During the second World War, one man stepped forward to display new heights of courage and heroism in the Marvel Universe. His name was Steve Rogers, but the world knows him best as his alter ego, the shield-wielding, star-spangled hero, Captain America. Cap’s final mission in World War II ended with him trapped in a state of suspended animation, though the world believed him dead. When the patriotic hero awoke in the modern day, he was a man out of time, encountering a new age of heroism. Captain America resumed his role as the living embodiment of the best qualities of his nation, becoming an inspiring symbol to his teammates on the Avengers and heroes across the Marvel Universe.
How does it feel to fight alongside the Living Legend of World War II? This April, writer Cullen Bunn (“Fear Itself: The Fearless,” “The Sixth Gun”) and artist Alessandro Vitti will answer that question and more as “Captain America and Bucky” morphs into a team-up book starring Cap and other Marvel Heroes. CBR news spoke with Bunn about the book which keeps the numbering it had under Ed Brubaker’s run, but changes its title — and co-star — to “Captain America and Hawkeye.”
CBR News: So, Cullen, I imagine one of the big appeals of this project is the chance to examine Cap and his relationships with other members of the Marvel Universe. What are some of Cap’s individual traits that you find especially compelling and what is it that makes Cap such an interesting character to bounce other heroes off of?
Cullen Bunn: To me, Cap is the rock, the foundation of the Marvel Universe. He’s a shining example for all the other heroes — and for the people he protects. His humility and bravery is pretty inspiring, and he doesn’t buckle in the face of incredible challenges. Since Cap touches so many corners of the Marvel Universe, he’s a natural for these types of stories. He’s bound to touch the lives of numerous other characters. There really isn’t another hero exactly like him in the Marvel Universe, and I think it’s interesting to see how other heroes — established pros and rookies alike — interact with this living legend. I think everyone he meets has a different perception of him. I’d imagine characters who don’t already know him would come into the encounter with a number of pre-conceived notions, some of which may be right and some that may be way off base.
For this first storyline, the book is titled “Captain America and Hawkeye,” teaming Steve Rogers with his longtime friend and teammate Clint Barton. What’s your sense of the friendship between these two characters? How do you think knowing each other for so long has changed Steve and Clint?
I watched a lot of “Band of Brothers” and “Tango and Cash” before starting to write this arc. Not really — but those examples are pretty close to how I see these two. They are great friends. They’d do anything for one another. When they put their differences aside and work together, they’re nigh-impossible to stop, but they’re never going to see eye to eye on everything. In fact, they may never see completely eye to eye on anything. They have different attitudes, different approaches.
I channeled a lot of my own relationship with my brothers into this. Those guys drive me buggy. Now that I think about it, I should have written a story where they have Thanksgiving dinner together and get into a big argument. [Laughs]
You mention “Tango and Cash” in a somewhat joking manner, but I’d imagine the buddy/action film approach is a useful way of examining the dynamic between these two characters. Is that how you’d describe the dynamic between Cap and Hawkeye in this initial story?
Cap and Hawkeye have been working together for a long time, but they’re still something of a mismatch. They have a lot of respect for one another, but they get under each other’s skin like nobody’s business. In many ways, they’re like opposite sides of the same coin, personality-wise, and they’ve been through some stressful times of late.
Steve is still shaken in the aftermath of “Fear Itself.” He’s finding it easier to be a little more hard-nosed in his approach to super heroics. Clint has more responsibility now, and that puts a lot of pressure on him. Steve wants to make sure Clint can handle his growing responsibilities as an Avenger. Clint wants Steve to back off a bit and let him do his job — his way
Through which character’s eyes does the reader experience the story — and relationship — involving the two Avengers?
For this first arc, Hawkeye is closer to being a POV character than anyone else. The story’s about his relationship with Cap and how the two of them handle problems and obstacles in very different ways. Cap is definitely more of a by-the-book hero, while Hawkeye plays things a little looser. And they drive each other crazy. As this arc begins, our heroes have travelled to the American Southwest to look into some disappearances. This leads them into some pretty strange territory, and — relying solely on each other — they face a threat that might give the entire Avengers roster a challenge.
