Di vided t he y s ta nd! As Captain America: Ci vil War
“This is unlike any Marvel movie we’ve seen before”
There’s a faultline in the blockbuster bedrock of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A fracture that’s about to deepen and widen, tearing heroes apart and ideological certainties asunder. It’s time to choose teams, people. Time to ask “Whose side are you on?” This is war. And it’s going to be emotional…
“Tonally, and from an execution standpoint, this is unlike any Marvel movie we’ve seen before,” promises Joe Russo, co- director of
Captain America: Civil War. “It’s certainly got more edge and, on an emotional level, darker things happen in this movie than people have experienced in other Marvel films.”
It’s a return to frontline franchise duty for Joe and his brother Anthony. Two years ago the fraternal creative team gave us Captain
America: The Winter Soldier, an adventure that thrust its pure- hearted patriot into the treacherous realm of the contemporary conspiracy thriller.
“That was the most important thing for us in that movie,” says Anthony Russo, “figuring out a way to bring Captain America into the modern age. The First Avenger introduced Golden Era Cap, the classic, old- school Captain America that everyone knows and loves and associates with the origin of the character. We had to figure out a way to modernise him and make him fully of the moment. All of our stylistic choices flowed from that central idea.”
And that, Russo tells SFX, is the momentum that brings us to Civil War, a film that vows to explore the heart of the man behind the shield.
“What we wanted to do was keep Cap evolving forward as a character,” he explains. “Where do you take the world’s greatest soldier? Where does that guy’s story eventually go? Where does it end? That’s what we were thinking about – moving him into places that surprised and excited us and felt like they challenged the character.”
The Russos were drafted for Civil War on the strength of initial buzz for The Winter
Soldier, acclaimed for its muscular action sequences and grounded tone. It’s a gritty, hard- edged vibe preserved – and expanded upon – in the sequel.
“We’ve kept it rooted but we wanted to evolve it,” Anthony Russo explains. “In our
We think of i t as a psychological thriller. We l i ke psychological realism. We run with i t as hard as we can
own minds we always thought of The Winter Soldier as a political thriller. And we think of Civil War as a psychological thriller. So they’re related in tone and texture but there is a different central dynamic at work.”
“We like psychological realism,” Joe Russo chips in, adding: “And we run with that as hard as we can.”
The third Captain America movie takes its cue – and its title – from Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s 2006 comic book series. While it shares the key concept of a schism in the superpowered ranks of the Marvel pantheon, the Russos tell SFX that the film significantly diverges from its source material, shifting the comic’s focus on secret identities to broader questions of power and accountability.
“It’s a loose adaptation,” says Anthony Russo. “It takes the central idea but there’s a lot of characters that are involved in the comic book who aren’t in the film. And with how the whole story unfolds we kind of modernised it and made it more specific to the MCU.
“Civil War is nominally about the idea of superhero registration. It’s a political concept. And we love the political, we love layered storytelling, we love it when stories touch us on different levels – but at the end of the day it doesn’t lead to really emotionally satisfying storytelling and complicated character work. In order to get to that, which is what we really thrive on, we had to come up with very personal motivations for everybody’s lives to become complicated by this idea of registration. We went through every character in the story and tried to frame them in a way where they had very personal reasons for feeling complicated and trapped and motivated by this idea of registration. That’s how we found our way through the narrative.”
Civil War, the Russo brothers say, is about the repercussions of the city- flattening, Boss Level slamdowns that traditionally provide a popcorn- rattling third act punch to any superhero movie. In a post- SHIELD landscape, the devastation unleashed upon Eastern Europe at the climax of Avengers: Age Of
Ultron leads to the establishment of the Sokovia Accords, an attempt by the Powers That Be to rein in mankind’s costumed saviours. This diktat divides the Avengers into pro and anti camps – and pitches Steve Rogers into direct conflict with Iron Man, alias weaponised one- percenter Tony Stark.
And, as the first entry in Marvel’s Phase 3 campaign, it’s a movie whose emotional collateral will resonate throughout this big- screen mythology.
“In many ways this movie has more Marvel characters in it than Age Of Ultron did,” says Anthony Russo. “It is very much about the Marvel Universe having a moment where more of the Universe is being pulled into a single movie than ever before. So it’s a touchstone that is going to ripple through more of the individual films than normal. It’s so funny that Cap is one of the leaders of the Avengers with Tony – it’s like his storyline tends to drive the wider MCU in some respects. In the same way that in The Winter Soldier we had the fall of
The job interview was going well until he asked about the pension plan.
Is wearing your corset on the outside the female version of wearing your undies outside?
I dunno, I just felt my outfit needed a mask...
After that Ultron business, the tax office got a lot more serious about its audits. Black Widow: gets impatient at airports.