Directors Joe and Anthony Russo Talk AGENT CARTER, the Advantages of a Shorter Season, the Extent of Their Involvement with the Show, and More

     August 29, 2014

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Though Marvel Studios’ first foray into television, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was a bit of a misfire, hopes are high for the studio’s next series.  Based on the Marvel One-Shot short film of the same name, Agent Carter will follow the exploits of Hayley Atwell’s titular character in the year 1946—just after Cap’s disappearance from The First Avenger—as she is marginalized while working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) when the men return home from World War II.  It has a well-tested premise, a clear story trajectory, and most promisingly, the first season will consist of only eight episodes rather than trying to stretch the story out to 22 installments.

While the show doesn’t premiere until midseason on ABC, bridging the gap between the S.H.I.E.L.D. winter hiatus and spring premiere, Steve recently spoke with Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo in anticipation of the Blu-ray release of the Marvel film, and the two talked a bit about their involvement with the Agent Carter TV show.  They confirmed that they will direct episodes 2 and 3, discussed the advantages of a shorter episode order, and talked about how involved they will be with the series going forward.  Hit the jump to see what they had to say.

hayley-atwell-agent-carterAs veteran TV directors whose credits include Arrested Development and Community, the Russo brothers are very well-versed in the TV world.  But it was actually their involvement with The Winter Soldier that brought them to directing two episodes of Agent Carter:

ANTHONY RUSSO: This is very much a baby project of Louis D’Esposito who’s one of the co-heads at Marvel.  He directed the Marvel One-Shot that the series is based on, so he asked us.  It’s kind of nice to get the people who have been connected to the Captain America storyline involved in helping to launch that show about a character who’s so critical to this universe.

That said, the two did mention that they are big proponents of shorter season orders, expressing their delight to hear that Agent Carter would be taking this route:

JOE RUSSO: And we love that they’re doing a limited run of it because it’s easier to maintain quality over a lower amount of episodes.  I think everything’s lined up for a really, really good show there.” 

ANTHONY RUSSO: We’ve been saying this for years, because working in network television it’s so hard to deliver that many episodes; it’s brutal—especially with a show that has an ambitious production dimension to it.  It’s crushing.

agent-carter-hayley-atwellThey also said that the shorter season makes it easier to execute a show with a high concept like Agent Carter:

JOE RUSSO: Like you said, high concept, it only sustains for a certain amount of episodes then you just start treading water.  So then you just reach a point where you’re like, ‘Okay 14 of our episodes are gonna be great and 8 are gonna be fine,’ because you just can’t fill 22 episodes of high concept… [Eight episodes] is great because it’s a period show so it allows them to have a larger budget, eight’s the right number, eight is an eight-hour movie.  Everything makes sense about it, I’m glad that it’s being done in this format. 

captain-america-3-joe-russo-anthony-russo-chris-evansAs for how involved they’ll be with the series, the Russo brothers have their hands full preparing to direct Captain America 3 early next year, so they’re mainly just focused on helming their two episodes:

ANTHONY RUSSO: [We’re] mostly on the outside.  We definitely have had some conversations with [screenwriters] Markus and McFeely and Louis D’Esposito, but we haven’t been spending time in the writers room.

JOE RUSSO: There’s been a little bit of just general conversations about our experience in television and potential pitfalls, things to look out for.  Creatively, Markus and McFeely are heavily involved, D’Esposito is heavily involved.  We’ll get a script two weeks before we shoot and then we’ll give our input. 

The duo also confirmed that The Winter Soldier director Joe Johnston is in talks to helm the fourth episode of the series, ensuring that the launch of Agent Carter will have one hell of a pedigree behind it.

Watch the portion of Steve’s interview regarding Agent Carter below, and if you missed what they had to say about Captain America 3, click here.


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