CAPTAIN AMERICA EXCLUSIVE: One Question/One Answer with Director Joe Johnston

CBM marks the return of this exclusive feature in which editor Ed Gross asks Captain America director Joe Johnston a question about production. This time out, it's a look back at the overall production.

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By EdGross - 1/7/2011
SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Overall, looking back at the Captain America shoot, what's your feeling about it?

JOE JOHNSTON: CAPTAIN AMERICA was a lot of things. Every picture has its highs and lows, its dreads and excited anticipations. To fully understand the CAPTAIN AMERICA experience, I have to keep reminding myself that I had just come off another film I shot in the UK, THE WOLFMAN. The two experiences could not have been more different, in fact in many ways (certainly not all) they were polar opposites. I had three weeks of prep on WOLFMAN, a ridiculously inadequate amount of time to try to bring together the fractured and scattered pieces of the production. I had taken the job mostly because I had a cash flow problem, the only time in my career I’ve ever let finances enter into the decision process. Money is always the wrong reason for doing something that requires passionate devotion. The production was a leaky, rudderless ship in a perfect storm suffering from bad decisions, infighting, reluctance of the powers-that-be to take responsibility, and too many under-qualified cooks in the kitchen. The good news and bad news about directing is that when the picture works you’re showered with all the credit and when it doesn’t work you’re dumped on with all the blame. Both scenarios are undeserved. I take full responsibility for THE WOLFMAN not working because it goes with the territory. There were wonderful aspects of THE WOLFMAN experience. I inherited a crew that was the best of my experience, including a first assistant director without whom I could not have made it through the first two weeks. I had the immense pleasure of working with a cast that was as diverse and multifaceted as it could be. I rediscovered all that I love about London and its environs and I made some lifelong friends, on and off the crew.



I had thirty weeks of prep on CAPTAIN AMERICA. I have a small team of qualified, supportive, creative producers who are actually helping me achieve my vision of the film. I had a dream cast headed by Chris Evans. I had the best designers, artists, sculptors, craftspeople…a creative team that could design, build and photograph anything and have it look amazing and beautiful. We had unbelievable luck with the weather wherever we shot in England. The weather was so good we were compelled to make it rain for a couple of sequences just for some variety. At times I felt as if the gods were saying, “Ahem, sorry about that wolfman thing…let us make it up to you.” CAPTAIN AMERICA was probably the most universally positive experience I’ve had in this mad business.
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RorMachine - 1/7/2011, 4:43 AM
lol, this almost sounds like a response to my Cap editorial! Great stuff Ed. If Wolfman were the only Johnston movie I disliked then I would accept the excuses. But, I haven't heard him say anything about this movie that I didn't like and he seems determined to get this right so I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.
the1egend1ives - 1/7/2011, 4:44 AM
You shoulda asked him when we'd see a TRAILER. lol

This sounds very reassuring. It seemed very obvious that the failures of the Wolfman was attributed to his late attachment. I'm certain Captain America his next great work since October Sky.

One thing I'd wanna know from him is "why Evans?" He calls him his dream cast. I mean, I'm sure he'll be wonderful and I'm happy he got the part, but I'm certain he was NOT most people's list of who to play Captain America.
Hawksblueyes - 1/7/2011, 4:45 AM
Fantastic work Ed. I may be reading too much into this but it doesn't sound like he is happy with his experience on The Wolfman. ;P
GrimeKid - 1/7/2011, 4:48 AM
Wow he opened up didn't he? I respect a man who can be truthful,
also I didn't know he'd been prepping Cap for 30 weeks, that's alot longer than I thought.
Can't wait for this!
EdGross - 1/7/2011, 4:48 AM
indoraptor12, I had asked him about the casting of Chris Evans some time ago and he said, "Chris didn't audition at all. I was already familiar with everything he'd done and was championing his cause, not that I had a fight from the Marvel team. They were fans of his as well. He came in to the art department to say hi, saw all the jaw-dropping art and designs on the wall and reacted the way I'd hoped he would. It was really his wonderful enthusiasm for everything he saw that cinched the deal. We have some of the best designers and illustrators in the industry working for us and the art is just incredible to wander through. He will bring the perfect balance of dramatic performance and physicality to the role."

