This weekend must be filled with anticipation greater than Christmas Eve for a guy like Trent Opaloch. The Paul Kane grad is packing his bags to take a trip to Los Angeles for Monday’s premiere of Avengers: Endgame, a movie that will likely be the culmination of a decade of 20-plus movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s not just going down to watch the show and be surrounded by fans amid the celebrity stars and other filmmakers.
As the director of photography (or DP in cinematic parlance) for the colossal multi-superhero tentpole soap opera action drama and its Infinity War predecessor, this is practically his baby, not to diminish the efforts of directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo or screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. You see, Avengers actually has Opaloch’s eyes, so to speak.
“It’s been amazing. It’s a lot of time to make these movies. We were there for three years to make the two Avengers movies but it was a really wonderful life experience,” he began. “It’s a lot of time, and all of a sudden, I feel like I blinked and I’ve shot for these movies. It’s a really nice feeling to have that story arc and see it through.”
The movie will cap off a galactic battle royale between supervillain Thanos and the Avengers, a team that included more superheroes than two people could count on all their digits. At the end of Infinity War, Thanos turned half of all living creatures to dust at the snap of his fingers, including some of the beloved protagonists. In Endgame, even side characters from previous Marvel movies get to come back for cameo scenes in what Opaloch promises will be a satisfying and “hefty” three-hour grand finale.
Yes, he’s already seen it after the final sound mix. He also saw it during the colour timing process. OK, so he’s seen it all the way through a few times, so Monday’s screening is more about the moment than finding out what happens at the end. No, he won’t tell you what happens to Captain America. Rules are rules and he remains tight-lipped on details though he does divulge how he loves how everything resolves.
What he will tell you is that it is really cool both as a viewer and as a player behind the scenes.
“I’m really, really happy with it and very excited for it to be sent out to the world. I think everybody’s going to be really happy and really proud of the work they did with it as far as our team on it.”
This marks the fourth Marvel adventure Opaloch has been involved in as cinematographer, after two Captain America pics (Winter Soldier and Civil War) as well as last year’s Infinity War, all with the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony. For logistical reasons, the two Avengers movies were filmed back to back, making it a three-year effort that only concluded a few months ago.
“The funny thing is that it feels like this epic journey for me just having done four films. Much of the same crew has worked on these four films, almost. There has been a few changes back and forth – people are unavailable or whatever – but it’s been a real Marvel Family and a wonderful dynamic for four movies in a row. In some respects, it’s kind of sad to see the end of it but it feels like the chapter closing for me. It's a really nice way to finish things.”
It does look like his working relationship with the Russo Brothers will continue, however. The Internet Movie Database already has a film called Cherry listed as being in pre-production with the brothers at the helm and Opaloch lined up as well. That doesn’t always mean a movie will make it to screens any time soon or even ever come to fruition, so the cinematographer remained mum on where he’ll work next.
For now, he feels like a bit of a superhero himself for having been the DP on such a blockbuster that millions of fans worldwide will undoubtedly clamour to see once it hits theatres. It doesn’t preclude the possibility that he’ll ever work on a smaller, independent movie in the future. It all depends on the scripts and the characters, which he still falls in love with no matter the scale of the plot.
His past experience, however, might be the best indicator of his future workload.
“I find those [smaller] films are harder to get involved with because you get pigeonholed a little bit. Now, I’m a little bit pigeonholed as a big movie guy.”