Disney presented panels on Frozen II and Avengers: Endgame at The Contenders Los Angeles today. Both sets of filmmakers spoke to the secret ingredients that make each franchise such a success. First, Frozen II producer Peter Del Vecho spoke about what makes Anna and Elsa the perfect pair of princesses.
“Anna is very much a fairy tale character,” he said. “Elsa’s actually a mythic character. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and does things others can’t do. Unlike the first film, where they were kept apart for most of the movie, this time Anna’s right there by her side. But there are parts Elsa has to do alone.”
Frozen II picks up three years after the first movie and has seven new songs. Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez write the songs as the story develops. There’s never a song just for the sake of a song.
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“We meet with them every day,” Del Vecho said. “In the beginning we don’t even talk songs. It’s all about character. As the story evolves, there’s a back and forth between script and songs. Oftentimes the songs evolved and change or the story evolves and change, one or the other.”
Some new characters join Anna and Elsa in Frozen II and some previously seen characters get bigger roles.
“Evan Rachel Wood plays Anna and Elsa’s mother, who had an appearance in the first movie but we didn’t know much about her,” Del Vecho said. “Like a lot of mothers, she imparts a lot of wisdom they use later in life. Evan Rachel Wood has that perfect voice that sits right in between Anna and Elsa’s voice, so it sounds naturally like their mother.”
Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely credited Marvel producer Kevin Feige with the secret ingredients that made the 22-film Marvel Cinematic Universe such a success. Avengers: Endgame has become the highest-grossing movie of all time, and the writers discussed some of the ingredients within the film.
“You can think of genre as an amplifier for a small human story,” Markus said. “We want to tell these little stories about people. You can tell a tiny story about a dad and a daughter, and it has a certain amount of mileage. The dad puts on an iron suit and the range of not only eyes and ears you can reach goes up exponentially, but the stresses you can put those stories under.”
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One secret ingredient was established in the original 2008 Iron Man, when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) confesses his secret identity. The MCU films that followed no longer had to deal with secret identities, though Spider-Man still keeps Peter Parker (Tom Holland) under a mask in the Sony films.
“Think about the storytelling that allowed them,” McFeely said. “If they had decided to keep the idea that we had to keep that secret, now you’re telling certain types of stories.”
McFeely estimated that one-third of a superhero film could be devoted to protecting a secret identity, and Marvel can devote that third to other stories. The other major ingredient dates back to Stan Lee’s comics.
“We often think that the character’s flaw is their strength,” McFeely said. “[Captain America‘s] Steve Rogers, for example — he’s the guy that can do this all day. He is absolutely fixed in his opinion. He’s Gary Cooper in many ways, but that gets him in trouble. He won’t bend. He will sacrifice himself.”
Frozen II is out November 22, and Avengers: Endgame is now on home video.
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