As you may have noticed I went on a trip to Los Angeles recently for the #CaptainAmericaEvent. I have shared some interviews from my trip (I will list them with links at the bottom of this post) and I had a ton of fun. We got to interview the Russo brothers which was almost as cool as interviewing Kevin Feige that one time and hugging him. Yes I totally did that. It was really amazing interviewing Anthony and Joe Russo. They are so talented. Of course my favorite thing they have directed is Captain America: Civil War (it may be my new favorite movie actually) but Captain America: Winter Soldier is a close second because of all the action! And destroyed cars. They really like destroying cars apparently. They were a fantastic interview!
When the Russo brothers walked in they immediately asked us #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Then we all chimed in and they asked again one at a time. We were pretty evenly divided and they said that is what they wanted to hear.
Joe Russo – That was the intent with the film was to hopefully when you’re done watching a movie you leave the theater, and you argue with your family and friends about [it]. We didn’t want to make a declarative statement one way or the other. We just want to represent both as accurately and emotionally as we could. It’s more fun that way. It’s not the kind of story that the directors need to be too firm with their point of view and because I think it would close off the opportunity to have a conversation after the movie.
Anthony Russo showed up his pin lapels with Cap on one side and Tony on the other. We asked was there any rivalry between them while filming.
Anthony Russo – No, I don’t think there was rivalry just because we both love both characters. Our process has always been; we like very layered storytelling so we often when we’re breaking the story or prepping a movie we’ll step through the story from different characters points of view. We’ll take a pass where it’ll just be all about this character, and then we’ll take a pass where it’ll be all about that character. We work with ensembles a lot in our work. And so it’s become part of our process to have moments where the whole movie belongs to somebody else, just one particular character for a moment as we’re thinking about the film from beginning to end. That’s the process we went through on this movie as well with the writers, Markus and McFeely and the producer, Nate Moore from Marvel and Kevin Feige. They’re both very near and dear to our hearts. We love them both. We love characters who are exciting and fun and cool at all that, but also are very human and vulnerable. We always look for that side of the character. For us, it was very important to find where’s Steve Rogers vulnerable? Where is Tony Stark vulnerable? And sort of play to those in this movie in a way that would put them in conflict with one another.
And they totally did. They found the vulnerability in both their main characters and split them open. I can honestly say I haven’t been so out of breathe in a movie since Avengers when Tony guides the missile through the wormhole. This movie had tons of scenes like that. Edge of your seat, holding your breathe, hoping that what you think is about to happen doesnt or does happen.
Being as they are the directors and amazing, we asked them about their vision of this movie and where they hoped it would go.
Anthony Russo – You can’t do a movie called Captain America without sort of having political, thinking about the politics of it, okay? It’s at the center of the character, who the character is from as inception and obviously in his name. So while there is still elements of the political thriller that carries us forward and kind of maybe even launches us into this movie, we always thought about this movie as a psychological thriller. And that shift was very important to us because the heart of this movie for us is the relationship and the conflict between Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and Tony Stark.
What has to play out between those three characters in the climax of the film that we are driving towards as storytellers for the whole movie. We are setting up that sort of awful reveal and that awful tension that plays out between those characters in that moment. So that’s why we always thought of it as a psychological thriller in terms of what happens to these characters on a psychological and emotional level when this horrible revelation comes through at the end of the film.
I know they look serious in that picture but they were just listening. They were really great at listening to our many questions which were usually layered with more questions and then giving us more than we hoped. Like when we asked about them deviating from the comic book world.
Joe Russo – Well, as comic book fans ourselves and I was you know a huge comic book fan, I don’t have a lot of interest, I’m the first guy to line up to see the midnight showing of a movie I’m excited about. And I’ll drag my son out with me and sit there till 2:30 in the morning and watch the film just because I want to have that immediate response to the movie the same way that everybody does want to be part of the cultural conversation about that movie. As a die-hard comic book fan, I’m not interested in seeing a straight interpretation of a comic book.
