Captain America: Civil War finds our Steve Rogers leading a newly formed Avengers to continue to protect the world from lethal threats. But no good deed goes unpunished, and when a routine mission to apprehend a terrorist goes horribly wrong, the United Nations installs a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. This fractures the team, with Steve running a team who is against government oversight and Tony Stark who makes a surprising decision to fully support the system of checks and balances.
Last week we shared the top ten things we learned Team Iron Man said at the Captain America: Civil War press conference. From character evolutions to the new technological advances to telling a more engrossing story, Marvel Studios’ latest film is already being praised as the best comic book movie ever.
Now we have the top ten things that Team Captain America. Check out what Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, and director Joe Russo had to say from their panel at the film’s press conference below.
1 – Brotherly Love
Joe Russo has worked with his brother, Anthony Russo, for quite some time. Both have experience directing episodes for a handful of TV series and famously took the Marvel Cinematic Universe to new heights with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. “We’ve been doing this for a long time together. We grew up watching movies together and have the same aesthetic. I don’t think there is no true division of labor for us. It’s pure collaboration. The only thing that is tricky for us is who has enough energy to get out of the chair to give a speech to the actors,” said Joe Russo. He added that they are constantly sitting in front of the monitor exchanging notes about an actor’s performance in a scene. “We do have a non-stop dialogue going at the monitor. We are very efficient and also we do have a tendency… because we like to keep the energy up and going for people – get into their heads to shout out direction, and sometimes we keep the camera rolling. We try to give two to three words of direction because you can build a performance over multiple takes. You don’t have to necessarily catch everything in one single take. You can layer it in six or seven takes.”
Chris Evans added, “You can see how they speak differently to different actors.” Sebastian Stan joked that he would get conflicting input from the two directors.
2 – Team Cap Responds To Team Iron Man Smack Talk
With Team Iron Man coming out first, they were able to throw the first punches. Some of the mudslingings went right over Elizabeth Olsen’s head when she didn’t understand what Team Burpee meant. “Team Burpee? We have digestion problems,” asked Olsen. The room then exploded in laughter as the cast had to clarify that Burpee was the exercise. Right out of the gate, Anthony Mackie said “They were old. They’re Team Remember-to-Take-Your-Gingko-Biloba or Team Where-Is-My-Viagra-At.”
3 – Choreographing Action And Storytelling
“Action is very important to us,” said Joe Russo. “These movies are about action. The characters express themselves through action. Action has to have storytelling. You get tired of an action sequence if it’s not either defining a character or moving a story forward in some way. It takes an incredible amount of effort. We have such an incredible team of collaborators including Kevin [Feige], [Christopher] Markus, [Stephen] McFeely, and Nate Moore who works at Marvel as well, who can work with us and keep us honest in terms of the storytelling. And the cast who are caretakers of these characters in a way we never could be. It is by far, in a way, the hardest thing to do in a film. The easiest is when you have a Soderbergh level of cast like this to put down the dramatic scenes on camera, especially with actors of this caliber who have been playing these parts for this long.
4 – The Pressures Of Having A Title Movie Rest On Your Shoulders
While the film features an ensemble cast, and one that you would most likely see in an Avengers‘ film, Captain America: Civil War is Captain America’s movie. So certainly there would be some pressure put on the actor who plays the title character. Evans admits “There’s pressure, but I don’t think it is anywhere near the pressure that the people like the Russos or Marvel feel, because the movies live and die based on the directors and producers. We’ve all seen phenomenal actors and great scripts that still didn’t come to fruition in a good way. It really goes to show that a good movie lives and dies based on the directors. You can have all the other pieces in place, but if you don’t have quality storytellers you may fall on your face.”
5 – The Most Difficult Scene
No one would disagree with you if you said the airport sequence looked like the most difficult scene to shoot. As Joe Russo aforementioned, “The hardest thing to do is execute the action. I think the toughest sequence by far in this film, which we just literally probably finished a week or two ago was the airport sequence. It’s filled with a lot of moving parts, a lot of different characters, you want to move each character forward, you want to make sure you are not leaving anybody behind. We went well into the post process still reshaping, still rethinking, and reconfiguring that sequence to make sure it had it’s maximum storytelling thrust to it.”
While the actors thought the sequence was great, they admit it had its difficulties, especially since they shot it in the Atlanta heat. “Everyone was toasty,” Evans said. “There are only a couple of scenes – you have that one 50/50 where everyone is running together, but for the most part it’s picks and pops, and you are getting pieces. So it is a lot of waiting around, but you really have confidence that this will be something special. It’s a meticulous process because it is such a grand scheme. On the day, it is not as cool or romantic as you think it would be, but there is an energy on set and an excitement that keeps you invested knowing that it is going to be something epic.”
6 – Improvision
“Sometimes we would play around with lines and stuff while we were shooting,” Paul Rudd said. “These guys would suggest things, and sometimes we would come up with things after the fact. One of the great things about having a mask is if you think of a great joke afterward, you don’t have to match it to anything so you can add it in ADR.”
Joe Russo praised Rudd’s talent calling him “one of the great improvisers that you can hope to work with.” The director agrees that having a mask allows for a better improvisation as it can also help modulate the tone. “We had endless amounts of jokes that Ant[hony Russo] and I and our editor Jeff Ford and Kevin [Feige] would sit in the editor’s room and laugh about for hours and try to figure out, and it was not an easy task, which one was funnier than the other, and he [referring to Rudd] just gave us a wealth of material.
