The latest Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Solider, debuts in theaters this weekend and is set to top the box office as Marvel’s huge fan base heads to theaters to check out Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles in the Marvel universe.
The film is directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who are best known outside their Marvel work for cult favorite TV comedies Arrested Development and Community. This installment in the Marvel series has managed to garner great reviews thus far, with critics giving it a 92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, saying that the movie successfully builds the Marvel universe and will be sure to please the franchise’s many fans.
The brothers Russo took inspiration for the high-budget action flick from some unexpected places, as they revealed in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. Click through to find out some fun facts about the latest Marvel movie.
1. The directors thought of the movie as a political thriller
The tone of Winter Soldier is notably more serious than other Marvel films. “It’s a political thriller. In order to have thrills, you have to have stakes. You can’t have stakes if everybody’s making light of the situation,” Joe Russo told the Los Angeles Times, commenting on the film’s lack of humor when compared with other Marvel movies. He went on to say that the relationship between Captain America (Evans) and former Russian spy Black Widow (Johansson) provides the humor in the film, rather than situational comedy.
2. The original comic by Ed Brubacker was only a loose source
The storyline of the film comes from the 2005 comic by Ed Brubacker, but the directors said that the original material could only be used as a loose source for the movie, given the restrictions on length one faces when making a film. “It was more of a jumping-off point,” Anthony Russo said of the comic in his interview with the Times. ”It’s so difficult with these movies. Everything kind of has to become it’s own thing ultimately so you take it as an inspiration.”
3. The title originally wasn’t going to include “The Winter Soldier”
The character of the Winter Soldier is a former friend and current antagonist of Captain America, but not wanting to give away the film’s storyline and central conflict, the producers originally hadn’t wanted the character’s name to be used in the title. It was a decision the Russo brothers elected to fight for. “If you go to Wikipedia, or you go on Twitter, you’re going to find out fairly quickly who he is. We’ve always said, ‘This isn’t a surprise for the audience, it’s a surprise for Captain America.’ It’s a crucial moment in the movie for him as a character,” Joe Russo said, via the Los Angeles Times.
“At first ‘The Winter Soldier’ wasn’t in the title of the film and we were really passionate about calling it Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Anthony added.
4. Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans are friends in real life
A key part of the movie is the development of the relationship between Captain America and Black Widow, and the Russo brothers said that the chemistry between Evans and Johansson comes from their real-life friendship. “Why I think their chemistry is so good together is they’re very close friends. We did a lot of script work with them on their scenes. They brought a lot of their own ideas to their scenes and a lot of personal energy to those scenes to create what we like to call a work wife/work husband relationship between those two characters,” Joe Russo said to the Times.
5. Character development was the most important aspect of the movie
When filming the action sequences, the directors tried to make sure they were simultaneously building the characters or furthering the plot, cutting any needless bits of action. “You have to lead with character and narrative at every moment through the action. We love action, we fetishize it, but that was our litmus test for when we were getting off track. When we couldn’t find the character in the moment, we knew this was something we had to throw out,” Anthony Russo said to the Los Angeles Times.
“What I enjoy when I watch the movie is the balance between character and action in the film,” Joe said. Both directors cited the relationships Captain America has with Black Widow and the Winter Soldier as the most important parts of the movie.
6. The movie was inspired by the 1970s
Time Magazine’s review caught the theme of the 1970s woven into the film, and the Russo brothers spoke about it further with the Los Angeles Times. In order to catch up on what’s happened in pop culture since he was frozen in 1945, Captain America reviews many popular items from the seventies, including disco music, Rocky, and Marvin Gaye.
The movie was inspired by political thrillers from the 1970s, including Three Days of the Condor and The French Connection. Joe Russo refers to the film as “an homage to 70s thrillers,” something you might not expect to provide inspiration for a modern Hollywood blockbuster.
“But it was important to us to try to make something as topical as we could because that’s what we always felt were the most successful political thrillers. If you look at Three Days of the Condor, Cliff [Robertson], at the end of that movie, he’s basically predicting the war for oil that happens over the next 20 years in American history, in world history,” Joe said to the Times.
“We’ve seen The French Connection 100 times and we studied that car chase frame by frame. [When] we were kids on VHS we would go one frame a time and look at what [director William Friedkin] was doing with performances and the sound work and the camerawork and how he was tying all that together in a very stylized way where it would represent the internal struggle or turmoil of the character,” he added.
7. The directors compare it to another ultra-famous franchise: Star Wars
The Russo brothers believe that thematically, Captain America’s story has a lot in common with another franchise with a dedicated fan base that takes place in a fantastical world. The Winter Soldier is a complex villain because, like in Star Wars, he has an emotional connection to the hero.
“It’s one of the first things we said to Kevin [Feige] when we met with him. We said, ‘You know this is Star Wars.’ It’s an operatic conflict between two family members. This is his best friend who is essentially his brother. They’re both equally matched and they have equal power sets. And they’re fighting for opposite principles,” Joe Russo said of discussions with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, to the Los Angeles Times.
If you enjoy the Russo brothers’ take on Captain America, they are signed on to direct the third installment of the character’s story, as well.
Correction: This article has been updated to say that Kevin Feige is the president of Marvel Studios, not the actor who plays the Winter Soldier.
More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- ‘Noah’ Floods the Box Office, But ‘Captain America’ Will Crush It Next Weekend
- Trailers Out for Final Films of James Gandolfini and Brittany Murphy
- The Series That Lived: ‘Harry Potter’ Spin-Off to Be a Movie Trilogy
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS