Cast: Chris Evans, Frank Grillo, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Running Time: 136 minutes
Synopsis: From Marvel Studios comes the highly anticipated 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which continues the big screen adventures of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" picks up after the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, and finds Steve Rogers living quietly in Washington, D.C., and trying to adjust to the modern world.
But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue and mystery that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable new enemy"the Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 3rd, 2014
Marvel Studios' unprecedented success has continued with the releases of 'Thor 2: The Dark World," which has grossed over $639 million worldwide to date and 'Iron Man 3" which grossed over $1.2 billon worldwide and was the #1 grossing film for 2013 both domestically and internationally. In 2011 Marvel produced the critically acclaimed 'Marvel's The Avengers," which set the all-time, domestic 3-day weekend box office record at $207.4 million. The film, which shattered both domestic and international box office records, is Disney's highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time at $1.6 billion and marks the studio's fifth film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.
In the summer of 2011, Marvel successfully launched 'Thor," starring Chris Hemsworth, and 'Captain America: The First Avenger," starring Chris Evans. Both films opened #1 at the box office and have grossed over $800 million worldwide combined. In 2010 'Iron Man 2," starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, took the #1 spot in its first weekend with a domestic box office gross of $128.1 million.
In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies 'Iron Man" and 'The Incredible Hulk." 'Iron Man" garnered the number one position for two weeks in a row, raking in over $100 million in its opening weekend. 'The Incredible Hulk" marked Marvel's second number one opener of that summer.
President of Marvel Entertainment and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" producer Kevin Feige explains why Marvel has been able to continue its unprecedented box office success within its beloved universe of characters. 'One of the big reasons why our films have continued to be successful is we never underestimate or discount an audience's desire to see justice prevail, or to see a character who is flawed in some way overcome adversity," says Feige. 'One of my favorite things about the characters in the Marvel universe is that it is never easy for them to prevail. Even if they have super powers or skills, people like seeing our heroes put through the ringer and still hopefully emerge triumphant. Luckily we have been able to take those elements and transform them into a visual spectacle that is a fun to watch and emotionally compelling. It makes it worth leaving your big screen TV for a theater where you can enjoy watching it with a crowd as a collective experience. Were also very fortunate to have a universe full of so many complex, but entertaining characters that continue to resonate with audiences."
Marvel co-president of production Louis D'Esposito adds that it is also important to note that the storylines in each film are interconnected in some way and they all have an effect on the different film franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 'It really raises the stakes when audiences know that whatever happens in -Iron Man 3' is going to have relevance to the storyline of -Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and -Thor: The Dark World,'" explains D'Esposito. 'And what happens in those films will affect -Avengers: Age of Ultron.' It's not always easy to do and sometimes it takes a little while to pay things off, but I think audiences really appreciate that when we do."
THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA
Since its debut in 1941 by creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Captain America (the Super Soldier alter ego of young patriot Steve Rogers) comics have sold more than 210 million copies in more than 70 countries. From the first Captain America comic book cover image displaying a young hero, with the American flag on his chest, punching Adolf Hitler square in the jaw, to the current iteration, the character remains relatively unchanged in many ways.
Co-creator Joe Simon comments, 'They've done a lot of things since Jack and I worked on the character, however, we're still reminded who Captain America is and what he is. He is a symbol. He is an icon."
For Stan Lee, who revived the character early on after its initial run, Captain America is a timeless character that has stayed relevant to this day. 'When I became the editor of Marvel, the company had stopped publishing -Captain America' and I told them I wanted to bring that character back, but I don't just want to make him a guy who fights bad guys, I want to make him something a little deeper," says executive producer Stan Lee.
Stan Lee continues, 'We conceived that Steve Rogers had been frozen in a glacier for a few decades and when he wakes up, he feels like a character from another time. He can't understand Woodstock or what was going on with the hippies, drugs and so forth. The character has trouble fitting into the society that he finds himself in and by giving him a little more personality and problems to cope with, readers really connected and identified with him. It was exciting to watch him grow to become one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe and the character makes for a great film franchise."
For the filmmakers, choosing which storyline the film pulled from was not an easy decision to make since the first film was a 1940s period piece and there was so much great source material from that time period to present day. Producer Kevin Feige explains the process of deciding what direction to take the franchise after the successful launch of 'Captain America: The First Avenger."
'The first -Captain America' film was almost entirely period except for the little twist ending that brought him into modern day," says producer Kevin Feige. 'Then of course he went on to his adventure in -Marvel's The Avengers,' which was present day. But Captain America, who unlike Iron Man who goes back to Malibu and Pepper Potts or Thor who goes back to Asgard and Jane Foster, can't go back in time to Peggy Carter and is stuck in the modern world. So more than any other film, we knew in developing the story that it would connect most to -Marvel's The Avengers' because Steve Rogers is still transitioning into the modern world. He's still working alongside Nick Fury for S.H.I.E.L.D and is picking it all up relatively well, but there's still a sense of loneliness and we wanted a good portion of this story to be about Steve Rogers discovering his place in the today's society."
With so many great storylines in the Captain America comics over the last 70 years, the filmmakers had many options from the source material for the 2nd chapter of the beloved franchise. 'One of the greatest things for us as filmmakers is that we are really blessed to have so many years of great storytelling and memorable characters in the comics that really give us so much inspiration and direction when it comes time to develop the stories and scripts for our films," says producer Louis D'Esposito. 'We don't tell the same exact stories as they appear in the comics, but they give us a great jumping off point in developing the most compelling stories that we think audiences will enjoy and want to see."
Directors On Board
One of the key elements in Marvel's success has been hiring talented directors who are capable of putting their own unique stamp on each film. For 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Marvel brought on a pair of directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo.
'In our meetings with the Russo brothers, I had a hunch that they had it in them to really elevate one of our properties," says producer Kevin Feige. 'They loved the idea that we were presenting to them"the '70s political thriller, the much more contemporary, much more grounded Super Hero story this time around and they have embraced it and improved it and delivered what I think is the best pure action film we've ever made."
Executive producers and directors of the critically acclaimed, award-winning television shows 'Arrested Development" and 'Community," the Russo brothers were thrilled to immerse themselves in the Marvel Universe and were impressed by the way producer Kevin Feige has the ability to look for directing talent outside of the action genre. 'Kevin Feige's done it again and again in a way that's unprecedented and remarkable," comments Anthony Russo. 'He likes to bring fresh voices to the table, encouraging them to find a fresh spin on the material."
The Russo brothers had to go through a long process to take the helm, but Joe Russo appreciated the steps that they had to take to bring their vision to Marvel. 'It was a great process for us, a healthy process. It forced us to focus. To really think through our approach to the material," says Joe Russo. 'As part of the audition process, we showed Marvel a lot of videos"actual car chases, Krav Maga experts giving demonstrations, special forces training videos. We were pushing to bring a real-world, grounding component to the franchise."
That 'real-world grounding" was a very important element in the making of the film for the Russos since the movie has the tone of a 1970s political thriller. 'You can't have a thriller without stakes, and stakes are emotional; stakes have to play real, especially in a political thriller, which has contemporary themes to it," explains Joe Russo. 'You have to play as real as possible in order for the audience to properly relate to the storytelling, otherwise you're losing a layer of texture. You've got to make the audience care."
The Russo brothers also chose to go with a handheld camera, which was a technique that further grounded the film. As Joe Russo explains, 'For us the choice to go handheld was philosophical. It had to do with the narrative. We wanted the movie to be vérité, so that you would feel as if you were there, again as a way to raise the stakes. Another benefit of shooting handheld is that you get the fluidity of the camera as it follows action; you can track a punch to a face and then whip back to the character throwing the punch. We wanted the action to be clean and trackable in the movie and we felt the handheld camera gave us the freedom to follow the action more specifically than a locked frame."
Anthony Russo adds, 'The great thing about vérité is that it adds a limited point of view"a point of view that lends itself to naturalism."
Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" lends itself to the vérité style very well because it is part thriller and part adventure film. 'The movie is really two different films," explains Joe Russo. 'It's a thriller until the end of the second act. Once the plot is revealed, and Cap's mission becomes clear, it becomes an adventure film. We were extremely mindful of that construction in the development phase. We knew that the thriller component would allow us to lean into a character-based realism. But we also knew, cinematically, that when we got to the third act, the movie would grow into a Marvel film. It would have that scale and scope that Marvel's famous for."
