Steve Weintraub got to nerd out with Captain America: Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo about everything from comic book lore, to their crazy-busy schedule over the next few years, to their success with Marvel. The conversation with the Russos also included their technique as directors and their advice on how to land a gig directing a Marvel movie. You can watch the full interview with the Russos for the new Captain America movie here.
Today’s installment of Steve’s chat with Joe and Anthony Russo takes a trip on the lighter side of blockbuster moviemaking. After showing off their nerd cards when it comes to comic book knowledge, the Russos teased the possibilities of a Marvel/DC movie crossover, talked about expanding dramatic character scenes in their comic book movies, and hinted that some surprises are in store over the next few years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps the most solid bit of news was the revelation that literally nothing is standing in the way of a solo Black Widow movie except for the scheduling.
Before we get to the Russos’ comments on that solo film that would see Scarlett Johansson’s super-spy take center stage, Steve got the brothers to talk about their long love of comic books. As a warm-up, here’s what they said when asked which obscure characters they’d love to incorporate into a future Marvel film:
ANTHONY RUSSO: Great Lakes Avengers.
JOE RUSSO: Great Lakes Avengers, yeah. I’ll pick Groo the Wanderer. It was a big character in my childhood.
While it may be a while before comic book fans get to see Mr. Immortal, Dinah Soar, Big Bertha and even Squirrel Girl on the big screen, there was a time when we thought that Sony would never give up rights to Spider-Man, even in a shared arrangement. Well, that happened. So now the door is conceivably open for future sharing of characters that exist in the Marvel Comics, but are currently in separate movie studios. If the Russos had their pick of Marvel characters, they’d go with:
JOE RUSSO: Wolverine.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Yeah.
JOE RUSSO: First favorite character growing up was Spider-Man, second was Wolverine. One of my most-prized possessions is Incredible Hulk #181. It was his first appearance.
Do you have it graded or is it just in your collection?
JOE RUSSO: It’s in my collection. It’s sitting in a safe. I won’t disclose where it is.
ANTHONY RUSSO: I know where it is. And I would say Wolverine as well, for all of the exciting reasons that we all gravitate to.
This almost sounds like one of Marvel’s What If? comics (Note: A ‘What If?’ movie was actually an idea that’s at least been floated in the writers room), but Steve asked the Russos if they’d ever considered a Marvel/DC crossover movie:
JOE RUSSO: As a comic book fan, you always think about any crossover. As filmmakers, we love ambitious storytelling; it’s one of the reasons we pushed to do Civil War. We want to be as ambitious in scope as we possibly can. That’s what appealed to me as a kid. Those are the sort of elemental concepts that motivated me to want to keep reading and read everything that I could in the comic book space. Crossover events are some of the most special events in comic book storytelling, so any kind of ambitious event story would appeal to us.
The conversation turned slightly more serious when Steve praised the dramatic character work in Marvel movies, which he admitted he’d gladly watch without the promise of epic action scenes. Joe Russo chimed in as follows:
JOE RUSSO: Civil War is based on everything I used to think about as a kid. I had the Marvel Role-Playing Game which outlined everybody’s abilities, I would spend hours on end thinking about who would beat who in a fight, so you’re always thinking about the great character moments you can create. What are the issues or the ideas that fans want to see? What did I want to see? A lot of it has to do with me just thinking back to when I was a kid and what was important to me. A moment like everyone trying to pick up Thor’s hammer is a great moment because it clearly defines each character in the way that they react to that moment. I think that what people love most about the Marvel universe are the characters.
While the Russos don’t have anything lined up professionally after their two-part Avengers: Infinity War films, they are keeping an eye on the horizon for new opportunities:
JOE RUSSO: It’s so hard to say because we’re working through 2019, which is a long way from now. So it’s very difficult to say what our headspace will be like then and what we’ll be interested in, whether we’ll still be invigorated to keep working on larger stories, or whether we’ll want to do some smaller stories, what the business is going to be … VR is really exciting, it’s just around the corner. There are so many opportunities out there, it’s tough to say. Probably something we could answer in 2019.
ANTHONY RUSSO: I will say this: Our experience with Marvel has been amazing and we really do feel like we’re in our creative sweet spot there. So it’s definitely a place that we’ll always think about.
JOE RUSSO: One of the great things about Marvel is that they like to marry genre, and who knows where it’s going to go from here. You have to keep varying up the storytelling to surprise audiences. I think there are going to be some fun surprises in store over the next few years, so…
One of those big surprises might actually be a solo Black Widow film, which fans have been asking for for some time now. There’s nothing here in the way of confirmation, but it seems like the only thing preventing the actioner from coming to big screens is a matter of scheduling:
ANTHONY RUSSO: It’s a no-brainer, right?
JOE RUSSO: I don’t think [it’ll take] much. I think it’s just a function of where on the slate it goes. She’s a bad-ass.
Be sure to check out Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: Civil War in theaters everywhere this May 6th. For more from our exclusive interview click here.