Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Commentators: Anthony Russo (co-director), Joe Russo (co-director), Christopher Markus (co-writer), Stephen McFeely (co-writer)
1. The opening scene of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) jogging was inspired by The Marathon Man. The other main 70s conspiracy thriller that inspired the film was 3 Days of the Condor.
2. The writers and directors patterned Rogers after Rocky Balboa, a nice and honest man, which was another reason for the running sequence. This character association allowed him to get the crap kicked out of him, which was a necessity since a too-perfect character can become unlikable.
3. The other reason for introducing Wilson so early in the film was that they wanted him to appear before any conspiracy elements started showing up, helping to show the character as trustworthy, allowing Rogers to seek his help in the middle of the movie.
4. Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) was a different character in early drafts of the script, but they wanted to plant seeds for the Crossbones villain from the comic books. Like Batroq the Leaper, the significance of his character goes unnoticed to those who do not know the source material.
5. Cap’s assault on the ship is meant to show a much more refined, modern soldier than what we saw in either Captain America: The First Avenger or The Avengers, when Steve Rogers was still just a kid “plucked off the streets of Brooklyn.”
6. The ship in the opening action sequence is a real satellite launch ship, which is used to launch satellites close to the equator because it improves fuel efficiency to break orbit and increases the lifespan of the satellite. The idea of the satellites in the conspiracy was added to fit in with this practical set.
7. The writers chose to have Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in this film rather than any of the other Avengers so her ideology can juxtapose that of Rogers’ because she lives in the modern age of gray politics. This allows their worldviews to both conflict and affect one another.
8. Although real-life political issues like WikiLeaks and drones served as inspiration for the conspiracy in the film, the Edward Snowden case didn’t happen until six weeks into shooting, making the story appear somewhat prophetic.
9. Cleveland (the hometown of the directors) served for many locations in the film, including the Howling Commandos exhibit in the Smithsonian, the mall where Rogers and Romanoff flee from and the gravesite of Nick Fury.
10. Hayley Atwell’s appearance in modern day was shot using a similar digital process that was used to create the “skinny Steve” look of Rogers pre-serum. Rather than covering the actress’s face with heavy make-up, they shot her in bed with very little make-up and a wig. Then, they shot an actual older actress making the same motions. The old age elements to her skin and face were then graphed onto Atwell’s face using CGI.
11. Marvel gave the filmmakers two mandates for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in this film: 1) He would have a big action sequence, and 2) he would get a more rounded arc, which led to him being vulnerable during the attack on his SUV.
12. Wilson is presented as a combat veteran in order to give him some common ground for Rogers to talk to, soldier to soldier, rather than the spies he works with in S.H.I.E.L.D.
13. The slow-traffic chase scene with Fury was inspired by a real-life car chase in Brazil in which a man stole a car and got stuck in traffic while police were pursuing on foot. This chase scene was used in the Russo brothers’ initial pitch to direct the project.
14. Both Fury’s attack in the car and Cap’s attack in the elevator were designed as impossible situations from which the hero has to escape. They were inspired by tense suspense scenes in Brian DePalma movies, specifically the white room sequence in Mission: Impossible.
15. In the original script, the Winter Soldier was not in the Fury car attack scene, but the producers wanted him to be introduced earlier in the film. The directors resisted initially, though, because he doesn’t capture Fury, and they feared it would weaken him as a villain.
16. Fury’s codename is Foxtrot because that is the word for F in the NATO phonetic alphabet. They tried several other codenames with more clever meanings, but they found it took too much screen time to explain them.
17. When Romanoff, Rogers and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are watching Fury die on the operating table, there is only one shot in which Romanoff is not in focus. This was done because of her personal emotional connection with Fury’s character.
18. When Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) confronts Rogers with information after Fury’s death, Rogers does not actually lie but rather withholds the truth. That is the closest Captain America comes to lying in any of the films.
19. The elevator fight originated as a chase through the building in which Cap jumps out of the window. It was changed to opt for tension in the scene rather than a huge action set piece. The filmmakers likened it to ten well-trained guys trying to subdue a gorilla in a cage.
20. The elevator scene was the first scene shot in the film, and it took place over the course of four days.
21. Originally, after Cap escapes Triskelion, a huge chase through Washington DC ensued. However, the filmmakers trimmed it down for time and because there were already many action sequences in the movie.
22. There were debates about whether Rogers should have a romance with Romanoff, but they opted not to do it because it would sell out both characters. In particular, they felt that if that happened, it would appear that the only reason to have Black Widow in the film was as a love interest, and there was so much more her character could offer the story.
23. Internally, the most controversial scene in the film was having Arnim Zola (Tobey Jones) reveal the HYRDA history in the underground bunker. This was because it was a sci-fi moment in an otherwise grounded and realistic conspiracy thriller.
24. The WarGames joke Romanoff makes was ad libbed on set during shooting to lighten the mood. (However, neither Scarlett Johansson nor Natasha Romanoff were born before that movie was released.)
25. The scene where the Winter Soldier shows up at Pierce’s house pays homage to the scene in 3 Days of the Condor in which Redford’s characters shows up at Atwood’s home.
26. Originally, Wilson was going to swoop in as the Falcon to pluck Sitwell off the street, but the filmmakers thought this would be to much, so they decided on the phone trick and laser target to get him alone.
27. As scripted, Romanoff was supposed to place her shoes behind a car as a decoy for the Winter Soldier, but on set Johansson asked why her character would then have to run around barefoot for the next chunk of the film. This led to them using the cell phone with her voice as a decoy, allowing her to keep her shoes.
28. The reveal of Bucky (Sebastian Stan) as the Winter Soldier was pitched to Kevin Feige of Marvel as their “Star Wars reveal” because it’s rare for the hero and the villain of a film to have such a close, emotional connection.
29. Ed Brubaker, the creator of the Winter Soldier in the comic books, plays one of the scientists in charge of maintaining the Winter Soldier.
30. Another Star Wars connection, The Winter Soldier getting his mind wiped is based on Han Solo’s torture sequence in The Empire Strikes Back.
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