Elaborating, Joe Russo adds, 'The thriller just by nature tends to be more intimate than an adventure movie because it's being driven on character-based plot twists"you're dealing with a really complex relationship between Cap and Fury, a really complex relationship between Cap and Natasha"and those relationships play out as you head into the third act, where the heroes have a joint goal. And you're hoping that you've planted those seeds properly, so that when the adventure component takes over, the audience is emotionally invested, and ready to go on that journey with you for the last thirty minutes."
Comments Anthony Russo, 'It's fun to combine two elements that are incongruous. You're like a scientist mixing together compounds that you're not quite sure how they're going to react. A thriller film and an adventure film. Handheld vérité versus the more pre-meditated shots of the third act. This has been a driving force in our careers, from -Arrested Development' to -Community'"the desire for experimentation."
Stepping into a film with characters that are already established did not faze the Russo brothers. 'It was easy for a couple of reasons," relates Anthony Russo. 'One of which is that we have a strong history in television, where you're dealing with moving in and out of different stories with different characters that have been pre-established. Secondly, the actors are all amazing people and amazing actors. They made it easy for us to connect with them, to talk about what we loved about what they had done in the past and what new colors we thought they could bring to this movie."
'The first movie in a franchise is about establishing the heroes and the second movie is about putting the heroes against the ropes," adds Joe Russo. 'This film is a much grittier story than any Marvel movie to date and we really wanted to try something different. We felt like it was our job to add something to the Marvel universe that they can then use as a tool going forward in Phase 2."
Chris Evans comments on his directors, saying, 'They have done a really good job with our film; none of the other Marvel movies were shot the way this movie was shot. The majority of this movie is handheld and that's just a really interesting approach to a Super Hero movie. The plot is more like the political thriller but the way they're capturing it is really different and unique."
Robert Redford was attracted to the sensibility of directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and relates, 'They're very respectful yet they also take no prisoners. They have a very strong idea of what they want to do and they're committed to doing it in their own way. I like that. They have a vision for this film that's theirs. I also appreciate it when a filmmaker has a vision that they stay connected to and enforce to the best of their abilities."
From an actor's point of view, working for directors Anthony and Joe Russo was a positive experience for Anthony Mackie. 'Both of them have very good actor vocabulary, which a lot of directors don't have," relates Anthony Mackie. 'They really have the ability to talk to you and break down a scene and tell you why you're doing what you're doing, and not too many directors can do that."
Crafting The Story
With directors Anthony and Joe Russo on board to direct the film, producer Kevin Feige, explains why the Winter Soldier storyline was one he found very compelling. 'One of the best Captain America storylines in the comics over the past 20 years was The Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker," states Kevin Feige. 'It influenced the tone and the texture in the first Captain America film, and we all felt it was time to for the Winter Soldier to be one of the main characters in the franchise."
For Ed Brubaker, coming up with the Winter Soldier character was something that started in his youth. 'When I was 8 years old, I had already been reading comics for about four years and I had every issue of -Captain America' from #100 on," recalls Ed Brubaker. 'I always thought there was an issue #99 where Captain America and Bucky got blown up by Baron Zemo and Bucky died, and then I went to San Diego Comic Con for the first time and I found out that didn't actually happen and that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had just decided not to bring Bucky back when they brought Captain America back. I was a big Bucky fan and I thought to myself, -If I ever get to write a Captain America comic, I'm going to bring Bucky back.'"
With the filmmakers settling on the storyline for the film, the ball was passed to screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely who wrote the first film of the franchise, 'Captain America: The First Avenger." Speaking about the writing duo, Kevin Feige says, 'They're great because they are well versed in the comics. They're also just incredible screenwriters and very creative. They've got one foot outside of the comic world, one foot firmly inside the comic world, and in particular for -The Winter Soldier' that's what we were looking for. We were looking for a movie that could play to both groups of people"as we do with all of our movies"fans of the properties and people who don't know them at all."
For the seasoned writing partners, delving back into the world of Steve Rogers was a welcomed challenge. 'We always loved the Winter Soldier because it's a really cool character and an important piece of connective tissue, from past to present," says screenwriter Christopher Markus. 'Very early on Marvel was a little reticent because they wanted to potentially save the character for the third film or even beyond that. So we outlined a completely different movie without the character, which was fine, but it didn't quite have the emotional power and levity that the Winter Soldier added. We knew there was this amazing story we could tell and we weren't telling it, and then finally Kevin Feige came in and told us to go with the Winter Soldier storyline after all."
'The Winter Soldier is like a negative image of Captain America," says screenwriter Stephen McFeely. 'Steve Rogers was asleep for 70 years while the Winter Soldier was killing people for 70 years. One represents the government and the other has spent 70 years undermining governments, killing presidents and important political figures."
Much like the first film, the screenwriters infused the script with strong character arcs rooted in emotion and heart. 'We've been lucky that in both Captain America scripts, the stories naturally lent themselves to an emotional third act," adds screenwriter Stephen McFeely. 'In the first film Steve Rogers sacrifices himself for the good of others and in doing so, forgoes the opportunity to have a great loving relationship with Peggy Carter. I think it tugged at people's hearts in a way that most Super Hero films don't. With this film he's also faced with the dilemma of trying to save a close friend, so there's a lot at stake for him."
For directors Anthony and Joe Russo, not having to deal with the character's origin made developing the script and story much easier. 'The first -Captain America' was an origin story that embraced the '40s time period, but the movie ended with the character waking up 70 years later," says Joe Russo. 'I don't know when the last time that happened in a film, but it allows this film to be unique in the pantheon of sequels over the last 20 or 30 years. In developing the script, it was really nice not having to spend 40 minutes getting to know the character and driving him to the point where he becomes the hero. It allows us to get right into the character's current crisis as well as the character's emotion and heart. I think there's a great deal of depth to this script with a real emotional journey for Steve Rogers. There's also a modernization of the character so that he thinks and fights more like a modern soldier."
Adds Anthony Russo, 'We thought what would happen if you took a guy who was ten times as strong and the best special ops soldier in the world and put him in today's world? So now you have Captain America going on S.H.I.E.L.D. missions, which is basically the equivalent of working for the CIA. The screenwriters did an amazing job of taking this dynamic and writing a script that builds towards the conflict of the two main characters. It's a really elegant script and very smart storytelling."
With two years passing since the events in 'Marvel's The Avengers," Steve Rogers has adjusted to the practical changes in his life, but the emotional ones are still causing conflict in his life. 'What we really like about where you find him in this film is that it's not really about catching him up on technology"we breezed through that pretty quickly because we thought that was the less interesting component of the character," says Joe Russo. 'The more interesting component for us was psychologically how do you take somebody from the greatest generation and drop him into this generation, and where would there be conflict, and can that person understand the cultural pessimism that pervades everything we do now. Markus and McFeely wrote a great script and some of the best lines in the movie have to do with Cap's point of view about that."
Building The Cast
While screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely hammered out the finishing touches on the screenplay, the Russo Brothers focused their attention on putting together an outstanding cast, which included Chris Evans, who returns as Steve Rogers aka Captain America. 'In this film a good amount of time has passed since the events with The Avengers, so Steve Rogers has had time to process what has happened to him," says Anthony Russo. 'As the world's greatest soldier, Cap moves on from the U.S. Army and goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., which creates a conflict in him because S.H.I.E.L.D. is a complicated spy organization that deals in grays and clandestine motivation, and that's not who Cap really is."
For Chris Evans the grounded and gritty tone of the script played to the strength and sensibilities of the title character. 'Cap doesn't fly; he doesn't shoot lightning bolts," informs Chris Evans. 'He punches and kicks, so with that type of combat, to make it cool you have the liberty to get grittier. It feels a little more voyeuristic, a little more documentary style, and it just has a rougher feel as opposed to most Super Hero films that tend to be a bit glossier."
Chris Evans continues, 'As far as the character goes, Steve Rogers is now entrenched in the modern world. All of the people he knew are gone and there are many things that he struggles to understand. I always have interpreted Captain America as having a certain sense of loneliness given the fact that everyone knows who he is, but he doesn't know anyone. Because of that dynamic, I think he's a little suspicious of people's motives when they approach him."
