It might be the most difficult question a fan of superhero movies has ever faced:
Whose side are you on: Captain America or Iron Man?
Traditionally you want to choose whichever side the good guys are on, but what happens when both sides are made of good guys and they’re fighting each other? It’s an unbelievably conflicting scenario, and it’s one we’ve never seen in a superhero movie before.
That all changes when Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, as Marvel loosely adapts one of its most popular storylines from the comics – about the division between heroes over a government mandate to control how they behave -- and in the process drastically changes the Marvel cinematic universe as we know it.
Fandango visited the set of Captain America: Civil War last year, where we spoke with stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie and Chadwick Boseman, among others.
Still undecided on whose team you’re on? Below we take a deeper look at Team Captain America and answer some burning questions you have about the film. Then make sure you come back tomorrow as we switch sides and learn more about Team Iron Man.
Team Captain America
Who's on Team Cap: Those aligning themselves with Captain America all have something in common in that most of them are the newest Avengers, having officially assembled at the end of Age of Ultron. We've got Cap (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the wild card, Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who was a bad guy last time we saw him. Is he still bad? Read on!
Who they’re fighting: Team Iron, which consists of War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who sort of gets caught between the two.
Why they’re fighting: The battle in Sokovia at the end of Age of Ultron motivates high-ranking government officials like General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt, reprising his role from The Incredible Hulk) to put forth the Sokovia Accords, a set of legal documents meant to regulate enhanced individuals.
Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on opposite sides of the debate, with Cap fiercely against regulation. “Tony [Stark] has the most emotional motivation in the film -- the most human motivation,” Codirector Joe Russo says. “Cap's is philosophical.”
Let's break down Team Cap, shall we? (And check out these brand new character posters to go with each team member.)
Captain America (Chris Evans)
Where we’ve seen him: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron
What he’s up to now: “He’s still on the search for Bucky,” Evans says, referring to what transpired at the end of The Winter Soldier. “That’s the thing about these movies. You go do The Avengers, you gotta put your own plot on hiatus for a second, and then we try to pick up where we left off. A big piece of that is searching for Bucky. But at the same time, we left off [Age of Ultron] with a new team of Avengers. So they’re still trying to break in the new members. And I think it’s no secret that what happens is there’s a world around them that expects a little bit more responsibility for their actions.”
How he’s evolved: Cap hasn’t had much time to evolve as a person because he’s a guy who always seems trapped in the past. “Cap is looking, especially at the end of Cap 2, questioning his place in the world. What’s home?” Evans says. “Even though he’s always done well in conflict, I don’t know if that’s where he wants to be. And I think he’s struggling with his purpose [as he’s] forced to navigate waters with a new group of people and play the role of their leader whether he wants to or not.”
The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)
Where we’ve seen him: Captain America: The First Avenger (as Bucky Barnes), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (as The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes)
What he’s up to now: When we last left Bucky at the end of The Winter Soldier, he seemed like he was beginning to recognize that he was brainwashed and that he once had an entirely different life... in an entirely different time period. “He’s in a place where he’s not very stable or healthy in his head,” Stan says. “So he could easily go either way. He’s not gonna go back and be the guy he used to be. There’s just no way that would happen. He’s probably affected for life. “
How he’s evolved: “It’s sort of learning about how you live with who you are now,” Stan says, adding that Bucky and Cap are very similar in that they’re both “men out of time, struggling to embrace this new life.” For Bucky, much of that will come in learning how to “tame that wild beast” that’s now become a part of him.
Why Team Cap: Bucky, er, Winter Soldier is Cap’s oldest and most loyal friend, when he’s not brainwashed by the bad guys. It’s no surprise at all that he’d land on Team Captain America when (and if) he’s able to shake off some of that brainwashin’ going on.
Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)
Where we’ve seen her: Avengers: Age of Ultron
What she’s up to now: Scarlet Witch is adjusting to life without her brother, Pietro (aka Quicksilver), who died at the end of Age of Ultron. Now she’s an Avenger, forging bonds with a whole new family. “We pick up with her having started a new life, but still trying to figure out what her abilities are and if using them causes greater good or greater damage,” Olsen tells us.
