[Updated with more interview links – Robert Downey Jr., Anthony and Joe Russo, Chadwick Boseman, etc. and more coming!]
In late summer, 2014, we had the opportunity to travel to the new, top of the line Pinewood Studios outside of Atlanta. Marvel’s Ant-Man was shooting here, the first film production at the brand new facility. We were told at the time that the studio lot we saw was just the beginning and that Pinewood would add several times more stages and facilities over the next few years. There was even a Home Depot on the lot, just for productions.
Skip forward nearly a year to June 8-10, 2015, and Marvel Studios is back in Atlanta yet again, this time with a much larger cast, and a much bigger job to do. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and the largest roster of Avengers ever assembled were choosing sides for Captain America: Civil War, the ‘biggest scope’ movie from Marvel yet – according to those making it.
On the first day our large group of 17 online journalists head to the set in the late afternoon, the same day another large group of international press were conducting another set visit. We’re only brought in on this day since Chadwick Boseman and Robert Downey Jr. were both there supporting #TeamIronMan for the media, coming in just for the interviews since Boseman wasn’t working that day (although on Day Two we saw the first time Black Panther costume was on set) and RDJ not working at all that week.
- Very interested in Wakanda history and culture – he was guarded in interview but Russos describe him as extremely passionate for the character, doing his own research to ground Wakanda in the real world, figuring out where it would be in Africa and designing an accent that fits.
- He’s a politician, a monarch, a prince, and unlike other Marvel superheroes, nothing about him is secret. His people know the tradition, know he’s a warrior and worships him, expecting him to do what’s necessary to protect them.
- Says Wakanda is not in this film but we’ll get a sense of it. I asked him if it’s a secretive, high-tech society and Boseman smiled and dodged, repeating a previous answer.
- Says solo movie story is being broken. There’s a lot to draw from. Tries to share idea with us that there’s always possibility of making it a prequel. That last part is unlikely, and outside of Captain America: The First Avenger, all MCU films generally take place in the timeline when they release in theaters. Civil War for instance is a year after the events of Age of Ultron.
- Sporting another Bruce Lee tee, this one pink, matching his stylish pink hat.
- Jokes about Ant-Man, praises Marvel’s formula and the Russos, says they describe it to him as the “Godfather of superhero movies” and pokes fun at how big of a statement that really is.
- Very much hopes (or is teasing Marvel) about Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) having a part to play.
After these two interviews we got back on the shuttle and headed back to the hotel. These two were guarded and divulged little, and on set, we didn’t watch any shooting, see any sets or anything. Our real visit began on day two.
On day two, our full day, we began early, meeting at 8:15 AM and arriving on set nearly four hours earlier than the day before. There were a lot of interviews to fit in and the unit publicist wanted to let us watch a key scene (the “splash page” IMAX sequence) being shot before we left in the late afternoon. We were walked into the same building as the day before, empty, with lots of waiting in between a lengthy series of group interviews.
After seeing how guarded the cast was the year prior on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Chris Evans was hesitant to even mention that Ultron had an army and we weren’t allowed in the art room, we were prepared to learn little to nothing about Civil War. Thankfully, the cast interviews were hilarious, and the interviews with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, producer Nate Moore, and directors Anthony and Joe Russo were informative. Costume designer Chris Smith revealed the most but we’ll talk about that at a later date. Throughout this report we’ll link to interviews as they go live on screenrant.com and list highlights from each.
Click here for Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely Interview
Markus and McFeely are the writing backbone of the main story of the MCU. They wrote all three Captain America movies and are already at work on Avengers: Infinity War, serving to bookend both sides of Phase 3. Interview highlights:
- Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is still a factor in that she still has an effect on Steve Rogers.
- Civil War avoids the cosmic threads. Think grounded, Earth-based like The Winter Soldier, instead of the Avengers movies with their alien and Infinity Stone connections.
- Black Panther has a great place in Civil War. He’s “better” than Cap and Iron Man, represents the bigger picture idea that their quabbles don’t matter to him.