Producer Kevin Feige comments on having Chris Evans suit up again as Captain America: 'It's great because Chris Evans is such a good actor and is growing into this part and is embracing this part in such a great way that we get to see those other sides of Steve as he navigates this world of grays when he came from a place where it was very clear who the good guys were and who the bad guys were."
'Chris Evans is one of the more technically gifted actors we've ever worked with; he's easy to direct because he's a self-corrector," comments director Joe Russo. 'He's extremely vigilant about the truthfulness of his performance. What I think is almost impossible to convey about Steve Rogers, which I think Chris Evans does amazingly well, is he layers the character with a combination of machismo and morality. He's made the character very complex; Steve Rogers craves a simple code, but it's difficult for him to find clarity in the modern world. Chris Evans brought in wonderful layers of confusion and pathos, without losing any of the grit and purpose of the character."
Chris Evans has equal praise for his directors, whose knowledge of both comic books and films impressed him. 'They have a real healthy knowledge and love for comic books, which I think is a good foundation, and they have an encyclopedic knowledge of film. When you watch playback and they reference other films in comparison to what this shot looks like, it is spot on. These guys really know their movies and that's comforting."
One person Steve Rogers often turns to is Nick Fury, played again by Samuel L. Jackson. As the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the peacekeepers of the modern world, Fury faces many challenges following the events of 'Marvel's The Avengers." 'Nick Fury is back on home soil and dealing with rebuilding," says Samuel L. Jackson. 'So he's gearing up to make the world a bit more secure and must bring Steve Rogers into the 21st century. Nick is feeling pretty good about himself and has convinced the World Security Council that Super Heroes can be beneficial in making the world a safer place."
Samuel L. Jackson continues, 'Steve Rogers is still not sure about how we run things at S.H.E.I.L.D or how the government has intruded into everyone's lives and that people's freedoms are being infringed upon. So he's having these moments of introspection."
'Nick Fury's in a place in this movie where the head of any clandestine organisation would find themselves"he's having to deal with the security of the world by lying to people and doing things covertly in order to protect them," explains Joe Russo. 'He says in the movie early on that he's been motivated to do this because of New York and now he wants to preemptively protect the world; new threats are making themselves known and he feels like he needs new weapons to deal with them."
For Nick Fury, earning Steve Rogers trust is not easy and the two often find themselves on opposite ends of spectrum when it comes to dealing with outside forces and threats to world security. 'Steve Rogers is a little combative with Nick Fury," says Samuel L. Jackson. 'He thinks that Nick plays both sides against the middle and so he's a little wary of what he does. So Steve Rogers is trying to find the fine balance between the government, his place in it, and what this shadow world is that he's now a part of."
Kevin Feige feels that this film is a 'culmination" for Sam Jackson. 'He's popped up as Nick Fury many, many times for us now, and in this film we get to see more of him than we've ever seen before," informs the producer. 'We get to see him struggle with where he's found himself in his role as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's fun to have an actor who's played a character for so long to be able to now sink his teeth into it in another way, and we spend more time with him and alone with him than we have in any of the other films."
Kevin Feige continues, 'In a lot of ways, he is what drives this story forward. He is"as Nick Fury always is"behind the scenes manipulating the agenda and the plot of the film, but in this one it's really a character turn for him. He gets to motivate much of what Steve Rogers does. They have a real philosophical difference and we get to see how Steve is changed by Nick over the course of this movie, but even more importantly how Nick is changed by Steve."
For Samuel L. Jackson, putting on the long black jacket and eye-patch of Nick Fury is a labor of love for the actor. 'I really enjoy going back into this world and putting my scar on and becoming Nick Fury," admits Samuel Jackson. 'He's a know-it-all, impervious-to-the-world kind of dude who's a real patriot but has his own view of how things should be run and how the country should be protected. He has his people around him whom he's learned to trust, and they trust him as well. His leadership ability is impeccable. So it's always a joy to come back into this character in this space."
Another familiar face at S.H.I.E.L.D. for Steve Rogers is Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. Natasha has become Steve Rogers' closest ally in the organization as she helps him adjust to his new role. 'When we first meet Natasha and Steve, it's kind of in real time, so a couple of years have gone by and they have worked on many different missions together," informs Scarlett Johansson. 'They have gotten to know each other better, so they have more ease and banter to their conversations. I really like the dynamic because their friendship is far more interesting to me than if they were to have a romantic relationship."
The actress continues, 'Natasha is a very strong-willed, thoughtful, intelligent woman, but we don't really know if she is capable of a romantic relationship as she has so many trust issues and the last thing on her mind is getting a boyfriend. Obviously Steve Rogers is an attractive guy, but I think she's still learning how to be herself"whoever that is"and she's starting to realize new things with her friendship with Steve Rogers being the catalyst that allows her to be self-reflective and understanding."
For Chris Evans, having his longtime friend Scatlett Johansson as his co-star makes it easier to ground the characters relationship in reality. 'I've known Scarlett Johansson for over ten years now. She's like a sister," says Chris Evans. 'We've done four movies now, and it's just so nice having a history with someone off camera because I think that bleeds onscreen. Cap and Black Widow are very different people; it's kind of like this odd pairing. Her morality is questionable and Cap's a Boy Scout. She makes her living by lying and Cap couldn't do it if he tried. When they are at the point where they really can't trust anyone, it becomes an interesting relationship because it involves trusting someone you don't know that well."
Samuel L. Jackson agrees with his co-star's assessment of Black Widow. 'Natasha does things that Steve Rogers won't do," informs Samuel L. Jackson. 'Natasha doesn't ask questions; she just follows orders and there's no line that she won't cross for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha's relationship with Nick Fury is very special. They've been through some things together and he knows a lot more about her than most people. In this film their bond is tested in an interesting way."
For Scarlett Johansson, the film was an opportunity to delve deeper into the character's cryptic past, which has only been glossed over in 'Iron Man 2" and 'Marvel's The Avengers." 'We continue to open up the story and give little tidbits and throw the bone out once in a while as to where she came from and what her background is," relates Scarlett Johansson. 'There's a lot to explore in the past but certainly where she's going too. When you take a character who's had the past that she's had, who has seen the darkest places, over time she appreciates what the right thing is in her mind and starts to understand humanity."
Describing the relationship in the film between Black Widow and Captain America, Joe Russo adds, 'We were gifted by Joss a very complex, fascinating character in Black Widow that we could use to push against Cap and bring different colors out of him. Cap's got a very clear goal that he wants to achieve but it becomes more complicated when other characters intersect him and he has to work off of them. Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans have a great relationship because they've done a lot of movies together. Their chemistry is fantastic in the film and they both deliver amazing performances. I think it's because of the depth of character, and the contrast that they present to one another. One craves the truth, the other couldn't be more facile with it."
Adds Anthony Russo, 'We couldn't resist the idea of putting those two characters together because Cap has such a strong moral code and Black Widow lies for a living; it's fire and water. To force those two into a situation where they have to engage each other and trust each other made for some great drama."
There have been many award-winning actors who have been showcased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" continues the lineage with the casting of Academy Award® winner Robert Redford as Secretary Alexander Pierce, a top government official.
For Robert Redford, becoming part of the Marvel Universe is something that goes all the way back to his childhood. 'When I was a kid, I read comic books and I imagined competing with Captain Marvel," says Robert Redford. 'I loved them, but my parents were against me reading comics because they wanted me to read something -substantial.' So I used to go into my closet with a flashlight and read them. They were a big part of my childhood and I can fully understand why that kind of animation and short storytelling is so appealing to a young kid. I think because of my love for comics, I went on to really appreciate literature in a greater sense."
'The character was a smaller role, originally, and it developed over time," says Joe Russo. 'As it developed into something much bigger, we knew we would need an actor of significant heft to carry the part. Being film buffs and guys who grew up on 70's thrillers, there's a great symmetry in approaching Robert Redford for this film. The roots of -Captain America: The Winter Soldier' lie in -Three Days of the Condor.' Cap goes on a similar journey as Robert Redford's character in that film and from a cultural standpoint we knew it would be incredibly exciting to see Robert Redford in a comic book movie. Not to mention, he's one of the coolest people you'll ever meet."
