Captain America: Winter Soldier — Hometown Heroes Return

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With the production successfully completing its work in Washington D.C., the filmmakers headed northwest to Cleveland, Ohio, for six weeks to shoot the major action sequences in the film. The move would also bring directors Anthony and Joe Russo back to the city where they grew up and started their film careers.

Enthused to be filming in their hometown, Joe Russo comments, “We love Cleveland. Growing up there, the essence of what that city is, who the people are—everything about that town shaped who we are and more specifically, shaped who we are as filmmakers.”

For Marvel and the filmmakers, shooting in the city was beneficial for many reasons. Executive producer Louis D’Esposito comments, “While Cleveland was a good double for New York in ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’ it was an even better double for Washington D.C. as many of the downtown buildings were close to the same height and matched the architectural style of Washington D.C., which afforded the production the city blocks it needed for the car chases and fight sequences.”

There were two big action sequences in the script that were all exterior sequences that could only be shot in Cleveland. One was an intense car chase involving Nick Fury, and another was the high-octane, second-act culmination action sequence with Captain America and Black Widow and Falcon versus the Winter Soldier. “The sequences themselves are wall-to-wall action with cars speeding down streets, trucks blowing up, cars flipping and automatic gunfire in the streets,” says co-producer Nate Moore. “It will feel like the real world because the more practical we make it the more believable it’ll be for audiences and it won’t look like we built it on a back lot.”

The production shot on the streets with two full units of cast and crew, requiring that many of the city’s downtown streets be shut down as well as three miles of the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway—one of the major highways that runs through the city—for three consecutive weeks during the busy summer season. Producer Kevin Feige explains the logistical challenges involved: “To pull off what we needed to shoot in Cleveland, we needed a strategically coordinated partnership with the city that included around the clock coordination between Mayor Frank Jackson, The Greater Cleveland Film Commission, Governor John Kasich, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, County Executive Ed FitzGerald and all of the citizens and local businesses of Cleveland. I can’t tell you how thankful we are that everyone from top to bottom came together and we pulled something off that has never been done before in the city.”

Adds executive producer Louis D’Esposito, “Both Mayor Frank Jackson and Ivan Schwartz were both instrumental in convincing us to come to Cleveland and then making it another fantastic experience for us to shoot here again. I know it really meant a lot for the Russo Brothers to shoot in their hometown and they really wanted to show the world what a great place Cleveland is to shoot a film.”

One thing that the cast and crew could always count on day in and day out was the family-like atmosphere that is part of being on a Russo brothers’ set. Shortly after the cast and crew arrived in Cleveland, the Russo brothers e-mailed out a five-page document to everyone with the names and information about all of their favorite things to do and see in and around Cleveland–the best restaurants, bars, shopping, day trips, and more.

Summing up the Cleveland experience for the directing duo, Anthony Russo says, “Making this film was a career highlight for us and being able to shoot a large portion of it in our hometown, is what helped make it a career highlight.”

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