With Civil War opening domestically today, OnScreen sat down to watch the Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, directors The Russo Brothers, and the cast of the superhero spectacular (including Elizabeth Olsen, Emily Van Kamp, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd) discuss the Avengers-dividing schism, the future of the MCU, and who has the biggest trailer.
For Downey Jr., one word to describe Captain America, and for Mr. Evans vice-versa?
CHRIS EVANS: One word to describe Captain America?
One word from you to describe Iron Man, and from Robert to describe Captain America.
CHRIS EVANS: Oh, charismatic. Go on… make it count.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Turn my mic up. Thank you… radass.
What difference does acting outside of your super-suit make in maintaining your superhero persona?
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Well, I mean, I remember from the beginning trying to establish all the Marvel characters. The big question was how do you humanise them, and how do you make them relatable? And I can only relate to someone so often when they’re all… gussied up, y’know? But it was a great opportunity… I’m not really here yet, there’s a lot of people. If you could all turn around for about half an hour, I’ll come back to my body.
If you could bring one superhero into the real world to try and solve out problems, who would it be?
KEVIN FEIGE: In real life? That’s a great question. We usually get “What’s your favourite superpower?” or “What superpower do you want?” which … is not a great question-
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Oh, it’s coming.
KEVIN FEIGE: [laughs]Which superhero…
CHRIS EVANS: It’s a tough one.
KEVIN FEIGE: It is a tough one.
PAUL BETTANY: It’s not that tough… I’m just saying [Vision] is omnipotent, he can pick up the hammer, come on.
ANTHONY MACKIE: But when he talks, everyone turns off their hearing aids so…
KEVIN FEIGE: … I think if we had any leaders who had such morals as either Tony or Cap, we’d be in a pretty good place.
CHRIS EVANS: No, I don’t like that answer! I want one.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: I nominate Hawkeye because he retires every ten minutes.
JEREMY RENNER: Proves how stressful it is.
The film is about superheroes falling out, have any of the cast members ever fallen out with each other on set?
CHRIS EVANS: God, no. That’s one of the best things about these movies, they really somehow manufacture an environment where I can’t imagine arguing with any person on this set. And listen, sometimes that happens on film sets. But for some reason, you step on a Marvel film set and… it’s like summer camp, it really is. You can’t even construct a world where there would be some sort of friction. And even as they grow the universe, every new person they add to the fray they always fit right in, and feel like they’ve been there for years.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Speak for yourself… When my son Exton started wearing entirely Captain America pjs, hats and everything, I felt a natural resentment. But being a consummate professional, I didn’t bring it into the workplace.
Emily, do you think your character is looking to a further romance with Steve Rogers, or does she think it’s a little bit ‘icky’ because he had a relationship with your aunt?
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Okay, that is the first ‘British’ question we’ve got.
EMILY VAN KAMP: Well, in the comic books they actually went on to have a very interesting and complicated love-affair. So, that was something I loved when I was doing the research for Sharon. But how far we’ll go with that? We’ll see, I suppose. I mean, it helps that it’s like great-aunt, so there’s one generation removed at least. I get it. Some people think it’s weird.
CHRIS EVANS: A little ‘icky’? A little ‘icky’.
EMILY VAN KAMP: Deal with it.
You also got to get involved with a lot of the action as well, what was that like?
EMILY VAN KAMP: Well yeah! Sharon is a badass in the comic books, so it was nice to be able to play with that a little bit. I mean, these movies are great fun to make.
Question for Paul-
CHRIS EVANS: Which one?
Oh! Paul Rudd.
PAUL RUDD: Yeah! Sorry, Bettany.
PAUL BETTANY: My own town…!
Paul Rudd, we saw you a little bit with Falcon in Ant-Man. As this was your first time with everyone, was there any initiation?
PAUL RUDD: No, everyone was super nice, and really welcoming. You know, it was a bit surreal to see everybody in their suits. But it was very welcoming. This reference will go down like a lead balloon, but I felt a little bit like Cousin Oliver coming along and joining the rest of The Brady Bunch.
CHRIS EVANS: [laughs]
PAUL RUDD: Thanks, man.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Anything to add to that Bettany?
PAUL BETTANY: … Why don’t you two just get a room? Get married and… [grumbles].
Paul Rudd, a lot of your scenes felt like they injected your sense of humour into them. Were you allowed much freedom in terms of ad-libbing and improvising?
