Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was—and is—one of the biggest films of the year. Though its status as the domestic box office champion of 2014 will be usurped, fittingly, by Guardians of the Galaxy, the Cap follow-up garnered positive reviews and an overall stellar reaction from fans in general. As such, many were pleased to hear that The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo would be returning to helm the next sequel, Captain America 3. Though the pic’s May 6, 2016 release date may feel far off, it’s actually on deck as the next Marvel Studios film to start production after Ant-Man.
Steve recently sat down with the Russo brothers in anticipation of the release of The Winter Soldier on Blu-ray, and during the course of their conversation the duo also talked fairly extensively about Captain America 3. In addition to revealing that filming on Cap 3 begins in April in Atlanta, the Russo brothers also discussed how much of sequel’s story was dictated by Marvel beforehand, revealing that Kevin Feige offered up a concept that’s been in his head for a long time. They also talked about the script’s evolution since February, Hawkeye’s involvement, when they’ll announce the title, delving further into the Winter Soldier character, envisioning the sequels as a two-part story, the return of Frank Grillo‘s Crossbones, and more. Watch and read the interview after the jump.
Watch the video interview below, followed by the full transcript of the conversation regarding Captain America 3.
JOE RUSSO: We shoot in the spring, April I believe. We’ll be in Atlanta.
The last one shot in Cleveland and I know they’re shooting Ant-Man in Atlanta, so is it an all-Atlanta shoot?
ANTHONY RUSSO: No it’s not an all-Atlanta shoot, it’s a lot of stage work in Atlanta. There’s other locations that are also involved that I don’t think we can get into.
JOE RUSSO: Typically you go to Atlanta, you do your stage work, and then move on to locations after that. So there’s various locations.
Where are you in the scripting process for the movie?
ANTHONY RUSSO: We started meeting with [screenwriters] Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and Nate Moore, the producer on the movie, back in February. So we’ve been sort of through a very lengthy process of exploring what the movie can be with them, and Markus and McFeely just turned in their first draft last week, an excellent first draft.
JOE RUSSO: Great first draft. Those guys are really talented.
JOE RUSSO: Absolutely. It went through many iterations. And that’s part of the process and what we like, is that you stretch and pull and kick it every which way you can and then the best ideas usually end up floating to the surface. So we did many iterations of what Cap 3 could be, and I think we finally settled on the strongest concept, which also is something that’s been in Kevin [Feige’s] head for a while.
ANTHONY RUSSO: That’s a big part of our process is sort of the experimentation during the development and prep period. We do it at a script level and we also do it at a visual and development level. We do very elaborate storyboarding and animatics, which are sort of animated sequences of what the movie would be. We sort of go through a process of just making the movie over and over again before we actually make the movie, and it’s a way for us to figure out what we want the movie to be—exactly what we want the movie to be.
When you guys got involved with The Winter Soldier, Marvel had figured out a number of the beats—they wanted to have the helicarriers at the end and stuff like that. You mentioned Kevin had an idea in his head, so how much has it been Marvel saying, “We really wanna see these characters” versus you guys and your writers saying “We really wanna do this”?
ANTHONY RUSSO: For instance the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. That would be an example of a big idea coming from Kevin that a movie then has to wrap itself around.
JOE RUSSO: We can pitch out characters that we think would be interesting in the story. There’s incredible room to move, it’s almost too much sometimes—sometimes you prefer to have some limitations so it’s easier to make some choices. But he’s definitely had a road map in his head for 10 years, and a lot of what you’re seeing executed is all part of the road map.
The other day Jeremy Renner said that he might be part of Cap 3. He is a very busy guy. He has many franchises going right now. When you’re scripting a movie like this, how challenging is it to be writing for a character when all of these scheduling issues get in the way?
JOE RUSSO: I was gonna say Renner might be misremembering because he was supposed to be in Cap 2 but we couldn’t make his schedule work [laughs]. Maybe that’s what he’s talking about. It’s certainly difficult. Everyone involved in these films are all movie stars, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re in Marvel movies, so all of their schedules are booked up. It does become very complicated.
ANTHONY RUSSO: On a creative level it does become very important to sort that out as early as possible. Depending on who you include in a movie it changes the movie radically. Obviously we have to sort those issues out early so we have time to wrap our brain around that version of it.
JOE RUSSO: There were iterations of Cap 2 that had Hawkeye and Widow in it, there was an iteration that had just Widow in it and there was an iteration that had nobody in it. You explore all of those iterations until you settle on what you think is the most potent or most powerful. And sometimes scheduling issues assist in that decision making process.
You guys have really pushed the boundary on action set pieces in a Marvel movie with Winter Soldier. How much are you feeling pressure to top yourself with Cap 3? And do you feel like you’ve met the challenge?