Anthony Russo adds, 'Robert Redford had great ideas for the part. He's politically inclined, and he only responds to material that motivates him. So even though the movie's this giant Super Hero tent pole film, and it's unlike anything he's done before, he gravitated toward the themes, and toward the character's place in the world. Alexander Pierce is the head of the World Security Council and very close friends with Nick Fury. He's Nick's mentor. Pierce understands bureaucracy as well as anyone on the planet, and he tries to help Cap come to terms with his new place in the world."
Explaining his character, Robert Redford says, 'My character, Alexander Pierce, is a minor character in the overall scheme of things, but considering the plot, he is an important one. I think there's a certain amount of mystery that emerges about the guy that you don't expect in the beginning. I like that. I like the fact that all is not revealed in the first part of the film, and when it is, it's pretty strong and it affects the plot and it affects Nick Fury in a very major way. I like the idea also that Fury and my character are really close, and you have to sell the idea that that's important. I like that challenge."
Describing the relationship between Nick Fury and Pierce, Samuel L. Jackson says, 'They've been friends forever. Fury knows Pierce and he's trusted him. They have a level of camaraderie, and in the service of their country they both had a like mind for a long time."
For two of Hollywood's most successful actors, working together for the first time was an experience they both found very rewarding. 'I like Samuel L. Jackson," says Robert Redford. 'Samuel L. Jackson's really a good actor. He's done a lot of films and has many, many dimensions to him, which I think is wonderful."
For Samuel L. Jackson, the feeling was mutual. 'I've been watching Robert Redford for a long time, and I've auditioned for films that he did and missed a couple opportunities to do some films that people offered me, so it was a great opportunity to stand there and actually work with somebody that I've admired for a very long time," says Samuel L. Jackson.
Acting again with Robert Redford was a highlight for Scarlett Johansson, who last worked with him on 'The Horse Whisperer" when she was 12 years old. 'I was really just surprised that we were here working on this Marvel film with this different dynamic between us now. He's such a class act and, of course, it was just like the old days. It brought me back 15 years. He was there in the trenches like the rest of us, working those long hours and delivering mouth-loads of dialogue, and he just plowed through it. It was as if Alexander Pierce was a character that he'd been playing for years."
For the directing duo, working with Robert Redford was a 'dream, a career highlight." Anthony Russo comments, 'Pierce is a very complicated character and the great thing about having Robert Redford in the role is that when Pierce says something, it's true, because Robert Redford is saying it. That was very useful in terms of the storytelling and the emotional and dramatic dynamics of the film."
While Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury try to keep the world a peaceful place, a new threat comes into the fold that seems to be unstoppable"The Winter Soldier"a super-soldier who is the world's greatest assassin. 'Winter Soldier in the movie is perceived as a ghost ops character," informs Joe Russo. 'An infamous assassin that intelligence agencies throughout the world have never been able to identify; like Bigfoot, there are only blurry, inconclusive photos of his existence over an inexplicable 60-year period. The big reveal in the movie to Cap is that this ghost is his supposedly deceased best friend from World War II."
For Sebastian Stan, transitioning into the role of The Winter Soldier was an opportunity that he hoped would materialize with the success of the franchise and popularity of the storyline. Offering some background on the character, Sebastian Stan says, 'The Russians found Bucky Barnes and they saw a great opportunity to use him as a weapon to target Steve Rogers' weak spots, his emotions and past. I have always been very fascinated by the Winter Soldier and was just thrilled to get the opportunity to play this complex character."
Says Kevin Feige, 'Sebastian Stan is now playing a completely different part than he played in -Captain America: The First Avenger.' It's great seeing him grow as an actor and seeing him embrace Bucky in a way that is completely different, inspired directly from Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier comic run."
Director Anthony Russo points out that bringing a sense of brutality to the Winter Soldier was crucial to setting up the relationship between Captain America and Winter Soldier. Anthony Russo explains, 'Cap is like Rocky; he's a character with a clear code and a strong drive. He's at his most compelling when you take him to the 12th round. When he's beat up, bloody, stumbling"will he stay on his feet? That's when you feel the real victory in him. Our thought process was, if the villain's his best friend, then let's make the villain as brutal and aggressive as we possibly can, so that it presents the greatest challenge to Cap. So that the distance Cap has to pull the character back from is so significant that as audience members we're not sure whether he's going to get there or not. Winter Soldier is a very tragic, empathetic villain. There's something good inside of him that is potentially salvageable, and only Cap can recognise that."
While the Winter Soldier proves to be a mysterious and lethal threat to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D, Steve Rogers gets some assistance in battling the deadly assassin from Sam Wilson aka Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie. The film marks Falcon's cinematic debut and the filmmakers had years of source material to draw from in developing the character for the big screen.
Anthony Russo explains how Sam Wilson fits in: 'In the film, Cap suspects the halls of power have been corrupted. His bosses deal in shades of gray, and he's not comfortable with those shades. Then he finds Sam, a character far away from the halls of power, an everyman vet whom he trusts, who has a very specific talent and access to some very interesting technology."
Comments Anthony Mackie, 'The filmmakers did a good job of making Falcon his own entity. I feel like when you look at Sam Wilson and when you watch this movie, there's nothing unforgiving or cheap about him. I feel like he's a standup guy. He's morally sound and he works with Captain America and follows him through it all because he believes in him, in the American dream and what America stands for. So I think that says a lot about him."
Describing the friendship and bond that develops between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson in the film, Anthony Mackie says, 'Basically Cap and Sam Wilson connect on the idea that they were both at war and came home, and have to deal with the ramifications of waking up every morning knowing that they lost a comrade in battle. Sam works at the VA. He counsels and helps soldiers who have come back from war, and he brings Cap into that so he can see that he's not out there on his own. Sam can empathize with the idea of what he's going through, so they become friends on that level. Sam admires him; he admires the legend; he admires the stories of Captain America. It's his admiration for Cap that puts them in a position for friendship."
For Chris Evans, that personal relationship between the characters is essential to counterbalancing the larger then life aspects of the genre. 'In these types of films you have to work hard to ground every character," says Chris Evans. 'My character is a guy that's wearing a red, white and blue suit, so you really have to make the Super Heroes very self-aware, otherwise it's kind of silly what they're doing. I like the relationship between Steve Rogers and Sam. I think they each have trust issues. They've each been on the frontline; they've seen battles and lost friends."
Joe Russo comments, 'Anthony Mackie has great integrity as an actor. That's what we love about him. He has incredible screen presence. We wanted Falcon to be part of a team with Cap, not a sidekick. In order to do that you need an actor who can hold the screen opposite all the other great actors that are in the film. You need somebody who can flesh that character out with limited screen time in a very three-dimensional way"that's Mackie. The tone was really important to that character as well, because Sam is a guy who's his own person who can challenge Cap when he needs to challenge Cap and can support Cap when he needs to support him."
A new character in the franchise is agent Brock Rumlow, who provides the muscle for many S.H.I.E.L.D. missions and operations. For the role, the filmmakers chose Frank Grillo who breaks down the intense character. 'Brock Rumlow is basically a Navy SEAL," says Frank Grillo. 'He is an elite special-ops guy who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and takes care of business. When Captain America goes on a mission, he's the guy by his side backing him up."
Adds executive producer Louis D'Esposito, 'When we are developing the screenplay we look at the story and ask ourselves if it makes sense for this role to be a character from publishing," says Louis D' Esposito. 'If it doesn't, then we make up a new character, but if it does, that's a great opportunity because it adds an extra layer for the people who already know the history of comics and will get more excited because it's Brock Rumlow and they want to know what's going to happen to this character. Is he going to become Crossbones in this film or is it something that is going to happen in future films? Because of Brock Rumlow's history in the comic books, Frank Grillo was a perfect fit for the role and is a great actor. "
Another new face on the S.H.I.E.L.D landscape is Agent 13, played by Emily VanCamp. For VanCamp entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe was an entirely new experience. 'I have to be honest and say I was not a massive comic book reader growing up, so I had to do a lot of homework to get caught up on all of the adventures of Captain America," admits the actress. 'It was actually really fun to read them and it made me realise that there's this whole other universe out there that's really exciting."
Cobie Smulders is back and reprising her role as Agent Maria Hill, Nick Fury's trusted, go-to agent at S.H.I.E.L.D. Rounding out the talented cast of Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" are Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola, Maximiliano Hernandez as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jasper Stillwell and Georges St-Pierre as Batroc.