7 – Geeking Out On Set
Rudd admits that he couldn’t stop geeking out on the day he had to shoot that splash page sequence. “I thought, oh my gosh there’s that shield.” He added “there’s that arm,” as he grabbed Sebastian Stan’s left bicep – in reference to The Winter Soldier’s left arm. “Even when I was getting the suit on, there was this area where we would get changed and stuff, and it’s like ‘there is Iron Man’s suit, whoa!'” an excited Rudd said. The actor just couldn’t believe he was there.
8 – What’s In A Name
When Captain America: The First Avenger first came out, there was a huge concern with how the film could be marketed globally, especially since in some countries the name America has a stigma. For three countries, they omitted Captain America from the title and left The First Avenger. But as the MCU’s success grew, Captain America was added back in. “That was always a concern the name ‘America’ would polarize certain audiences,” Evans said, “But the truth is the name ‘America,’ what he stands for, is something that is ubiquitous around the world. What he stands for, what he believes in – morality and values, that is something you can find anywhere. But in terms of who he has been throughout the arc of his character he’s always kind of fought for the greater good, he’s always put the needs of the masses before his own desire, and that is what is exactly different in this film. Instead of dedicating towards what others need in this film, he prioritizes what he wants, which is a departure from what he is allegiant to. It colors the character in a really nice way. You have a guy who is incredibly austere and moral, and it is hard to find ways to make him layered and dynamic and I think in this movie he becomes, potentially selfish, where he puts his own desires first. But it is rooted in family, which is a through line we all can relate to.”
9 – Fleshing Out Characters In An Ensemble Film
What is something about your character that we don’t know? “I think that is like an ‘I’ll never tell’ kind of moment,” Olsen said. “I ain’t telling you, man,” Renner laughed. “I think to some degree, this is almost like the way it is with being an actor in general,” Evans said. “It’s something you want to share, and certain you don’t. I think to some degree it is almost nice having certain parts of the character that are intimate, and ultimately at the end of the day, these guys do a good job of fleshing out the tones that they want you to see then we ever could.” The actor continued to talk about how Feige and the Russos really take their time to flesh out the characters and their arcs. “It blew my mind, I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and they were talking about going to a meeting, and sometimes you think with these giant Marvel movies and of these big movies where you think there are a 1,000 cooks in the kitchen you assume there is some sort of formula, some algorithm, that kicks in and all of a sudden there’s 30 people in suits saying ‘This is what it needs to be.’ But the truth is, it is really Joe and Anthony [Russo], and Kevin [Feige], and Nate [Moore] in a room, mapping out stories for so many characters, so many arcs, and they are making them real. Actual fleshed out arcs and conflicts that are worthy of a film. All the explosions in the world aren’t going to make you care. It’s nuts to think it really comes from a few people’s brains.”
Stan agreed “I’m always fascinated by the same thing. Our writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – it is just phenomenal to me that they are just able to write a script that gave every character a moment and an arc. They were the ones that kind of figured out the temperature of Bucky Barnes. How much of a guide is the first movie, how much from The Winter Soldier is there? For me, it was all taking off the page and following them. A lot of that is determined in the writing and the decisions that these guys make. The fun part for me is that I never know where they are going to take it.”
As we saw towards the end of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Scarlet Witch is now a full-fledged member of the Avengers. In Civil War, we see her taking part in missions led by Captain America, where she learns what it is like to work as a team, and by this time she has a better control of her powers. “I think what ends up happening is she starts to feel confident, but it wasn’t about her powers, it was about the conflict she had with making a big mistake,” Olsen said. “I think what is interesting is every superhero has a weakness, and I always thought of hers as she’s the person who gets in her way, that she is kind of limitless. To me, that is an interesting character trait. I don’t know what we are going to do next. I think of her as an incredibly strong and powerful person. It is also fun because she could flip either way because of her mind. I think there are a lot of things that could be possibly played with, but I am not in control of that. I think this film is about this conflict in general, what is right, how to use your abilities, or whether you should or not. I think that is a consistent theme throughout the whole film.”
“She’s on a growth arc,” Joe Russo added, “it is a part of her development. It is very tricky with very powerful characters because unless they have an internal struggle or flaw that limits them, then they do become limitless and the storytelling becomes muddled and not very interesting. She could have stopped the fight at the airport in five seconds if she were at the peak of her powers. It really has to do with, her character specifically, her journey to understand the limits of her power, and we’ll get to see where she goes in Infinity War”
10 – More Marvel Titles
Ensemble films like Civil War prove that characters can have much more than a moment, they can carry their own film, and it can be a “pleasant problem” for actors like Evans who has their own titular movies to handle. “It really is nice to kind of step back,” Evans said, “the first couple of years of the involvement of the franchise you’re very internal, you’re very scared of being the thing that causes it – you’re going to be awful, and you’re very terrified in a very egoic manner. But as you kind of continue on the journey you realize how amazing it is what they are doing, what they are accomplishing, and how fortunate you are to be a part of it, this unbelievable inter-webbing of stories, and you kind of are just so fortunate to be a part of it. I say ‘keep going, let’s let the wave keep getting bigger and bigger,’ because it is not stopping. It is not like they are making bad movies, they’re making great movies. You want to keep putting it in this superhero box, you can, but the fact is they’re good movies. The Russos ground them in such an authentic way. It’s real humans, real struggles, real conflict. Good cinematic storytelling with a streak of superhero flavor in it. So I say keep it going. If you can keep doing it, keep doing it.”
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters on May 6th, 2016.