Captain America: Civil War is a change of direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike previous films, Civil War explores the themes of internal conflict. When the Avengers fail to contain a hostile, governments from around the world unite to enforce the Sokova Accords, a governing system of checks and balances that would oversee and deploy the team whenever it is deemed necessary. That kind of oversight does not sit well with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who firmly believes that the safest hands are their own. However, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) fully supports government oversight and accountability. This puts a rift in their friendship, and to make matters worse Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is forced out of hiding when he is accused of acts of terrorism.
We were invited to sit with a group of our fellow journalists at the press conference for Captain America: Civil War where the panel was broken down into two panels. One for Team Iron Man and the other for Team Cap. Below you will find the top ten most interesting things that were said at the Team Iron Man panel, which featured the talents of Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Emily VanCamp, director Anthony Russo, and Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige. Check out what they had to say below.
1 – Character Evolutions
There has been an evolution of Tony Stark aka Iron Man during the MCU. The character isn’t as selfish as he first started out, and has been more attuned with his emotional center. According to the actor, this is one of the “smartest moves” made by Marvel Studios “making sure there is a real emotional impact with what is going on.”
VanCamp says that she was definitely intimidated the first time she appeared in Winter Soldier, but firmly believes that she has finally found her stride and is excited to show more of Sharon to the audience. She said, “I think that lends itself well to the character, she was more in a rookie stage. It’s great to see her come back in more of a mature, competent, and still good with guns. She’s a great character to play. I am having so much fun with her. It’s great fun.”
Speaking about Vision, Bettany says his character out as a newly born “omnipotent, yet naive” hero:
“In this movie, you find him trying to figure out what humanity and loyalty are because logic doesn’t afford loyalty. I think it’s really interesting to see him figure out what love is. There is this woman who has this similar problem that he is facing, which is he doesn’t know the limits of his power, nor does she. Of course, love can make you feel loyal, and at the end of this movie, I think really it is a double-edged sword. Having a human response, he makes a big mistake, which is interesting. I thought it was a deft piece of storytelling.”
2 – How Technological Advances To Allow To Tell Civil War In The Way That Its Meant To Be Told
Just like Disney and Pixar, Marvel stresses good storytelling. It’s easy to have big splashy visual effects, but these action sequences will have no meaning if the audience cannot believe how the characters were driven to fight. With Civil War pitting heroes against each other, the stakes are now higher. Russo says:
“My brother and I always say this: ‘we love action.’ For us, action needs to be driven by a sense of character and a sense of story. Beat by beat by beat through the action sequence or else you just lose interest. It has no value to the storytelling. We look for opportunities in the movies to play with these rich complicated relationships. It is a very interesting relationship between Paul’s character in this movie and the Olsen’s character in this movie. Scarlet Witch and Vision gets to develop, but it’s a complicated relationship. Put them on opposite sides. It was very exciting to us because it interfered with what was happening. The dynamic between these characters, and watching them push that forward.”
As the technology continues to evolve, filmmakers are finding new innovative ways to use it in more ways than just making a fight scene look incredibly cool. Russo added:
“Part of the popularity of big special effects movies these days is the fact that the technology has reached an incredibly high level. Every couple of years it changes, it reaps the benefits and pushes forward. This movie has a very remarkable sequence where Robert Downey Jr. plays a 20-year-old man. It’s pretty incredible. It took us months and months of work on that shot. It’s very complicated taking the human face and changing the human face in a way that looks realistic. In fact, it was the last shot of the movie we completed.”
3 – Hanging On A Wire
Bettany who plays Vision has a crucial part in the film, and we won’t get into what that is, but it is something that helps him decide to play on Team Iron Man’s side. But Downey Jr. doesn’t remember much of him on set at all, only that he was suspended on a wire throughout the course of the shoot. This is referring to that incredible airport fight scene we have been seeing in the trailers. Bettany had an answer for that:
“I really enjoy wire work. I enjoy the freedom of it. I dream of flying. And you have to balance that out by being suspended by your testicles. It’s really a double-edged sword. We all got there in the airport and your thinking ‘how are they going to realize this epic battle visually?’ You look around you and everybody is in their costumes and looks like superheroes and movie stars, and then about five minutes later in about 105 degrees they look a lot less like movie starts and a lot less like superheroes.”
4 – Bringing Spider-Man To The Mix
Russo and everyone else involved knew it was important to bring Spider-Man into the mix now that they were able to.
Of this Russo said:
“We are big fans of balance and storytelling, we like really well-rounded movies. We like movies that make us laugh and cry. So for us, it was important to find a way to change the dynamic and modulate the tone in the movie by bringing in characters that didn’t have the same emotional investment that all the Avengers had in the events that were unfolding. So to bring in characters like Spider-Man into the movie it gave us an opportunity as storytellers to bring new colors into the film. Lighter colors, more whimsical colors and I think it just helped balance that fight they have with one another in a really nice way. We try to find really organic ways that those characters found their way into the movie. Kevin was very central in making that happen. I don’t know a lot of people that could have pulled off getting Spider-Man in this movie, expect for Kevin Feige.”
