A chat with Captain America director Joe Johnston


Joe Johnston has directed some wonderful family flicks – “The Rocketeer”, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “Jumanji”, to name but a few; “Captain America : The First Avenger”, based on the Marvel comic series of the same name, might be his most action-packed though.

I love the production design in this film.

Thank you.

Not just the costumes but the cinematography and the lighting. It all looks very much like the 40s, is that vintage look exactly what you’re going for?

It was exactly what I was going for. I’m glad you recognized it. One thing we did to achieve that was we shot the film on extremely wide lenses; 17s and 14s, which is something you don’t see a lot of today because it means that your showing the whole world and we have such great sets from Rick Heinrich, our production designer, that I wanted to see every square inch of them. But it also, it’s the way they made films in the 40s because they didn’t have long lens. And it just, I think it tells subconsciously the audiences, it tells them something that they’re seeing something a little different. It’s not your typical superhero movie.

No, it feels different to have the kind of special effects of today, mixed with the look of the 40s. Is that what you liked about Captain America?

Well the way digital technology has gone to, there’s no other way to do some of the things that we wanted to do. Like fly that plane and create that underground hanger and stuff like that. It had to be digital technology. It had to be, that those kinds of visual effects. So hopefully they won’t stand out as being out of context to the 40s but, once you’re involved in the story and immersed in the time period and everything hopefully it will all… It will add to the… That’s the ice fall.

I smell it. [chuckle]

It will hit, it will add to the entertainment of the film.

I love the shot of the motorbike coming out of the explosion.


That’s got to be fun as a film maker?

All that stuff is fun. To do, it’s like a big toy box. The cars, the tanks and the motorcycles and all these stunt guys to ride them and do that. It’s just, it’s a blast, it’s always so much fun.

So Captain America is the first Avenger…


So what kind of clues did you put in there to tie it to the Avenger’s series?

Well, you know what, I didn’t really have to… Because this happened 70 years ago, I didn’t have to worry too much about connecting it to solidly to The Avengers. SPOILER ALERT All I had really do is bring Steve Rogers back to life and have him wonder where he is and end with him confused and just baffled at what happened to him and have him say, “I had a date”. That to me sums up the whole romance with him and Peggy Carter. But now we send him off and Josh Whedon do his thing with The Avengers. END SPOILER ALERT

Hugo Weaving, such a great villain.

He’s great.

What is it about him that you say convey so much under all that makeup?

Well, it was important to me that he be able to perform through that mask and that was one of the things that I told David White, the sculptor, is I wanted to see Hugo underneath that. As horrible is that face looks I want to know that Hugo Weaving’s underneath it. And he is… If he could get the performance that he got out of the Mask on ‘V for Vendetta’, which is just a big piece of plastic basically, I know he could do a fantastic job with this. And he is my favorite villain in the world.

And Tommy Lee Jones, he’s so funny in this film.

He is very funny. He has a great sense of humor and I think, a lot of the world doesn’t know just how funny he can be. It’s just in the way he delivers his lines. He has the best laughs.

He’s got such a unique comic timing.

He really does.

It’s all his own, isn’t it?

It is all his own. Yeah.

And finally, what do you think Captain Australia would be like?

What would he wear on his chest?

Yeah, what would he wear on his chest? Maybe a kangaroo.

I don’t know, Fosters?

[laughter] Fosters? That’s better.

I don’t know.

Go for it. He would probably just be in the bar.

That’s true.

World just going on.

That’s true. But if they need him the can ring him on his cell phone.

And how many actors did you go through before you found Chris Evans?

About a dozen. And… Because Chris had said, “No”, initially. And there’s some good actors and we… I remember wishing that we could combine this guys’ face with this guys’ body and this guys’ acting skills and we knew that we would get all that in Chris Evans, and we just kept after him until he said, “Yes”. And I think, he’s glad he did.

“Captain America : The First Avenger” is now showing