Hawksblueyes, yeah, one might get that impression.
EdGross - 1/7/2011, 4:49 AM
Cal, I'm sure his perspective must be different from the people watching it, looking at it from the inside out.
LEEE777 - 1/7/2011, 4:57 AM
I've only got ONE question for him...

Why can't we have WWII FURY (Howling Commandos) in it and no Ultimate Fury... that is all! : P

GR8 stuff @ ED!
DaenerysTargaryen - 1/7/2011, 5:06 AM
yah uhhh.....Bring on the god-damn trailer or AT LEAST the Entertainment tonight behind-the-scenes look. I'm dying from anticipation!
Orphix - 1/7/2011, 5:10 AM
Blimey!

Shoots from the hip, doesn't he?

But totally respect him for that. Really looking forward to this film now.
StrangerX - 1/7/2011, 5:29 AM
With three weeks time Johnston created a predictable film like The Wolfman into an entertaining movie. Now I imagine with thirty weeks of prep time Captain America will be EPIC.
Jaspion - 1/7/2011, 5:35 AM
@LEEE yeaah, Ultimate Fury sucks..
wish he as just a Life Model Decoy and then the real Fury would take place
StuckInPanels - 1/7/2011, 5:50 AM
Hey at least he was able to admit his own faults about the Wolfman(which I enjoyed), I know he is gonna make this movie awesome. Also....BRING US THE TRAILER!!!!!!
Ibz - 1/7/2011, 6:28 AM
@LEEE because the continuity would be [frick]ed up thats why
Coldblood6 - 1/7/2011, 6:31 AM
Can one of 'The Wolfman' haters explain to me what they found so bad about it. My only criticism is that Anthony Hopkins looked a bit goofy in the wolfman form in the final fight. I found a quite entertaining movie. Its obvious Paramount did not want too many significant changes from the original and as far as I'm concerned that's ok.

With all due respect to those involved in this interview I do find that during the production period most directors, actors, producers, etc., will say that everything was wonderful in interviews. It's only months to years later they will be completely truthful.
Coldblood6 - 1/7/2011, 6:34 AM
I find it interesting what some people today call a bad or terrible movie. I know truly terrible movies as stuff like the first Streetfighter movie, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, the 90's Captain America, etc. Wolfman cant even compare to those atrocities.
Xandera - 1/7/2011, 6:42 AM
Sounds like he has a good attitude toward the movie and the story of Cap... glad to hear it!

@LEEE - Agreed... however Sam Jackson is the perfect choice for Ultimate Nick Fury... so it might not be so bad...


Check out the Fourth Sub-chapter of WHITE FIRE... History Repeats Itself!

White Fire

AlcoholicA - 1/7/2011, 6:52 AM
Hell yes! I'm all Marvel, but growing up I was just never a big Cap fan. Growing up on Spider-Man and X-Men, he just didn't do it for me. Then I starting playing Halo and it clicked how badass the whole, "no real powers, but above and beyond all normal human capabilites" thing could be. I read Thor every month and I dare say I'm more stoked about this movie. Cap's gonna bring it!
marvel72 - 1/7/2011, 7:25 AM
my one question,when are we going to see a trailer ?
WingPow - 1/7/2011, 7:42 AM
@ColdBlood6

I love movies. I see many of them. Also, I love werewolves (believe it or not) almost as much as I love Captain America.

There wasn't anything incredibly wrong with The Wolfman. It simply lacked a compelling bond to the character(/s). I think that the character development was a little shakey. It seemed to move too fast along. Given 3 weeks prep time, that's not surprising. When you have no time to begin with, where are your efforts going to go? Something's got to give. In this case, I think it was making sure the special FX were up to snuf'

Movies that blend lots of FX and a strong central character are tricky for a director, I'm sure. You need to allocate time, as a director, to develop both of them. With no time, I'm sure that's hard to do. You look at a film like "October Sky", all Johnston had to do was focus on character development (and I'm sure he had a lot more time).

