This weekend’s The Wolfman junket was always going to be ground zero for The First Avenger: Captain America news, although I’m surprised at how little of it we actually got. We ended up with a lot of stuff we already knew – like The Red Skull being the villain of the piece – getting confirmed, or stuff we had already reported on – like The Invaders being in the movie – fleshed out. Still, enough came from the junket that can be added to other facts we had about the film to really give us a picture of The First Avenger: Captain America.
Since the film takes place mostly in Europe, Captain America will shoot in England. Joe Johnston will be using much of the same crew with whom he worked on The Wolfman, and he’s reteaming with cinematographer Shelly Johnson (who did fantastic work on The Wolfman), and they’ll be shooting digital, specifically with the Genesis camera. Talking to Johnston I told him my fears about DPs doing their first digital work, especially on period pieces, but the director insisted that Johnson had done days worth of tests and everybody was very happy with what they saw.
Pre-production is going on right now, and Johnston gets really into it on March 1st, when he relocates to England. Shooting begins in June.
As had been said by Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige many times in the past, Steve Rogers will be played by an American. Joe Johnston wants to cast an unknown (or relative unknown) in the part, and to surround him with better known actors. The appearance of The Invaders opens the door for a more international cast, and it’s quite possible that this is where some of the better known actors will be working. Johnston hopes to have his Captain America by March 1st, and he’s looking at a range of actors that stretches from their early 20s to their early 30s. He wants to cast a touch older than the average grunt, but it’s obviously important that they find someone who can anchor a franchise for a decade to come.
The only name that has surfaced in conjunction with the role is Ryan McPartlin, who lost out on the Superman role to Brandon Routh for Superman Returns and who is on the TV show Chuck.
The film will open and close with modern day bookends; the question becomes whether or not these bookends include Captain America waking up in the modern day or if it will be about others searching for his frozen body.
An interesting twist that’s already causing controversy is the idea that Captain America, being the only supersoldier the US government can create, will be too valuable as a PR tool to risk in combat and so will be relegated to USO shows. Dissatisfied with being stuck entertaining the troops as opposed to fighting alongside them, Steve Rogers will go AWOL. (via the LA Times)
The villain will be The Red Skull, as confirmed by Hit Fix, but nobody knows how that’s going to work. Will the Skull be wearing a mask or will he have a disfigured face? There are so many versions of the Captain America origin that it’s hard to be sure which version will show up here. That said, some things that I saw on the set of Iron Man 2 could give hints:
Howard Stark, Tony’s father, is going to be smeared in Iron Man 2, and elements of Howard’s work, such as the 1964 Stark Expo, will play a big role in the movie. But there’s more about Howard; going through his dad’s old stuff Tony discovers schematics for Captain America’s shield, a map of Antarctica and what appeared to me to be a German passport. We already know that Howard Stark plays a role in Cap’s origin, but could it be as a defector from Germany? In some versions of the Captain America origin the Super Soldier program is a response to the creation of the Red Skull (and in other versions it’s the other way around). Might Howard Stark have been involved in the creation of the Red Skull? That’s absolute speculation, but don’t be the least bit surprised when John Slattery, who is playing younger Howard Stark, ends up in the cast list for The First Avenger: Captain America.
Johnston revealed to me that the second half of the film will feature The Invaders, Marvel’s WWII superhero team. At Comic Con Kevin Feige had said that The Invaders would be a way of selling a film called Captain America to foreign audiences; while the real Invaders were mostly American, expect them to be more international in this film. Johnston said that there would be six Invaders, but there’s debate over whether that number includes Captain America himself. I suspect that it won’t – Captain America will work alongside The Invaders, but not as one of them. At least that’s my current guess.
One element that I teased from Kevin Feige last year at Comic Con that remains out of place is the fact that he namedropped HYDRA as a part of Marvel’s fictional WWII that could be important for The First Avenger: Captain America. HYDRA is a terrorist group in the Marvel Universe, and their very long history (like they’ve been retconned into beginning in Ancient Egypt kind of long history) includes WWII, and involvement with the Red Skull. Could HYDRA be Red Skull’s personal army in Captain America? Or could it be revealed as a secret society that’s actually pulling the strings behind Hitler? Setting up HYDRA in The First Avenger: Captain America feels like something that might pay off in The Avengers.
Of course that leads to a whole set of rumors and speculation about what might be in The Avengers…
Johnston tells the LA Times that Cap will have two costumes in the movie. The first will be the very familiar version of his togs, which he’ll wear in the USO show. Once he goes AWOL he’ll discover that his persona makes him an effective leader of men, so he dons a modified, combat-ready version of the costume.
It’s most likely that the new costume will look a lot like what Captain America wore in the WWII issue of The Ultimates, complete with armor and a helmet. I like this idea because it simply makes sense – sending a guy out in a gaudy costume to a war zone is essentially asking for him to be shot immediately. That bright blue outfit makes Cap a complete target and utterly undermines his operational capability in a real life combat situation.
This is the weirdest oversight -as of right now I can’t find a single story that has Johnston confirming or denying the presence of Bucky in the movie. There’s a version of Bucky in the 90s miniseries The Adventures of Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty that feels like it would fit perfectly in this film: a brash street tough who befriends the completely square Steve Rogers, this Bucky could help Steve go AWOL. That’s totally speculation, of course, and with production beginning this summer, we should know quite soon.