Captain America is coming home. Comics’ fans might say he’s never left, but we’re talking about the movie version of Cap – from Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers itself. In March 2014, Marvel will be releasing a special one-shot comic titled Captain America: Homecoming set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring the cinematic Steve Rogers and Black Widow returning to the shield-slinging heroes roots: Brooklyn. Written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Tom Grummett, Captain America: Homecoming shows the two S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues working together in a story set between Avengers and the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier movies. What brings Cap back to Brooklyn? Memories of course, but what he finds there is some big changes and even a terrorist attack. Truly, Brooklyn never sleeps.
Newsarama caught up with Van Lente to talk about this latest excursion for him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, taking Cap back to his hometown, and where exactly in modern NYC Cap would’ve called home.
Newsarama: Fred, the first question that comes to mind for fans is: how does this Captain America: Homecoming one-shot fit in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Fred Van Lente: It’s inspired by the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes place between the events of The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Nrama: So we have the ground rules down… can you talk about the story itself?
Van Lente: Sure. In this story, Steve Rogers takes Natasha to the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up. A lot has changed there since Steve was a kid in the 1930s, but the walk down memory lane is interrupted when a terrorist strike happens while they’re there. The question of whether it happens because they were there or not is a question readers will have to wait until they read the issue to find out.
Nrama: Is there a big super villain behind this terrorist attack?
Van Lente: I can’t really be more specific without spoiling it. What form they take is the big reveal of the story.
Nrama: Can you say if it’s someone from the comics, or is it someone entirely new making their first appearance ever?
Van Lente: This is their first appearance. Whether or not you see them again is another question. Anything is possible in the world of comics and here at Marvel.
Nrama: Speaking of possibilities, the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie holds some promise of Steve and Natasha becoming more than just co-workers; there’s a hint of romance in the air. How would you characterize their relationship here in this comic?
Van Lente: They’re co-workers; both are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and have been working for Nick Fury for some time. They have a fun kind of relationship, and it’s sort of different than in the comics. In the comics Black Widow was an old timer from the cold war, but the modern Black Widow from the Marvel movies – played by Scarlett Johannes – is more recent. So here, it’s fun to play off the age difference between Natasha and Steve, and see her needle him for his age.
Nrama: And another character in this, so to speak, is Brooklyn. As the book’s subtitle says, this is a homecoming for Steve – back to his hometown. What does Brooklyn mean to Steve Rogers – and as a New Yorker yourself, can you place specifically where in Brooklyn Steve hails from?
Van Lente: Prior to this I also wrote the tie-in to Captain America: The First Avenger, and in the movie script the area they describe for Steve’s childhood home sounds like an area locals call Dumbo – “Down Under The Manhattan Bridge overpass.” It’s near the waterfront district in Brooklyn, and has become a very kind of arty neighborhood, with artist studios, nice bistros and a waterfront park. Back in Steve’s childhood of the 1930s it was a little bit rougher, so he would most certainly be stunned by the internet cafes, gluten-free wraps, and organic free-range chicken on sale there. But it’s a part of Steve.
Nrama: As you mentioned, this isn’t the first time you’ve written comics set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What’s it like doing that as opposed to something in the 616?
Van Lente: Well, the folks at Marvel Studios generally don’t want us to introduce new elements in order to keep those available for film. It gives you less stuff to play with, but these are still great characters that are known to millions of people. They’re a lot of fun to write.
Nrama: Could you see Marvel doing a more regular comic series set in the movie universe?
Van Lente: You know, that was something I proposed many years ago and was told it wouldn’t be feasible. I sort of feel like Marvel wants to keep all the possibilities for the Marvel Cinematic Universe contained for potential movie and television development, and wants to give comics creators all the freedom to do what we do in the comics universe.
Nrama: Any last words to get readers excited about the one-shot come April?
Van Lente: My editor Bill Rosemann wanted this to be a book that’s accessible for a wide, mainstream audience; to get them excited. I hope we accomplished that, and tell a great story in the process. Doing these comic books set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it offers the rare opportunity to do the actual characters from the movie – set in that world – and makes me, and hopefully the readers, excited about the characters and the comics medium. It’s potentially more outreach to bring people into comics, and I love that. And in addition to that, I was able to partner with artist Tom Grummett – who is doing terrific work on this.