Quotes of Quotes (XX) – The Russos on Working in the MCU

© Walt Disney Pictures

Captain America: The Winter Soldier wird derzeit für die Presse gezeigt und die ersten Reaktionen sind sehr positiv – unter anderem auch, weil das Ende des Films anscheinend einige Auswirkungen auf die Zukunft des Marvel Cinematic Universe, besonders in Avengers: Age of Ultron zu haben scheint. Inzwischen haben für Age of Ultron sogar bereits die Dreharbeiten begonnen, aber schon im vergangenen Juli haben die Regisseure von The Winter Soldier, Joe und Anthony Russo, einer Gruppe von Bloggern ein Roundtable Interview gegeben, in dem sie einige interessante Aussagen dazu treffen, wie es ist, in einer fortlaufenden Continuity wie dem Marvel Cinematic Universe zu arbeiten. Joe Russo erklärt:

the fun part of that, if you are a comic book geek like me, you get off on [easter eggs and connections]. That’s the exciting component of that, “What can we set up for the future?” And they’re constantly pitching out ideas that not only just effects your movie, but might also have a ripple effect in the other films, and Joss [Whedon] is reading the scripts, the Thor script and the Cap script, and going, “Okay, this is where I’m getting the characters and this is where I have to pick them up in the next movie.” So, it’s a a weird sort of, I don’t know, tapestry of writers and directors working together to create this universe. It’s sort of organic, it’s not structured.

Das im Endeffekt doch relativ wenig fest vorgeplant ist, scheint mir interessant, vor allem, wenn man bedenkt, dass Marvel ja auch noch eine Supra-Storyline über Thanos und die Infinity Gems aufbaut. Anthony Russo ergänzt an dieser Stelle, dass ihnen ihre Erfahrung mit metatextuellen, komplexen Fernsehserien wie “Arrested Development” und “Continuity” “Community” ihnen gute Voraussetzungen lieferte. (Eine Verbindung, auf die ich vor einem Jahr zum ersten Mal hingeweisen habe.)

I think it comes very natural to us […], we played with a lot of foreshadowing and callbacks and […] tracking that stuff over a season of television, or multiple seasons, it’s just something [that] we’re sort of patterned for […] It’s like we sort of understand how you take a larger story and wrangle it into a moment, yet keep them connected.

Joe Russo weist zudem explizit darauf hin, wie wichtig die zentrale Figur von Studiopräsident Kevin Feige ist, um den Filmkosmos inhaltlich wie kommerziell zusammenzuhalten. Feige fungiert also als eine Art Showrunner und passt sich somit auch perfekt ins zunehmend mythologische Konstrukt ein, das um diese Aufgabe herum gebaut wird.

If you knew how difficult it is to line up those kinds of salaries, stars, get that material pushed through, have ownership of that material, have control of that material, quality control, to the extent that he did, it’s almost impossible.

Feige selbst geht schließlich in einem anderen Interview kurz auf die Verbundenheit der MCU-Filme mit der “Agents of SHIELD”-Fernsehserie ein. Wenig überraschenderweise trumpfen hier interne Konzernstrukturen nach wie vor das kreative Gewebe.

[T]he studio is not involved in the day-to-day of the show. Jeph Loeb and the TV division is overseeing that. But of course there’s crossover. I was just in a meeting with those guys and I’m about in two minutes to go back to a meeting with those guys to hear the overall picture and to, you know, to hear their ideas and how they deal with the events and Thor and the events of the Cap. Their ideas for season two, should there be one, to make sure they lead into Avengers and don’t … the key to that show, just like they key to all the movies is that, it has to stand alone. It has – if you stripped out all the connective tissue, is it worth watching? And it has to be – and then it’s all bonus and it’s all gravy when there’s that connective tissue.

Übrigens: Erstmals seit einer Featurette auf der Avengers-DVD stellt Marvel sein Worldbuilding auch mal wieder öffentlich in den Mittelpunkt. In einem Fernseh-Special namens “Assembling a Universe”, das am 18. März auf ABC läuft. Für mich bleibt zu hoffen, dass es eine nette Seele anschließend irgendwo online stellt.

Quotes of Quotes (XIX) – Hugh Jackman’s Salary for X-Men: First Class

I feel like, if you can do a movie, say two or three words and one of them is the F-bomb and get out, don’t try and repeat that, move on! I always feel about that, because I didn’t get paid for it, but Fox very kindly made a charitable donation to my kids’ schools and I always felt slightly weird handing over the check when, “Listen … Don’t ask me how I got this, but …” I think I may have been the only person to be rewarded charitably and get a tax deduction for swearing on film!
– Hugh Jackman, im Interview mit “/film” über seinen Cameo-Auftritt in X-Men: First Class

