Anthony and Joe Russo, collectively known as the Russo brothers, have made a name for themselves by directing Marvel big-budget films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War.” As the filmmakers get ready to dive deeper into the comic-book universe, they talked to New York Magazine about how Marvel makes it possible for indie directors to helm big box-office superhero pictures.
The duo started off when they self-financed the crime film “Pieces” for $35,000 and caught the attention of Steven Soderbergh at the Slamdance Film Festival in 1997. After 2002’s “Welcome to Collinwood,” “You, Me and Dupree” and a couple of episodes of “Arrested Development” and “Community,” the brothers also garnered attention from Marvel president Kevin Feige.
“They are equal parts visionaries and pragmatists,” says Feige of the Russos. “In my opinion, that’s a high compliment.”
While the studio previously worked with big-name directors, things changed and Marvel decided to focus more on work that impressed them instead of the director’s last name.
“We choose from a pool of filmmakers not who have done big, giant films before but who have done interesting things that made us stop and go, ‘That’s cool,’” said Feige. “That’s the criterion for a meeting. Then we need to see if they’re up to the task of working on something this collaborative and this intensive — because a very expensive, big-budget movie that has a release date is inherently intense.”
The Russo brothers were up for the challenge stating that even though they had never done anything of this magnitude, they had dealt with high pressures before.
“Working in television trained us to be able to deal with the amount of decisions that have to be made on a movie of this scale, which is significant,” Joe says. “I think that’s why the process can swallow some people up. Because it’s a very complex and dense process that requires 1,000 decisions to be made a day, and if your batting average is not so great, then those decisions are going to compound and, you know, the ship sinks.”
And that’s not all, Marvel also equipped the directors with the best team possible to make it all happen.
“You’re so well supported, it’s crazy,” says Anthony. “You have the best conceptual artists, the best storyboarders, the best previsualization, the best special-effects people.”
So no matter how much experience one has – or doesn’t – Marvel will be interested in the director’s talent, vision and how well it works with the overall creative team. As the article mentions, “These films aren’t meant to be Jon Favreau films, or Joss Whedon films, or even Russo-brother films. They’re meant to be Marvel films.”
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