Captain America takes on real world

Captain America takes on real world

Conceived in 1941 as the United States prepared to enter World War II, Captain America has always been one of the most flag-wavingly patriotic comic- book heroes.

On the cover of the first comic, creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had him wearing an American flag on his chest and shield, and punching Adolf Hitler in the face.

But the latest movie adaptation of the Marvel character takes a more modern - and rather less jingoistic - tack.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is no longer working for the army but for the shadowy intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D.

And instead of facing a monolithic foreign villain, he confronts an elaborate intra-governmental conspiracy inspired by the political controversies of today, including the ethics of unmanned drones and Edward Snowden revelations about US government surveillance of its citizens.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who are brothers, told reporters they set out to make this sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger more of a "political thriller".

So rather than simply focusing on the explosions, chases and fights of your average superhero blockbuster, "we tried to run at what's happening in the world today with the movie", says Anthony, 44, who adds that the source material was a Captain America comic published in 2005.

"We were thinking about what's going on with pre-emptive strikes and the president's kill list. And then, you know, the whole Edward Snowden thing came out after we were shooting, but it was sort of the tip of the iceberg for all of the other elements that were going on in the world that we were thinking about.

"We tried to make the movie reflective of our real-world condition and real-world stakes, even though it's a fantasy expression of what that is."

The result is a "tone that's very different" from the 2011 Captain America film helmed by Joe Johnston, even though that one certainly did well enough, earning US$370 million at the box office worldwide.

As the studio's choice to direct the movie, the Russo brothers represent a bit of a departure for the Captain America franchise, as their background is in comedy - on television with cult series Community and Arrested Development, for which they won an Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Emmy in 2004; and in film with works such as the 2002 crime caper Welcome To Collinwood, starring George Clooney and Sam Rockwell.

Joe, 42, admits that it was an adjustment going from projects such as those to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a big action- and special effects- heavy movie with a reported budget of US$170 million (S$216 million).

"The processes are very different," he says. "You still go to the set. You're still directing actors. You're still working with the crew. But you have an infrastructure at Marvel that's very different from anywhere else in the world, which is an incredible infrastructure, with very talented, very intelligent people who are there to help you get your vision across."

In its precisely timed rhythms, however, he argues that a film such as this is not that different from a comedy. "We always say comedy isn't very different from action. It requires choreography. So when you're doing, like, a good comedic bit, it's all about the choreography and the timing of it, which isn't very different from stunt work or, you know, a fight in a movie. It's all a dance.

"So we didn't feel like it was that big of a stretch for us. It felt like every day that we've been on set for the last 15 years."

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