While Captain America: Civil War – like most Marvel Studios movies – played host to dozens of amazing visual effects shots, one of the coolest sequences took place near the beginning of the film, and featured Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark using technology to physically relive his last conversation with his parents before their untimely demise. Not only does this scene feature two different Tony Starks in the same shot, it also wowed audiences with a spot-on recreation of RDJ’s 1980s appearance via Tony’s younger self.
Civil War visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw recently discussed the inspiration for Tony’s particular look in this sequence during an interview – and it turns out that multiple mid-80s Downey roles played a part in its creation.
According to DeLeeuw (when he spoke with The Wrap), his Civil War team primarily focused on Downey’s looks in the 1985 sci-fi comedy Weird Science, the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield farce Back to School, and the 1987 drug addiction melodrama Less Than Zero when designing the younger Tony’s appearance, with the latter film playing the largest part in the process. This makes sense, as few pre-MCU roles are more closely associated with RDJ’s career than that of substance-addled yuppie college kid Julian Wells.
Marvel fans were first treated to this type of visual effects fountain of youth process via an early scene in Ant-Man that featured Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym appearing (for all intents and purposes) to have just walked off the set of the 1987 Oliver Stone classic Wall Street. The effect was a stunning one then, but was taken to a new level in Civil War, since Tony’s scene was significantly longer and more graphically complex than that for Douglas.
According to DeLeeuw, the fact that two Tony Starks were visible during Civil War’s flashback presented a whole host of additional challenges, including the need for stand-ins to physically perform the sequence in full prior to Downey stepping in to provide the facial elements. This required RDJ to not only perform both Tonys’ lines but also try and match the stand-ins’ body movements. He apparently went and shaved his trademark Iron Man facial hair off between filming the older and younger Stark halves as well, in case anyone was wondering if young Tony’s lack of stache’ and goatee was also visual effects.
Amidst all the buildings blowing up and cars being tossed in Civil War, it’s fun to think that one of the effects team’s biggest challenges was putting together a scene of four (three?) people talking in a normal-looking room. With this “de-aging” process now having worked great for Marvel twice, one wonders whether it’ll become a regular part of the studio’s arsenal going forward. There are worse options for stuff to put in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 than a flashback scene involving Snake Plissken-era Kurt Russell.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017;Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Source: The Wrap