Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Thanks to sibling co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo, adults can marvel in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It's a wildly entertaining mash-up of the conspiracy thriller and superhero genres, in which Chris Evans' World War II Marvel superhero not only finds himself trapped between two worlds but also opposing world views.

But then the Russos have always been attracted to incongruity. After all, their "Arrested Development" series was a cross between absurd comedy and reality TV. "The vitality of the Marvel franchise is dependent on pushing it in new areas and finding something fresh to bring to audiences and surprise them," Anthony reflects. "We knew that we were going to do that with this movie by putting it in the political drama and perhaps by doing it in a more grounded, real world version of what a superhero movie can be."

Captain America the Winter Soldier

They recall what Marvel producer Kevin Feige told them about using the paranoid thriller to reach a broad audience with some current context. Thus, the brothers enjoyed tapping the NSA surveillance scandal by utilizing the hot button issue of security vs. freedom. 

But if the opening with Cap humorously running rings around Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson/Falcon brings to mind "Marathon Man," it's no accident. It serves as both homage and introduction of a crucial relationship between two wounded warriors.

"That first scene was about transitioning to this [mash-up] before getting into the heavy stakes of the movie and the darker tone that it becomes," Anthony continues. "And we have a freedom in that opening scene that slips away as the movie progresses in terms of being light. And bringing Falcon into the world, he's a kindred spirit and Cap is in need of new relationships, having lost everything, and his contact with SHIELD is confusing and unreliable."