I already know the story, so why would I go see the movie? You know in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also in building its characters in a very specific way that is very different than a comic books. Film is a very different medium then comic books. You know, we have two hours, 2 ½ hours to tell a story in. And we can only put out one of those movies once a year, every two years to move these characters forward. So we have to make choices that are servicing the storytelling that is built up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And so Civil War in the MCU is very different than Civil War in the comic books. We don’t have the same characters, we don’t have the same storytelling. We borrowed the concept and applied it to our characters. But we also needed what we felt was a very emotional reason that would drive the story on both sides because again we were really committed to making sure that when he got to the end he had a very difficult time deciding who was right
Well there you have it comic book fans. I told people all along that I was Team Iron Man because I knew who won in the comics and I knew where Tony was coming from. But this movie is different and you will have to watch it to see where your loyalty will go. SIde note, I am still on Tony’s side.
I am going to just paste in the long response from Joe Russo about Spider-Man because we were all super happy when Marvel got to use him in this film. And I absolutely LOVE Tom Holland. He is amazing in his role and I could have kissed the Russo brothers because this is the first Spider-Man I have actually liked in the movies. He is the first to really hit home like the comic book character and even somewhat the 90’s cartoon character. So when we asked where they found Tom and were they going to hang onto him, this is what we got:
Joe Russo – Oh my God…We are doing everything we can to hang onto him.
Anthony Russo – Yeah. We’re more in love with him than anybody.
Joe Russo – There was an exhaustive audition process for that role. We saw him for the first time in our office in Atlanta; it was Anthony and I. We were doing work sessions with all the actors, and he came in. Spiderman was a very important character to me as a kid. I was a big comic book collector. I still have my collection in my closet to my wife’s dismay. That character was my favorite character growing up. So to be able to interpret him on screen was like a dream come true.
The things that I loved about him as a character when I was a kid were his vulnerability, his insecurity, his sense of humor. But, I loved that his sense of humor in the books was a very self-aware you know. He was a smart ass kid, but he was a kid. We felt that our interpretation of the character, we wanted to have an actor very close in age to Peter Parker and Tom’s a young actor. We also wanted to make sure that the actor had both the vulnerability and confidence at the same time.
It made him accessible, but also would allow him to stand in contrast to all these other experienced superheroes who are running around dealing with a very adult problem. And then you insert into that kid who’s trying to improvise his way through the situation but doesn’t understand the stakes and couldn’t understand the stakes because he’s a kid. And Tom Holland just embodied all of that. He brought a real authenticity. That was the other thing too is that we wanted him to feel like he was of New York today, right now and not about comic book New York. He was a kid living in Queens who had a certain energy to him and a certain you know, a certain –, that feeling that you get or that the shift in your personality that happens when you do live in New York City. You know and that, so that was everything we were looking for and he, the kid just embodied it amazingly in the film. It was amazing.
And last question I want to share is when we asked about the darker tones of this movie. It is true that this is the darkest Marvel I have seen and it really sets the stage for the next few movies to come out. We asked them, “with your last film, you guys had wanted to do more like a 70s spy thriller. Was that your vision? What was your vision going into this one?
Anthony Russo – You can’t do a movie called Captain America without thinking about the politics of it. It’s at the center of the character, who the character is from inception and obviously in his name. There is still elements of the political thriller that carries us forward and maybe even launches us into this movie. We always thought about this movie as a psychological thriller. That shift was very important to us because you know the heart of this movie for us is the relationship and the conflict between Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and Tony Stark. It’s what has to play out between those three characters in the climax of the film that we are driving towards as storytellers for the whole movie. We are setting up that sort of awful reveal and that awful tension that plays out between those characters in that moment. That’s why we always thought of it as a psychological thriller in terms of what happens to these characters on a psychological and emotional level when this horrible revelation comes through at the end of the film. We were thinking about movies in that vain. Like, one of the movies we talked about a lot was David Fincher’s Se7en. We talked about Brian de Palma’s Blow Out a lot. These are movies that have had this similar trajectory where the characters are on this sort of road to something very awful. What is going to happen to them when they get there? How are they going to react as characters? How are they going to whether it as characters? That was the heart of the film for us this time around.
Wow. Such a great answer. I knew they were taking things to a deeper level. I had seen interviews with them way back in the filming process and got scared for my favorite characters. I knew that everyone who saw this movie would come out of it changed and we have the Russo brothers to thank for that. Which is amazing. I am going to include this line in my review I think.
They took a photo with us and left us with all that new knowledge to share with all of you. So when you see the movie TOMORROW! MAY 6th! Come back and tell me what you think of it.