AVENGERS: ENDGAME Exclusive Interview With Marvel Studios' Head Of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding

AVENGERS: ENDGAME <font color=red>Exclusive</font> Interview With Marvel Studios' Head Of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding

Avengers: Endgame is available on digital formats and DVD and Blu-ray next week, so we're now sharing our interview with concept artist Ryan Meinerding as he talks about this movie, Phase 4, and more...

Even if you're not immediately familiar with Ryan Meinerding's name, you'll definitely know his jaw-dropping artwork. He's been working with Marvel Studios since 2008's Iron Man and has risen up the ranks to become the studio's Head of Visual Development. To mark the release of Avengers: Endgame, I recently had the chance to talk to Ryan about his work on that movie. 

Responsible for designing the costumes worn by characters like Captain America and Spider-Man and imagery which inspires what ends up on screen, Ryan is arguably every bit as knowledgable about the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kevin Feige and his love for this shared world is easy to see. 

During our chat, we talked about everything from those rumours about The Living Tribunal originally playing a role in Avengers: Infinity War to his favourite moments in the final battle and which MCU projects he's working on next. As you might expect, I had to ask whether he's given any thought to the X-Men and Fantastic Four and, well, he understandably chose his words carefully!

As a massive fan of Ryan's work, it was a treat to be able to talk to him about Avengers: Endgame and I would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to us about the Marvel movie. 


Jim Starlin claimed during Comic-Con that Thanos' sword was inspired by the blades of the Thanos-copter – is there any truth to that and can you talk about the process of designing that weapon?
Honestly, one of our artists, Jerad Marantz, designed Thanos' final armour and that weapon and I think he had been inspired by another artist here who had been working on something that felt a little more like a butcher's knife. If it was, how the filmmakers pick things and what they're responding to, they're all sometimes different to what we're inspired by. I hadn't heard that but at least the genesis of where the design started is not exactly that, I guess. 
Thanks for clearing that up! Endgame's writers have said that an earlier draft of the movie included The Living Tribunal so did you actually get to work on that character and can you talk about what he might have looked like?
I was actually working on that frame and I was never able to finish it because it was such a big moment but, yeah, we didn't have any direct input from the Russos or Kevin on it. They just pitched that moment so it was in the very early stages. I was trying to go for something that was comic accurate. If you're going to do that one, you might as well try and nail it! 
We've seen in set photos that Brie Larson was wearing her original costume on set so did that redesign come fairly late in the day and can you take us through the inspiration behind her new look?
It did a little bit. I think there was a realisation or notion that we had to come up with visuals for her that represented the amount of time between her appearances. If she was wearing exactly the same costume from her movie, it might feel a little bit strange and wouldn't feel like almost twenty years of time passing. Andy Park did those amazing designs and I just suggested to him, 'Is there any way we could change the colours to bring her back to the original Captain Marvel design?' and he nailed it. 
What were the main challenges with creating the Team Suits and did they go through a lot of iterations before that look was chosen?
We worked a long time on those. One of the great things about working on suits and designs for the MCU is that usually there's some storytelling baked into it whether it's the amount of time that's passed for Captain Marvel or with the Team Suits, it was literally meant to be that in Infinity War, the team was broken, and now they're finally coming together as a team and we're giving them all unified suits. So, we went for a look that really worked for that moment and to get that heroic shot of them walking together and going off on a mission together took a while. It went through a number of artists and Aleksi Briclot and Wes Burt were fundamental in figuring out that look and I went over it as a final pass to add the helmet and a few additional touches but it took a fair amount of time. 

Were there any characters or moments you worked on that didn't make the final cut?
I had done a couple of images and I worked a lot on Thor vs. Thanos and those moments are all fantastic in the movie and I don't really have any regrets about things that I did. I did some stuff that was actually supposed to be in Infinity War for Hulk bursting out of Hulkbuster. I was pretty proud of that and wish I had seen that moment. The movie turned out so well, man, that I'm hesitant to say I really regret anything because they put together an amazing film that made me cry multiple times and made me feel like the time that I spent here working on all these characters and movies was really worth it and that's an amazing feat. 
When it comes to the final battle, what were some of your favourite moments to work on?
There's so many! Whether I worked on them or not, I think the evolution of Cap vs. Thanos one on one with the hammer and the shield, the breaking of the shield, and Cap standing off against the entire army by himself and then the Portals opening and Panther and Okoye coming through and Falcon flying in...all of those are amazing. Tony's fight...I never knew how they were going to pull that off with Tony and Thanos at the very end and having the nanotech suit to do a bit of the work to get the Infinity Stones was a stroke of genius. All of it is the answer!
After that five year time jump, which of the characters were most difficult to redesign?
The time jump was a difficult thing to make work. The amount of emotion that went into making that stuff happen, I think people were going to buy into that no matter what. I think the notion of Cap getting his suit and shield back was one that I was most excited about. Bringing the scale mail armour to screen finally and seeing Cap's final suit. That's something I'm super excited about having worked on. 
Looking at the Phase 4 slate revealed this past weekend, which of those movies or characters are you most excited to work on if you haven't already?
They're all exciting. The Eternals are amazing and I'm super, super excited about working on that project for Chloe and I've been doing some stuff for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and everything in there is incredible and juicy and those are characters I've worked on in the past and have loved. Any time I get to work on Falcon and Bucky, I'm a pretty happy guy.

I have to ask – with new Fantastic Four and X-Men movies on the way, have you given any thought to how those characters could look in the MCU even if it's just privately?
Oh, I don't think I can really answer that one, man! I will say that there's always characters who I can just close my eyes and picture them and I would know what to do with some of them but not all of them. There are some things that I can't wait to get going on but I can't specifically say which ones.
Something I love about Marvel Studios is that they really put the spotlight on concept artists. How satisfying is it for you to see fans enjoying that?
You know, it's one of the best parts about working here. Kevin has always loved concept art. He grew up loving Star Wars and Ralph McQuarrie's work and he had the idea of just having a visual development team, which is essentially a concept art team. We're allowed to create as many high quality and most useful pieces that we can that sometimes turn out to be relevant for marketing materials and beyond. I'm very fortunate that the "Art of" books are things that are made and that are out there and highlight the work we're doing and what we're trying to accomplish. It's an amazing place to work and to be able to say that I've worked here for just over thirteen years and led around fifteen movies that have all of that come together in a cinematic event as big as Endgame was...I don't know if I could have written a script for my career that was more gratifying and satisfying or amazing. If I'd told my thirteen year old self what I'd be doing on one movie let alone upwards of fifteen, sixteen, seventeen movies, I would never have believed it. 
There were a lot of casualties in Endgame. Which of those characters will you most miss working on moving forward?
They're all great. Cap is one I've worked on every incarnation of him in the films and to think if having designed the last suit he's going to exist in is a sad state of affairs for me. I guess there's that line from the movie about part of the journey being at an end is true and I'm very excited about all the stuff that's coming up so having a tearful goodbyes to some of the characters I love is what it is but the idea of moving on to some incredible new stories is also amazing. 
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