JOE RUSSO: It’s interesting because we’re movie fans. We watch a lot of movies and I’ve seen a lot of great films over the years and that’s one of the questions I always have in my mind as a film fan, “oh shit! How are they going to top that?” Often times I think the pitfall is that you just do more, that it becomes a volume issue. You did it really well because it was part of the storytelling, but next time out it’s a barrage and I’m not tracking anything and that’s not why it worked in the first place. We’re being very particular about how we advance it of course, technically and from a scale standpoint. Most importantly from a story standpoint, how does it stay germane to the story? Action is really important, we fetishize it and we grew up on it and we love action sequences, but the sequences that we love, that yea and I talk about the most, are the ones that have the strongest story impact. So now it’s really just strapping on the thinking caps and thinking of new sequences that are really, really integral to moving the plot forward.
ANTHONY RUSSO: It’s hard to say.
JOE RUSSO: Right now [laughs].
ANTHONY RUSSO: Don’t do it!
JOE RUSSO: Captain America: CapWolf
But being serious, has Marvel said if they’re saving it for the next Comic-Con?
JOE RUSSO: Hopefully before we start shooting.
ANTHONY RUSSO: It will be soon. Look, sometimes the announcement waits on certain business deals to be completed so we’re just kind of waiting on the business end of the issue to sort of settle itself and we’ll be ready to announce it. But we’re hoping in a month or so at the most.
Obviously people loved Sebastian Stan as Winter Solider. I mean, I know a lot of people loved his work in it. It’s a no brainer that he’s coming back. Can you comment if he’ll have a bigger part?
JOE RUSSO: We’ve called it a two-parter. Certainly it’s a cliffhanger. I know some people didn’t like the fact that he didn’t have a lot of lines and that we didn’t explore more of his personality in that film. That wasn’t the point of that movie. The point of that movie was that, you know, a ghost from Cap’s past comes back and punches him in the face and how does he deal with that issue while he’s also trying to figure out how to save the world. So that character in that movie had the really specific job of basically, you know, being a killing machine and could Cap crack the veneer of that well formed Hydra killing machine? So what’s left to explore obviously is the personality of the character, much the way that Brubaker’s run did after Winter Solider regained a semblance of his past. Philosophical questions that we would want to deal with in Cap 2 would be, you know, is he redeemable? Is he the worst assassin we’ve ever seen or is he the longest suffering POW? Where does he live now? Does he ever regain his memories?
JOE RUSSO: If he doesn’t regain his memories, can you call him Bucky Barnes or is he somebody new? So it’s a really fascinating character to play with. Very rich. I remember when we met with Kevin and we found out they were doing a Winter Solider storyline, I said, ‘You’ve got a Star Wars on your hands because that’s such a rich, familial conflict with a hero and a villain who are basically brothers,’ and such a complex villain. And when I say the hero’s only as good as the villain, Bucky’s so rich and so complex that he makes Cap more interesting.
Chris Evans has, I believe, two more pictures on his contract. He has Cap 3 and Avengers 3. Winter Solider/Bucky Barnes is a character that could step in for Captain America. He has the power, he can wield the shield. How much is that sort of playing into maybe setting up, what if Chris doesn’t want to come back and do more Marvel movies? Or is that something you can’t even think about when doing Cap 3?
ANTHONY RUSSO: You know, to be honest with you, it’s just – even though there’s sort of a grand plan of things, Kevin Feige also has this awesome attitude of one movie at a time, which I think is very healthy, not to get too far ahead of yourself. And I think even though we can see in the distant horizon some contracts coming to an end and whatnot, and sort of wondering about what happens, I think the truth is, we’re not close enough to it to really be addressing it on a narrative level yet.
JOE RUSSO: When Bucky takes over the mantle at the end of Cap 3 – [turns to Anthony] did I just …
JOE RUSSO: Did I just say that? I meant to say Falcon. Falcon takes over the mantle at the end of Cap 3. It’s a process that, you know, you have to tell the best story that you can now and the contract issue’s not necessarily something that we’re worried all that much about.
ANTHONY RUSSO: All we know is we get Chris Evans for this movie.
A lot of people are very excited about seeing Crossbones, Frank Grillo. He kicked so much ass in The Purge: Anarchy. Can you tease people about Crossbones?
JOE RUSSO: That’s a tough one. I mean, listen, we didn’t – he’s not alive at the end of Winter Solider for no reason, so let’s just say that. But, you know, strict Marvel policy of nondisclosure.
Yeah, as I said, I like to push as far as I can, but I mean, Frank is an awesome actor …
ANTHONY RUSSO: We love him, yeah.
… and I’m sure he will be a kickass villain in the film. For the shooting schedule, is it the same as Winter Solider? Are you gonna have a little more time?
ANTHONY RUSSO: Probably a little longer. You know, again, we’re not at that level of detail yet.
JOE RUSSO: At least the same if not a little bit longer.
Hopefully success breeds an extra five to ten days.
ANTHONY RUSSO: [Laughs] Yeah, you would think!