The World Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Today
When Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" opens, about two years have passed since the alien invasion of New York was repulsed by Nick Fury's special team"The Avengers. The world is now well aware that extra-terrestrials, godlike beings and monsters may be lurking in the cosmos and that Super Heroes walk among us. The demand for protection of the world's citizenry has reached a zenith. In response to the world's justifiable fears, S.H.I.E.L.D. has expanded its presence to enhance the security of Earth.
Producer Kevin Feige explains the current state of affairs at the organization. 'At the end of -Marvel's The Avengers,'" Nick Fury clearly disobeyed the World Security Council, which when we last saw them were sending a nuclear missile into Manhattan," says producer Kevin Feige. Luckily, Iron Man diverted that nuke and it didn't go off, so Nick has gotten a little bit more clout within S.H.I.E.L.D. Because of this growing clout he has been able to install people that are much closer to him now and they're working on various programs that will help tighten the security of the world."
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new headquarters, called the Triskelion, is revealed for the first time in Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Built from the ground up in Washington, D.C., on Theodore Roosevelt Island, the Triskelion is the largest building in Washington, D.C. The building holds the expanded base of operations for S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the World Security Council. This is where Nick Fury and his agents are based, as well as Alexander Pierce, a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. official who also is the head of the World Security Council.
The idea of the World Security Council came about because S.H.I.E.L.D is so expansive and its responsibilities are so far-reaching that it cannot be run by only one country, so all countries have a voice in how S.H.I.E.L.D. operates. The World Security Council meets via holographic technology so members are able to be in their home countries but still have meetings in a virtual environment at the top of the Triskelion.
There are three redesigned helicarriers serving S.H.I.E.L.D. With new repulsor engines replacing turbines, courtesy of Tony Stark, the helicarriers no longer have to land and can remain orbital for as long as they need to be in order to protect the world. These ships, dubbed Project Insight helicarriers, are also more heavily weaponized, in response to the attack on New York where hoards of aliens were flooding out of a portal. Fury learned a lot from that battle and wanted ships up in the air that could combat attackers on a grand scale. The Project Insight helicarriers boast a more advanced and precise targeting system that links to a network of satellites.
The vertical takeoff and landing Quinjets used by The Avengers have also had an overhaul. Project Insight Quinjets, which unlike their grey counterparts are black, have more weapons than a traditional Quinjet. Quinjets were originally designed to be more of a transport vehicle but the new Quinjets, with their accelerated speed and weaponry, are built to be attack aircraft.
Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury's car also showcases some new technology. It has a voice guidance system that is very advanced but not quite up to the level of Jarvis' artificial Intelligence that you see in Tony Stark's technology. But it does allow Fury to perceive threats before they are happening in order to identify and process information more quickly. It also allows him to communicate with other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents effortlessly. Fury's car is also a heavily armored vehicle"it features heavy metal panels and the glass is bulletproof. This allows him to drive around Washington, D.C. and be completely safe.
S.H.I.E.L.D's newly introduced Strike Team utilises a stealth weapon called the Energy Baton that can take out enemies quietly and effectively. The batons are about 18 inches in length with a point that extends out another foot. The Strike Team, like a SWAT team or a Navy Seal team, engages in undercover missions, so they need specialized armaments. The Energy Baton sits in a holster on the hip but when taken out and deployed, it is like a powerful, high-tech Taser that, when touched to the person, incapacitates them immediately and takes them out of the game.
Steve Rogers aka Captain America works for S.H.I.E.L.D. now and out of necessity his red, white and blue costume needed to be replaced by a suit that would allow more stealth ability. As a result the new suit is darker blue with just a touch of red detail on the sides. The star on his chest is now silver instead of white. The new, subdued navy blue suit has a ballistic component, like Kevlar, that offers Captain America valuable extra protection. The suit is bulletproof and the mesh-like fabric also resists knife penetration. Captain America's helmet no longer has ear coverings and is designed to fit in with the style of his stealth suit. It also has a communication device built into it.
Captain America's distinctive shield is as much a signature for him as the hammer is to Thor, but when Captain America is on a stealth mission, an applique goes over his shield to subdue the red and make it less of a target. In Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Captain America throws his shield a lot more and also uses it as an offensive weapon, rather than just to block blows defensively. He uses the shield to strike opponents and has the ability to use the two handles on its inside in more of an eastern style of fighting in order to neutralise opponents.
Steve Rogers' style of fighting also got an upgrade. His fighting style was very 1040s old-school kick and punch but now Rogers has upped his game by mastering modern fighting techniques like Kung Fu, Mixed Martial Arts, Jujitsu and Krav Maga.
Black Widow uses her Widow's Cable in new way in Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" by utilising it to swing from. The cable is part of the Widow's Gauntlets that she wears, which also house her Widow's Bites. Distinctive only to her, Black Widow wears her wristbands almost all the time and they allow her increased flexibility in her fighting style.
Black Widow's cell phone has some special capabilities that allow her to track incoming missiles and decode codes. The phone doesn't talk to her but it allows her to process a lot of information quickly.
In Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomes a new Super Hero with the introduction of the Falcon, who has been a fan favorite in comic books since 1969. Falcon, who is Sam Wilson in the story, aligns himself with Captain America and Black Widow to fight the enemies who are undermining world peace. Although Falcon is not a member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation in this film, you can be sure S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken notice of his exceptional abilities.
Falcon has the ability to fly and soar with a special suit that was developed by military ops and kept under wraps. Part of the suit's construction is the jet pack that provides the thrust that can keep Falcon aloft. The wings attached to the suit are like gliders in that Falcon's hands lock into them and he can thus control the direction of his flight. When Falcon is doing maneuvers, he always has at least one hand on the wings for control. Falcon flies with goggles on to protect his vision while in flight.
Offensively, Falcon has a mini-machine gun collapsed in a small box-like structure on each of his hips. When he taps the box, there is a magnetic switch that allows the gun to jump to his wrists and rest on wrist rails. Once in place, the guns quickly expand to their full size in his hand. This allows him to take his hand off the wing and shoot and then collapse the gun back into its side box by just tapping the box.
The wings of Falcon's suit are lightweight polymer with Kevlar detail so that small arms fire will not destroy them. Falcon also wears a short-sleeve Kevlar shirt and standard camouflage pants to keep as lightweight as possible so that he can stay in the air for longer periods of time.
Summing up, the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. is bigger and more powerful than ever and loaded with new weapons, vehicles, devices and gadgets that will excite and intrigue fans around the world and keep audiences on the edge of their seats in the not-to-be-missed thrill ride that is Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
Does Anyone Want Off This Elevator?
On April 1st, 2013, principal photography started on Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier" but for the actors in the film, the action began many weeks prior in preparation for the exciting elevator fight sequence shot in the first few days of production. The scene finds Steve Rogers being attacked in a very crowded elevator by several agents. The intense fight sequence would become a trailer moment and showcased the stunt and fight training that Chris Evans and all of his cast mates studied and learned in preparation for the film.
'It was very important to us that all of the actors trained rigorously for the film because we wanted the audience to see our actors executing the action in the film," says Anthony Russo. 'Audiences want to feel that energy and see a fluid fighting technique up on the screen."
'These guys worked their butts off training for this film, training for months and training for these specific sequences, over and over," relates Joe Russo. 'Everything you see in the film, any time their faces are in camera those are the actors and they're actually doing the things that they're doing. We have a great stunt team that works with them and obviously we have to protect our actors, so for things that are too aggressive they're replaced, but all that fighting in the film is our guys."
Chris Evans' desire to take Captain America's fighting ability to the next level led him to expand the scope of his training for the film. 'One of the things we all agreed on was stepping up Captain America's fighting ability," says Chris Evans. 'In the first film he had just achieved the strength, power and prowess, but we didn't get the chance to give him any training. In -Marvel's The Avengers' there were so many new characters, abilities and relationships that needed to be established so you couldn't afford much screen time individually to any one character. On this film though, we really get to show Cap advancing in his skills and stepping up the fighting techniques much more."
Chris Evans describes the fighting scenes in the film as having a more 'acrobatic approach," requiring Captain America to be able to move fluidly. 'The Russos and I decided that I should start taking gymnastics training," says Chris Evans. 'And it was really great and had a big impact when it came time to shoot fight sequences like the elevator fight."
