In the wake of the debut of the first trailer for “Captain America: Civil War” last night, the film’s directors Anthony and Joe Russo spoke with Empire about the contents of the preview and the story that the film will explore.
Joe Russo says the larger issue is one of authority and having people of such immense power acting without any kind of oversight:
“You cannot have a character called Captain America without examining the politics of what that means, especially in this day and age. The heroes in this universe operate under their own auspices, not under the directive of a government, and that can cause a lot of problems. There’s a certain level of imperialism that we’re examining – what right do those that have power have to use that power, even if it’s to do good? How do you govern that kind of power?”
Joe Russo admits the 2006 comic storyline is more an inspiration for the film rather than a direct adaptation of the material as much of it isn’t relevant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point:
“We’re using the essence of what Civil War was about. The comic book isn’t applicable to the storytelling that we’ve structured up to this point, but the concept of registration, the notion that heroes need to be either monitored or controlled because their power can be scary, is applicable.”
Anthony Russo says the relationship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes allows them to explore the more personal aspects of this political issue:
“The challenge was, we’re doing the story of Civil War. Which everybody knows is nominally about superhero registration. And in a lot of ways that can be a political issue, and we didn’t want the conflict of the movie to solely exist on that level. We wanted to figure out very personal reasons why everyone’s relationship to this idea of registration is going to become complicated. That’s what the relationship between Steve and Bucky allowed us to do, to get very personal in terms of why people would lean one way or the other.
The theme of the movie is betrayal and it’s a very powerful theme. The movie’s extremely emotional. It hinges on that emotion, and on a very personal level we didn’t want the movie to become about politics and people arguing about platitudes. The third act is built around a very personal moment between these characters.”
In this version, the superhero registration act has been dubbed the Sokovia Accords in the wake of the climax of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Joe says:
“The Accords are the world jointly trying to govern the Avengers moving forward. It has to do with the effects of Ultron and Sokovia, and New York City , and Washington D.C. Examining the third acts of all the Marvel movies, we’re saying, if you could point to the collateral damage in all those incidents, could you use that against the Avengers to control them?”
Joe also spoke about the inclusion of William Hurt as General Thunderbolt Ross, saying how it not only re-incorporates the often forgotten about “The Incredible Hulk” back into the fold but also allows the exploration of what was a once simple character into something more complex:
“The job is to tie all these films together. To be able to pull from The Hulk, which may have been forgotten about a little bit, and make it relevant again within the cinematic universe, is important to us. We thought it would be interesting to take a character who had a fanatical anti-superhero point of view. Now he’s become much savvier and more political and has put himself in a position of power, not unlike a Colin Powell. He’s cornering the Avengers politically now, he’s out-manoeuvring them.”
They also discussed Tony Stark’s role in events, an ego-centric character who has reached a point in his life where he is willing to submit to an authority because he feels it’s the right thing to do. Joe says:
“When people leave the theatre, they’re going to be arguing about who was right in the movie, whether it was Tony, or whether it was Cap. Tony has a very legitimate argument in the movie that’s a very adult point of view, about culpability, about the Avengers’ responsibility to the world, and the world’s right to have some sort of control over the Avengers.
It’s a very complicated emotional arc for Tony Stark in this movie. Downey is utterly amazing in the part. I think he’s taking this character he’s been crafting for years and goes to some very risky places in the movie with the character.
Tony is a person who understands the grey as well as anybody. Cap is extremely black and white and there is a certain level of moral fibre and fortitude that a guy like Tony would perceive as being irritatingly perfect, and irritatingly obstinate. The notion of wanting to punch Cap in his perfect teeth is a way to express his frustration with Cap’s inability to conform to politics, and to compromise.”
“Captain America: Civil War” opens in cinemas May 6th 2016.