‘Captain America’ director: ‘This movie is going to surprise some people’

Jan. 18, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.
captain america running Captain America director: This movie is going to surprise some people

"Captain America: The First Avenger" (Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios)

Captain America: The First Avenger” director Joe Johnston is not one of Hollywood’s shiny, happy people — the 60-year-old Texas native is known for blunt candor and a withering glare. That’s why I was bit taken aback the other day when I called his cellphone and heard a voice on the other end that actually sounded something close to giddy.

“I watched the movie for the first time a few days ago and I just looked at the first cut and there is so much entertainment value — it’s just flat-out fun to watch,” Johnston said of his Marvel Studios film, which hits theaters July 22.  “Maybe I’m somewhat biased — I was there [when we made it] — but, seriously, it’s funny, it’s exciting and there’s great visual effects.  The movie is going to be something more than people are expecting. This movie is going to surprise some people. It is the origin story of Captain America but it is also something rare — it’s a period superhero film but there’s great action in it. You don’t normally think of guys driving around in 1939 sedans in an action film but there are some great action beats in it. It’s just a helluva lot of fun to watch.”

joe johnston captain america Captain America director: This movie is going to surprise some people

Joe Johnston (Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times)

It’s not exactly shocking for a film director to be a sunny voice of promotion for his own movie. But I can tell you that Johnston didn’t sound like someone trying to puff up a project; he sounded like a guy who thinks he’s got a winning ticket in his pocket. Time will tell whether Johnston is off the mark but — after knowing him for a while now — I doubt seriously that he’s being anything but earnest in his appraisals. He may be right, he may be wrong, but I don’t think he’s being disingenuous.

I asked Johnston — whose credits include “Jurassic Park III,” “The Rocketeer” and “Jumanji” — who in his cast delivered a performance that took a character in an unexpected direction, and he didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“All actors bring something unexpected to the role because they have to translate what’s on the page and make a real character out of the black-and-white text that’s there in the script. I hadn’t worked with Chris Evans and I wasn’t really that familiar with his work and I  didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away by the subtlety that he brought to the role.  It was really exciting to watch him. He added layers to the character that were not on the page and layers that were not in the comic books. He made Steve Rogers into a real flesh-and-blood character and it was fantastic to watch.”

What do you think, does Johnston’s firecracker enthusiasm make you any more eager to see his red-white-and-blue adventure film? Or is he just waving his own flag?

— Geoff Boucher (Follow me on Twitter @LATherocomplex)



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64 Responses to ‘Captain America’ director: ‘This movie is going to surprise some people’

  1. bspurloc says:

    6 months away blah!

  2. Mark says:

    If it's a tenth as good as The Rocketeer we're all in for a treat.

  3. Nave Torment says:

    Very promising. Like the man said, its a superhero period piece, a true GOLDEN AGE comic adaptation. Captain America is in many ways the archetypal superhero, and all of that can be captured even more so when you tell the story set in the same time when superheroes were really born. Can't wait for this. Jack Kirby would've been proud. I wonder if Stan will be in it though?

    • Kevin Feige Sucks says:

      LMAO! Either you work for Joe Johnston or you time-traveled in a future where the movie was playing already. Here's some high lights from your post: "Like the man said, its a superhero period piece, a true GOLDEN AGE comic adaptation.", "Jack Kirby would've been proud." Really? I dunno, he strikes me as the type of guy that would actually have to SEE THE MOVIE before succumbing to such a distinct emotion. But I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Apparently, you already do. Awesome.

  4. Necro says:

    Chris Evans is an EPIC FAIL of casting in the lead role.

    • alc1 says:

      i still think that mark valley would have been a perfect captaion america

      • Jack LesCamela says:

        Mark Valley would have been the perfect Cap… several years ago. Steve Rogers in WWII was not a man in his 40's. Chris Evans should be fine.

    • MMorse says:

      Is there any phrase in the English language more immature and eyeroll-worthy than "Epic Fail'?

      Here's a wild-n'-crazy idea: wait to see some acting from Evans in the role before dismissing him IN ALL CAPS.

      • BSB says:

        i want to shake your hand right now.

      • Kevin Feige Sucks says:

        Um, no. If it's an actual Epic Fail then , that's what you call it. And far as anyone being "immature" here, were talking about a comic book movie. Evans was a sloppy and cheap choice and this will result in his immediate recasting. I'll bet the farm on it.

      • Ingu says:

        As much as I'd hate to see you lose your farm, don't be so quick to judge. At least wait until the trailer's out before you start slamming the actors so eagerly, Evans could just as much give us all a pleasant suprise as he could dissapoint.

      • USAgent says:

        Just judging by your name, clearly, you are a pessimist at best, Oppositional Defiant Disordered at worst. You have NO IDEA whether this movie will be good or not. It is foolish to bet the farm against Chris Evans–Marvel knows what they are doing!! Look at the Robert Downey casting AT THE TIME. A true longshot. But it wound up being perfect. Chris Evans has been a sought after actor as of late. Marvel didn't HAVE to cast him. I trust their judgment enough that they would not blow a key component of the Avengers strategy. Add with that a legitimate budget, a legitimate director, and a transcendent story, and you have a HIT.

        You will hate this movie no matter if it's the next Indiana Jones. But the other 15 million people that see and re-see it don't have to drink your hatorade. Get ready for a frustrating summer.

  5. David Medinnus says:

    Well, I doubt he'd go on an interview and say bad things about his own movie… *grins* That said, I'm probably one of the few people who also enjoyed "Wolfman" (big fan of furry lycanthropes), also directed by Joe Johnson, and "The Phantom" (I like the Phantom almost as much as I do Captain America). Given the crap of the other three Captain America movies, it won't take a lot to raise the expectations bar!

  6. Alaris says:

    I hope they make a decent Cap movie when it's ok to love the US of A and this pathetic trend of International apology expires.

  7. johnnie. says:

    i'm sorry but am i the only one who watched the wolfman,jumanji and/or J.P.3????
    those movies were ..pretty bad.

  8. chris says:

    It looks to be really good so far. The only thing that bothers me is that I'm fearing Marvel will ignore the actual history of the Nazi's being the evil of WWII and will replace it with Hydra. Red Skull is suppose to be a Nazi, Captain America went out to fight Nazi spies on the Homeland, let's hope the reality of the war isn't forgetten and totally replaced with fantasy.

    • nbc says:

      i believe the direction they are taking is that hydra is like a science division of the third reich, which is spear-headed by the red skull. so they're still nazis, you just won't see them wearing a swastika (toy companies are uneasy putting stuff like that on the shelves next to barbie and pokemon)

    • Victor Rosario says:

      Can't agree more.

    • heastroker says:

      Most of the realities you speak of relating to WWII were fabricated for the allies' and/or the axis' propaganda purposes anyway. It was all fantasy to begin with on either side of the war.

  9. T.L. says:

    Actually, Jurassic Park /// was far better than the second one (directed by Spielberg). I thought Johnston did a fine job — and I look forward to seeing CA this summer.

  10. Brenno says:

    got to love these armchair warriors who feel they've got to slam a movie for sake of it. Honestly, wolfman,jumanji and/or J.P.3 were not bad at all. Were they the greatest? no, but they were definitely not a movie i felt like walking out on, or felt like i had just wasted my money. For fck sake, some of you clowns need to get a life…. honestly, jumanji bad?! you got to be kidding me. pull your head out your ass

    • Fred Nichols says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Well said, far too many "experts" today who think they could make the ultimate Movie if given the chance. Comic nerds shouldnt be allowed to comment.

  11. Peter Briggs says:

    I've loved Johnston's direction in all of his projects, and as a huge Rocketeer fan, this is the only one of the upcoming Marvel movies I'm pumped about. Go, Joe!

  12. John says:

    more like brown, gray and blue to me.

  13. Dan Ferreira says:

    For me, the clothes lacked a little originality, more than that, so far, everything is great.

  14. Stanley says:

    His costume already looks cheesy, like the costume worn by Daredevil. Cheesy leather.

  15. Jack Meoph says:

    Loved the Rocketeer. If this director says its awesome, then it probably is. Being a period piece, he can make it black and white. hero vs. villain, without any of the obligatory emo cr@p that tends to crop up in todays movies for no other reason than someone thinks it makes them more “real or human”. Plus, I still hate Nazi’s and always enjoy seeing them get their butts kicked.

  16. BVavs says:

    Um…If it's a period piece, how are they going to tie this into the upcoming Avenger's movie? He'll be in his 80's.

    • jcb10 says:

      Probably the same way he's in the comics now — an accident that results in suspended animation.

    • Kevin Feige Sucks says:

      In the comic, Captain America and Buckey were fighting Baron Zemo, I believe. There was an explosion that killed Buckey (Supposedly) and dropped Captain America in a block of ice in which he was preserved for years until he was discovered. A similar (if not the same) event will occur in the movie. He will wake up in our time and join the Avengers. And Chris Evans will be a leader as Captain America the same way the dude who played Cyclops was in X-MEN. He will be wall paper.

      • USAgent says:

        Totally disagree. First of all, I would bet that it will not be until the very end of the movie that Captain America is discovered. I'd bet that he will not wake up, but that whomever — Iron Man/Thor/Nick Fury — will come across his frozen body, and then it ends. I seriously doubt they will begin his venture into modern times.

