Joe Russo Says This MCU Avenger Is ‘Most Difficult…to Play’

After a decade’s worth of films falling under the MCU mantle, viewers have seen their fair share of Avengers (several depicted at the hands of Anthony and Joe Russo). We’ve got the quick-tongued billionaire turned selfless hero: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The beloved former Russian spy who finds the family she needed in the Avengers: Natasha (Scarlett Johansson). The scientist who finally learns to exist in peace with his stomp and smash alter-ego: Banner (Mark Ruffalo). The morally upstanding man who learns to loosen up a little: Rogers (Chris Evans). The list goes on and on.

Joe Russo and Anthony Russo MCU
MCU Directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo | Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

In short, each Avenger brings something unique to the table. Each Avenger — while teaming up with the others to save the day – simultaneously undergoes an individual narrative arc. The standalone movies – whether preceding or proceeding the mash-ups — work to characterize each Avenger on the team. Thus, fans come to identify with each hero in a specific way, disconnected from the hero’s journey, yet intimately tied to a personal saga.

While it may be difficult for viewers to discern which Avenger is the most difficult to portray, Joe Russo revealed who he deems “one of the most difficult roles you could possibly ask an actor to play.” 

Why Joe Russo feels Chris Evans’ Captain America presents a great acting challenge 

When discussing Chris Evans’ Captain America, Joe Russo explained to Men’s Journal why the character presents a great challenge. On behalf of Steve Rogers, he stated:

[It’s] one of the most difficult roles you could possibly ask an actor to play…He’s playing integrity and moral fortitude and making it complex and interesting at the same time. It can be very difficult.

Men’s Journal

Though Chris Evans undergoes a transformative journey throughout his time with the Avengers — becoming a little less rigid and a little more playful — he remains the upright citizen of the bunch. 

So, what’s the challenge in playing a character so righteous, so morally driven, so heroic. If heroic to a fault, a character can quickly become a caricature of a man — a superhero who comes off as stereotypical, lacking human qualities for an audience to relate to. 

Inside Captain America and Chris Evans’ admirable performance

With no signs of impurity or arrogance, Captain America could have fallen flat; however, Evans makes the audience fall in love with him. We root for Captain America, for his outward traits are not merely quirks; they are characteristics. They serve to represent his core, and at his core, exists an honorable and admirable man. 

Steve Rogers may be a hero, but he has weaknesses (Bucky being a main one), and he has his vulnerabilities. And when push comes to shove, they reveal themselves. He may be the representation of “moral fortitude,” but he is not emotionally impregnable or superior. 

Never forget, Rogers was the scrawny soldier. Never forget, he held onto a love that seemed out of reach. Never forget, despite integrity being his most frequently observed attribute, it was never his only one. And, through a nuanced performance, Evans made that clear. Evans took a character — who on the outside seemed pretty straight-laced and lacking in complexity — and made him an intricate man. 

The task was not easy. Evans had to retain Captain America’ shtick — pay homage to the source material — while bringing the character into a more human, more relatable and contemporary light for the MCU.