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Producer Trinh Tran Interview: MCU

We interview Marvel Cinematic Universe producer Trinh Tran about her history with the mega franchise and her work on the Hawkeye TV show.

MCU’s genius producer Trinh Tran is branching out from epic films like Endgame and into the somewhat more contained world of Disney+. As one of the developers of the upcoming Hawkeye series, she has plenty of thoughts on where to take Clint Barton’s backstory and how to explore Kate Bishop’s origin. She sat down with Screen Rant to discuss tentative plans for that show, as well as to celebrate Endgame becoming the biggest film ever.

I think I've seen the movie about 57 times.

Trinh Tran: Can I ask – Infinity War or Endgame? I’m always curious.

Infinity War. But the only reason is because it's like turning the page in a comic. But it’s hard to judge because I feel like they're one big thing. So, for such a huge cast of characters, which is a character that you wish you guys got to spend more time to spend with?

Trinh Tran: Oh, my gosh. I haven’t been asked that yet. I have to think about that, because I'm trying to remember the characters. It's been a few months. But if you start listing the characters, how about that?

I would say, probably, Black Panther and Doctor Strange, Spider-Man…

Trinh Tran: It would be some of the snapped folks, right? Because they only showed up in the finale. I think maybe one of them would be Doctor Strange, especially where we left off with Infinity War and that lingering, “Why did he do what he did?”

It might have been good to actually show a little bit more, but then a part of me thinks, “No, I want to hold it back a little bit,” because it's nice to leave people wanting more.

Avengers: Endgame is the biggest movie of all time, obviously. What do you do to celebrate?

Trinh Tran: Oh, my God. Me personally or Marvel? It's not like I throw a big party. I remember sitting alone and just absorbing that feeling. I'm just so incredibly happy to be a part of something like that; that made such an impact on the world.

But most importantly, what's so interesting to me is how it was connecting to everybody and what they came out with when they walked out of the theater. What was most impactful? That makes me super happy.

After Infinity War, it was a very somber feeling.

Trinh Tran: Yeah, everybody came out going, “I was not expecting that…”

But after Endgame, it's a very sad feeling. Because it does feel like the end of an era, which it is. As a producer, can you talk to me about the difficulty of producing two such massive movies together.

Trinh Tran: First, don't do them back to back. It's two of the biggest movies ever at Marvel, and we decided to actually just bunch them all together because it made sense. You know, we had all the talent together, so rather than having them disappear and come back, you get the whole entire year of shooting.

Doing it back to back was so intense in that way, because there were so many moving parts. And it was [time-consuming]. We had to focus on Infinity War while we were shooting Endgame, and we were posting Infinity War while doing Endgame reshoots. It was just so many different factors. So, I felt like that was the hardest part.

And I would say if we were able to split them up, it would have still been difficult, but at least we would have been focused on one particular movie at a time.

But at least they flow perfectly.

Trinh Tran: I’m so grateful that worked out. I just wonder, if it had been separated, how would have had been different?

What's the biggest lesson you've learned by doing those movies like that? Probably not do it again.

Trinh Tran: I would say not to do them back to back like that. But I wouldn't take it back, because it was such an incredible experience; we will never experience it in that same way again. Because we've learned lessons of what worked, what didn't work, and how we can do better if we get to 10 years later and we get to make something like this again.

We know what the final product is on screen. But is there anything more radical that didn't make it into the film that you think would have been a really interesting idea?

Trinh Tran: For Endgame? Wow. I think there were a couple of scenes – it might have ended up in the box set, or else it's coming out soon – where we tried a version and it didn't quite work, so we just redid it.

For example, Voromir was such an emotional moment between Clint and Nat, and we tried a version where Thanos and his bad guys entered the picture. It was sort of stealing away their moment, so we strip that all out and we redid it where it was just personal between the two of them. I think that worked wonderfully at the end.

Which of the original six Avengers did you connect with the most after working on these films?

Trinh Tran: Tony Stark. You know, as much as it impacted a lot of people when they came out of it, realizing that he sacrificed himself and died for the greater good of the universe – I felt the same way. I remember standing there when we shot that, and it was just so hard to actually watch that.

You're watching Robert’s last breath, and it's like, “Okay, we're doing this.” We're letting go one of our most important characters of the last decade.

Seeing him doing it on set and in person, what was that feeling like?

Trinh Tran: First of all, we had to obviously close the set, but there were many people that were involved.

You just know that this is the last time you're going to see him in this movie, and that this character's journey has come to an end. My mind started reeling, because I remember sitting and watching Iron Man for the first time ever at Marvel and going, “I absolutely love this character and I love this movie.”

And to see where he was in the beginning, then to see that last moment where he's taking his final breath and Pepper’s hugging him… I can't even describe the feeling.