Director Joe Russo points to a big action scene on the ship, Lumerian Star, early in the film that highlights Captain America's new, advanced skills: 'You'll also see in this sequence that Cap's been training with modern techniques since The Avengers, like Krav Maga"real-world techniques developed to deal with enemy combatants in close quarters. One of our favorite moments from a character-defining standpoint, in terms of moving Cap employing modern techniques, is that he takes a knife from one pirate and throws it through the hand of another, because the second pirate is reaching for the alarm and it's the only way Cap can stop him. Using your assailant's weapon against him is a main tenant of Krav Maga."
Anthony Russo informs that it was also important that Captain America figure out new ways to use his shield, in the spirit of being a modern warrior. 'During WWII, a lot of folks fighting in the war had been on the streets of Brooklyn, or wherever they came from, just a few weeks earlier," explains Anthony Russo. 'Very few soldiers were career soldiers. The same with Cap. He was transformed into a super soldier and then called into action before he had any significant training. He had a John Sullivan style of fighting, which was endearing in its simplicity. But now as the decades have progressed, and we've turned warfare into a science, Cap has a lot more tools at his disposal to turn him into a modern warrior. We wanted to be very inventive in conceiving new ways for him to use the shield. Conceiving new fighting techniques. We went through months of staging fights and shooting them and thinking about what excited us about them."
Joe Russo adds, 'What's great about Cap, and I think what people really respect about him as a Super Hero, is that he has a code and that code is represented by his shield. Steadfast, immovable. The shield is primarily a defensive weapon, but we also wanted to explore its offensive capabilities in this movie. There are two handles on it, so Cap can hold one of the handles and snap it at his opponents, in a manner inspired by an eastern style of fighting. Not unlike a nunchuck. The shield really represents who he is. How he uses it expresses his psyche."
Stunt coordinator Thomas Robinson Harper explains the styles of fighting used in the sequence and the film. 'The fighting techniques that we used in this are a mixture of Parkour, Brazilian Ju Jitzu, karate and boxing," says Thomas Robinson Harper. 'So it's truly a mixed martial arts that we had Chris Evans training for because part of bringing the character into modern day is that Steve Rogers has studied and mastered these modern fighting styles and techniques. It's very hard to integrate all those fighting styles and techniques together because one generally doesn't work with another, but we figured out a way to make it flow and show that he has learned these things, and that's how he has to fight in a modern world."
Thomas Robinson Harper also brought in some of the best fight specialists in the business including Chris Carnel and James Young to help train and choreograph the visually dynamic fight sequences throughout the film. 'The first fight sequence we shot was the elevator fight, which included Brock Rumlow and ten guys in a crowded elevator with Captain America, and the challenge was how much choreography could we squeeze into a very small space," explains fight coordinator Chris Carnell. 'We built in some great gags as we let Cap use his hands and feet a little bit in close quarters with the idea being that these guys know what they're doing and have a plan when they come in the elevator, so Cap is on the defensive first and foremost."
'Once Captain America gets a little bit of room he can do a lot of damage very quickly and that's when it gets to be a really fun fight," adds Jeet Kune Do fighting expert James Young. 'The scene is definitely the most chaotic fight I've done and it's pretty incredible."
For Thomas Robinson Harper and his fight coordinators getting the cast ready for the fight sequences was made easier by the fact that they had actors to work with who were willing to put in the time and effort to learn. 'All of the actors came in every day at different times during pre-production to learn and train in the various disciplines," says the stunt coordinator. 'It really helps that they come in pretty psyched up about the whole thing and then we get them sweating and teach them the choreography and show them video of our stunt performers doing what they will eventually be doing."
'Chris Evans picks up fight choreography faster than anyone I've ever seen," adds Chris Carnel. 'Watching him do a full-on fight while maintaining the character qualities of Captain America was really impressive and we were absolutely blown away. The elevator fight is a very difficult fight with just being one-on-one, but then throw in ten guys in the elevator and it gets incredibly difficult very quickly. But he got it straightaway and he's just phenomenal to work with."
Thomas Robinson Harper and his team were equally impressed with the fighting prowess of Frank Grillo whose character Brock Rumlow goes toe-to-toe with Captain America in the elevator. 'We called Frank Grillo Frank the Tank, because he has the heaviest hands for an actor that I have seen in a long time," says Thomas Robinson Harper. 'We knew that he had boxing experience, but he came in on his first day and was crushing the heavy bag in half."
'The building vibrated when he hit the heavy bag, and we're all like -wow,'" adds Chris Carnel. 'The other funny thing about Frank Grillo is you can tell him to throw a punch at quarter speed, or half speed, but when it comes time to put it on camera it's always 110% no matter what speed you say. He's a hell of a fighter and its impressive to watch him box."
'When you have two actors who are really fighting each other, it brings an authenticity to the film," says Frank Grillo. 'When you have Chris Evans or Anthony Mackie and me fighting, you can't manufacture being hit"you just have to get hit. I think people are going to really fall in love with this style of fighting in the film."
The stunt teams fight training also included Sebastian Stan who enjoyed his Winter Soldier fight training immensely. 'I really got into the fight training as it was important for me to feel comfortable with that dimension of the character," says Sebastian Stan. 'When you start training, it really feels like Cowboys and Indians that you played when you were six or seven years old. It actually took me a while to stop making sound effects noises when I was getting hit."
The actor took a lot of good-natured kidding from his friends for his dedication to learning how to handle a knife. 'During my fight training for the film my friends would make fun of me because I would walk around the house all day flipping this plastic knife around and practicing my moves," laughs Stan. 'I wanted my movements to feel natural and I wanted to be able to perform these sequences without thinking about it."
For Scarlett Johansson, her role as Black Widow in the film involves a lot of running, wire work and rappelling. 'A lot of the fighting that I do is basically reaction stuff like taking punches, throwing punches, that kind of thing, and then I leave it up to my stunt double, Heidi Moneymaker, to bounce 20-feet in the air and do four cartwheels."
But the actress says that the envelope is always pushed with her stunts in each film, but there are certain signature moves that the fans like to see. 'There already are established moves that people recognize and are really into, so we get to play with that a little bit. Having done three films so far with Marvel with the same stunt crew I know the ins and outs; I feel way more comfortable in my body and I feel way more comfortable fighting. I even feel way more comfortable hanging 60-feet in the air. I trust these guys with my life and that trust is something I think you establish over time."
Creating The Character Looks
With the production completing its first week of production in stellar fashion, the cast and crew got its first look at Chris Evans in the new Captain America stealth suit. For Chris Evans the look and feel was a big improvement from 'Marvel's The Avengers." 'The new suit is great and I really love it," says Chris Evans. 'It's this kind of cool navy blue that looks really utilitarian and moves very well, which really makes shooting the film a much more enjoyable experience."
'Marvel is efficient and organized and there is an incredible design team here that works hand in hand with the costume department," comments Joe Russo. 'Costume designer Judianna Makovsky did an exceptional job on this film. It was very important to us that the costumes have as much texture and grounding as they could."
'We wanted Cap's outfit to feel like it had a Kevlar component to it that would protect him; functional body armor, not a costume," adds Anthony Russo. 'If he were going into combat situations in the real world, what would he be wearing? Military armor."
Marvel's internal visual developer Ryan Meinerding elaborates on the process of bringing Captain America stylistically into present day. 'For Captain America's stealth suit, a lot of it came down to taking another suit from the comics"the super soldier suit "and just trying to make that into a reality," says Ryan Meinerding. 'We don't usually try to take too many liberties with the costume design, so when the comics present a more realistic take on a look, we just usually jump on that and make it a reality. The stealth suit is a little bit easier in terms of design because it's not as brightly colored and it's a little darker."
Ryan Meinerding continues, 'With a traditional Captain America suit you're dealing with red white and blue and stars and stripes and it really becomes all about the midsection which makes it's hard to draw your eyes anywhere else. With the stealth suit you have stripes and the star across the chest, which really makes him look broad and big without really having to work too hard at it. It's actually kind of an easier costume to work on than a traditional Captain America costume and I think it's a really great look for him."
Commenting on Captain America's look this time around, Kevin Feige says, 'We like giving him an unmistakably contemporary outfit for much of the movie to represent his new role in the new era in which he's found himself and is forced to live in, working alongside the other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's sleeker; it's a little tighter and it's much more modern."
Another challenge for the filmmakers was creating the look and design of its newest Super Hero, Falcon. A longstanding and beloved character in the comics, Falcon's look in the comic books was one that the filmmakers knew would have to be updated.
