EXCLUSIVE: Stephen McFeely, co-writer of “Captain America: The First Avenger” and its upcoming sequel, told The Playlist that he and his partner Christopher Markus are optimistic that Michael Bay’s next project will be directing “Pain and Gain,” a black comedy they wrote about a real-life crime. “He’s headed in that direction,” McFeely said last week during a telephone interview for the home video release of “Captain America.” “There’s been more public comments from him, so it’s nice. But it seems more realistic than it did two years ago when it seemed a little more realistic than it did two years before that, so we’re cautiously optimistic.”
Last week Bay went online to clarify rumors that he was not in fact meeting with Paramount executives to discuss two more films in the “Transformers” series. McFeely’s partner, Christopher Markus, said that he understands the pressure Bay is under to make the right choice. “I think the world is ready,” Markus said. “But it’s a tough situation. You have a huge director who has directed a series of massive, moneymaking films that the studios would very much like for him to continue making. And it is an uphill climb for him to say, ‘You know, I’d like to grind a massive moneymaking machine to a halt for a second to make a movie about weightlifters.’” Markus added, “But I hope and believe he will.”
“Pain and Gain” is based on an article in the Miami New Times about the real-life extortion ring and a kidnapping plot that goes horribly awry, hatched by a couple of Floridian bodybuilders. McFeely said that in spite of the events’ amoral tone, the film will be more comedic, albeit in a very bleak way. “It’s ‘Fargo,’ you know? What William Macy does in ‘Fargo’ is sort of dark – on its face, he hires people to kidnap his wife. So there’s a way you can treat these things.” Markus, meanwhile, observed that the film finds its moral footing even as it depicts these characters committing terrible crimes.
“Your main characters are not your moral center,” he revealed. “We didn’t undarken what happens – that’s pretty much accurate. But it becomes very obvious that it’s wrong. In a weird way, morality just sort of finds its own level, because what the people are doing is so explicitly wrong that right becomes almost clearer.”
McFeely continued, “It’s a dance, because you’re rooting for them to get caught, but we couldn’t make them un-understandably evil. So the challenge is maybe to more figure out why these guys, why this series of crimes, made sense to these guys, and why they would do it. And then, you don’t want them to succeed, but we get why they do it.”
All told, it sounds like a fresh direction for Bay after three straight movies of razzle dazzle explosions and we hope he does stick to his word and get this one lensing next. Meanwhile, “Captain America: The First Avenger” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray today.