- When it comes to picking sides (and the film isn’t clear cut like that, but for the sake of discussing…), Black Widow has the toughest choice of all the characters. Note: the Russos add to this in a big way later saying they made a big, tough choice in designing Widow’s arc in this film.
- They don’t want Steve Rogers to be a “boy scout.” That’s a term used by Evans frequently in his first years playing the character. The goal is to have audiences split on who they side with. Note: Russos also expand on this explaining that every time Stark or Rogers goes to far or pulls back, the other must too in order to maintain balance.
- Tony Stark has a very personal reason for doing what he does, something that happens to him early in the film
- Captain America: Civil War takes place all over the world.
Speaking with a pair of Captain Americas from Marvel Comics we didn’t learn much. The pair were the most guarded since Evans is afraid to disobey Marvel and poor Mr. Stan had a sheet of paper outling everything he couldn’t talk about (which in fact, was practically everything). We hit on a few good topics through:
- Civil War picks up tonally and from a story standpoint from where Captain America: The Winter Soldier concluded.
- The Bucky-Steve relationship is central to the main story of Captain America: Civil War.
- Bucky is a very different person this time around, Steve not so much.
- Evans looks forward to his scenes with Scarlett Johansson, and Stan is excited about working with Paul Bettany’s Vision.
Olsen and Renner make a great pair, especially after the relationship between their characters launched with a powerful start in the final act of Age of Ultron. That carries over as Scarlet Witch finds herself a family in the Avengers in the year since. Interview highlights:
- Hawkeye gets a costume overhaul and new weapons. Given the nature of Civil War, he’s using nonlethal arrowheads. He says his costume is more colorful but what we saw on set in the afternoon was completely black, more practical and featuring a little bit of Kevlar-esque padding, a full sleeve on his right (bow) hand, a larger full wristband and partially-fingerless glove for his left (draw) hand.
- Renner mentions Han Solo comparison to Hawkeye.
- Olsen on what she wants to do with Scarlet Witch.
- Scarlet Witch’s mind control powers not needed in this film. She says the other Avengers are sort of fearful of what she can do.
Mackie was all about the jokes and it was difficult to read into how much of what he was saying was truth vs. entertainment. He was in full-on, profanity-laden comedian mode after a minute of being sort of straight-faced and Renner-like in taking shots at the whole thing and characters. Highlights:
- How he learned he was in Avengers: Age of Ultron and joining the team at the end
- Emphasizes that the new Avengers really act and function as a team.
- The Sam Wilson/Falcon character is used as a way to ask the questions and make fun of the things the audience would be ask and poke fun at.
- Mackie is fine where he is in terms of his place in the MCU, like Jeremy Renner, and has no need of being the star or being the key face on the Marvel movie posters. But he certainly wouldn’t say no to leading a Captain America movie.
- The new Avengers team is born from necessity.
Our conversation with producer Nate Moore might have been the longest and most in-depth interview of our Captain America: Civil War set visit and in our chat, we cover pretty much everything:
- How characters like Hawkeye and Black Panther get pulled into the Civil War conflict.
- Why Captain America 3 is telling the Civil War story now.
- The current Avengers team is closer than any other.
- Why Nick Fury & SHIELD are not in Civil War.
- Daniel Bruhl & Martin Freeman – like Black Panther – are being setup for later.
- Tony Stark’s reasoning for his actions are more reasonable ever. It’s very compelling what happens to him early in the film.
- How Marvel Studios is Planning Beyond Phase 3
- Marvel Studios still figuring out way to fold in Marvel TV
- Ant-Man, Black Panther & Winter Soldier will steal the show.
- There’s interest in more WWII flashbacks and stories.
- The story is designed first with the required elements in mind first, then they fit the best pieces in. That’s how Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) was slotted into Civil War. That’s how Black Panther is in this one too. Marvel wants to avoid forcing in characters just for the sake of having them on screen. It needs to service the story. That’s why Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. are not a part of Civil War.
