The first "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" footage had its Hall H Comic-Con premiere on Saturday night and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. What's already apparent is that this 'Cap will be heavy on S.H.I.E.L.D. and, as co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo explain, will bridge the two Avengers movies, creating a "very strong hand off."
I met with the Russo brothers here in San Diego shortly before their Hall H panel to talk about their highly anticipated sequel and just how two directors who are best known for their work on "Community," "Arrested Development" and the Owen Wilson movie "You, Me and Dupree" found themselves in the directors' chairs for a big budget Captain America movie.
I have to admit, after watching "You, Me, and Dupree," I didn't think a future step would be a Captain America movie.
Anthony: Our pitch was basically "Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dupree."
Joe: Yeah. You know, it's been an interesting journey for us. I mean, look, I'll try to give you the short version of it. But, we came into filmmaking, we got discovered by Steven Soderbergh ... and we had written two scripts for Soderbergh, because he said he wanted to produce us. One was a big crime movie that spanned decades, set in Cleveland. The other was a small comedy called "Welcome to Collinwood." He said, "Let's go for comedy first because it's cheaper." And we made "Welcome to Collinwood", and next, we got a show called "Lucky" at FX, which then led to "Arrested Development" and suddenly we won an Emmy and now we have a "comedy brand."
And now you're replacing Joe Johnston, the man who created Boba Fett.
Joe: I know. Our approach to the movie was, look, I started collecting comic books when I was 10 years old. One of the first books I ever bought was a Cap-Falcon comic book ... and what's nice about Captain America movies is that the first one is a real love letter to a period, because it's about his origins and his origin book was written in period. So that's a very smart approach for that film. Now, he's in a modern universe and he's working for a very modern agency and we felt like the movie had to have a very modern edge to it. So, it's literally a tonal reboot, I think -- a style reboot. It's very vérité. We shot a lot of handheld. It's extremely visceral. There's a lot of action in the movie so I think people are gonna be surprised.
In The Winter Soldier story, Bucky comes back after being frozen in ice. How do you make that not feel like a retread to the audience? Like, "Oh, another guy is frozen in ice and wakes up in the 2010s."
Anthony: No, that's a good question. It totally takes a lot of massaging.
It is kind of remarkable that it happened to both of them.
Joe: It's like, any comic book, there's a certain buy-in, right? Okay, that a guy has super powers. You're buying in that there's a universe that exists where these things can happen. You have to focus on the upside of the relationship, which is, like, your best friend is your enemy. Which is such a rich and complicated and mythic sort of conflict. And it's sort of like the excitement of that and the complexity of that is sort of what you drive at, to figure out how to massage into a buyable, plausible narrative.
Are Captain America and Falcon going to be friends right away, or is there some friction?
Joe: I mean, it's tough for us to answer specifically. It falls into the purveyance of -- you know.
Anthony: They go through a bonding process that is very specific to their sort of experiences. And we found sort of a common thread between the two characters, in terms of their backstories, that we kind of used to kind of force their bond. But I'm sorry I can't get any more specific.
Joe: And so really, they hire guys like us who are comic book fanatics -- my favorite things about this character, I wanted to put into this movie. And some of my favorite things about this character were in Brubaker's run of the Winter Soldier, and a villain -- a fucking villain --- who had such an emotional connection to the hero? That's a gift. You can't ask for better.
Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow plays a large role in this movie. Is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" the "Iron Man 2" of Phase 2, as far as how much "Avengers" material is in it?
Joe: There's a very strong connection in the narrative between the events of the end of "Avengers" that drive this film -- and there's a very strong hand off to "Avengers 2" at the end of this movie. And Kevin Feige's whole thing is that this is the biggest bridge of all of Phase 2 movies; it really is. It does involve the most amount of Avengers of any of the films in Phase 2, and it has sort of a, you know, there's a very big shift in the universe at the end of this movie.
What do you think of Dan Harmon's return to "Community"?
Joe: It's great for the show, because Dan really is the voice in that show.
Is he an easy guy to work for? I get the impression he's not. Or at least he can be an intense guy at times.
Joe: I mean, Dan's an intense and passionate guy. And I think that not everybody who works with him can be as intense and passionate. And sometimes, to get things done in the business, you've got to stomp your feet a little bit. And, you know, he did a good job of sort of sending off a lot of outside notes and sort of protecting what it was that he felt the show was about. We haven't been involved with the show since the end of season three, when we got into Captain America -- but it's fantastic for the show that he's back.
A Captain America movie is a long process. Would you want to do another one?
Anthony: Absolutely, yeah.
Joe: Amazing experience. We had the best experience of our careers working with Marvel. They're an amazing group of people: extremely talented, very bright, very collaborative. We can't say enough good things about them. We would work with them in a heartbeat.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.