Let’s talk a little bit about that threat. When the book was first announced, you mentioned that one of the big adversaries in this first story are dinosaurs. Where did that idea come from, and who’s behind Cap and Hawkeye’s run-in with giant prehistoric lizards?
For this first tale, I wanted something that pretty clearly summed up what I’m about as a writer and what the series is about in terms of tone. I might have been a little sneaky when I said they fight dinosaurs — that’s an over-simplification. Yes, they fight a bunch of giant reptiles, but “prehistoric” isn’t necessarily an accurate description. I wanted to put Cap and Hawkeye in a situation that might be a little out of their element (even those these two guys have seen just about everything). I mean, what’s more fun than Cap and Hawkeye fighting giant lizards?
There is a villain — a very dino-centric villain — whose actions start the ball rolling. He’s a character I’ve always liked, and I think he has a pretty strong fan following as well, but the situation is spiraling out of control in a way even he couldn’t have expected.
It sounds as though you and artist Alessandro Vitti are aiming to serve up a fun, bombastic adventure. Will that be the general tone of this book, or is it more specific to this initial storyline?
First of all, the designs Alessandro turned in for the beasties that plague our heroes in this arc are absolutely incredible. Just looking at those early images he turned in really made me want to improve my game a little. In addition, he brings an awesome “fluidity” to the action sequences in the book. I didn’t want Cap and Hawkeye to simply plant their feet and start throwing shields and firing arrows. I wanted them to be constantly on the move, and Alessandro brings that sense of movement to the book in spades.
As for the series’ tone, it will definitely depend on the arc or individual story. Some of the stories will be a little more low-key than others, but my sensibilities lean toward action-packed stories with lots of big moments, wild settings and over-the-top situations. Lately, I’ve been looking for a certain level of mayhem in the books I read. That’s what I want to bring to this series — a high mayhem quotient.
The chance to team Captain America up with different characters will obviously allow you to explore different genres and tell a wide array of stories. Can you talk about who and what we’ll see after the initial four issue “Captain America and Hawkeye” tale?
In the next arc, Cap teams up with Iron Man. They head to Madripoor where they quickly find themselves in a situation that leans a little more toward the super-spy than the super-hero.
Subsequent stories will feature a pretty wide range of characters, some Avengers, some characters Cap has teamed up with before and some that may be a little more obscure and surprising. The series will feature arcs and single one-and-done stories. While I want every arc or issue to stand on its own, there will be an over-arcing story playing across multiple arcs. The first of these multi-arc plot lines starts to unfold in the very first issue, and I’m already dedicating some brain-power to the next. Like I said, a reader should be able to pick up a specific arc and enjoy it all by itself, but those who read the entire series will be rewarded with a bigger storyline.
Let’s close things out by talking about your wish list for this book. Are there any characters that you’re dying to team Cap up with?
My wish list could make for years of stories in this series! As soon as I started thinking of the series, dozens of different stories and team-ups popped into my head. Some of them seemed like natural fits. Others were a little more odd. Then, once the series was announced, I started getting tons of suggestions for team-ups, some of which I absolutely loved. A few characters that would be dream team-ups for me (and I’m not suggesting that any of these ideas will be used) include Union Jack, Black Knight, Valkyrie, Gargoyle, B.A.D. Girls Inc, the Enigma Force, Blackwulf, Man-Thing, Dr. Strange, Gambit, Master of Kung Fu — the list goes on and on.
This is going to be a fun series with a different approach to Cap’s adventures than you’ll see in the other books. If you’re already a Cap fan, this book will provide one more facet of his character and his adventures. If you don’t follow any of the other Captain America books, this one should be pretty accessible for you, and you’ll get to see Cap interact with some of the best and brightest heroes of the Marvel Universe.
Bunn and Vitti’s “Captain America and Hawkeye” kicks off in April