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Captain America: Civil War - Kevin Feige and Joe & Anthony Russo interview

Captain America: Civil War

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MARVEL President Kevin Feige joins co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo in discussing some of the challenges of bringing Captain America: Civil War to the big screen and how early in the pipeline the film went from being a dream to a reality.

They also talk about the use of action in their films, the introduction of new characters such as Spider-Man and Black Panther and how they decide on how to use Stan Lee in the films. They were speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. Anthony and Joe Russo, you guys seem like action geeks. But that action has to have a story, so how do you juggle that?
Joe Russo: We like to describe ourselves as action fetishists [laughs].

Anthony Russo: Yes, for us action is of a piece with all the rest of the story-telling. Whatever we do, it has to be a strong expression of the narrative and character. Everyone has to find their way through the action. This movie, we had such a great cast playing so many great characters, all the action sequences are designed around how they will move these characters and the story along.

Joe Russo: It’s like Anthony said, every piece of action in the movie either has to define the character or move the story forward, so we put a lot of thought and effort into it. It’s also great making these films because action really is an integral component of it and so it really does help us to find the character in a really dynamic way.

Q. Civil War is possibly one of the most serious superhero movies to date in terms of some of the real-world issues it tackles. If you could choose one superhero to solve our world problems, who would it be?
Kevin Feige: [Laughs] In real-life? We usually get who’s your favourite superhero or what super power would you want?

Robert Downey Jr: Oh, it’s coming!

Kevin Feige: Gosh, that’s a tough one.

Paul Bettany: It’s not that tough! I’m just saying. He’s omnipotent. He can pick up a hammer. I mean, come on…

Anthony Mackie: But when he talks, everybody turns off their hearing aids!

Kevin Feige: I think that if a few more world leaders had as many morals as both Tony and Captain America we’d be in a pretty good place.

Robert Downey Jr: I nominate Hawkeye because he retires every 10 minutes. He knows how stressful it is!

Q. Should we interpret Tony Stark recruiting Spider-Man as recruiting a child soldier?
Anthony Russo: He is perhaps the most powerful child soldier in the world. Look, there’s a sense of narcissism in the character. Tony doesn’t want to lose this fight but at the same time he also sees Spider-Man as the greatest living non-lethal weapon. So, if you’re going out to capture a bunch of people who you don’t necessarily want to hurt, you couldn’t ask for a better character than Spider-Man to take with you. The film does show that he knows how powerful Spider-Man is in a video where we see Spider-Man stopping a car that’s hurtling along at 40mph. So, I think that he believes that perhaps he’s taking with him one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe.

But I also think he feels that the kid will be protected under his tutelage. We also find out that when things start to go wrong and the kid asks ‘what do I do?’, Tony says: “Keep your distance.”

Q. How do you work out when to bring in the new characters, such as Spider-Man and Black Panther? Is it kind of like a chess board?
Kevin Feige: Well, the chess board on this movie was who sides with who. There were a lot of characters that went back and forth for a while before landing on either side. But in terms of the addition of Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, it came from the story. We didn’t just sit down and go: “OK, we want to introduce these characters because we want to make more movies and have to wedge them in.” It was “we’re telling Civil War, we have Cap’s side and we have Tony’s side, so we wanted to bring in somebody who wasn’t aligned with either side. And Black Panther in the comics was great because he doesn’t really give a shit about either of the sides. He has his own agenda. It was a quarter of the way through the filming process where we thought this would be the time to bring in the Panther.

Q. What are Nick Fury and Maria Hill doing during the events of Civil War?
Joe Russo: You’ll find out [smiles].

Anthony Russo: There is story around where they are but it’s story that’s coming in future movies.

Q. How early in the whole process did Civil War come about? Was it pre-Phase 1 or after Winter Soldier? When was it actually a reality?
Kevin Feige: Well, it was before the MCU even existed… in the early days when we were just beginning to dream about becoming our studio and getting the financing. So, that was a little over 10 years ago, which was when Civil War was first published. It’s an amazing comic series and I remember reading it every month when it came out and thinking that it would probably be impossible, but wouldn’t it be cool if some day we could do this. It wasn’t until about two and a half years ago that we thought now’s the time because we’d assembled enough players to make it do-able.

Q. Who decides how Stan Lee is going to cameo in each film?
Anthony Russo: It varies. Sometimes the idea comes about very early and is incorporated into the script. And sometimes, based on his schedule and where he’s willing to travel, it comes about later in the process. On Guardians of the Galaxy, it was shot later. On this one, I think it was shot during production. I’m not sure where the idea came from…

Kevin Feige: It was in the draft.

Read our review of Captain America: Civil War