Nick Fury once told Steve Rogers, "Don't trust anyone," but he might as well have been speaking to Marvel Studios as a whole.
From filming fake endings to firing those who let spoilers slip, the Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps their future plot details extremely close to the vest. While secret-guarding gets the most intense close to a project's release date, Marvel's spoiler protection efforts are enforced far before any cameras start rolling.
ELIJAH RICHARDSON'S MYSTERIOUS AUDITION
While Eli Bradley's inclusion in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now public knowledge, there was a time when even the actor himself was unaware of the character's involvement.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with TheDirect.com, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Elijah Richardson noted that he "didn't know" who he was auditioning for when he tried out for the Anthony Mackie-led series.
"I knew I was auditioning for Marvel, but I didn’t know what character I was going to be auditioning for. So, I was given like, different sides. You know, they don’t want to disclose the actual sides until you get the role. So when I got the sides, I did my self-tape, [which is] when you record yourself and then send it over to the production company."
With the only knowledge that the audition was for something Marvel-related, Richardson says he assumed the role was for some sort of enhanced individual.
"I knew it was for Marvel, so I was like, ‘Maybe this character has like, a superpower or an ability or something.’ So after that I got a call back saying, ‘Okay, we want you to do another audition.’ I did another audition with different sides again. I approached the character the exact same way. I was like, ‘You know what, this character has to have some ability or superpower. This is Marvel. There’s no way he doesn’t!'"
Before officially getting cast, Richardson said he had a one-on-one with director Kari Skogland to chat on a personal level.
"I received a call, like a Zoom call, from Kari Skogland, who is the director. She just wanted to talk to me about my favorite Marvel movies and just talk to me about stuff like that. After that, I got the role."
Once he knew he would be playing Eli Bradley, Richardson wasted no time on getting to work.
"I was doing my research on the character, trying to figure out who this person really was, so I could like, really embody it. Then after that, I really started to watch a whole bunch of Marvel movies over again."
CIVILIAN TODAY, SUPERHERO TOMORROW?
Eli Bradley may not have the superpowers Richardson was expecting early in the audition, but who's to say he won't get them one day?
In the comics, the grandson of Isaiah Bradley becomes Patriot, an enhanced individual that dons the Captain America colors and goes on to lead the Young Avengers. Bradley does begin as a regular individual on the page, only gaining abilities after injecting himself with the Mutant Growth Hormone. There's no telling if the MCU will follow Bradley's comic trajectory, but both the comic and screen iterations of the character begin the same.
As for Richardson's audition, it's no surprise that Marvel keeps their roles hush-hush. If word got out that the show was casting for Eli Bradley when the casting process was ongoing, fans would've had nearly two years to speculate, theorize, and piece together how Bradley would factor into the series. Couple that knowledge with leaked set photos and promotional material, and the narrative risks being revealed way before audiences can experience it unfold.
Elijah Richardson can be seen in three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, streaming now on Disney+.