I had the immense pleasure to attend the Captain America Civil War Press Junket. The press junket cleverly divided the cast and directors in two parts. Team Iron Man and Team Captain America. Both groups were mediated by Grae Drake from Rotten Tomatoes.For this junket Team Iron Man was comprised of Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Paul Bettany (The Vision), Emily Van Camp (Agent 13/Sharon Carter), Anthony Russo (One half of the Directing Team), and keeper of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Kevin Feige (Executive Producer).
Grae Drake started out the Q & A with Robert Downey Jr. stating how through the progression of the films peels back more and more layers of Tony Stark and asking if he feels the same way.
Robert Downey Jr: “I’m still reeling from the fact that Paul Bettany was Jarvis and now The Vision. I mean we can just stop with what’s going with Tony and go what a minute did he make a guy?”
This movie has a very remarkable sequence in which Robert Downey Jr. plays a twenty year old man. Which is pretty incredible. He plays someone who is around the same age as we saw him when he first appeared on the screen.
Robert Downey Jr. comments: “It’s nostalgic. A very expensive nostalgia I am told.”
Anthony Russo chimes in: “It took us months and months of work on that shot to make it work. It’s very complicated taking the human face and changing the human face in a way that looks realistic. And in fact it was the last shot we completed in the movie. And we dropped it into the movie maybe five days ago. On Robert’s birthday (April 4th).”
This film was shot in the state of Georgia during the summer. Meaning many of the actors were in costume, running around in the Georgia sun which in the summer of 2015 got as high as 105 degrees. That’s truly superhuman.
Paul Bettany: “We all got out there and you are there I the airport and you think: “How are they gonna realize this epic battle visually?” You look and everybody’s in their costume looking like superheroes and movie stars and then about 5 minutes later in about 105 degrees they look a lot less like movie stars. A lot less like superheroes.”
Civil War has an epic action sequence that occurs at an airport. Don Cheadle comments:
Don Cheadle: “Well I just think, from my perspective, it’s really interesting because it’s not until we see the completed project that we know actually what has gone on. Often it’s these disparate moments that we’re trying to focus on and we’ll see Previs and the Russos will give us a good explanation as to what’s happening. But it’s not until you see it all together that it’s like wow.”
Grae Drake tries to get a behind the scenes look as to how the actors treat eachother by asking about any on set rivalries.
Robert Downey Jr: “Uh, Maybe on the next panel.”
Don Cheadle: “A couple meatheads on that panel.”
Robert Downey Jr: “Lots of burpies, pull up competitions, you know what I mean.”
Don Cheadle: “Just ask about pushups on the next panel and see what comes up.”
Kevine Feige comments on the involvement of The Black Panther: “It was relatively early on in the development process of the movie that Joe and Anthony and our screenwriters Chris and Steve thought it would be very valuable to have somebody, sort of in the way that Anthony was talking about Spidey and Ant-Man were involved. People that weren’t quite as invested. We wanted somebody who perhaps was invested but didn’t have allegiances to any one side. Who was essentially in it for very personal reasons himself. We knew we wanted to make a Black Panther movie at some point but at that time we weren’t exactly sure when that would be. But as those discussions were going on we thought “I think we’re going to bring Black Panther into this movie.” I’m not kidding when I say Chadwick was the only choice. His performance in 42. His performance in Get on Up. How different those performances are.”
Robert Downey Jr. is asked how Tony Stark’s ego feels that many people are saying the best part of the movie is Spiderman.
Robert Downey Jr: “This Holland kid couldn’t hit his own ass with both hands. Until I started working closely with him. I’m 51. And only sociopaths are still so self-centered in the extreme that they can’t make space for other people. I think what I’ve learned slowly over time is that once you make some space for yourself, it’s all about the other people you’re working with and I think Tom did a great job.”
Kevin Feige: “I called Robert relatively early in the process and said I think we might get Spiderman in this movie. And his reaction was actually one just like a fanboy, which was unbelievably excited for what this could mean for this movie. And then I said a few weeks after that we had sort’ve culled it down to about five finalists. Could we bring them to Atlanta and would you mind reading with all five of them. And he did. Then Tom and one other person came back and did a sort’ve stunt test with Chris Evans who was gracious enough to read opposite him. But it was fun seeing that Robert was invested. And to see Tom react to Robert was not dissimilar from the way Peter was reacting to Tony.”
Anthony Russo tackles a question as to the pairing of combatants during the hero on hero fight scenes.
Anthony Russo: “My brother always say this, we love action we are action fetishists, but for us the action always needs to be driven by a sense of character and a sense of story beat by beat by beat through the action sequences or else you just lose interest. So we looked for opportunities in the movie to play with these rich complicated relationships. There is a very interesting relationship between Paul’s character in this movie and Lizzie Olsen’s character in the movie; Scarlett Witch and Vision. You know that begins to develop an interesting complicated relationship and you put them on opposite sides in the battle. It was very exciting for us because it sort’ve interfered with whats happening to the dynamic between these characters.”
