After "Iron Man 2," Marvel Studios has two ambitious additions to it's big screen universe: "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger." Director Kenneth Branagh is already hard at work at "Thor" with Chris Hemsworth recently cast as the Norse God, but "Captain America" remains an intriguing challenge.
Marvel hopes to tie in all its characters through "Captain America" as almost a prequel for an "Avengers" movie afterward. Unlike the characters of Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man or Thor, Captain America is as patriotic as you can get. Considering the United States standing in some Western overseas countries, this could be a very hard sell. While speaking to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige today at Comic-Con, I asked him if he was concerned about launching a franchise that would be dependent on strong international grosses to make a profit with such a singularly patriotic character. Especially, when the declining DVD market is making those overseas numbers more important than ever.
"It certainly comes into play that we would be foolish to forge ahead without considering that, but the truth is 'Captain America' is really the story of Steve Rogers," Feige says. "Like Peter Parker, like Bruce Banner, like Tony Stark -- by the way, Tony Stark is about as jingoistic as there is. He's constantly talking about America and making weapons to go to war with the rest of the world with and it did extremely well overseas, because his story is engaging. This movie is Steve Rogers origin story. And I think it's our burden and our job to make Steve Rogers as appealing as any of our other characters. He's doing his best. He's not just the perfect boy scout following the orders every time. He's got an ideal that he wants to live up to and I think that's going to be fascinating."
Feige continued, "Also, setting it in the Marvel version of World War II I think is going to open it up in another big way. And then the rest frankly is marketing. What's funny is, it will actually end up being our most diverse and our most international film in terms of the content of the movie itself. It takes place overseas much more than any of our other films do. And in terms of cast there is a group that Steve works with that will have an opportunity for international actors than any of our other films."
Does that mean the World War II superhero group The Invaders will be part of the film then?
"I dunno," Feige says with a slight smile.
The Invaders were a precursor to The Avengers and DC Comic's Justice League of America which featured Captain America, his sidekick Bucky, the U.K's Union Jack and Fury, the original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro as well as the Sub Mariner. Including those supporting characters, similar to the formula of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," could severely lessen the film's patriotic fervor.
Feige said the movie will explore the super soldier program, the Red Skull (Captain America's arch nemesis) and the evil organization Hydra. As he notes, "As you know if you read the comics, the origin of Captain America is really the origin of the Marvel Universe."
He also added that the WW II era Human Torch, which was not the same character as the Fantastic Four Human Torch, is under the company's domain for the big screen and could appear in "Captain America," but he's unsure if it will.
As for casting the iconic hero, Feige says "If we make any announcements before October I'd be surprised, but we're always looking."
"Captain America: The First Avenger" will start production next June for a May 4, 2012 release.