Johnston to Direct Captain America

Having directed rampaging dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III and a snarling Benicio Del Toro in the upcoming remake of The Wolfman, Joe Johnston has signed on to bring one of Marvel’s most popular comic-book heroes to the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he has signed on to direct First Avenger: Captain America for Marvel Studios. The pic is being prepped for a May 6, 2011 release.

A wartime creation of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Captain America first appeared in 1941. The character is the product of a super-soldier program that turns scrawny, sickly Steve Rogers into a Nazi-fighting war machine who wields an indestructible shield. A symbol for the war effort, the hero was later resurrected as part of Marvel’s Avengers.

Staying true to its comic origins, First Avenger will be set during World War II. The character will then be brought into modern times for the upcoming Avengers movie, which Marvel hopes to launch in 2011. Marvel is taking pitches from writers and is looking for an actor to play the title role. The movie is being produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige, and exec produced by Louis D’Esposito, Stan Lee and Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel.

Two members of the Avengers team, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, have already been introduced on the big screen, and Thor is on the way. Kenneth Branagh is in talks to direct Thor for a 2010 release. Director Jon Favreau and actor Robert Downey Jr. are also re-teaming for to Iron Man sequels.