Quotes of Quotes (XIV) – The Russos on Captain America

There’s a significant shift in the universe at the end of this movie. (…) I mean, this movie draws upon The French Connection and The Conversation and Three Days of the Condor and all of these ’70s thrillers in a way that there is paranoia and mistrust at the heart of the movie. (…) The movie was shot largely in a very verité style, which is unique for Marvel’s movies. They really embraced the approach to it, and it’s a very experimental approach. (…) It’s energetic, but we also like to track the action. We really want people to understand what’s going on from beat to beat. The characters move very quickly because they are superheroes and we really wanted to convey that. We didn’t want it to feel like Bourne.
– Anthony und Joe Russo über Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Es dauert noch fast ein ganzes Jahr, bis Captain America: The Winter Soldier am 1. Mai 2014 ins Kino kommt, aber die Regisseure Anthony und Joe Russo haben “/film” schon ein Interview gegeben, in dem sie einiges über Stil und Ziel des Films verraten. Mal ganz abgesehen von der ersten Aussage mit dem “significant shift” – was für mich vor allem eine Andeutung in Richtung Universum-Öffnung zu sein scheint, ist es doch spannend, wieviel Wert sie darauf legen, dass sie vom traditionellen Superhelden-Filmmodell wegwollen, hin zu anderen Filmgenres, deren Protagonisten nunmal Supermenschen sind. Falls es Marvel nach ihrem letzten Coup, dem ersten Shared Universe der Filmgeschichte, auch noch gelingen sollte, das formulaische Gefühl der Comicfilme zu durchbrechen – was eins der größten Probleme der momentanen Blockbuster-Filmlandschaft ist – kann man ihnen wirklich eine Art Krone aufsetzen. Ich bin gespannt.

Navel Gazing – Part Two: The Web

Image: Katharina Matzkeit

When I planned this series of reflections upon my personal media diet, I decided that I would write one episode about “everything that’s online, but that’s not blogs or social networks”. Today, when I sketched out in my head, what exactly I would write about, I noticed that when you take away blogs and social networks, there isn’t really that much more that I do online. So maybe this episode will be a short one, but let’s leave it like that as a case in point.


The hub around which all my media activity on the web revolves, is a nifty feed reader called Netvibes which I call my “Everywhere Office”. It allows you to subscribe to feeds of all kinds and sort them neatly in tabs and widgets. I have tabs for “News”, “Film”, “Media”, “Music”, “Culture” and “Entertainment”. The number of unread articles on top of each tab gives me an overall feeling of how much has happened. Most of the feeds I follow are blogs (more on that in the next episode), but there is some other stuff as well and I guess that is everything that qualifies for this episode.

News Sites

I had just published the first episode of “Navel Gazing” when I noticed that others think about the same things. And I promptly stumbled upon a sentence by Daniel Erk that perfectly reflects my opinion:

Die deutschen Nachrichtenseiten im Netz finde ich alle recht austauschbar. Es erscheint mir vor allem eine Designfrage, ob man nun auf Spiegel Online, Zeit Online oder FAZ.net die neuesten Meldungen von dpa und Reuters liest.

I find German news sites on nthe web quite interchangeable. It seems to be formerly a design question, whether you read your news wire stories on Spiegel Online, Zeit Online or FAZ.net.

I have personally opted for tagesschau.de for my news needs, which is the website of Germany’s first public service television channel. I find their blue design quite soothing, they seem relatively unbiased and because they are integrated with a network of radio and tv stations, they always offer multimedia content. When I have a general feeling of uninformedness, I like to watch their News in 100 seconds to bring me up to date on the latest headlines in a very short time period.

My college years spent in mass media studies (“Publizistik”) have generally convinced me of the belief that much of what we call “news” is completely irrelevant for me. So I like to keep informed about the trends of what is “viral” in the world right now, for which, I noticed, it suffices to check a news site every few days. Otherwise, I have adapted the strategy of that apocryphal high school intern and let the news come to me, which works surprisingly well (more on that soon). And whenever there is a topic that concerns me or that I feel I should be able to have an informed opinion about (most current example: ACTA), I generally start on a news site for some background and then take to the blogs and columnists to get a wider variety of opinions.

For my film news, I follow /film. While they are, by outer form and also by the tone of their coverage, a blog, most of what they do is reporting news and then adding some personal comment or question with not much journalistic research involved. I simply ignore the personal comments and read the news, which they mostly present in an aggregator-like fashion, by linking to the site that broke the story. Hey, look, a segway to the next section.


I follow the opinion of some bloggers in thinking that aggregating will be an ever more important important part of online journalism in the future. It’s the new form of the very gatekeeping that journalists have always used. I like the fact that there is both algorithms and people that “read” the web for me so I don’t have to. And with the power of the link, that still doesn’t mean that I am dependent on second-hand-news. I can just read it where it originates.

Apart from “/film” mentioned above, I follow the amazing German Blog- and Twitter-Aggregator Rivva, which automatically gives me the topics that Germany’s web opinion leaders are thinking about. For topics that are on the mind of the Chattering Classes in the US, I have found the “Links for the Day” feature of “Slant” Magazines “The House Next Door” very helpful.


I am a big fan of podcasts ever since I discovered that I like it when people talk to me while I run or exercise. So with about four to five hours of physical activity each week, I get through a wide range of podcasts. I always listen to the “Guardian’s” Film Weekly (which might or might not be scrapped soon) and Music Weekly for interviews and opinions on current trends in those areas. In addition, I pick and mix single episodes that seem interesting from the following podcasts: The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (for in-depth interviews with film professionals), the /filmcast (for discussions about trends in American cinema), Zündfunk Generator (for current trends in German society), Was mit Medien (for media news) and Media Talk (for media news in Britain). A good friend also regularly tries to turn me on to This American Life and I think she may have almost succeeded.


Almost an afterthought: Netvibes also provides me with my very own Funny Pages independently of Facebook Memes. I follow the webcomics XKCD, Multiplex, Girls With Slingshots, Nichtlustig and Partially Clips – and I still follow what’s going on at Lamebook (a good way, by the way, of keeping an eye on general trends of current American [teenage] humour).

Navel Gazing is a multi-part blog series about my personal media consumption habits, meant as a case study and a moment of self-reflection on account of Real Virtuality’s third birthday.