Marvel's The Avengers

Designing The Avengers: Captain America

We wrap up our series of articles exploring the visual development of 'Marvel's The Avengers'!

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By Christina Pham & Marc Strom

From the bully-prone Steve Rogers to the individual we all recognize as a vision of hope during World War II, Captain America easily became the face of freedom and justice until he took a short nap--for 70 years.

Fast-forward to present-day, when Cap resurfaces during a completely different era. Now what? How will he fit in with the rest of the modern-day Avengers?

Captain America concept art by Ryan Meinerding from "Marvel's The Avengers"

Before fans learned the answers to those questions in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Visual Development Supervisor Ryan Meinerding had to figure out how Cap’s iconic costume would translate into the present day.

We had the opportunity to chat with Meinerding, who also designed Cap’s original suit in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” to see just how he helped Steve Rogers make the transition from WWII to the present day!

Marvel.com: You had mentioned that when Captain America had his own film, the suit and design was one you were most proud of. What was it like revisiting the suit while trying to bring it into the 21st century?

Ryan Meinerding: During the process, I was super excited. Obviously it’s one of those things that doesn’t happen within the continuity of a super hero movie very often--the concept of taking a character from one period and bringing him to another--and I was really excited to be a part of the modern take on it. Coming into this one, I was [eager] to do the modern Cap that we all know and love, and Joss [Whedon] wanted him to look like how he remembered him from the comics. My perception of him was always a big guy. He always felt super solid to me, and modernizing him is taking him out of a wartime scenario and making him into something more current, in the comic sense.

Marvel.com: In designing “The First Avenger” suit, you really built it around the idea of Cap as a soldier, where everything about his suit and design fed into that functionality. Was there a similar idea that served as the fulcrum for Cap’s new design?

"Marvel's The Avengers" keyframe art featuring Captain America by Rodney Fuentebella

Ryan Meinerding: The new suit isn’t as function-driven as the first. It came from Joss’ desire to really get the comic-version of Cap on-screen, so anything we put in there that was function was dressing, as opposed to the starting point for design. The belts and zippers were always aimed at trying to make it feel a little more real than just a guy in a spandex outfit.

Captain America’s arc in “Marvel’s The Avengers” was the struggle that Steve Rogers was going through, and whether he could take up the mantel again. It was the character’s drive of who he was as Captain America, an icon, and whether he was willing to step back into it. The thing we’re trying to sell with the costume is that it’s a modern take on what he could have been wearing. It’s meant to be lighter and thinner so he can move a lot more.

Marvel.com: For this suit, you have the cowl, which was a helmet in the previous film.  In the comics, it looks so simple, but was it challenging to design that?

Ryan Meinerding: The process for building the cowl was really about building over Chris [Evans’] head to find something that he could wear. The very nature of the cowl is very tight, and it’s an uncomfortable thing to wear. There was a lot of sculpting and tests in the costume department to make something that would be feasible for him to wear on set.

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