Good thing you get with Johnston is you know that Cap' will look awesome. His best quality is to bring movies to life in a way that's visually stunning. He's hit the nail on the head before, but his weakest link is his ability to develop a character the audience relates/feels for. Let's hope he got that right with Cap
AlexdoxA - 1/7/2011, 7:42 AM
HAHAHAHAHAAA!!! It's like running into Nixon and asking about the weather and he'd start going: "Oh... I do remember Watergate but it happens that..."
DukeAcureds - 1/7/2011, 8:17 AM
ED: What do you think about the Cap shoot?
Joey J: I [frick]IN' HATED the Wolfman shoot! That was the worst film I ever did! It's the worst film of all time!!!
ED: ...Um...and the Cap shoot?
BeeMo - 1/7/2011, 9:43 AM
Sounds to me like he's been getting a LOT of flack about WOLFMAN and the question was an open invitation to address those concerned with him directing CATFA. I can respect that though, in one (albeit long) answer, he not only stated that WOLFMAN's failures was not entirely his fault, not his vision and that CATFA has given him all the time and ability to direct this movie the right way.

It also shows how much Marvel wants this movie to succeed, giving him 30 weeks of prep time, as opposed to 3 weeks with WOLFMAN. I think this answer was mainly directed to people who were worried that he may not have been the best choice for Captain America, coming off of the Wolfman movie.
Personally, after seeing how he directed Rocketeer, another period piece, I've always felt that he could pull this off in a good way. I commend him for standing up for himself.
Sinza - 1/7/2011, 9:48 AM
@ Shocker
Photobucket
Photobucket

I know it's not Hugo....best I could do.
Coldblood6 - 1/7/2011, 9:58 AM
@ Wingpow

Thanx for the reply. That sounds like a reasonable critcism. In contrast many people have said described the movie as terrible, horrible, etc., and I just don't get that. These people really need to see same BAD movies to know what that is. For those people I would recommend Batman & robin, but i don't think that is humane of me.
Coldblood6 - 1/7/2011, 10:00 AM
Thats awesome Sinza!
Dusk - 1/7/2011, 10:11 AM
I already know its gonna be AWESOME! Now GIVE US A TRAILER! Ive been suffering through these stupid Entertainment Tonight episodes all week! Sheesh!
Ronnie11 - 1/7/2011, 10:35 AM
should have asked when was he planning to release the trailer.. :)
Coldblood6 - 1/7/2011, 11:54 AM
I want to say a special THANX to the guys who run this website for things like this!

Comocbookmovie.com has become my no. 1 must check site every day.
Pluto - 1/7/2011, 12:04 PM
This seems very positive.
Betty - 1/7/2011, 12:36 PM
Is that Lee Majors or Joe Johnston?
prototype87 - 1/7/2011, 12:41 PM
shroud - 1/7/2011, 1:21 PM
i dont think Wolf Man was that bad a movie , i liked it . Compared to the crap that cmae out that year it was ggod , i still dont get the hype over Avatar .
GUNSMITH - 1/7/2011, 1:28 PM
IF HE'S THIS POSITIVE ABOUT CAP, WERE GONNA GET A REALLY GOOD MOVIE.
GUNSMITH - 1/7/2011, 1:32 PM
Gose - 1/7/2011, 2:39 PM
Wooo, big changes here in CBM.com. This news worries me, Joe Johnston's prep team missing important people, like Stan Lee or Jim Steranko.
Jakeroo - 1/7/2011, 3:01 PM
Photobucket

WINGS BABY!!!....and oh yeah I really like Chris Evan's
comments. I believe with him we will get both some decent acting and a guy who has the right physical performance for Steve/Cap....I cannot wait.
JoshWilding - 1/7/2011, 3:47 PM
Awesome work ED! :)
gunner - 1/7/2011, 5:13 PM
Good article Ed , Only having three week's prep on the Wolfman explains so much now about how fragmented that movie was.
30 week's to prep is Incredible , This movie as well as Thor Movie will be the Jewel of the Marvel Movie Universe.
I have no doubt in my mind that i will enjoy this Movie !!
Elayis - 1/7/2011, 7:29 PM
I love how candid he his here.

I might not enjoy the majority of his films, but he sounds like a great guy.

Hopefully Captain America reflects the "perfect" shoot Johnston states he had.
CapWriter - 1/7/2011, 9:56 PM
I can't wait to see Hugo in Red Skull make up. Werd to the mother, Cap fans!
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