The movie is called Captain America: Civil War, and this time the title character’s opponent is Iron Man, in a battle over who has power over the superpowered.
So does that make Tony Stark the villain of this story?
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says yes — at least in the Mark Millar-scripted 2006-07 comic series that inspired it.
“Arguably in the comics, somebody is more right than the other. In the years after the Civil War comic, Stark was a bit of a villain. He had been labeled the villain,” Feige says, even if Stark had justification. “He had been doing it for the right reasons, and he’s a futurist….”
But villains always think they’re doing it for the right reason.
In the new film, opening May 6, he says screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo tried to bring balance to the superhero feud. All that #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan talk – the intention was to create a real debate.
“Certainly if you did a poll from the comics, 90 percent of people would side with Cap. And we didn’t want that. We wanted it to be…we wanted people to be torn,” Feige says. “We wanted people to walk out of the theatre and the argument to be in the parking lot. ‘No, I think Cap was right.’ ‘No, I think Iron Man was right.’”
He says that bore out in the movie’s test screenings. “We found that balance. I think in the last screening we did it was almost exactly 50/50,” Feige says. “’How many of you side, agree with Cap?’ Half the audience. ‘How many agree with Tony?’ Half the audience.”
Even one of the screenwriters found he couldn’t side with his main character. “If it wasn’t nearly 50/50 in terms of arguability, there’d be no point in doing it,” Markus says. “In some ways, I feel the comic tipped too far — because Tony just kind of lost his mind in the comic, built that space prison and all this stuff. God knows, I love Captain America. We love rebels on film, but I don’t really want superpowered people just doing whatever the hell they feel like, you know? I’m all for regulation in real life. So it’s an interesting sort of dilemma.”
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The disadvantage of being the 13th movie in a series is that a lot of similar stories have been told before. McFeely says Captain America: Civil War was a chance for a reckoning. “Part of this movie is taking account,” he says. “We recognize that in the third act of all these movies, a lot of s— happens, and a lot of property damage occurs, and undoubtedly people die, although we don’t really dwell on that.”
In Civil War, they dwell. Markus and McFeely acknowledge blockbusters and comic book films often gloss over the casualty count to avoid making the story too depressing. “Yeah, we don’t want to bum everybody out, but we want to sort of move the narrative forward and acknowledge the movies that have come before,” McFeely says.
The screenwriters even plead guilty to glossing over mass casualties in their previous Marvel movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“There’s a difference between a disaster movie or a monster movie and a hero movie because, if people are dying in a superhero movie, that on some level means the superhero isn’t doing their jobs,” Markus says. “Aliens can kill everyone and your heroes are still your heroes, but you’ve got to turn the camera away when the helicarrier crashes into the freeway in the middle of Washington, D.C. as it did in our last movie and go, ‘Did everybody just jump out of their car and run away, and Tony just paid their insurance bills, or something?’”
“’That was a close one!’” McFeely jokes, wiping his brow.
In other words, you may still like Captain America – but Iron Man’s not wrong. The good guys can cause a lot of hurt while trying to do the right thing.
“They saved a lot of people in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but they also dropped a city,” Markus says. “I mean, they didn’t do it, but they were part and parcel of it. Think they got every last farmer wandering around? No. There are dead people.”
Civil War will also show the new Avengers team, especially Scarlet Witch, making an innocent mistake – which takes a lot of innocent lives.
“It is a situation where, did the participation of the Avengers in that incident make it better or worse?” Markus says. “And it’s honestly debatable, where it’s like, ‘Okay, that’s your fault. Something bad may have happened if you weren’t here, but that… You did that.’”
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