PAUL RUDD: Yeah, I think I was, but most of the stuff is written. [The Russo Brothers] said “Go ahead and play around with it a little bit”, that’s part of the fun of a character like Scott Lang. You know, even Robert was saying, you want these characters to be relatable. Here is a guy who was not born with a super-ability, so it’s fun getting to meet and see these characters through Scott’s eyes. So that’s kind of the way I felt being there, shooting that scene. There was very little acting required.
Should we interpret recruitment of Spider-Man by Tony Stark as him employing child-soldiers, and if so what does this say about his character?
CHRIS EVANS: [laughs]
JOE RUSSO: Perhaps the most powerful child soldier in the world.
ANTHONY RUSSO: Look, there is a certain narcissism to his character. And Tony doesn’t want to lose this fight. At the same time, he also sees Spider-Man as the greatest living non-lethal weapon. If you’re going out to capture a bunch of people you don’t necessarily want to hurt, you couldn’t ask for a better character than Spider-Man to take with you. He does show up and illustrate that he knows how powerful Spider-Man is where we see a video with Spider-Man stopping a car at forty miles-per-hour, and catches it as it’s coming around. So I think he believes he’s taking with him perhaps one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe. And I think he believes that the kid will be well-protected under his tutelage.
JOE RUSSO: We also find out in that sequence, if things go wrong, the kid says “What do I do?” and Tony says “Keep your distance, web them up”. So he’s obviously mentoring the kid.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: But it’s still very irresponsible.
Robert, how was working with Tom Holland?
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Well, now that two out of three Spider-Men are English, we’ve really gotta talk [Toby] Maguire off the ledge now. But Mr. Holland, anyone whose spent any time with him will know, he’s not a work in progress. He’s really something else. He really came on with a bang, and there’s a lot of excitement about seeing him and how he holds his own. (TO CAST:) I mean, did anyone dislike Holland, or are we all on the same page? We’ll talk about it later. We’ll post something if there’s any dissension.
Daniel, your villain was one of the most sympathetic Marvel villains, and he’s still alive at the end of the film. Are you under contract for more films?
DANIEL BRÜHL: I think that’s a question for Kevin… I couldn’t answer that question. I mean, I hope so. But I think this is not something I can-
ANTHONY MACKIE: I think you just answered the question. “I hope so, but no.”
What was it like playing a more rounded, sympathetic antagonist?
DANIEL BRÜHL: Well, that’s what attracted me right away, because it’s not a cliched, stereotypical ‘villain’. He has his motivations, he has his reasons, so it gives him depth.
Elizabeth and Emily, when you’re on set with this much testosterone do you dig your heels in and become girly, or do you try to be ‘blokeyfied’?
ELIZABETH OLSEN: I’d rather just hold my own without having to be extra girly or ‘blokeyfied’. I think just like hanging as yourself is good… I thought I almost made it, by the way, without having to say anything.
EMILY VAN KAMP: Yeah, no, I mean… it’s a lotta dudes, I will say that. But it’s a really good environment.
Elizabeth, for you and Paul Bettany, what was it like working with that fledgling relationship between your characters?
ELIZABETH OLSEN: I think it’s definitely something that fans have wanted, but we’re just trying to root it into something that’s more pure of a friend and a companion. I mean I’m not a mutant, I’m made from his stone, basically. And so we have that in common, and that roots our relationship, and I think that’s really grounding in a way.
PAUL BETTANY: What she said.
CHRIS EVANS: Rudd, take this one?
PAUL BETTANY: No, I think they’re both joined by the fact that neither of them know the extent of their powers, and that’s terrifying but also uniting.
And for you to be there as a physical being, how was that for you?
PAUL BETTANY: Oh, it was hot, thank you.
Was it make-up, it wasn’t a mask or prosthesis?
PAUL BETTANY: It’s make-up, and they then continue on with computer-generated stuff, so I’m wondering why I’m wearing it.
For Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner, as the two without powers how do you feel your characters contribute to the titular ‘War’?
ANTHONY MACKIE: Uh, a lot of leg-workouts? I actually have it in my contract that I have two behind shots, twice in the movie. You know? Thighs and quads. Thighs and quads.
CHRIS EVANS: [laughs]
ANTHONY MACKIE: Gotta give them what they want, baby. You can’t have a tree without a trunk, you know what I’m saying?
PAUL BETTANY: Aren’t quads and thighs the same thing?
ANTHONY MACKIE: No, no, no. Two different muscles on either side of your leg.
