Chatting with the Russo brothers about the Captain America movies was such a treat.
Are you Team Cap or Team Iron Man? We've been having fun with that question on Twitter, and I must say, I do think Team Cap is in the lead.
However, Anthony and Joe Russo, aka the Russo brothers and directors of Captain America Civil War, wanted you to really have to think about which camp you were going to choose, even after seeing the movie, and I think they've succeeded.
I have been Team Cap from day one (read my 30 minutes with Chris Evans!), and been pretty vocal about it, after screening the movie with 24 other bloggers, the majority of them were still Team Iron Man. In fact, I think there was only one who came over to Team Cap, and it may have been because I was her ride home!
Russo Brothers on Directing Captain America Civil War
We told the Russo brothers we were split into Team Cap and Team Iron Man, and there was a lot of discussion going on about it.
JOE: The intent with the film, hopefully, is when you’re done watching the movie, you leave the theater and you argue with your family and friends about it. We didn’t want to make a declarative statement one way or the other.
We just want to represent both as accurately and emotionally as we could, say the Russo Brothers. It’s more fun that way. It’s not the kind of story that the directors need to be too firm with their point of view because I think it would close off the opportunity to have a conversation after the movie.
And conversations we had! It turns out a rivalry between bloggers can be pretty fun, but we wondered:
Was there any rivalry between the you two when thinking out the process of the movie between Captain and Ironman?
Anthony: No, I don’t think there was rivalry. We both love both characters. Our process has always been very layered storytelling, so oftentimes, we’ll sort of step through the story from different character's points of view.
We’ll take a pass where it’ll just be all about this character. And then we’ll take a pass where it’ll be all about that character.
So it’s become part of our process to really have moments where the whole movie belongs to somebody else, just one particular character for a moment as we’re thinking about the film from beginning to end. (Brilliant, right?!)
The other thing about Joe and I is that we love characters who are exciting and fun and cool and all that but also are very human and vulnerable. We always look for that side of the character.
So for us it was very important to find, 'Where is Steve Rogers vulnerable? Where is Tony Stark vulnerable?' And play to those in a way that would put them in conflict with one another.
Q. Spider-Man, where did you find him and are you going to hold onto that kid?
JOE: Oh my God. Doing everything we can to hang onto him.
ANTHONY: Yeah. We’re more in love with him than anybody.
JOE: There was a really exhaustive audition process for that role. We saw him for the first time in our office in Atlanta, it was Anthony and I.
We were doing work sessions with all the actors. Spider-Man was a very important character to me as a kid. I was a big comic book collector. I still have my collection in my closet to my wife’s dismay.
And you know, that character was my favorite character growing up. So to be able to interpret him on screen was like a dream come true.
The things that I loved about him as a character when I was a kid were his vulnerability, his insecurity, his sense of humor.
But I loved that his sense of humor in the books was very self-aware. He was a smart- ass kid, but he was a kid. And we felt for our interpretation of the character, we wanted to have an actor very close in age to Peter Parker.
And Tom’s a young actor. And we also wanted to make sure that the actor had both vulnerability and confidence at the same time.
It made him accessible. But also would allow him to stand in contrast to all these other really experienced superheroes who are running around dealing with a very adult problem.
And then you insert into that a kid who’s trying to improvise his way through the situation but doesn’t really understand the stakes and couldn’t understand the stakes because he’s a kid.
And Tom Holland just embodied all of that. He brought a real authenticity. We really wanted him to feel like he was of New York today, right now and not about comic book New York.
He was a kid living in Queens who had a certain energy to him, a certain feeling that you get that happens when you do live in New York City. The kid just embodied it so well.
Q. What was your vision going into this film?
Anthony: You can’t do a movie called Captain America without thinking about the politics of it. It’s at the center of the character, who the character is from as inception.
So while there is still elements of the political thriller that carries us forward and even launches us into this movie, we always thought about this movie as a psychological thriller.
That shift was very important to us because you know the heart of this movie for us is the relationship and the conflict between Captain America, Bucky Barnes and Tony Stark.
It’s what has to play out between those three characters in the climax of the film that we are driving towards as storytellers for the whole movie. We are setting up that sort of awful reveal and that awful tension that plays out between those characters in that moment.
So that’s why we always thought of it as a psychological thriller in terms of what happens to these characters on a psychological and emotional level. And, so you know, we were thinking about movies in that vein.
One of the movies we talked about a lot was David Fincher’s Seven. We talked about Brian de Palma’s Blowout a lot.
These are movies that have had this similar trajectory where the characters are on this sort of road to something very awful, and what is going to happen to them when they get there? How are they going to react as characters? So that was the heart of the film for us this time around.
When taking stories from the comic books, and so many fans are loyal to these comic books, how are you able to translate part of that story in keeping with the comic books and then deciding to kind of go away from that?
As a diehard comic book fan I’m not interested in seeing a straight interpretation of a comic book. I already know the story, so why would I go see the movie?
Film is a very different medium then comic books. We have 2 ½ hours to tell a story, and we can only put out one of those movies once a year, every two years to move these characters forward.
So we have to make choices that are servicing the storytelling that is built up in the Marvel cinematic universe.
Watch this short clip:
Q. What was the hardest scene to shoot? The most bad-ass scene?
Anthony: That airport scene was about the biggest thing we’ve ever attempted to do. It was almost like a mini movie within the movie. It took months and months and months to prepare that sequence.
Joe: And it was 110 in Atlanta.
Anthony: We would take the temperature of the asphalt we were standing on and it was close to 125. Guys like Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman in full costumes standing out there.
Poor Paul Bettany, I remember one day where he was hanging on wires out there in full vision outfit. And he moved his arm in a way that his sleeve opened up and sweat just squirt.
The Romania sequence was really thrilling- to be in that tunnel. We love cars, we love car chases. Also, we love fighting, hand-to-hand fighting which is what we focused on in the Winter Soldier with Captain America.
So to bring him forward and have a fight with him and Bucky Barnes fighting their way out of the apartment through the stairwell; that was another thing that’s very bad ass for us.
The interesting thing about Civil War for us is the fact that we knew we were going to be doing the infinity war films.
There’s really a connection between the winter soldier, Civil War and the infinity war movies. It’s an arch and that arch is of this family. And this movie is a downbeat in this family’s existence in the avengers.
And what we thought would be most interesting heading into infinity war would be putting these characters in the most complicated position they could possibly be in to face the greatest threat that they’re ever going to face.
Can they pull together? Can they forgive each other? Will they forgive each other? Should they forgive each other? Can they ever work together again?
And so I think you’ll see some fracturing as we move forward. And it’s certainly going to carry forward. In the fracturing you will see characters, camps of characters, dealing with each other and moving forward. And certainly, Captain and Agent 13 Emily VanCamp will be part of that.
And I'm already looking forward to the next one! The Russo brothers were kind enough to take a group photo with us after the interview.
Don't miss this interview with Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch!
Visit the official CAPTAIN AMERICA website