How she’s evolved: Other than her costume, which now includes heels, a onesie and corset (Olsen jokes that it takes her 30 minutes to go to the bathroom), Scarlet Witch is still trying to harness her powers. “You’ll see her do some things that she didn’t get to do in the first one,” Olsen teases. “It’s not like we do a montage of her discovering her powers like in every X-Men film [Laughs]… yeah, there’s no montage. But she does have these new abilities that we pick her up with.”
Why Team Cap: She’s loyal to this group that Cap leads and that she’s been training with for about a year now, especially Hawkeye. Civil War will extend the bond that began to form between those two in Age of Ultron. “I do think in this film we try to tie together that their relationship has gotten stronger – that their friendship has gotten stronger from the last film,” Olsen says.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
Where we’ve seen him: Thor, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron
What he’s up to now: When we last left Hawkeye, he was chillin’ at his farmhouse with his family, seemingly ready to give up on the whole superhero business and be with his wife and kids. Renner tells us his character is still wrestling with that balance between raising a family and saving the world. “I think that’ll always be there for Barton,” he says. “You have real life, and then you have fight life. And that’s the character that I love now – discovering that in him makes him a very sort of accessible Avenger. That’ll always be there, I’m sure. And it certainly plays in this one.”
How he’s evolved: Renner tells us his character’s fighting style has evolved to include a staff, as well as a bow, and they’ll be some other tricks added to his repertoire, too. “They’ll probably throw in a lot of gimmicks with the tips and trick arrows, and things like that,” he says. “I love this costume the most of them all so far, too. It’s got a cool vibe to it.” He adds that his arrows will be nonlethal, though, because “we’re not trying to kill anybody.”
Why Team Cap: Hawkeye has always been loyal to Captain America, and as Renner explains he’s not as shady as some of the other heroes. “He’s not a spy like Natasha [Black Widow] – she’s a little more slippery in her decision making,” he explains. “But Barton [aka Hawkeye] is a pretty brass tacks kind of guy. Kinda get the job done so I can go home. So I don’t think it’s very difficult for him to decide.”
Falcon (Anthony Mackie)
Where we’ve seen him: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron
What he’s up to now: Falcon is now officially an Avenger, as evidenced by his inclusion with the new squad at the end of Age of Ultron and his brief cameo at Avengers HQ in Ant-Man. And he’s stoked to be an Avenger, too. “:It's really cool,” he says. “With being an Avenger there's not really a hierarchy. Everybody gets to make decisions, everybody's put in a position to save the day as opposed to standing there while one person flies in and saves the day and you're like, “Good job!” Avengers is really a team effort.
How he’s evolved: Now that he’s part of a larger team, Mackie says Falcon has finally come into his own and no one questions his being there anymore. He also has some sweet weapon upgrades (yes, Red Wing will make an appearance), thanks to Tony Stark. “We've all been Tony Stark-erized,” he jokes. “We've all had major upgrades to our costumes and stuff like that. Jeremy [Renner] still has those indispensable arrows that come out of nowhere and just rejuvenate out of his back. And Elizabeth [Olsen] still has her angry rave thing going on. We've all had upgrades.”
Why Team Cap: I mean, Falcon is Cap’s new BFF, so it’s really no surprise why he’d support his buddy’s decision making. “There's definitely a confidence and respect between the two of them,” Mackie says. “You get to see more of that. I think our relationship is more mano a mano as opposed to mano and friend. It's not so much that it's challenged, just made stronger.”
Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)
Where we've seen him: Ant-Man
What he's up to now: That remains a mystery, though we're told Ant-Man is pulled into the film through his Avengers connection, most likely through Falcon as the two met each other in Ant-Man and their reunion was teased in that film's post-credits sequence.
How he's evolved: We didn't learn much about Scott Lang's (aka Ant-Man) presence in the film, though we did spot Paul Rudd on set, readying for the big airport battle. (And don't be surprised if we see multiple versions of Ant-Man in this film, both the tiny one and the giant one.) Also, expect Rudd's version of the character to potentially shift tonally and not be the same as he was in the more comedic Ant-Man.
