Modern Myth Media has a couple pieces of news about the upcoming sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, tentatively titled Captain America 2. First, it now has an official release date, at April 4, 2014. This is a fairly early date in the blockbuster schedule (by comparison, the first one was released in late July). It’s hard to guess exactly what the thinking is there; it may be that they’re trying to position it to be the “first big blockbuster” of the year, or it may be that they don’t think it has the strength to fend off other contenders that will be in more traditional summer blockbuster slots. So that could be good news, could be bad.
The other news is that Marvel Entertainment is still looking for a director for the film. Joe Johnston, who directed the first film, is not in the director’s chair for the sequel, for reasons I am unaware of. I really liked the first one, and it was both a critical and commercial success (earning back a bit more than its budget domestically, and more than doubling it worldwide, and scoring a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes), so it’s a little hard to believe that Marvel wasn’t happy with the film. Maybe Johnston simply didn’t want to do another, or maybe it’s just a consequence of the studio reshuffling after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel (the first film was through Paramount, the sequel will be through Disney’s subsidiary Buena Vista). The directors currently proposed as potentially at the helm of the film are F. Gary Gray, George Nolfi, and Anthony & Joe Russo. If I had to pick between them, with the caveat that just because someone is inexperienced doesn’t mean they’ll turn out bad, I’d go with Gray. The Russos don’t have much to their names, mostly some low-brow comedies; their best known work is the TV series Community. Nolfi has only directed The Adjustment Bureau, and while I liked that, it doesn’t get me enthused about him for Captain America 2. Gray has, at least, directed a few action films, although they are the underwhelming Italian Job remake, Law Abiding Citizen, and The Negotiator. I don’t know… I think I’d like to see another name thrown in the mix.
With Thor 2 having ousted two directors, and Jon Favreau saying he won’t be back for Iron Man 3, it’s starting to look like Marvel Entertainment either can’t or won’t hold onto directors. Thor 2 eventually settled on Alan Taylor, who has directed some episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones, so he might be a decent fit. And Iron Man 3 got Shane Black, who, while he has only previously directed one film, it was the excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also with Robert Downey Jr.) and he has some action movie good writing credits to his name as well. So I’m not as concerned about those films any more as I might have been. But this news for Captain America 2 has me concerned, especially since Captain America is pretty easy to mess up, and the heavily-intertwined nature of Marvel’s current properties (Captain America 2 will be picking up the character where The Avengers leaves him) means that the films already have some trouble standing on their own in the first place. They need excellent directors. Right now that’s a big unknown quantity on this film.