did the writers come up with it? "There was much conversation,"
reveals McFeely. "Is that delightful or is it pandering? We went around and around on that. Ultimately we went, we like it too much."
"Part of the fun of the 'Avengers' movies has always been team-ups,"
Markus agrees. "Marvel has been amassing this huge roster of characters. You’ve got crazy aliens. You’ve got that many badass women. You’ve got three or four people in Iron Man suits."
Why Hank And Janet Were Absent From The Final Battle
Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne were both absent from Avengers: Endgame
's final battle, but why? "There were moments,"
Markus explains, "as they brought everybody back, where we’re like, technically, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer have [Ant-Man] suits. Do we bring them back? It became impossible to track the people we did bring back, but also, it’s just going to be an orgy."
Why Black Widow Had To Die
"Her journey, in our minds, had come to an end if she could get the Avengers back,"
McFeely reveals when asked why they decided to kill off Black Widow. "She comes from such an abusive, terrible, mind-control background, so when she gets to Vormir and she has a chance to get the family back, that’s a thing she would trade for."
"The toughest thing for us was we were always worried that people weren’t going to have time to be sad enough. The stakes are still out there and they haven’t solved the problem. But we lost a big character — a female character — how do we honor it? We have this male lens and it’s a lot of guys being sad that a woman died."
The Reason Natasha Doesn't Get A Funeral
Since Avengers: Endgame
was released, a lot of fans have complained that while Iron Man gets a big funeral at the end of the movie, poor Black Widow appears to have been forgotten about.
Asked for an explanation, Markus says: "That’s partly because Tony’s this massive public figure and she’s been a cipher the whole time. It wasn’t necessarily honest to the character to give her a funeral. The biggest question about it is what Thor raises there on the dock. 'We have the Infinity Stones. Why don’t we just bring her back?'"
McFeely adds: "But that’s the everlasting exchange. You bring her back, you lose the stone." Wait, does that mean she was resurrected when Captain America returned it?
Was Hawkeye Ever Going To Die?
"There was, for sure,"
McFeely responds when asked if there was ever a draft featuring Clint Barton making the leap. "Jen Underdahl, our visual effects producer, read an outline or draft where Hawkeye goes over. And she goes, 'Don’t you take this away from her.' I actually get emotional thinking about it."
"And it was true,"
Markus continues, "it was him taking the hit for her. It was melodramatic to have him die and not get his family back. And it is only right and proper that she’s done."
Did Iron Man Have To Die In Avengers: Endgame?
"Everyone knew this was going to be the end of Tony Stark,"
McFeely reveals before Markus adds: "I don’t think there were any mandates. If we had a good reason to not do it, certainly people would have entertained it."
"The watchword was, end this chapter, and he started the chapter," McFeely continues as Markus points out that, "In a way, he has been the mirror of Steve Rogers the entire time. Steve is moving toward some sort of enlightened self-interest, and Tony’s moving to selflessness. They both get to their endpoints."
Was There Ever A Version Where Iron Man Lived?
Markus confirms. "Because we had the opportunity to give him the perfect retirement life, within the movie. That’s the life he’s been striving for. Are he and Pepper going to get together? Yes. They got married, they had a kid, it was great. It’s a good death. It doesn’t feel like a tragedy. It feels like a heroic, finished life."
Was Captain America Always Getting A Happy Ending With Peggy?
"From the very first outline, we knew he was going to get his dance,"
McFeely confirms. "On a separate subject, I started to lose my barometer on what was just fan service and what was good for the character. Because I think it’s good for the characters. But we also just gave you what you wanted. Is that good? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you, it’s satisfying."
"He’s postponed a life in order to fulfill his duty. That’s why I didn’t think we were ever going to kill him. Because that’s not the arc. The arc is, I finally get to put my shield down because I’ve earned that."
"A hero without sacrifice, you’re not going to get the miles out of that person that you need to for these movies," Markus continues. "That’s what makes them a hero, it’s not the powers." That's a great way of looking at it and it was a pretty perfect way to wrap up the hero's story in the MCU.
Avengers: Endgame May Mark The Writers' Marvel Finale
"I don’t know how to follow it up, that’s the problem,"
Markus says when asked if the writing duo is finished with Marvel Studios after Avengers: Endgame
. "I’m not quite old enough to retire."
Where Did The Idea Of Time-Travel Come From?
"Kevin [Feige] at one point said, I would like to use the Time Stone, or use time as an element,"
McFeely reveals. "It let us spend a few weeks seeing what’s the kookiest thing we could do with time and not break the movie."
"We all sat there going, really? We’re going to do time travel?"
Markus says. "It was only when we were looking at who we had available, character-wise; we hadn’t used Ant-Man yet. And there really is, in people’s theory of the Quantum Realm, a time thing in the M.C.U., right now, available to us, with a character we haven’t used yet. We have a loophole that’s not cheating."
Many thanks to The New York Times for the quotes used throughout this post.