CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Directors on Board
One of the key elements in Marvel's success has been hiring talented
directors who are capable of putting
their own unique stamp on each film. For "Captain America: The Winter Soldier,"
Marvel brought on a pair of
directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo.
"In our meetings with the Russo brothers, I had a hunch that they had it in
them to really elevate one of
our properties," says producer Kevin Feige. "They loved the idea that we were
presenting to them-the '70s
political thriller, the much more contemporary, much more grounded Super Hero
story this time around and
they have embraced it and improved it and delivered what I think is the best
pure action film we've ever made."
Executive producers and directors of the critically acclaimed,
award-winning television shows "Arrested Development" and
"Community," the Russo brothers were thrilled to immerse
themselves in the Marvel Universe and were impressed by the
way producer Kevin Feige has the ability to look for directing
talent outside of the action genre. "Kevin's done it again
and again in a way that's unprecedented and remarkable,"
comments Anthony. "He likes to bring fresh voices to the
table, encouraging them to find a fresh spin on the material."
The Russo brothers had to go through a long process to take the helm, but Joe
Russo appreciated the steps
that they had to take to bring their vision to Marvel. "It was a great process
for us, a healthy process. It forced
us to focus. To really think through our approach to the material," says Joe.
"As part of the audition process,
we showed Marvel a lot of videos-actual car chases, Krav Maga experts giving
demonstrations, special forces
training videos. We were pushing to bring a real-world, grounding component to
That "real-world grounding" was a very important element
in the making of the film for the Russos since the movie has
the tone of a 1970s political thriller. "You can't have a thriller
without stakes, and stakes are emotional; stakes have to play
real, especially in a political thriller, which has contemporary
themes to it," explains Joe. "You have to play as real as possible
in order for the audience to properly relate to the storytelling,
otherwise you're losing a layer of texture. You've got to make
the audience care."
The Russo brothers also chose to go with a handheld camera, which was a
technique that further grounded the
film. As Joe explains, "For us the choice to go handheld was philosophical. It
had to do with the narrative. We
wanted the movie to be verite, so that you would feel as if you were there,
again as a way to raise the stakes.
Another benefit of shooting handheld is that you get the fluidity of the camera
as it follows action; you can
track a punch to a face and then whip back to the character throwing the punch.
We wanted the action to be
clean and trackable in the movie and we felt the handheld camera gave us the
freedom to follow the action
more specifically than a locked frame."
Anthony adds, "The great thing about verite is that it adds a limited point
of view-a point of view that lends
itself to naturalism."
Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" lends itself to the verite
style very well because it is part
thriller and part adventure film. "The movie is really two different films,"
explains Joe Russo. "It's a thriller
until the end of the second act. Once the plot is revealed, and Cap's mission
becomes clear, it becomes an
adventure film. We were extremely mindful of that construction in the
development phase. We knew that the
thriller component would allow us to lean into a character-based realism. But we
also knew, cinematically, that
when we got to the third act, the movie would grow into a Marvel film. It would
have that scale and scope
that Marvel's famous for."
Elaborating, Joe adds, "The thriller, just by
nature, tends to be more intimate than an
adventure movie because it's being driven on
character-based plot twists-you're dealing
with a really complex relationship between
Cap and Fury, a really complex relationship
between Cap and Natasha-and those
relationships play out as you head into the
third act, where the heroes have a joint goal.
And you're hoping that you've planted those seeds properly, so that when the
adventure component takes
over, the audience is emotionally invested, and ready to go on that journey with
you for the last 30 minutes."
Comments Anthony, "It's fun to combine two elements that are incongruous.
You're like a scientist mixing
together compounds that you're not quite sure how they're going to react. A
thriller film and an adventure
film. Handheld verite versus the more pre-meditated shots of the third act. This
has been a driving force in our
careers, from 'Arrested Development' to 'Community'-the desire for
Stepping into a film with characters that are already established did not
faze the Russo brothers. "It was
easy for a couple of reasons," relates Anthony. "One of which is that we have a
strong history in television,
where you're dealing with moving in and out of different stories with different
characters that have been
pre-established. Secondly, the actors are all amazing people and amazing actors.
They made it easy for us to
connect with them, to talk about what we loved about what they had done in the
past, and what new colors
we thought they could bring to this movie."
"The first movie in a franchise is about establishing the heroes and the
second movie is about putting the
heroes against the ropes," adds Joe Russo. "This film is a much grittier story
than any Marvel movie to date
and we really wanted to try something different. We felt like it was our job to
add something to the Marvel
Universe that they can then use as a tool going forward in Phase 2."
Chris Evans comments on his directors, saying, "They have done a really good
job with our film; none of the
other Marvel movies were shot the way this movie was shot. The majority of this
movie is handheld and that's
just a really interesting approach to a Super Hero movie. The plot is more like
a political thriller, but the way
they're capturing it is really different and unique."
Robert Redford was attracted to the sensibility of directors Anthony and Joe
Russo, and relates, "They're very
respectful yet they also take no prisoners. They have a very strong idea of what
they want to do and they're
committed to doing it in their own way. I like that. They have a vision for this
film that's theirs. I also appreciate
it when a filmmaker has a vision that they stay connected to and enforce to the
best of their abilities."
From an actor's point of view, working for directors Anthony and Joe Russo
was a positive experience for
Anthony Mackie. "Both of them have very good actor vocabulary, which a lot of
directors don't have," relates
Mackie. "They really have the ability to talk to you and break down a scene and
tell you why you're doing what
you're doing, and not too many directors can do that."
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