'If you look back at the older characters, they are typically a bit harder to design because it usually doesn't work to just straight up use references from the comics," explains Ryan Meinerding. 'Joe Russo and Anthony Russo were really interested in trying to add more of a tactical design to the Falcon costume. So we incorporated a lot of real world webbing, straps and gear. So we ended up taking the iconic parts and just stripping away the more ridiculous parts that would never work in modern day."
The look really worked for Anthony Mackie who laughingly confesses, 'Every time I put on the costume, I just want to go outside and smack some bad guy. So that's what's a little weird to me. It's like being this Super Hero for real. But I don't think I could be a Super Hero in real life because I'm pretty sure I would be a bad guy; I would use my abilities for the right reasons but in the wrong way. If I could fly in real life, it would be a big problem for everybody involved."
For directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, the look and feel of Falcon's costume was a very important component of how the character was framed in the film. 'In the story, the halls of power have become corrupted and that's what Captain America is having a problem with when the movie begins," says Joe Russo. 'So he finds this character far away from the halls of power, which is Sam Wilson, an everyman who has a very specific and unique talent and has access to some very interesting technology."
'It was important that Sam Wilson was grounded as a character and that the technology was vaguely plausible, that it responded in some way to the rules of physics, so that the character would fit into the tone of this movie," continues Anthony Russo. 'It was also important that his abilities be unique and special. It's not the suit that's special; it's him. It was paramount that the magic in the suit isn't its wings and thrust. The magic is in how Sam uses it. That's what helped define the choreography of how he flies, how he uses both air and thrust to maneuver. He's a human fighter jet."
Although Anthony Mackie did not do any specific training or any skydiving to play the airborne Falcon, he did work out a regimen that simulated the feeling of flight. 'I did a lot of diving into swimming pools," says Anthony Mackie. 'I would go up 10-feet, 20-feet and dive off of diving boards, just to get that feeling. At certain heights water is very forgiving, and at other heights it's not. So I had to figure out where that threshold was to where I could enter the water. That helped me a lot."
'We flew Anthony Mackie quite a bit," says stunt coordinator Thomas Robinson Harper. 'Once we hit our stride we could fly him from 70-feet in the air and land him on this little tape mark and he would walk right out of the wires and into the scene. It took a little bit of time to figure the rigs out and bring Anthony Mackie up to speed, but he's athletic as well and super coordinated. So it worked out real well that he played the character as it made our job so much easier."
All of Anthony Mackie's and the production team's hard work paid off when the filmmakers saw the finished look of The Falcon, Marvel's first African American Super Hero character to the hit the big screen. Kevin Feige says of Anthony Mackie, 'It's a very important mantle to put on when you take on any beloved Marvel character, and the Falcon is one of the most beloved Marvel characters going back for years and years. So it's always a big responsibility for us to find the right actor. One of the ways we know they're the right actor is when they realise what a responsibility it is, and Anthony Mackie embraced this part right alongside all of the great actors that have inhabited our world."
The Winter Soldier's costume did not present the same challenges for the filmmakers because it was so well conceived in the comic books. 'The Winter Soldier design is so good in the comics that we didn't think we could improve upon it, so it was more about bringing that costume from the pages to the big screen," says Anthony Russo. 'Barring a few tweaks we all felt like the Winter Soldier is a great contemporary character design that was very translatable."
Recalling the first time he saw the Winter Soldier, Frank Grillo says, 'There was something oddly real when I saw Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier. There's something kind of dark and menacing and unknowing about him and it actually was a frightening thing just to see on set. I don't think there is an antihero in any of these films quite like the Winter Soldier."
Comments Sebastian Stan, 'It was a really cool experience for me to walk onto the set wearing the Winter Soldier costume and seeing everyone's reaction. Thankfully everyone liked the look as it looks just like the character in the comic books. I think you also have to credit Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting because they conceptualised a really cool costume in the comic books."
Although there were different costume designers on this film, Black Widow's famous suit remained relatively the same. Describing it, Scarlett Johansson says, 'I get a couple of flashier panels on this one. Each costume designer wants to put their stamp on the suit, of course, but the suit above all things needs to be functional. The seams have to be a specific way and the fabric has to move a specific way. I have probably the most comfortable suit of anybody; I can't really complain. It's kind of like a wetsuit. For this film, the costume designer went black and it's got those real sleek leather panels. It's a little bit sharper and a little bit more fashionable and not as utilitarian as the last suit."
In this film, however, Scarlett Johansson does not spend a lot of time in her suit, opting for functional street clothes in many scenes. Remarking on her look, Scarlett Johansson says, 'What was interesting to me was to be able to create the look that Black Widow has as Natasha. Like, who is Natasha outside of her costumes, her disguises, her suit, what does she look like regularly? What does she look like day to day? We decided she definitely drives a black Corvette and she definitely wears tailored leather jackets, with very sleek no muss, no fuss, no fancy anything. Everything's just badass and simple."
Explaining the evolution of her costuming, Scarlett Johansson says, 'Working with Jon Favreau, it was very much about creating that iconic first look. Then Joss Whedon wanted the punches to hurt and he wanted to see the sweat and he wanted to see the battle. In this film, we really see Black Widow as a very functional character who is fighting to survive. That gets you out of that posey world to begin with because there's no time to stop and strike a pose."
For this film, Scarlett Johansson also went with a new look for her hair. 'I think that the look should change as we change over a couple of years and certainly the last look was a bit more of that kind of -Ultimates' look and this time around I wanted it to be a bit more contemporary and maybe have a little bit of a late '90s reference that's come back, which I feel is relevant to today's trend," says Scarlett Johansson. 'But the red is always fun to play with"to find the deeper tones and the things that flash and what's going to look good for all that movement."
The Lumerian Star: Marvel vs MMA
With the filmmakers wanting to shoot as much as the physical action practically, one of the more memorable days on the set was filming the fight sequences on the massive ship called the Lumerian Star. These scenes were actually filmed on a real ship, the Sea Launch Commander, which is a satellite vessel docked in Long Beach, Calif. There were a lot of logistical challenges shooting on a real ship with its tight quarters as opposed to the openness of a built set or green screen environment. The fighting sequences had to be perfectly choreographed for the spaces and the filming tight to the action but the setting only reinforced the filmmakers desire for a real-world grounding of the film.
The action-filled Lumerian Star scene is in the beginning of the film and opening with that intensity was important to the directors, as Anthony Russo explains, 'We wanted to come out of the gate full force. We wanted to throw people into the film as hard, fast and dynamically as we could."
Adds Joe Russo, 'For us it's important that the audience be pulled into the movie quickly, signaling an energy and a pacing that hopefully the movie can sustain throughout."
In the film, Captain America and Black Widow sneak onto the ship in order to rescue hostages. What ensues is a mano-a-mano battle between Captain America and Batroc, a French mercenary played by reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
For the filmmakers, landing the popular MMA fighter was a stroke of luck and good timing. 'It was sort of kismet for Georges to be in the film," explains co-producer Nate Moore. 'Batroc is of French descent and Georges St-Pierre is French-Canadian and when we landed on having the character in the film, we wanted somebody who could portray the physicality of the character without having to double him, and what better way to do that than to find a fighter who can actually do most of the moves already. So we reached out to Georges St-Pierre and he was really excited to get his first chance at being in a big action movie."
Georges St-Pierre recalls the day he found out he was going to be in the film. 'I got the call about being in the film just before my last fight and I was so excited to do the movie that it was hard for me to focus on the fight," says Georges St-Pierre. 'My character is a French mercenary who is an expert in the martial arts and is also an Olympic weight lifting champion. He doesn't have any superpowers, but he's a very strong and acrobatic guy who gives a little hell to Captain America."
Georges St. Pierre continues, 'I rehearsed every day for weeks with the stunt team and they were really great mentors for me. Without them I wouldn't have been able to learn so much so fast. It was a lot of fun and it made me feel like a kid again. I'm very excited and I want to put 100% effort into and be as good of a villain as I can be."
Shooting In The Nation's Captial
On May 13, 2013, the production headed east to Washington, D.C. to shoot Steve Rogers, Black Widow and Falcon in scenes at some of the most prominent national landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Air and Space Museum, Capitol Building, National Mall, the DuPont Circle neighborhood and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which the production shut down for the first time ever for the filming of a major motion picture.
