"I'm still waiting to see if [Chris] Evans is going to be pissed at me or not," Russo tells EW. "But you know what? All's fair in love and war and fantasy football."

By Sydney Bucksbaum
October 17, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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"It's hard to s--- talk when you're at the bottom," Joe Russo admits to EW. But one half of the Russo Brothers certainly did his best to brutally roast every major Marvel Cinematic Universe star for their fantasy football league — and it's safe to say he absolutely killed it.

EW has your exclusive first look at the Avengers: Endgame director's trash talk video for AGBO Superhero League sponsored by FanDuel, which the filmmaker founded for charity last year with celebrity fantasy football league commissioner Guillermo Lozano and ESPN's fantasy football expert Matthew Berry. This season, 14 players from the MCU are competing for $1.25 million to be split between all their charities of choice, and with a prize that big, the competition is fiercer than ever. Just look at all the trash talk videos that have been released so far, starting with last season's winner Chris Hemsworth.

And even though Russo is ranked pretty much near the bottom right now in the league, he didn't hold back with his trash talk video, targeting every single MCU star he's competing against from Robert Downey Jr. to Tom Holland to Karen Gillan and more. He tells EW that he's been saving up some of these zingers "for years," and now he's finally getting to unleash them for the world to see, knocking these actual superheroes down a few pegs.

"You pick up on people's eccentricities and their sillier habits, and then you can turn those into humor on set; days are long, the work's hard, sometimes we'll be on set 16 hours together, so we use a lot of humor to defuse the tension or exhaustion," he says. "My brother [Anthony Russo] and I are very big on keeping the set fun. We came from Community and Arrested Development and when you're on a set with a bunch of comedians it's always very light and we took that energy to our work at Marvel."

For his trash talk video, Russo worked with comedian Mekki Leeper to write a monologue that he decided to perform like a David Mamet character that he used to play back when he was an actor. "These are jokes that you make to your friends to their face, and I'm putting it out there publicly," he says with a laugh. Russo is playing in the league for the Arthritis Foundation, which has a personal connection for him. And he's touched to see how much of an impact their league is making for charity. "We need a little good right now in the world," he adds.

Read on for EW's full interview with Russo, who talks about his brutal-yet-accurate jokes, which MCU stars he's worried might get mad after watching his video, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Using the massive platform of the MCU for a good cause is amazing to see. And, of course, getting to trash talk all your friends is a nice little cherry on top.

JOE RUSSO: It’s great, it’s part of the fun of it. We're all so close. It's a very tight-knit family, a lot of us have worked together for almost a decade. Other people have come into the family like Ryan [Reynolds] and Simu [Liu] and everyone's so warm and welcoming. This is a good way for everyone to stay connected emotionally and on a personal level, and then we have a lot of fun taking the piss out of each other, We're doing it to get awareness, so we're creating content that can go viral [and bring] awareness to charities. That's the best part of it, it's like roasting your friends for a good cause.

What have you thought of all the trash talk videos we’ve seen so far from your competitors this season?

You know, we haven't seen Reynolds' yet, who is a master at this. I'm excited to see what he does. I thought Paul Rudd's was insane. The amount of energy and thought and effort that went into that video is unprecedented. And that's part of the mission — bringing awareness. Anything charming that Paul Rudd does is going to get attention.

Do you have a favorite burn from your video?

The [Robert] Downey [Jr.] video probably makes me laugh the hardest, him as a bunny. Robert is one of my favorite people on the planet and he's also self-admittedly eccentric and quite an inventive human being.

That Chris Evans/OnlyFans zinger inspired by Not Another Teen Movie is definitely my favorite. How did you come up with that brilliance?

That was Mekki, so I've got to give credit where credit's due. I'm still waiting to see if Evans is going to be pissed at me or not for that one. That's the only one I was like, "I don't know about this." But you know what? All's fair in love and war and fantasy football.

Absolutely. And speaking of Rudd’s video from last week, "Who’s rooting for Paul Rudd? America’s divorcees?" is just inspired.

Paul Rudd is probably the most well-liked human being in America, so I thought a "Who likes Paul Rudd?" joke would land. And that was Mekki as well.

But I think I had the biggest laugh at "Chris Pratt – guy loves camo hats and God. I was never going to beat him at fantasy football."

[Laughs] We started playing fantasy football with Pratt three years ago in this other, private league. It was his first time playing and I think he finished second in the league, and I thought, "You know what, it's just in his blood. He just understands and loves football." I've been playing for 20 years and he beat me that season, so I've been saving that one up for a couple years.

And I have to ask, does Anthony Mackie really play golf on Trump courses? If so, that burn just writes itself.

You know, that was another one I was a little worried about. Pre-election he played on a course, so I always made fun of him for it. And then after 2016, I think he would never set foot on a Trump course. Mackie was like, "Everybody knows I love you and everybody knows where I stand politically so feel free to fire away."

Even though she’s in last place, why didn’t you trash talk Elizabeth Olsen? No one gets off that easy in fantasy football!

Lizzie is just too nice. She is too sweet. It's almost impossible to find something to go after with Lizzie. She's one of my favorite people. Lizzie is an amazing person to sit and have dinner and drinks with — a lot of laughter, a lot of fun. Just a genuinely good human being.

And did you actually make that bet with Simu? I think all the Marvel fans would love to see that.

I can't disclose it because Marvel would send the snipers after me. [Laughs] We've gotten to know Simu really well. I went up to him after he had an appearance at Comic-Con. I think was two years ago now, where he was introduced. He just charmed the pants off the crowd, he was spectacular. I was in the audience with my brother and I went up to him after and I said, "That is the hardest stage in the world, and you were an A-plus up there." I think he's going to be spectacular in his part [in Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings]. We're looking at working on some things together so it was hard for me to find something to go after him on because I know him the least, so I made it a joke about me. I certainly had to include myself in the roast.

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