Team Captain America was comprised of Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/The Falcon), Sebastian Stan (James Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Joe Russo (The other half of the Directing Team), and Kevin Feige returned.
Grae’s first question went to Chris Evans asking if there is any added pressure to himself when the film is titled Captain America.
Chris Evans: “I mean there is pressure but I don’t think it’s anything the pressure that people like Marvel or the Russos because honestly, movies live and die based on the directors and the producers. We’ve all seen phenomenal actors and great scripts that still didn’t come to fruition in a good way and it really goes to show that a good movie lives and dies based on the directors. You can have all of the other pieces in place but if you don’t have quality story tellers, you may fall on your face. Yeah, there is pressure…but not as much as you guys (points to Kevin Feige and Joe Russo)
Grae next asked Joe Russo (Director) if he and his brother have different strengths when it comes to working on a big film such as Captain America: Civil War.
Joe Russo: “We’ve been doing this for a long time. We grew up watching movies together. We have similar aesthetic and we were working in TV a long time together. There is no true division of labor for us. We always say that the only thing that is tricky for us is who has enough energy to get of the chair and speak to the actor after the take. Other than that everything is shared equally.”
Chris Evans: “They speak very differently to different actors. You can see that they address different people in different ways.”
Grae mentioned that Team Iron Man gave a bit of smack talk, and one actor was quick to interject.
Anthony Mackie: “That’s because they’re old.”
Grae continued to mention how Team Iron Man referred to Team Cap as “Team Burpee.” (For those that don’t know, burpees are a form of exercise where a person stands then quickly jumps down on all fours, extends their legs, does a push up, then leaps back to standing position and continues to repeat this for an undetermined amount of sets).
Anthony Mackie: “They’re team remember to take your ginko biloba. (Anthony Mackie actually said ginko biloba, though we all knew he meant ginko bilboa, this became a running gag through the remainder of the Q & A)”
Steering back towards the film, Joe Russo talks about the toughest scene to shoot: “The toughest sequence by far in this film, which we probably finished about a week or two ago, was the airport sequence. It’s filled with a lot of moving parts and a lot of different characters. And you want to make sure you bring each character forward that you’re not leaving anyone behind. And we went well into the post process still reshaping, rethinking, and reconfiguring that sequence to make sure that it has its maximum storytelling thrust to it.”
Chris Evans continues: “It was great. It was hot. It was Atlanta in August so it was toasty. And there is really only a couple of scenes or shots where you have that one 50/50 where everyone is running together. For the most part its bits and pops and you’re getting bits and pieces. So you really get a lot of waiting around but you have a lot of confidence it’s going to be something special. You can see Anthony and Joe’s face. These guys get so excited when these moments work. It’s a meticulous process because it’s such a grand scheme. On the day it’s not as cool and romantic as you think it might be. But there is an energy on set and an excitement that keeps you invested. But it’s hot, I will say that.”
Civil War brought some of the bug centric heroes into the mix with Spider-Man and Ant-Man, but noticeably left out The Wasp.
Kevin Feige: “There were drafts where Wasp participated in the “airport battle” And the truth is, you took away the fun of seeing her suit up for the first time. The first time on being on that road to being a hero. We have very big plans to unveil her in her own movie where she can be the entirety of the movie and not a moment in an action scene.”
When the actors are asked “what is something about their character that no one else knows?”
Elizabeth Olsen: “I think that’s like a ‘I’ll never tell’.”
Chris Evans: “Certain things you want to share. Certain things you don’t. It’s almost nice having parts of the character that are intimate.”
Elizabeth Olsen was asked if this is the peak of Scarlet Witches’ confidence in her powers.
Elizabeth Olsen: “I think what ends up happening is that she was starting to feel confident. It wasn’t about her powers is more about the conflict she had with making a big mistake. But I think what’s interesting is that every superhero has a weakness and I always thought of her as she is the person that gets in her way. She’s kind of limitless.”
In closing Chris Evans had this to say about the reason for the conflict in choosing between The Avengers and Bucky:
“It’s like when you have friends in high school and you try to make your friends from high school get along with your friends from college. It’s this blending of two worlds and Steve has this part of him where it’s Bucky and Peggy from his old life and then he has this new family. And this movie makes these worlds collide.”
“That’s what motivates Steve to become selfish. You got the most selfless guy in comic books all of the sudden saying ‘I care a little more about my relationship than what it means to you guys. The guy is just looking for a home and he’s found out with his current Avengers but Bucky is that Achilles heel. And it’s impossible pitting that against his current family. He chooses his old family which is again a little bit of a selfish thing but that’s something he’d never done before and its new territory and its gray area. Joe (Russo) uses this and I love it, ‘Steve’s a very binary guy. It’s this or it’s that. And with Bucky it becomes gray. I think it’s tough for him but he chooses Bucky.”
This summation of the character and his motivations shed so much light as to why Civil War was the chosen storyline for the third film in the Captain America franchise.
Captain America Civil War is in theaters in the U.S. starting May 6th, 2016.
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