It can’t be easy stepping into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially after Avengers scored over $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office, but that’s exactly what directors Joe and Anthony Russo did on Captain America: The Winter Solider, and they pulled it off. However, now that Winter Solider is a certified hit, the pressure is back on because many are probably wondering, can they do it again with Captain America 3 in 2016?
While talking to the duo for the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Solider Blu-ray release, they admitted that the stakes were sky-high when they first jumped into that one, but also pointed out that when we see the title for Cap 3, we’ll understand how high they still are now. Hit the jump to read or watch about that, the minimal amount of deleted scenes, their thoughts on the Winter Solider Honest Trailer, their Captain America Omnibus Compendium, if Community and Captain America exist in the same universe, and more.
Here’s the video followed by the full transcript.
Steve: When I spoke to you last time, everyone’s raving about the movie but you really don’t know how it’s gonna do until it gets out there. What has it been like for you having one of the best reviewed movies of the year and people still raving about it?
JOE RUSSO: It’s great. I mean look, certainly it’s the reason you make movies. If you didn’t want to reach audiences and excite people and have them respond to the material, you’d paint a picture and hang it in your house. So it’s the reason that we chose this medium to work in, and we’re excited as hell that people responded to it because we’re comic book fanatics and we love 70s genre films, so it was great to do something that fulfilled two of our passions. What we love about working at Marvel is they’ll have a crazy opening for a movie like The Avengers, like a record-breaking all-time opening, and you get to the office on Monday and they don’t even have a pizza; it’s back to work time. They don’t really gloat or celebrate their successes, it’s always about ‘We’ve got something else in the hopper that needs to be made the best that it can be, let’s get back to work.’ And so that’s sort of the attitude now on Cap 3, we’ve gotta get back to work. The movie did well, we’re all very happy and glad it was successful, but now we’ve gotta go and knock Cap 3 out of the park.
Do you feel more pressure to make Cap 3 after the success of The Winter Soldier or did you feel more pressure when you got involved with The Winter Soldier?
ANTHONY RUSSO: That’s a really good question. Both of them had very high stakes for us in different ways. I would have to say—if I had to pick I would say more pressure on Winter Soldier, because right after we got involved with Winter Soldier was when Avengers came out.
JOE RUSSO: The stakes were so high. That movie’s great, it made an astronomical amount of money. It put an incredible amount of pressure on us. So I think Anthony’s right, that’s like, ‘Shit can we keep it up? Can we maintain the level of quality, can we do something as equally exciting?’ He and I saw a press screening of it in Hollywood, and we were blown away. We walked out of it and said, ‘Holy shit, we’ve really got our work cut out for us.’ But it’s great because you want to be pushed. I love it that the movies are all so good, it keeps pushing you to do even better on the next one. So I think there was more pressure on that, but it doesn’t mean that the stakes aren’t very high for us on Cap 3, and I think that when we ultimately release the title of it people will see that the stakes are high for us and will hopefully be really excited. But that’s part of the fun of it, is setting a high bar for yourself and everybody involved so that you work to achieve that goal.
When I spoke to you at the junket, you said there was gonna be at least 5 minutes of deleted scenes on the Winter Soldier Blu-ray. I watched the Blu-ray and I don’t know if there’s 5 minutes of deleted scenes.
ANTHONY RUSSO: [Laughs] Alright we might have exaggerated.
I’m just saying, I think there’s like three deleted scenes. It’s kind of a little bit bare bones. What happened?
ANTHONY RUSSO: Look we had a wonderful development process. We worked very closely with Markus and McFeely, the writers, and we basically—look this was an amazing opportunity for us to make this movie. We come from sort of do-it-yourself independent filmmaking so we’re very smart on a producing level about where we spend our money and how we spend our money, and we just wanted to make sure everything we did was gonna end up onscreen so we worked very hard to have a tight script. So by the time we got to shooting—our shooting script is remarkably similar to the final edit of the movie. That’s unusual, but again I think that came from the process of us really having a very thorough development process and also really wanting to spend our money wisely. So yes there aren’t—there’s a couple nuggets, I mean there are two scenes that we love on the DVD, two small character scenes: one between Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson that’s just really nice subtle acting, really nice small character moments that the movie didn’t have space for or didn’t necessarily need. There’s always a little bit of a difference between how something reads on a page and how it plays on its feet, and sometimes actors bring layers and subtext and levels to a performance that leaves you in a place where you need less text, and that’s basically why those scenes got cut. Because the story that was being told in those scenes was sort of working outside of those scenes as well. But yeah, there aren’t a bunch of cut scenes.
I was just going to say that there were cut scenes that did not end up on the Blu-ray that you still have.
JOE RUSSO: No that’s everything.
JOE RUSSO: That’s all we got. And we feel bad about those scenes because you can make the argument that those four minutes of footage should have stayed in the movie. But we’re hard on our material. We’re really hard on it. We like propulsive pacing. We just want to make sure it’s as tight as possible. Just as filmmakers we watch cuts over and over again in the edit room and a litmus test we use is, “do I start to drift?” If I catch myself thinking about something that’s not the movie, there’s a reason I’m doing that. And if it happens repeatedly, then there’s a reason because I’m going off story and my brain isn’t tracking the narrative the way that it should be. That’s usually a litmus test for why we take something out.
Yeah I thought there were more deleted scenes than were actually on the Blu-ray which is why I was giving you shit.
JOE RUSSO: There’s no more. That’s all we got.
People on Twitter asked “how did Cap get his shield out of the Potomac?”
JOE RUSSO: Out of the Potomac? He’s got a homing beacon on it, it’s very small (laughs). Clearly he’s had issues with losing it in the past.
ANTHONY RUSSO: It was shinier than anything else in the Potomac.
I’ll let it slide.
JOE RUSSO: He’s Aquaman.
JOE RUSSO: Flattered and amused. What’s so funny is that I’m an avid honest trailer watcher. I love it, it cracks me up. So I think we talked about it in the commentary we used to sit in the room and go, “this is not going to end up in an honest trailer. This logic isn’t sound enough yet.” We literally tried to Honest Trailer proof the movie. Because what Honest Trailers really is, and I’ll say litmus test again, is “how sound is the logic in your film? How ridiculous are the buys that you’re asking the audience to make?” So we would just comb through the script over and over again and go, “how do we shore up this logic? How do we shore up this logic?” So it was a very helpful exercise for us.
I’ve heard that one of you has a Captain America Omnibus Compendium with a shitload of Post-It tags.
JOE RUSSO: Yes.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Oh yeah.
Someone on Twitter. They said, “you should ask about that.” And here we are.
JOE RUSSO: If you go in my office on the floor, there’s quite a few books in there. And in fact one of them, which would be a huge spoiler for Cap 3, I just was the other day and I was like, “why did I leave this out?” You could walk in there and blow the whole thing. We review the compendiums and go back over books, there’s stuff you haven’t read for years. As we kind of comb through the books you go, “I remember when I was a kid I loved this.” And then you put a Post-It note in there to remind yourself of cool lines, cool frames, cool tone, you know. I’m sure I have a big Post-It on the famous France line from The Ultimates. It’s all that. It’s all of the iconic moments.
How many people know that you have this? Because I’m curious, if the circle’s pretty small, to be getting that question…
JOE RUSSO: Our circle is pretty small. Those books are in the Marvel offices which are as secure as Fort Knox.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Did that tweet come from the cleaning lady perhaps?
Danny Pudi from Community has a cameo in The Winter Soldier. Are you guys saying that Community and the Marvel Universe are in the same universe and that Abed got the job after his time at Community College?
ANTHONY RUSSO: We’re not necessarily saying that was Abed.
It’s true there is no name tag.
JOE RUSSO: It’s funny we’re about to go and do the first episode of Season 6 and part of the fun of it is that we knew it would raise questions, you know? And meta is something we’ve enjoyed since our days on Arrested Development. Call forward, call backward. Bury Easter eggs, as many as you can.
Well, the real question now is, will there be a Captain America cameo on Community? Say, Steve Rogers just walking by in the background?
JOE RUSSO: I think Evans would be up for it. The question is whether Dan and McKenna write it in. I’m sure …
ANTHONY RUSSO: Well, there’s a big question on the Marvel side, too. There would be a very lengthy chain of approval required for that, but yeah.
I mean, maybe you don’t need Steve Rogers in the background. Maybe you just need a poster of Captain America being like, I don’t know, doing something.
JOE RUSSO: Well, here’s the interesting thing; does Chris Evans exist in the Community universe?
JOE RUSSO: Or is he Captain America?
These are all excellent questions. And I think people would lose their minds.
ANTHONY RUSSO: And you know the story will get there eventually. We will ask these questions in the narrative, eventually.
Obviously you must have read a lot of things of what people said about Winter Solider and reactions, reviews, whatever. Is there anything that you read that you took to heart and said, ‘Wow, that’s a really good point. That’s something I didn’t think about,’ and maybe something you’d want to incorporate in a future Captain America film?
JOE RUSSO: There’s always something. There’s always loose points that people bring up, which is great, and I think that’s why you read criticism is because you want to see what worked and what didn’t work, and certainly you have to filter it because there’s a lot of people who just love to troll.
No! The Internet? Jesus! [Laughs]
JOE RUSSO: You know, but what’s interesting about the fans is, fans are very fickle. They all have their own opinion. Not only do they all have their own opinion, but their opinion changes from day to day and so there’s really not a lot of consistency when you’re reading comments, but we’ve been reading comments since Arrested Development. Fan feedback and interaction with the fan base has been something that we’ve done for like 10 years, during Community. It’s really important to the process because you’re making something that is so engrained in pop culture, that it has this incredible excitability level and you want to see what people think. You know, it’s interesting, I think when the costume first leaked on the Internet, people hated it. By the time the film came out and they realized the context in which the costume was being used as a stealth suit, they loved it, you know? So you just have to filter everything and just sort of be Zen about it and hope that the choices that you’re making are the right ones.
ANTHONY RUSSO: You know, one thing I will always remember didn’t have to do with necessarily the pop culture, but, you know, the movie – we went and did a version of a premiere of the movie in China and we did very well in China, surprisingly, and I remember, there’s a social media site in China. You know, they have their own Internet in China that’s completely separate from our own.
JOE RUSSO: Government controlled.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Yeah, it was our first trip to China and it was an eye-opener in terms of the level of degree of government control that still exists there and sort of the legacy of sort of the communist way of doing things.
JOE RUSSO: You understand it’s a proletarian culture, but you really don’t understand it until you go there.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Yeah, it’s intense. I mean, I’ve never had the experience of like, getting online and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a different internet.’ But, anyway, there was a social media site there and I remember one comment saying, you know, somebody wrote a movie like this could never be made in China because it’s critical of the government and we can’t do that here. And it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just sort of cool to think the political thriller nature of the movie was always very important to us and what the movie had to say about sort of our current political climate was something, even though it’s a fantasy film and a comic book movie, there’s something important in there and it was a nice remember that, yeah, there’s parts of the world where that stuff matters.
JOE RUSSO: And it did well in China because it’s an anti-establishment movie, you know? It’s nice to see that you can impact people that way.
For more with Anthony and Joe Russo, click here. They also talked to me about Captain America 3, Community and Agent Carter.