You're not done with MCU; you’ve still got the project with Hawkeye. How excited are you to explore Clint more?

Trinh Tran: I chose that one specifically because we haven't gotten a chance to tell Clint Barton’s story. Thor has several movies; you know his backstory. Cap’s got several movies. and Tony's had a few. They've all had their chance, while Clint hasn't gotten a chance to tell his past. I'm excited for that.

And I'm also excited that there is a young girl who's coming in, who wants to be Hawkeye.

I'm a huge Kate Bishop fan. 

Trinh Tran: Are you really? Matt Fraction’s run is one of the most amazing things. And I remember sitting there and reading through the Fraction and going, “This is amazing. We can we can do this.”

Wanting to tell Clint’s backstory and, after reading Fraction’s run, getting excited for Kate Bishop – there's something really interesting that I think the two of them can have.

Why did you choose that one specifically?

Trinh Tran: I wanted to see the birth of a hero story for a young female. As we were talking about the future of Marvel after Infinity Saga ends – what are the new characters, and what are the properties that we want to tell – this one spoke to me because I was so fascinated by her. By the rich comic resources we had, and by the fact that, if you look at our original six, Clint is just a human.

His superpower is courage.

Trinh Tran: Exactly. That has always been appealing to me. And I gravitated towards the fact that they're both humans, just like any one of us. They don't have superpowers. They're not super soldiers. They're not gods. And how do we make them superheroes? That's exciting to me.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in Avengers: Endgame

I've asked Markus and McFeely this as well. If you had to choose your Avengers team, not including the original six, who would you pick?

Trinh Tran: Oh, my God. What did they say? I like the young ones. Like Shuri, she’d be really cool.

You need to lay them out so I can start playing with them. We have these character cards, and I always reference them. Especially with Infinity War and Endgame, because we had so many characters. As we were laying out the stories, we’d see which one makes sense when we’re talking about Strange amd alchemy or connecting Tony, that kind of thing.

I just like Kate Bishop with Shuri; I'm thinking that.

Like Young Avengers! Speaking of, I feel like you guys have planted the seeds very early on with other characters. Kate Bishop obviously plays into this. How do you view Kate Bishop and her relationship with Clint?

Trinh Tran: We're still exploring that. We are working on the story right now, and it's really exciting, so I can't confirm anything just yet.

But I think, when you get somebody who's so experienced and has been at the level of an Avenger with somebody who is starting out and knows nothing about the world, that alone creates such a fun dynamic. Tonally, if you look at the Fraction run and what they're like together, it’s exciting if we can strive to get to that.

Back to Endgame really quickly. This handles time travel in the closest way to the comics as it's ever been done. Are there any other theories of time travel that you guys played around with? 

Trinh Tran: We actually had physicists come in to talk with us about what made the most sense if time travel existed. Quantum physicists came in, and it is crazy how, how much detail they got into in terms of, “If this could happen, this is how it would work.”

There were two ways. You can do the Back to the Future version, or you can do the Endgame version. When we spoke with physicists, they said that in reality, if it does exist, this probably would make the most sense. We went for that route in hopes of people understanding what that is. The normal everybody is used to has already been told in the past, right, so we were trying something different.

It worked out. Now, you talked about some of the scenes that didn’t make it in. I remember seeing one where the heroes all kneel toward the end. Why was that taken out of the film? It was such a great scene.

Trinh Tran: You know what, I really love that moment too. But when we had that in the cut, the wedding scene – I say the wedding scene, but I mean the funeral. I still to this day can't say the right word. That funeral scene felt like it was very similar, because the message came across the same way.

So, if you go into the kneeling and then to the funeral, it felt like it was a little too long in that sense. We felt that one shot with all of them together as Tony Stark's RT was floating away, symbolically, had a bigger impact.

But I absolutely love that moment too, because it spoke to how they admired and idolized Tony for what he did. It was hard to let go. But it was really just to make sure that the pacing was right for the film.

Last question. For anybody that hasn't seen anything from the MCU, what's one scene out of any of the movies that you'd use to introduce them to it?

Trinh Tran: One scene, not one movie? I don't know which one would speak the most. It would have to be something from the first Iron Man movie.

I want to say from Infinity War, but I also want to go all the way back, because I remember that feeling that I had when I first watched Tony Stark. I didn't grow up reading comics the way some people did, and that film captured my enthusiasm of wanting to know more about it. What are these characters and what can we do with them?

I was also thinking about a scene maybe in Avengers that might be really cool, but I feel like that may be a little jarring. You’ve got to go all the way from the beginning; go from the start and literally pick any one of the Tony Stark scenes, and I think you would fall in love with the character.

More: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely Interview: MCU

Key Release Dates
  • Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
  • Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022
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