        Secondly, Evans can pull off the leadership aspect in Avengers because of the REASON the other heroes respect Cap. It isn't because he is a mandog. It's because he fought for this country, he stands for high morals, he delivers utmost respect, and he is a truly untainted leader. There is supposed to be friction between the Avengers, and I'm sure Iron Man and Cap will have their differences. To me, negotiating the leadership will be easy. I imagine Cap will do it with actions, too–when they see him whooping butt in a battle, and protecting their backs all the same, they will deliver respect. Captain America is the best fighter in the Marvel Universe. Cyclops isn't the best anything. A WORLD of difference.

    • Ryu says:

      you dont know anything about captain america, do you? he became captain america in the 40s and 50s and was frozen for decades until being thawed out in recent years. read up on the character before passing judgement

    • crusader says:

      Obviuosly you don't know who Captain America is, do you?

    • Jock Limey says:

      Read your comics dude. Cap got frozen at the end of WW2 and was dug up by Iron Man and the Avengers in the modern day. Sheesh, you would think that people commenting on superhero articles would actually have an idea about who the hero is before asking ridiculous questions.

    • Bailey says:

      Anyone who has a DVD version of The Incredible Hulk should go take a look at this — http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/captain-america-… — and then fire up the DVD player and look for themselves.

    • Fred Nichols says:

      He gets frozen at the end of the war & thawed in current time. If you dont know that I find it odd that you even read this story or commented

  17. Kevin Feige Sucks says:

    So, the guy is basically promoting the movie super shamelessly. The level in which he's trying to hype up Evans performance (Layers? please), the action and the special FX, means one thing to me; Mediocre modest budget film in the same grade as G.I. JOE. This guy isn't fooling anyone. The fact that they cast Chris Evans as Captain America let's you knw that it's all low budget. They never intended to take the film seriously. Just make a quick buck of the name and the Avenger affiliation.

    • Anna says:

      I agree. Marvel just wants to make some money. Once Johnston said that the movie was funny, he lost me. Captain America and 'Funny' do not go together. That essentially means that they let Chris Evans play the same smart mouthed character that he plays in most of his movies. They are not intending to take this movie or the comic seriously. So, what we basically have is The Green Lantern (DC) and now Captain America (Marvel) both vying for 'funny, smart-mouthed' superhero of the year. Neither film was taken seriously apparently. Casting Chris Evans led me to believe this was how it would be anyway. He has only made a few good films and mostly played a secondary actor in all the others. They weren't looking for a top-notch actor to begin with.

    • USAgent says:

      Why on earth would Marvel, backed by Disney, have to "just make a buck" out of its' premiere hero? When I say that, I mean the one all of the other heroes look up to. Marvel wants for Captain America to be a great success and a household hero name. Sure, it's a business, but it is ridiculous to say that they only want to make money. If this were true, they'd have cast a lesser actor as the lead, because they are paying more for Evans than some of the other guys being considered. They could have gone cheap with the director, too.

      And Anna, you're blowing things out of proportion. He didn't say the movie was a friggin' comedy. He said that it was funny AND fun AND exciting AND entertaining. Captain America is not some stoic war movie. He is a hero meant to lift the spirits of the men fighting alongside. I've been a fan and collector of Captian America since 1988, and I am thoroughly confident that this treatment is the right one. Harrison Ford brought humor to Indiana Jones. I think Chris Evans will be fine in the humor he brings to Cap. He understands that Cap is not a smart alec. But quick quips to himself in the midst of a larger-than-life situation, like being surrounded by Nazi/Hydra agents, will be welcome.

      NAME the "top-notch" actor who is more athletic, more age-appropriate, and more accomplished than Chris Evans for this role. You can't.

    • GtrDude says:

      …or you haven't seen the movie and he has. Either way.

  18. Steven says:

    Chris Evans is a good actor. He was the redeeming quality of Fantastic Four. He was even more so amazing in Sunshine. Great actor there. I have faith in him.

  19. hiyoupeople says:

    jurassic park 3 sucked

  20. Eric says:

    I pray that this version will finally wash away the painful memory of the last Captain America film from the 90's. The had a lousy script. But I thought Matt Salinger looked perfect as Cap

  21. SuperheroWearsTights says:

    Chris Evan's costume is not up to superhero standards (read: tight). I can loosely say that this has the formula to be epic fail.

  22. banthafodder says:

    Can't wait to see this! : )

  23. Boss says:

    "Hidalgo" was a correct movie directed by Johnston, with an epic scope and truly beautiful images. Also, Marvel are behaving as good producers. Giving love to their franchises.
    I expect a truly entertainment movie, something that surprises me.
    Anyway, we can say nothing until see a goddamn trailer. We want the trailer now!