PAUL BETTANY: So quads and thighs. But aren’t they both a part of your thigh?
ANTHONY MACKIE: No, the quads are here, that’s your glutes right there.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Renner?
JEREMY RENNER: [laughing]I love you guys.
For Robert and Chris, has the emergence of the Justice League made the Avengers up their game?
CHRIS EVANS: Well, I don’t think anyone up here makes movies based on what other people are doing. For the most part, we do what we do because-
ANTHONY MACKIE: Because we do it really well.
CHRIS EVANS: We do. I really shouldn’t say “we”. It really is the Marvel higher-ups who somehow figured out this formula for good movies-
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Listen, when they get a Bucky, then we’ll start talking.
Sebastian, how was the filming the large-scale climactic battle? How much of it was there, and how much of it was acting?
SEBASTIAN STAN: Well, half of us were there – most of Team Cap. But for Team Iron Man… well, we shot it over five months, but most of the time it was what Anthony likes to describe as “acting with a tennis ball”. Because you’re just, y’know, there with your imagination.
When Steve loses Peggy, Bucky is all he has left and he clearly clings to him in the midst of all the action and drama. How important was that relationship to the both of you?
CHRIS EVANS: Well, that’s one of the best parts of the movie, in my opinion. You have these guys who have shared a battlefield together. And you listen to anyone whose been there tell you, once you’ve been in war, you risk your life for someone, then you’re brothers for life. And they were brothers before even that. And then they’ve both been through so much trauma. They’ve each lost. And Bucky more so than Steve, things were taken from him, but as a result we both kinda have even more of a connection, even more of a bond. We are the only remaining thing, the last remaining chapter, the last remaining moment of a previous life. And it really sort of transcends that family dynamic that we’ve built with The Avengers, where you see a guy like Cap who absolutely does what people need, and in this movie he sort of does what he wants. He prioritises his personal ties over the needs of the masses, and it’s all because of this brotherhood foundation we’ve built.
How do you see your characters progressing through the movies, and how much of that is down to you as actors as opposed to what is written on the page?
ELIZABETH OLSEN: Well, I don’t really wanna talk for anyone else-
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Oh, I don’t mind. Here’s all I’m gonna say, Feige and I were out for dinner last night, and you’d have thought they’d dosed our bubbly water. We were looking back at the last ten years, and all the little miracles, and the blood, sweat and tears that allowed us to keep developing all of these characters, and for all of this to happen. And not in a self-aggrandising way, but we just got kind of giddy and super, super grateful for everything that’s happened. As for the people who have to hash everything out, I mean, you’ll have to talk to Kevin and the team. And I do have to say, I usually try and give no credit to writers so I’ll try not to do this again; Mark McFeely did an exceptional job on this, which was a really tall order. There. I said it.
Did everyone end up on the team they wanted to be on, or did they get the script and think “Oh”?
CHRIS EVANS: I did kinda wanna be on Team Iron Man…
If you could switch powers with another Avenger, which one would it be?
CHRIS EVANS: That’s a good one. Switching powers, I’d take Vision, but not switching make-up. It’s a real nightmare. But for powers? Come on, you can’t beat Vision. He’s got an infinity stone in his head.
PAUL BETTANY: Yeah, I’m okay where I am… I mean, it might be nice to be Iron Man every now and then, but I’m pretty good where I am thank you.
JEREMY RENNER: [deadpan]What?
CHRIS EVANS: [laughing]Oh my god, that’s the best.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: I think it really depends on the narrative of the movie. As you can see, I’m a worker amongst workers. I like getting in where I can fit in. And any movie where I can spend a weekend with Renner… He is Lord of the Underworld back here. He may get you home in one piece, but you’re actually, finally going to have a goodtime.
JEREMY RENNER: [laughing, shrugs]
When are we going to get our Falcon/Bucky road trip movie?
SEBASTIAN STAN: Whoo! Yeah!
KEVIN FEIGE: That’s a good idea.
ANTHONY MACKIE: Well, we are shooting a Weekend at Bernie’s spin-off…
CHRIS EVANS: Weekend at Bucky’s?
ANTHONY MACKIE: Weekend at Bucky’s, that’s what we’re doing.
Kevin, how do you know – and how early during the process do you know – if and where you’re going to introduce new characters on the chessboard?
