*With hours to go until “Captain America: Civil War” invades theaters, the Marvel Studios release has fans eagerly waiting on what could be the best Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure to date.
While much of the excitement centers around Steve Rogers/ Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) slugging it out, that confrontation runs fairly close to equal anticipation for the MCU debuts of iconic Marvel hero T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the comic book giant’s flagship crimefighter, Spider-Man (Tom Holland).
“It was very important to all of us, all the filmmakers. All the folks at Marvel, [“Civil War” producer] Kevin [Feige], my brother, myself, the writers. We knew we wanted to tell a really complicated story between Captain America and Iron Man in this movie, a story that went to very difficult dark places. We’re big fans of balance and storytelling. We like really well-rounded movies, movies that makes you laugh and cry,” Anthony Russo said at a recent press conference, about bringing Spider-Man into “Civil War.”
“For us, it became very important in finding a way to change the dynamics and modulate the tone in a move by bringing in characters that didn’t have the same emotional investment that all of the Avengers had with the events that were unfolding because they are very serious events, complicated events. So to bring in characters like Spider-Man, like Ant Man into the movie who don’t have that baggage, it gave us an opportunity as storytellers to sort of bring new colors into the movie at a deep place in the movie. A lighter color, more whimsical colors.
“We try to find very organic ways that those characters found their way into the movie, both of those characters,” he continued while crediting Feige for being “very critically central” to Spidey’s MCU arrival. “I don’t know that a lot of people could have pulled off getting Spider-Man in this movie, except for Kevin.”
Set after the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Civil War” finds Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
In addition to Evans and Downey, “Civil War” features Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) fighting on Team Captain America, while War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther and The Vision (Paul Bettany) align with Stark to fight for Team Iron Man
Like Spider-Man, Black Panther ends up in “Civil War” through natural means as Feige elaborated on T’Challa’s presence in the film.
“It was relatively early on in the development process of the movie that Joe and Anthony and our screenwriters, Chris [Markus] and Steve [McFeely], thought it would be very valuable to have somebody, sort of in the way that Anthony was talking about Spidey and Ant-Man, people that weren’t quite as invested. We wanted to have somebody who perhaps wasn’t invested, but didn’t have allegiances to any one side, who was essentially in it for very personal reasons himself,” Feige explained while stating that Boseman’s critically acclaimed work in the biopics “42” and “Get On Up” made him “the only choice” to play Black Panther.
“We knew we wanted to make a Black Panther movie at some point, but at that time we weren’t sure exactly when that would be. But as these discussions were going on, and we thought, ‘I think we’re gonna bring in 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.”
Russo’s reference to Boseman’s past performances and their power in landing him in the MCU as T’Challa speaks to the appeal of all the characters in “Civil War” and their ability to connect with fans. For Cheadle, the new film will see how torn War Machine’s alter ego, Rhodey, is between his duty as a soldier and his loyalty to Tony Stark and what Team Iron Man is fighting for.
“I know that Rhodey is always trying to, and in this movie too, he’s always struggling with what does he owe the servicemen, what is his duty and chain of command, how much is that being protected and honored,” Cheadle explained. “But also this team of people, who some of them have no limit to their power, and where are the checks and balances. That’s something that’s obviously central to this film as well. I think that’s an understandable sort of fence that he’s on. Friendship vs. chain of command and all those things that Rhodey has to balance with as he goes forward with these group of guys.”
For Rudd, the thrill was just being able to be among the Avengers as Ant-Man, a true fanboy moment for the actor.
“I kind of couldn’t stop geeking out about it,” he confessed. “I did feel that, that excitement of, “‘what? I can’t believe that I landed here. This is nuts.’ So it was really cool.”
As the titular hero, Evans is fully aware of Captain America’s reputation for being the incorruptible good guy who puts the well being of others before himself and his own needs. Yet “Civil War” finds the character entering a new realm that involves looking out for self.
“What he believes in, honor and morality and value, that’s something you can find anywhere, but in terms of who he’s been throughout the arc of his character, he’s always kind of fought for the greater good. He’s always kind of put the needs of the masses before his own desire. And that’s exactly what he did in this film,” said Evans. “Instead of kind of dedicating himself toward what others need, in this film he prioritizes what he wants, which is a departure from what he’s normally allegiant to. So I think it colors that character in a really nice way, unlike the other guy who’s this incredibly austere and immoral character. Its’ kind of hard to find ways to make him layered and dynamic. And I think in this movie he becomes essentially selfish, where he puts his own desires first but is rooted in family, which I think is the true lining of it all.”
Like the Russos Evans is a sucker for great storytelling, something he acknowledged when touting Marvel’s successful track record on the big screen.
“It’s not like they’re making bad movies. They’re making great movies,” he mentioned. “If you want to keep putting them in this superhero box, you can. But the fact is it’s still good movies. It’s good movies, especially the roots that they ground them in such an authentic way. It’s real humans, real struggles real conflict. Good cinematic storytelling with like a streak of superhero flavor in it.”
“Captain America: Civil War” arrives in theaters on Friday (May 6).