The Splash Page Sequence
After this series of interviews, we took a shuttle around the lot to the outdoor location where one of the film’s largest battles was being shot. The setting is a German airport, with ground vehicles scattered around on the pavement, and there’s an 80-foot green screen wall in a semicircle surrounding the massive set piece. There’s a crane holding light screens above where they’re shooting.
It’s incredibly hot and sunny outside and as we stand up to witness the scene, security immediately stands in front of the storyboard before moving it away inside of a tent. On it we saw Ant-Man and Vision’s role in this particular skirmish.
The sequence represents the opening of a battle in the second half of the film and it’s referred to as the “splash page” since it’s what you’d see on a massive two-page spread in the comics. The “Civil War” has already begun and in this shot, Captain America’s team is on the right, walking side-by-side in unison down the runway as Hawkeye draws an arrow. They move into a sprint, chasing the camera car, to get to what we were told is a Quinjet in order to stop it from taking off. Cap’s teammates are Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and yes, Bucky Barnes who notably isn’t wielding any weapons. If you’re keeping track, half of these guys have been “Captain America” in the last decade of Marvel Comics.
Protecting said Quinjet is Iron Man’s team which includes Black Panther, Black Widow, Vision (from the concept art), War Machine (from what we saw in the costume tent later) and… Spider-Man. But more on that later.
The New Avengers Costumes
Bucky is sporting a similar look to his Captain America: The Winter Soldier appearance sans any weaponry. Avengers may be fighting Avengers here but they aren’t trying to kill each other. His left, silver arm is exposed and still features the red star logo and he’s wearing a familiar black jacket. For this shot, all the actual stars are suited up except for Ant-Man who has a double acting in the scene since his helmet is on.
Note: Just before we left the set, Paul Rudd did show up, in full costume, but there wasn’t time to interview him.
Ant-Man’s costume looks similar to his retro suit from his introduction in the Ant-Man film at a glance in the distance, but it’s quite a bit different and modernized up close. It looks a little more traditional as a modern superhero costume with a different, well-fitted and slightly padded look. The piping for the Pym particles is more concealed and on his shoulders has sort of a crisscross “X” pattern on each side.
Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff a.ka. Scarlet Witch’s uniform is essentially what was shown at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. She’s sporting a one-piece tight suit that’s sleeveless, with a corset on top and a long red coat.
In between shots, an army of assistants rush in with umbrellas and person fans to keep the talent cool in the immense heat.
The standout costume however was Hawkeye’s, which at this point in time when we visited the set, hadn’t been revealed yet publicly from any leaked set photos. It’s seemingly designed to look like his main modern Marvel Comics universe outfit, with blue and purple coloring although from where we’re standing it looks entirely black. We had the chance to hold his quiver and bow which are impressively detailed.
I’m told the Hawkeye suit was more colorful at first but the Russos requested it be muted quite a bit to fit the grounded, practical approach of their films. Gone is the burgundy sleeveless Ultimates-style costume and in is a slightly armored design with a bit of a tight equipment vest on top. His right hand (bow hand) is fully sleeved with armor bits on the forearm and his left (string hand) has a glove that attaches to an arm guard of sorts. Hawkeye also sports a sidearm which we’ve not seen since his first scene in the first Avengers when he shoots Nick Fury.
After watching the Avengers do two takes of their sprint as doubles for all of them standby and rehearse what’s coming next (combat!) we step away from the set and into a set near the forest to chat with directors Anthony and Joe Russo who are spearheading the mainline entries of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe story. They destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and introduced a pair of future Avengers, and now they’re following up with Captain America: Civil War, a film which has the most Avengers ever seen in one movie. And after kicking off Phase 3 with that one, they’re also rounding out Phase 3 with the two-part Avengers: Infinity War.
Needless to say, the Russos are feeling happy and excited about where they’re at and what they’re planning. And more importantly, Marvel feels the same. Interview highlights:
- The splash page battle we’re watching being shot is actually part of a 15-minute IMAX sequence in the film and they’re using it as a test to try out the brand new, just off the line Imax/Arri’s 65 camera. This is the camera the Russos are planning to shoot the entirety of Avengers: Infinity War with.
- Where Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a “political thriller,” Captain America: Civil War is described as a “psychological thriller.”