    I also think that "Green Lantern" will be a disapointing movie, because the trailer looks like a comedy, when the concept idea of the GL is HUGE.

    • Ingu says:

      Agreed, the trailer makes the entire thing look like a joke. To me the entire thing gives off the vibe that no one who made it really cared. I'm giving that movie a miss.

  24. Jlove says:

    The costume looks terrible.

  25. teebo says:

    With CAPTAIN AMERICA's subject matter— '40s time frame, young, clean-cut superhero learning the ropes of superhero-ing— being closer to THE ROCKETEER than JPIII or WOLFMAN… I'm willing to go along with director Johnson's enthusiasm for this film. Esp. if he pulls off with CA what he accomplished with that earlier film: a rousing "feel good" piece of entertainment that delivered while not taking itself TOO seriously.

    Although with the movie essentially being a 'prequel' for the upcoming AVENGERS, I'm not too sure that his Marvel overseers will allow Johnson to have that less-serious, light tone in it, lest it contrast with their view of their planned Superhero cinematic franchise. If so, CAPTAIN AMERICA will turn out to be just a land-bound redress of THE ROCKETEER, grounded where the other one soared…

  26. Local Man says:

    Those of you who don't like the costume . . . it is a costume made out of items that are consistant with stuff available during WWII — can you possibly think that his comics costume of chain mail and spandex would look good? The costumes in comics will usually look really stupid on an actual human being. Frankly, I'm impressed that the costume looks as much like the comics costume while still looking like it might be a real WWII outfit.

    Chris Evans appears to have taken this role very seriously. He buffed up far beyond his already-great-physique to really look like the super soldier. And Hugo Weaving is ALWAYS great, especially as a villain.

    I am pretty hopeful for this film. Joe Johnson showed with The Rocketeer that he can make a great period action film, and I expect this one to be even better.

  27. Local Man says:

    And to the person who questioned the time frame . . . the film will show links between the WWII time setting and the modern-day setting of the Avengers — just wait. Iron Man, Increadible Hulk and Iron Man 2 all had hints leading towards the eventual Avengers film. Thor will as well, and Captain America will lead into the Avengers film. Marvel is orchestrating the inter-linking of these characters to have an epic team-up.

  28. Master Caster says:

    For those wondering how Captain America goes from WW2 to the modern day…. please note that Captain America fell into the Atlantic and became frozen in ice during his last battle with the Red Skull toward the end of WW2. The super soldier serum in his system and the preservative properties of freezing kept him alive all that time until he was found by the Avengers, thawed out and in time became their leader.

  29. april says:

    Samuel L. Jackson will appear in both Thor and Captain America. http://bit.ly/dWzNCn

  30. lauren says:

    I live in New York but i am a huge Captian america fan. I know the movie is coming out they say july22 but does anyone know about movie premieresbefore then even if it is in hollywood or anywhere that is open to the public??

  31. Seth says:

    Chris Evans is a great actor, but I just don't see Steve Rodgers in him. He was perfect as Johnny Storm, because he brought the "smart ass" out perfectly.. Also it'll be quite weird when they make the Avengers movie… They'll have to cast a new Captain America, or new Johnny Storm which is going to be weird. I also hope to god they don't try to make it all "international" being ashamed to be proud of America and all. If they do that throughout the film, then its going to suck because that is not Captain America, especially with the period this film is supposed to be set in.

    I have good hopes for this film, but at the same time something tells me it'll end up like Hulk and other comic book movies created by directors who just don't know what the hell they are doing…. REMAKE!!

  32. jkjk says:

    it's the best movie ever —- until the sequel when they will say it was really garbage. so predictable

  33. Moira says:

    Hi again How it going? Men They give more Details. Comics Making MAd,I love the Comics. They say dreams come True. What a Load of crap.For Me anyways you would see me in your movies to buy them. Comics too be fun to read. I love reading books Telling storeis, its fun Adventure. No more America Antman, What i do without you. Find something else. I love you chris Evans,Your the perfect Cap. It Shoots Your Attude. I always,love Chris Evans Even Don't get involved. No hard feeling.SF.

  34. Moira says:

    They sould make funny Comdey Show, I love simps. They make me laugh.I don't cry,Cap lost in the ice again.Sad movie. I love you anyways.SF.

  35. Dude says:

    Can you redo this movie so that at the end he either jumps off the plane and surfs on his shield and surfs his way to New York or he at least is asleep for a year because the ending to me really wasn’t good that he was asleep for 70 years at least make it were he gets the girl

  36. jabaria says:

    That movie kick so much ass, awesome job Joe Johnston. One of my favorite superheros. A great period-action film.

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