Marvel Men: Directors Joe and Anthony Russo on Bringing ‘Captain America’ to the Screen

'Captain America: Civil War' Poster

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Associates.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed a crowd of about 900 Marvel fans on Wednesday evening in Washington, DC. The brothers, known for their work on Community and Arrested Development, were at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) for a revealing interview with NPR critic Linda Holmes. The event was presented by Smithsonian Associates. Their latest film,Captain America: Civil War, opened the same day in U.S. theaters and it is expected to top the box office this weekend. Civil War focuses on the conflict between two respective groups of Marvel Universe characters, referenced by fans as “Team Iron Man” and “Team Cap.”

Joe and Anthony also comprised the team behind Captain America: Winter Soldier, which they themselves classified as a political thriller. In contrast, as Anthony Russo pointed out, Civil War was developed in the style of a psychological thriller. He and Joe provided guidance to the actors on scenes by mentioning films to them such as Seven, Fargo, Blow Out, and even The Godfather. The last film in that list may not seem as obvious, unless you liken Civil War to a breakup of a family.

There’s a “language and shorthand with everybody that helps,” Anthony explained, addressing the challenges of working on a film with as many as twelve major characters.

The Marvel cinematic franchise, at least for the Russos, is highly scripted. There is still room for unexpected developments as far as what the actors can bring on set. A prime example was Paul Rudd, whose enthusiasm and amazement at meeting Chris Evans and others gave the directors “a new approach for the scenes.” Those feelings translated well into making Antman a sort of “fanboy” in his encounter with Captain America.

The interview remained largely spoiler-free until the Q&A session with the audience. Joe and Anthony Russo might have confirmed (by mistake) a possible role for Captain Marvel in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films. “[Anthony] said ‘Captain Barvel,’ totally different character,” Joe Russo insisted, amused his brother’s gaffe.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo.

Anthony and Joe Russo. Credit: Pat Cuadros

Both directors are currently working on Infinity War, a process that involves painstaking edits on the first draft of the script beginning next week. “One of those cards on a string may or may not include Captain Marvel,” Anthony chimed in, quite recovered from his earlier slip-up.

The Russos aren’t taking any sides when it comes to Team Iron Man and Team Cap. They are also equally appreciative of the contributions of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in these roles. Robert Downey Jr., Anthony shared, wasn’t even on contract for Civil War initially. “We spent more time with Robert Downey Jr. than I’d ever imagined [spending],” he added, recounting their meetings for pitching ideas to the actor.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo with NPR's Linda Holmes.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo with NPR’s Linda Holmes. Credit: Pat Cuadros

Chris Evans “really does embody [Captain America] in a way that is intrinsic,” Joe Russo remarked. “He really likes taking risks with that character.” It’s particularly noteworthy in Civil War, where Evans teases out identity questions as far as “who Steve Rogers is versus Captain America.”

Captain Marvel’s fate might be uncertain for the next few months, but don’t let that stop you from heading to the theaters. Get out your blue or red colors and cheer for either Team Cap or Team Iron Man with your friends at Captain America: Civil War.


This article was originally published on Blogcritics.org, using the same title. Minor changes were made to the opening paragraph to rightfully acknowledge the role of Smithsonian Associates. Another photo was added as well.

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