Even though Jon Favreau came back to do Iron Man 2, and Joss Whedon is currently in the process of putting together the next Avengers movie, Alan Taylor directing Thor: The Dark World and brothers Anthony and Joe Russo helming the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves that Marvel isn’t afraid to go looking for new directors when it comes time to make a sequel for one of their successful franchise launchers.
Despite the shrewdness, a new report coming out of Variety reveals that, like with Whedon, and like with Favreau until that relationship fell apart after Iron Man 2, Marvel has found yet another filmmaking force that they’re comfortable enough with to invite back for another go around with one of their characters. Apparently, despite the fact that audiences have yet to see or choose not to see the work they did on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel has already decided to bring brothers Joe and Anthony Russo back to direct whatever story becomes Captain America 3.
Deciding to bring these guys back for another crack at the Cap character so early would likely mean one of two things. Either Marvel is so over the moon about the footage from The Winter Soldier they’ve seen, they’re beyond confident that the Russos are the right fit for the character and anytime you pair the three up it’s going to make for a big box office hit, or Marvel is so confident that their brand is strong enough at this point they don’t need to worry about who directs their movies anymore, so long as they’re serviceable, and the brothers are cheap enough and serviceable enough to make for an easy rehire.
Given the fact that Marvel hasn’t been afraid to walk away from talents who wanted to negotiate for more money in the past, and the Russos didn’t do much before their Winter Soldier job other than episodes of TV shows and the disappointing Owen Wilson/Kate Hudson comedy You, Me and Dupree, one’s initial instinct might be to think that their rehire is a case of the latter, but the tone the sources who talked to Variety took seem to indicate that it’s the former—which is reason to celebrate for fans of Captain America.
According to the trade, “ … sources say Marvel has been so impressed with the production of Winter Soldier, as well as with strong results from recent test screenings, that the studio has moved fast to attach the brothers to the next installment.” Given how badass the trailers for The Winter Soldier have been, this isn’t really a difficult claim to buy into, even while taking into account the fact that the Russos are handling a big budget action movie for the first time. It looks like they knocked this upcoming Captain America movie out of the park.
With all of the buzz the film is already producing amongst fans and studio heads though, one has to wonder which direction they’re planning to go in, story-wise, for the third Captain America movie. How do you keep topping yourself? When they were putting the first one together, it was an obvious choice to go with the origin story. When they were looking to make a sequel, it was pretty obvious to tell the Winter Soldier story, because that’s the story writer Ed Brubaker recently revitalized the character and made him a top seller in the comic book world with.
The direction a third film would take is less clear though. Would they continue following the arc of Brubaker’s run on the book, which saw the Winter Soldier character taking on a much more prominent role in the Captain America universe and Cap himself stepping back from the forefront and going in an unusual direction (let’s dance around getting too plot-specific for non-comic readers)? Would they take on the stories that came a bit later, when Steve Rogers eventually took on the role of being the head of SHIELD? If so, how would big changes like these affect things like the Avengers movies or the Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD series going forward?
Maybe the answer will be to take a step back from Brubaker’s run with the character and look back into Captain America’s past for story inspiration. Could the third Captain America movie bring in elements of the Roger Stern and John Byrne run on the character from the 80s, when a corrupt government had him contemplating a run for President? Or maybe they could take on the ‘Captain America No More’ story that Mark Gruenwald wrote, where Cap decided to retire rather than become a government puppet, and that meathead the USAgent was brought in to replace him?
The promotional material for Winter Soldier seems to point to the fact that there’s going to be a break coming between Cap and his SHIELD associates, so any of these famous stories from the comic books seem like they could be a direction for Marvel to go in. Or maybe they’ll take bits and pieces from each of them. Or maybe they’ll decide to go in a direction that’s completely original. Whichever way things end up going, it’s just nice to see the Captain America character revitalized as a relevant badass that people enjoy after so much of my childhood in comic shops was spent with everyone talking about how dated and dorky he is. Now anybody who talks about Captain America being a dork is likely to get a plastic shield to the head courtesy of some angry 8-year-old, and that’s the way things ought to be.