Captain America: The First Avenger, one of the most highly anticipated comic-book movies of the summer, opens in theaters next weekend. There has already been rampant speculation about a sequel to the film as well as the role that supporting characters will play in additional Marvel movies. Fans have been particularly curious about the future of James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan.

Earlier today we had the chance to speak with Captain America director Joe Johnston who provided some insight into a possible future storyline for Bucky and the direction they are thinking of taking the Captain America franchise.

Captain America (the film) is set in the 1940s when the comic began. As such, it is far easier to imbue the character with the traits and identifiers that defined him at the time of his design —  when he stood as a call to arms for the United States to stand strong against the Nazi party and the oppression they were spreading across Europe.

When we asked Johnston about the challenges of bringing Cap into the modern era, in additional iterations of the franchise, he said:

“The Marvel team has thought about it a lot and Joss Whedon is directing  ‘The Avengers’ right now in New Mexico. That is much more an issue for Joss Whedon.”

Johnston continued laughingly:

“Because I recognize that being period, ‘Captain America’ stands alone, it stands by itself, and there are definitely references to the other films in the Marvel Universe but being period we sort of get to sidestep a lot of that stuff. I think the fans will recognize things, links to other films and other characters and even comic books, but I wanted the film to not just be a fan-fest. I wanted it to also be relatable to people who weren’t familiar with the comics.”

As to whether the modernization of the character will become the director’s concern in a sequel, Johnston reiterated some of what the Captain America writers (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) had previously shared about the project. Essentially they are looking at ways to successfully keep the franchise in the past – but a lot will be dependent on the audience response to seeing Cap in the present in The Avengers.

“Well ‘The Avengers’ will show him in present day, there’s no getting around that. But we talked about possibly doing a sequel, or the idea of doing a sequel back in the 40s. Basically make an adventure story that took place during the time that he was with his Avengers, you know. Because he was with them for three years and he could have done all kinds of things. But I think that what will determine the sequel is really what ‘The Avengers’ does. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t read the script, I don’t really know what the story is but it may be tough to go back to the 40s after seeing him in contemporary times — I’m not sure.”

The director continued:

“I’m not really worried about it. I told the Marvel guys that there is a character that I’m really interested in called ‘The Winter Soldier’ and that if, ‘you guys decide to make that picture I would definitely be interested.’ It’s the ‘Bucky’ Barnes story.”

There has been a plethora of fan and industry speculation as to how Bucky would eventually fit into the Marvel movie Universe, when we asked Johnston if he had spoken to the studio specifically about where they planned to take him, he replied:

“Just a little bit. We talked about ‘The Winter Soldier’ which is the continuation of what his story is. It’s basically that he is captured by the Russians and he’s brainwashed and turned into an assassin. But you know there are a thousand ways to go with that. I just think that it would be interesting to take a character that was in ‘Captain America’ and build a story around him. Plus, I like Sebastian Stan a lot (who played Bucky) I think he would be an interesting actor to build another feature around.”

As far as Johnston’s continuing role within the Marvel Universe, there are endless possibilities, and few guarantees.

“Well I only signed on for two. The actors have to sign on for six, at least six, and I only sign on for two which is not to say that I wouldn’t agree to do more or that they would ask me to do more — I don’t know. But my point is that there are thousands of characters in the Marvel Universe, of which I am only familiar with a very few of them and it might be interesting to sort of go into the Marvel vault and find a character that you can develop a whole story around. I would definitely be interested in doing that.”

If Marvel continues to see the kind of success it has enjoyed over the past several years, Johnston may just get that opportunity.

Captain America: The First Avenger opens next weekend – beginning Friday, July 22nd.

Stay tuned for continuing coverage of our conversation with Joe Johnston where he discussed updating a classic hero for a modern age – as well as the additional projects he has in the pipeline.

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