- Influences: Godfather, Seven, Fargo – not comparing quality (RDJ mentioned Godfather on day one as well but more on that later)
- Vision will be seen trying to fit into society. He’ll sport “normal” clothes. Keep in mind, Civil War is a year after Age of Ultron so he’s been with the Avengers during that time. His arc in this movie is about discovering his limitations.
While watching the Avengers run-in when we first got to set, someone from the props department gave us a close look at Hawkeye’s quiver. The different arrowheads were visible in the bottom and the arrows are setup in two circles, similar to the design from the first Avengers where it’s showcased how Hawkeye selects different types of trick arrows and can remote detonate certain types. He reminded us that there’s never actually an arrow drawn in any shot – all of that is added in post with special effects. The Quiver itself, like Falcon’s drone, snaps into the back of Jeremy Renner’s costume for easy removal.
We also had a chance to hold Hawkeye’s left-handed bow. It’s quite long but surprisingly light. The string is very easy to pull so Renner and stunt performers can quickly pull and fire rapidly without force. At the end of the day, we also had the chance to take photos with one of the rubber Captain America shields used for shooting. For this movie there are 30 or so shields, representing different types for action shots or close-ups and at different stages of damage. We’re expecting some will have Black Panther claw marks. We also held the heavier metal shield which is not as heavy as you might expect. The rubber detailing on the inside makes it feel very authentic.
Avengers vs. Avengers
After chatting with the Russos we walked through the little tent city to observe more filming for an hour or two. Most of the time it was the doubles of Cap’s Avengers team rehearsing but now Scarlett Johansson’s double was on the scene and in costume. Later we would see ScarJo in action as well.
As the Russos told us, they made a tough choice in the Black Widow story arc and she, at least at this point in the film, is with Tony Stark fighting against Captain America. After Cap’s team charges in, they face off with Iron Man’s team and an all-out battle ensues.
We can’t confirm exactly who’s fighting who beyond what we saw and we don’t know for certain who’s on Iron Man’s team, but we do know that Hawkeye and Black Widow have a rematch from their Helicarrier fight in the first Avengers where Widow had to knock out a mind-controlled Hawkeye. In this new fight though, Widow is using a pair of batons (we don’t know if they will be electric like they were in Age of Ultron) while Hawkeye fights with a staff (his bow extends with the string off).
Meanwhile, behind them Black Panther is fighting Winter Soldier. Briefly, we saw Chadwick Boseman on set but he was in regular clothes. We’re told that the day we were there was the first day he put on the full costume to shoot scenes (he of course wore it in fittings and costume tests previously) but for the action it was his double wearing the full suit. And it looks incredible in action.
The Black Panther costume looks just like it does in the official concept art released of Black Panther when Marvel announced the Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther movies. He looks bigger than expected in terms of his upper body muscle in the suit – large back and shoulders. The silver vibranium elements are shinier and really stand out in the sunlight. They stick out a little on the elbows and it the teeth necklace looks built into the chest around the neck with a few additional similar vibranium pieces around the belt area. There was some vibranium on the hands and he swung his arms as if they were claws, but we expect the actual claws will be added in post. There are quite a few lines of vibranium on the helm as well to help define it against the darker patterns.
The one difference though is in T’Challa’s helmet which will be fully fleshed out in post-production. The actual helmet/mask the actors wear has the eyes visible along with the line down from the nose, as if it were a knight’s helm. We suspect this is just for the actor to be able to breath, talk and eat more efficiently. Given the bulk of the suit, seeing the stunt double kick and jump high to strike the Winter Solder double was impressive. Black Panther fights fast and seeing him fight Winter Soldier – who’s not using weapons – while Hawkeye and Widow faceoff behind them with melee weapons is exciting and unlike any other action sequence featured in the MCU to date.
Stay tuned for interviews, features throughout the week, and #TeamIronMan content beginning tomorrow! Share your thoughts and questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer what we can!
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War finds Steve 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 Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd and Frank Grillo, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.
Anthony & Joe Russo are directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.
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