How One Of Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s Funniest Camoes Came To Be

Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

By now, most fans know Marvel movies love to throw in unexpected cameos. From Matt Damon in Thor: Ragnarok to the variety of Stan Lee cameos, there’s been so many it’s hard to count at this point. It’s easy to wonder how these funny bits of stunt casting end up happening. Some remain mysterious, but now we’ve learned how one of the funniest special appearances in Captain America: The Winter Soldier came to be.

For their part, directors Joe and Anthony Russo have tried to include at least one former Community member in each of their Marvel movies as a running joke given tying back to their time as executive producers and directors on the beloved sitcom. One of the funniest cameos is Danny Pudi’s appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And when asked by Collider how that cameo happened, Danny Pudi gave a surprising answer, revealing a version of his scene that's not in the finished film:

I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I got a text from Joe Russo, who was a director of Community at the time, and said, ‘What are you doing on July 4th?’ I said, ‘I think I’m with my family. We might go to this parade.’ And he said, ‘Do you have some time in the afternoon?’ I said, ‘Yeah, well, in the morning we’ll go for this parade and we’re having some hamburgers, but afterwards I’ll stop by.’ He was filming in Manhattan Beach. So I show up at Manhattan Beach, there are no sides, no script. I don’t know what I’m doing. He said, ‘We’d like you just to pop into this scene with Captain America.’ And I said, ‘Great.’ And then they gave me a sheet of paper, on set, with a couple of lines, and then they made me give them the sheet of paper back. And then Captain America, in one take, punched me, and I was super excited because I thought this was going to be in the movie and I was like, ‘This is amazing.’ I want to take a punch and then I want to be able to stand right back up, you know? Just to be like, ‘Okay, I took a punch. It was hard, but I could get back up after being punched in the face by Captain America.’ None of that made it into the film. [laughter]

That’s amazing, and a little unbelievable, that the way he appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was simply by getting a text and showing up. On top of that, he got to be in a scene with Captain America, and punched by him no less. Unfortunately, none of that made it into the film. Pudi continued, saying,

Months later, I saw the film. I’m in it. All my friends were like, ‘How did that happen?’ I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody I was in it, and it was a surprise, and that’s pretty much how it came to be. And people are now wondering, did I make it? Am I still around [post-Thanos snap]? I believe I am. I believe I’m S.H.I.E.L.D. I believe I’m a good guy. I believe I have heart. Without me, I think that film doesn’t work. I’m gonna say that. [laughter] So that’s my journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And what a journey it is. While directing the Captain America and Avengers films, the Russo brothers were able to include a solid number of Community members into the films. Jim Rash has a brief role in Captain America: Civil War and Ken Jeong and Yvette Nicole Brown are both in Avengers: Endgame. There have also been a ton of other Community cameos in other non-Russo directed Marvel movies as well, like Donald Glover's appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

As a big Community fan, I think the Russo brothers should keep this up in their upcoming projects. Perhaps they can put Danny Pudi in Extraction 2? I, for one, would totally watch that. For more movie news, be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Jason Ingolfsland