Monday, March 31, 2014

Reintroduction to Community Affairs

So you're counting down the days until Captain America: The Winter Soldier premieres nationwide April 4. You've read our April feature story and know the trailers by heart (we're a little partial to the Super Bowl version), hunting for glimpses of the West Shoreway, Theater and Warehouse districts.

But if you need even more insight into what Cleveland natives Anthony and Joe Russo have done with their piece of Marvel's universe, it's time to sign up for Hulu Plus and binge on Community.

That's because, while the duo was in postproduction for the first blockbuster of 2014, Joe directed two episodes of the show they got off the ground.

And you don't need Superman's X-ray vision to see the big screen's influence on the quirky NBC cult-comedy.

“His directors’ eye is even keener,” says Yvette Nicole Brown, the Cleveland native who plays Shirley Bennett. In “Geothermal Escapism,” the Community students play a schoolwide game of hot lava (you remember that kids game, right? You must walk on chairs, tables or whatever to avoid the floor, which is deadly) to win Abed’s (Danny Pudi) prized $50,000 comic.

“We don’t have a huge budget on Community, but Joe made that episode look like a movie,” she says.

The action-packed episode was loaded with special effects, stunts, laughs and even LeVar Burton. It echoed the premise of the paintball saga the brothers directed to conclude season two, which put them on Marvel’s radar and got them their career-changing gig.

“He’s learned how to make it even bigger with even less,” Brown says.

“Geothermal” also marked the final episode for Donald Glover, who plays Troy Barnes. “Most of us were blubbering messes,” recalls Brown. But Joe kept the set light and loose, which allowed the actors to stay composed long enough to pull off the scene’s “heartstring moments.”

And for a look at how proudly geeky the brothers really are, queue up “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.” Anthony read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy three times each by the end of high school and Joe collected comics for 20 years.

"I was a big fan of Marvel growing up, a big fan of X-Men, Wolverine and Spider-Man," Joe says. That should make it a fun summer of movies for the Russos. Besides their own Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sony's Amazing Spider-Man 2 debuts May 2 and Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past opens May 23.

No comments: