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The Smithsonian Hosts the Russo Brothers for Marvel Men Discussion

Captain America Civil WarAt a theater on the University of the District of Columbia Thursday night, the Smithsonian Associates hosted directors Joe and Anthony Russo to chat before a sold out 900 person crowd. NPR‘s Linda Holme‘s moderated the event and topics ranged from their early career, to the future of entertainment, and also some breaking news about a certain character and Avengers: Infinity War.

But, the event was held the opening night of Captain America: Civil War, and that film was on everyone’s mind on top of where the Russo brothers go from there. The two will direct the two part Avengers: Infinity War and are rolling right into production of that film. The directors explained that the two part film will actually be two distinct movies that are the culmination of everything that has come before. The directors said the main impetuous for the movies being filmed concurrently is that it’s much easier to get all of the actors involved together to shoot the film and it saves on the budget. But, they emphasized the two films are very much their own thing. Shooting begins in November 2016 and will go to September 2017. They receive the first draft next week at which point they will sit down with the writers and for a month go over various scenes and character arcs.

new-captain-marvel-jpgBut, the biggest news of the evening came from the QA period and involved Avengers: Infinity War. When asked how the directors handle characters who haven’t debuted, such as Captain Marvel, the directors responded in an affirmative that we’ll be seeing Captain Marvel in the film. She gets her own solo film in 2018 after Avengers: Infinity War Part I. Her appearance felt like a given, but at this point an unconfirmed thing. Then then spent some time backtracking on that slip, so we know one character in the film! But, to answer the actual question, they said it’s one of the most difficult things. There’s lots of challenging parts with a lot of specificity missing.

But, the main focus of the night was Civil War which is a sequel to both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But, compared to the two films, the directors feel that Civil War‘s structure has more in common with The Winter Soldier. They even both have a section of the film that’s a moment of reflection. The two films deviate in the third act. But, it’s the fact the film is a sequel to two different franchises is what’s interesting to them. The concept of sequels took off in the 80s they explained, but the idea of multiple franchises weaved together is something new, experimental, and Marvel’s approach is the future of cinema. That’s a topic the two pontificated on a bit.

2016-05-05 1They felt that films will become even more event driven based around intellectual property with big experiences while television will be where the experimental and smaller films go. Those indie/smaller films will need new distribution models and take advantage that people can consume on a mass level with just a click of a button. That two will also mean there’ll be a need of new measurements of success. Plus there’s a little something called VR on the way too. We understood movies to be one thing the past 100 years and the next 10 to 20 years will vastly alter that.

But, back to the discussion of the night, Civil War, which the Russo’s described as Captain America being the most human he’s been. It’s “Steve Rogers vs. Captain America.”

The film pits Captain America against Iron Man as the two clash in philosophies. It takes Steve Rogers from a leader to a soldier questioning his superiors and eventually a rebel. Due to the actions of the Avengers a fearful state exists causing individuals to become radicalized, part of the political theme of the film. But, while it asks a lot of questions, it doesn’t actually give a lot of answers.

To them the film is about a family torn apart with at times a tense and dark tone. It’s a psychological thriller with influences such as Se7en, Fargo, and Blow Out. But that dark tone also had the directors looking to lighten it up and change the emotion with characters such as Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man. The comedic elements, especially from those last two, help release the tension as it builds up. But that varied emotion helps layer the film.

But which side are the two directors on? They wouldn’t give an answer saying the most compelling films are the ones where you get to the end and you’re not sure which side was right.