There really hasn’t ever been a movie like Avengers: Infinity War before. Sure, there’s almost 20 previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but none pitched at this scale, with so many characters and storylines all coming to a head in a single film. So what do you look to when you’re making something this unique? Where do you find inspiration?

If you’re Joe and Anthony Russo, the two men who are actually directing this gargantuan undertaking, apparently the answer is ’90s crime films. The Russos told Coming Soon that Infinity War draws ideas from that era and genre. As Anthony Russo explained:

We were inspired by ’90s crime films when we were working on the script. So it’s got an energy to it, a bit of a smash and grab energy. The movies that we looked at, Two Days in the Valley and Out of Sight.

Out of Sight is one of the decade’s most beloved crime films, with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in a thriller about an escaped convict in a flirty relationship with one of the Marshals charged with bringing him in. 2 Days in the Valley is a lot less famous; it’s an ensemble piece about various underworld types in the San Fernando Valley. These days it’s probably best known as one of Charlize Theron’s earliest breakthroughs in Hollywood. (She was featured on a lot of the marketing.)

Joe Russo went on to explain that fans shouldn’t look for direct homages to these titles in Infinity War. Instead they’re used “as inspiration for narrative imagery. These movies are so complex you need a unifying peace, or a sense of cohesion, and that cohesion can come from a narrative construct that you can apply all the characters to.” The Russos felt that 2 Days in the Valley was one of the rare movies in existence with a lot of characters and “narrative thrust” that’s comparable to what they’re doing in Infinity War.

Of course, 2 Days in the Valley only made about $11 million in theaters in 1996. I imagine they’re shooting for a little bit more than that when Avengers: Infinity War opens in theaters on April 27.

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