KEVIN FEIGE: Well the chessboard in this movie was more who sided with who, and there were a few characters who went back and forth for a while before we landed on the teams. But in terms of the Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, it came from the story. It wasn’t “Oh we wanna make more movies, we need these characters, how do we get them in?”. We have Cap’s side, and we have Tony’s side, and we wanted to bring in a character who didn’t really have either side. And Black Panther is great in the comics, because he doesn’t really give a shit about sides. He has his own agenda. And it was about a quarter of the way through the writing process where we thought “This is the time to bring in Panther”.
What are Nick Fury and Maria Hill doing during the events of Civil War?
JOE RUSSO: You’ll find out, soon.
ANTHONY RUSSO: There is story around where they are, and it is coming.
How early in the MCU process did the idea of making a Civil War film come about?
KEVIN FEIGE: Oh, it was before the MCU even existed. In the early days of when we were just beginning to dare to dream about becoming our own studio, I think a little over ten years ago, which is when Civil War was being published. And it was an amazing comic series, and I remember reading it every single month when it came out and thinking “It would probably be impossible, but wouldn’t it be cool to do this?” And it wasn’t until about two years ago, two and a half years ago, when we thought “Now’s the time, we have enough players, let’s do this”.
How do you decide who Stan Lee is going to be, and where he’s going to pop up?
KEVN FEIGE: It depends. Sometimes it comes about early in the script, and sometimes it’s based around his schedule and where he’s willing to travel. It sort of comes out in varying times of the process.
What were your initial thoughts when you first read the script?
CHRIS EVANS: It was exciting! I mean, a lot of it rested on Downey’s shoulders, whether or not he’d be willing to do this. And you know right away, as soon as you bring Downey into a movie it’s going to have a certain level of awareness, it’s going to have a certain level of charisma, y’know? That’s what he comes with. It was exciting. You knew what it meant as a jump-off. And you know what that meant, because Civil War as a comic has so many different characters. And at the end of the movie, y’know, Marvel has this habit of never leaving you completely satisfied, and you kind of anticipate the next chapter. And this film kinda leaves the MCU in a bit of dissaray, which is exciting, because it means it’s only going to be richer for the next Avengers film. For me? I was thrilled. I mean, shit, I’ll take all the help I can get.
If superheroes were a reality in 2016, what do you think the government’s reaction to them would be?
CHRIS EVANS: Team Iron Man. They would, there’d have to be some sort of responsibility, they’d have to answer to somebody. You couldn’t just let this group of vigilantes run wild. That’s the sad truth, if there really were Avengers, I’d be Team Iron Man for sure.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Man, I am really glad you’re here, I was having a hard time grasping that concept.
Who on set has the biggest trailer, and why?
ELIZABETH OLSEN: I think it’s Mackie’s?
CHRIS EVANS: That… would be correct.
ANTHONY MACKIE: Uh, uh… I have a lot of stuff, ya know? So I just, you know… it’s really nice. [Pointing to Downey Jr.] But he had life five of ’em!
JEREMY RENNER: But you gotta fit them thighs and quads.
ANTHONY MACKIE: I gotta fit them thighs and quads! You know? But he has five of them.
PAUL BETTANY: Yes, Robert actually has the smallest trailer- he just has another four of them.
ANTHONY MACKIE: It’s like a little kiddie choo-choo train. It just goes around in circles.
DANIEL BRÜHL: I didn’t get one.
ANTHONY MACKIE: He got a chair.
DANIEL BRÜHL: On my first day, my first scene with Robert after five minutes he asked me if I had allergies. I did not understand the question. And when I lunch I was eating my burrito in my humble little trailer and somebody knocked at my door, he was sitting in a golf cart, and he said “You are cordially invited to Robert Downey’s village”. I dropped my burrito, got in, and then in the far distance I saw this huge space with four or five-
ANTHONY MACKIE: Yeah, four or five.
DANIEL BRÜHL: I had a three course meal! And I was quite sad when he left, because I wasn’t invited back.
ANTHONY MACKIE: That was everybody’s goal, every day at lunch, to see who was going to get invited. And you’d get so jealous. Like the day he got invited, I saw him go past like “Motherf-”
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: The great Godfather of the MCU!
ANTHONY MACKIE: Robert introduced me to quinoa! I was like “What is this beautiful grain? What are these glorious marbles I’m putting in my mouth?”, “Oh, that’s quinoa.”. “Where do I buy this?!”
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: I wanted to invite Sebastian sooner, but he sent me this video of him just ripping out bicep curls with a decapitated Iron Man helmet, and I was like “… This guy is method”.
Captain America: Civil War is in cinemas now, rated 12A