With the film being set in Washington D.C., it was crucial for the filmmakers to physically shoot on the streets and have the cast interacting at the historical landmarks throughout the city. 'When you have scenes that are actually shot in the city in which the movie's taking place, people can feel it. The very first shot of this film is Steve Rogers jogging at dawn on the Mall in D.C. in front of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial."
Comments director Anthony Russo, 'To see Cap moving amongst the landmarks of DC at the beginning of the movie immediately sets the tone for the film and harkens back to the '70s political thrillers to which this movie owes a great creative debt."
Adds Joe Russo, 'Shooting in Washington DC was absolutely critical for this film. It provides the backdrop for the narrative, both literally and thematically."
In the film, the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Washington, D.C.-based headquarters, is shown for the very first time. Making that fictional building seem realistic was another reason to shoot in the nation's capitol. 'You still want to ground it and make it feel as real as possible, and by spending those days there in D.C. and starting the movie right off the bat with location filming gives it a very good vibe and a very realistic vibe," says Kevin Feige.
"To see Cap moving amongst the landmarks of DC at the beginning of the movie immediately sets the tone for the film and harkens back to the '70s political thrillers to which this movie owes a great creative debt."
For the actors shooting on the streets meant drawing big crowds, many of them young kids who lined the streets dressed in their Captain America costumes waiting to meet Captain America himself. Evans routinely took photos with young fans and enjoyed the experience of shooting in the nation's capitol.
'I really enjoyed shooting in Washington D.C.," says Chris Evans. 'Because of the time restrictions for shooting at certain landmarks we had some incredibly early starts to our days. But it was just a surreal experience to shoot at the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial at dawn and seeing the sunrise. Even though I was running and sprinting in the scenes it was just so peaceful at that hour and the shots just looked amazing."
Continuing, Chris Evans states, 'I loved seeing all the kids on the National Mall and streets of Washington D.C. It reminds you that when you play a role like Captain America or any Super Hero, kids look up to you and you really have to be conscious of that as well as what you mean to them and make sure your actions are in alignment. The cornerstone of Steve Rogers is being selfless and putting the needs of others first. That extends to all facets, so if I can just be a little like Steve Rogers, then I know I'm doing something right."
Hometown Heroes Return
With the production successfully completing its work in Washington D.C., the filmmakers headed northwest to Cleveland, Ohio, for six weeks to shoot the major action sequences in the film. The move would also bring directors Anthony and Joe Russo back to the city where they grew up and started their film careers.
Enthused to be filming in their hometown, Joe Russo comments, 'We love Cleveland. Growing up there, the essence of what that city is, who the people are"everything about that town shaped who we are and more specifically, shaped who we are as filmmakers."
For Marvel and the filmmakers, shooting in the city was beneficial for many reasons. Executive producer Louis D'Esposito comments, 'While Cleveland was a good double for New York in -Marvel's The Avengers,' it was an even better double for Washington D.C. as many of the downtown buildings were close to the same height and matched the architectural style of Washington D.C., which afforded the production the city blocks it needed for the car chases and fight sequences."
There were two big action sequences in the script that were all exterior sequences that could only be shot in Cleveland. One was an intense car chase involving Nick Fury, and another was the high-octane, second-act culmination action sequence with Captain America and Black Widow and Falcon versus the Winter Soldier. 'The sequences themselves are wall-to-wall action with cars speeding down streets, trucks blowing up, cars flipping and automatic gunfire in the streets," says co-producer Nate Moore. 'It will feel like the real world because the more practical we make it the more believable it'll be for audiences and it won't look like we built it on a back lot."
The production shot on the streets with two full units of cast and crew, requiring that many of the city's downtown streets be shut down as well as three miles of the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway"one of the major highways that runs through the city"for three consecutive weeks during the busy summer season. Producer Kevin Feige explains the logistical challenges involved: 'To pull off what we needed to shoot in Cleveland, we needed a strategically coordinated partnership with the city that included around the clock coordination between Mayor Frank Jackson, The Greater Cleveland Film Commission, Governor John Kasich, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, County Executive Ed FitzGerald and all of the citizens and local businesses of Cleveland. I can't tell you how thankful we are that everyone from top to bottom came together and we pulled something off that has never been done before in the city."
Adds executive producer Louis D'Esposito, 'Both Mayor Frank Jackson and Ivan Schwartz were both instrumental in convincing us to come to Cleveland and then making it another fantastic experience for us to shoot here again. I know it really meant a lot for the Russo Brothers to shoot in their hometown and they really wanted to show the world what a great place Cleveland is to shoot a film."
One thing that the cast and crew could always count on day in and day out was the family-like atmosphere that is part of being on a Russo brothers' set. Shortly after the cast and crew arrived in Cleveland, the Russo brothers e-mailed out a five-page document to everyone with the names and information about all of their favorite things to do and see in and around Cleveland–the best restaurants, bars, shopping, day trips, and more.
Summing up the Cleveland experience for the directing duo, Anthony Russo says, 'Making this film was a career highlight for us and being able to shoot a large portion of it in our hometown, is what helped make it a career highlight."
With the production finishing its work in Cleveland and heading back to Los Angeles for the final weeks of production, the cast and filmmakers reflect upon the creative journey that they experienced.
With this film being Chris Evans' third, he admits that he has come to understand what the Marvel films mean to the people who watch them. 'You start to realise that it does do something for people. It's nice to see people affected or give them an opportunity to escape and just enjoy a fun ride. It's a good feeling and it's something I'm taking more seriously these days."
Scarlett Johansson offers, 'Movies are about being able to escape your life or connect pieces of your life and enjoy the experience. I love the movie-going experience from the popcorn to the previews to the film itself. I like having it stay with me afterwards and thinking about it days later. I love that whole aspect of entertainment, so to be able to be a part of these films that do that consistently well and are a big event for people to look forward to is exciting."
Commenting on the experience of making Marvel's 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Samuel L. Jackson states, 'We all know that this is a special franchise and that we're in a special place because we're doing it, and we try to come here and bring as much enthusiasm and joy as we can because that's part of what makes an audience enjoy what we're doing."
Anthony Mackie feels that when the movie hits theaters, people are going to be 'pleasantly surprised with the story and the way the characters come across." 'It's so character-driven and so focused on what's going on in the world around that you're drawn into it," says Anthony Mackie. 'I feel like when people see this movie, they're going to buy into being a part of that world."
Producer Kevin Feige adds, 'The biggest thing that we wanted to deliver is a movie unlike any other Marvel movie. It is tonally very, very different. It's got the humor, it's got the action, but at the same time we see characters exploring their situations in a much deeper and richer way than we've done in the other films, and there's a level of action in this film that is above and beyond anything we've done in any of our films. So we're excited to have something be so important to the foundation of what has come before it and what's to come and at the same time delivering a self-contained adventure film that I think is going to surprise a lot of people."
'We're as proud of this movie as anything we've done in our careers," states Joe Russo. 'It was an amazingly collaborative process where we worked with some incredibly talented people. We're really happy that as fans of comics we're able to bring what we like about comic books to the big screen and hopefully that will translate to audiences around the world."
'We wanted a real intensity to this film," concludes Anthony Russo. 'I like thrill rides and I like when I get on board something and it doesn't let me go and I forget to eat my popcorn until halfway through the movie. I always feel like those are the best movie experiences. You get in there and you have an emotional journey and you lose yourself in the filmmaking. Hopefully that's what we accomplished"a perfect combination of a Super Hero film with a gritty political thriller."
By shooting 'Arrested Development" on advanced HD cameras and minimizing the need for complex lighting and crews, the Russo brothers not only opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities, but provided the style for Hurwitz's self-conscious, rapid-fire writing. A significant gamble for all involved, it paid off at that year's Emmy® awards where Hurwitz won Best Writing, the Russo Brothers won Best Directing, and 'Arrested Development" won for Best Comedy Series. Though 'Arrested Development" would ultimately be canceled after just three seasons, few could deny the impact or innovation that earned the series a dedicated critical and cult following.
The Russo brothers have also directed numerous pilot episodes across a variety of networks including 'LAX," 'What About Brian," 'Carpoolers" and 'Running Wilde."
Anthony and Joe Russo most recently served as executive producers on NBC's 'Community" and ABC's 'Happy Endings."
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 3rd, 2014