With Downey Jr. adding:
“Only sociopaths are still so self-centered in the extreme that they can’t mix base for other people. What I have learned slowly over time is that once you make space for yourself it’s all about the other people that you’re working with. I think Tom did a great job. I couldn’t be more excited for Chadwick, and I love that Paul is more than just a voice now.”
According to the actor, casting these roles have huge stakes. He added, “lives are on the line and he [referring to Tom Holland] has demonstrated why he was the right guy for the job.”
5 – Breaking Down The Airport Scene
The awesome airport sequence practically looks like it was ripped from the pages of the Civil War comics. Heroes have drawn the line in the sand so to speak, and they are fighting for what they believe is the right thing. So there was a lot that would go into such a scene, production-wise.
Don Cheadle elaborated on how the Russos’ vision helped them get a sense of what was going on, and what the cast reaction was to finally seeing the finished product:
“I just think from my perspective, it’s not until we see the completed project that we know actually all that has gone on. Often it is these disparate moments that we are trying to focus on. We will see previews and the Russos will give us a good explanation of what is happening, but it is not until you see it all together that it’s like WOW. It’s really an amazing technological feat.”
6 – Casting Chadwick Boseman As Black Panther
Feige says that it was early on during the development process of Civil War to have someone who would have an invested role in the story but did not have an allegiance to any particular side, who was in it for personal reasons himself. “We knew we wanted to make a Black Panther movie at some point,” said Feige, “but at the time, we weren’t sure when that would be. But as these discussions were going on, and we thought ‘I think we are going to bring Black Panther into this movie,’ I am not kidding you when I say Chadwick [Boseman] was the only choice.” The Marvel Studios president credits the actor’s performance in 42 and Get On Up as the reason why they chose him for the role.
7 – Keeping Secrets From Each Other
Even though Marvel Studios has laid out the groundwork for their films until 2020, they still have to keep some of it a secret from their actors. However, the levels of which it is kept a secret differs. “It varies,” according to Feige, “I would say the characters don’t know what is supposed to be happening to them, so I don’t know how helpful that would be. Sometimes there is a long play that Paul [Bettany] knew that Vision was coming, and had to keep a secret for quite a while. Robert is very good at keeping secrets, we can tell him anything at all times.” But “there is a big picture,” as Feige would describe it. One example is that he recalls when he pitching twists in Winter Soldier to Chris Evans when they were finishing Avengers.
8 – Art and Reality Blending Together Harmoniously
These Captain America films have a slight political edge to them, and because of that, the films are really grounded and can relate to an audience because it deals with real world issues. Sometimes the stresses of that can have an impact on someone, but these Captain America films can be both an escape and address reality.
“We live in a complicated world and that more complicated every day. There’s something reassuring about having a fantasy film that could deal a lot with these issues but it is one step removed. It’s hard to deal with reality sometimes when it is in your face. You need a buffer from it. You need to place it within a context where you imagination could roam and your emotions can flow in a way that is not as complicated or threatening in real life.”
9 – Sharing The Screen
Civil War is undoubtedly a big film, so there is a lot to take in. And with so many characters to focus on, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t an Avengers film. But given its story and themes that are being explored, it seems fitting that this is a Captain America film. Feige addressed the concerns of giving the characters screen time by giving credit to Christopher Markus and Marcus McFeely.
“Screen time doesn’t equal – it’s quality not quantity. If people have a laugh, if people have a cheer, that is sometimes all you need to say this character’s been serviced, let’s move on to a bigger story. Joe and Anthony are so adamant, and rightfully so, that the overall story is being serviced as opposed to every single character in the film. I think it’s how you take this many characters and balance a singular relatively simple story and have them there in each of their moments where they earn a laugh, or earn a tear, or earn a cheer.”
To which Cheadle joked that he watched the movie with a stopwatch, mimicking his hand as if it were though he was timing how much time he got to be on screen.
10 – More Than Just A Friendly Rivalry
Since the panel was broken up into two different panels, we learned a lot about the rivalry between the two. For instance, Robert Downey Jr. said that Team Cap challenged them to a lot of burping and pull-up contests. Typical “meathead” stuff.
But getting into the seriousness, Russo says that the movies are hard to make because of the long production schedule:
“You get together for a long time, and because of the unique storytelling they are having in the MCU. These actors and filmmakers get together over multiple films. So yeah, it is a very unique working experience. Joe and I worked in TV for years, but we never got to run as long as we have at Marvel.”
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters on May 6, 2016. Read my review of the movie right here.