"We're trying to pull everybody into the tonal universe that we started there with Winter Soldier," codirector Joe Russo says. "That effects everything, like their behavior. You still have to logically make sense that this is the same character of course but we try to tailor who they are, how they behave, what happens to them, how their powers work, how we shoot them stylistically, everything we try to tailor to this version of the universe that we're offering."
The Captain America: Civil War Questions You Want Answered
Of all the Captain America storylines, why Civil War?
One of the things many of Marvel’s movies have in common is that they revolve around saving the world. With Captain America: Civil War, they wanted to pull back from saving the world and focus more on how the world is reacting to it all.
“We looked at the Marvel cinematic universe as a whole. Where have we been? What stories have we told?” producer Nate Moore tells us. “It felt like it was kind of the right time for Civil War to start to happen, because when you look at the events of Avengers, and Avengers 2, and Thor 2, and Cap 2, there are all these sort of almost world-ending experiences. We felt like we had to tell the next step in that story, which is what happened? What is the world’s reaction?”
If Captain America: The Winter Soldier was like a political thriller, then what is Civil War?
“This is the Godfather of superhero movies!” exclaims Robert Downey Jr.
It’s definitely an apt comparison, especially with how sprawling it is and how many characters are intertwined. Codirector Joe Russo also brings up The Godfather – “because that’s a sprawling film with a lot of characters that tells very intricate stories” – and says that if The Winter Soldier was a political thriller, Civil War is more like a psychological thriller.
“The movies we've been referencing a lot on this one are Se7en, weirdly,” he says. “Se7en, Fargo, just as far as we're not making comparisons in terms of quality we're just talking influences.”
Wait, so is this an Avengers movie or what?
A lot of people, including directors Joe and Anthony Russo, have given Civil War the nickname “Avengers 2.5” because of how many heroes make an appearance. And while it may look that way on paper, this is still very much a Captain America movie, especially when it comes to the film’s core conflict.
“[The film] pays off the promise of Captain America 2,” producer Nate Moore says. “So, what happens to the Winter Soldier? What happens with Cap’s relationship with the Falcon and the Winter Soldier? It lets us take the next step in Cap’s relationship with Natasha. All those big questions that we really had fun playing with in that film we get to kind of explore more here in a very Cap-centric way. It’s not an Avengers film. It’s a Cap movie. So it really is about picking up the pieces of [Winter Soldier] and being a proper trilogy.”
Does it pick up where Captain America: The Winter Soldier left off?
Since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron happened in between Civil War and Winter Soldier, the ripple effects from both will be felt in Civil War. We’ll pick up with Cap’s search for the Winter Soldier while also learning just how much of an impact the battle in Sokovia at the end of Age of Ultron had on the rest of the world.
Codirector Joe Russo says all of this culminates in something that’s “bigger than anything [Marvel Studios] has done yet.” “You can see how many people we've got out here, once you start trying to trigger arcs for everybody it becomes a very big, sprawling, epic film,” he says. “This is much, much bigger than Winter Soldier.”
Is it too big that Captain America’s own story gets lost?
No, not at all – in fact it’s one of the more personal movies Marvel has ever done, in terms of truly exploring what makes a character tick.
“Ultimately he knows he has a good heart,” Chris Evans says. “But this one, there’s no clear bad guy, and I think that’s far more parallel to the struggles we go through in our current political state. There’s logic to both sides, and where do you bend? Where’s the compromise? What’s the goal? I think Cap’s struggling because every time he has fallen in line, and has been a soldier, and has taken orders and leaned on the structure of society, it’s kinda turned on him. And I think he ultimately feels the safest hands are his own, because at least he can trust them. But again, that’s not gonna work for the masses. So it’s the first time he really doesn’t know what the right answer is.”
If there’s no clear bad guy, does that mean there won’t be some all-powerful villain to defeat, like Ultron or Loki?
Yes… and no. While there will be actual bad guys in the mix – like Crossbones, for example, played by Frank Grillo, reprising his role from The Winter Soldier – the film’s central conflict really is between these two sets of heroes on opposite sides of a fierce debate.
“You’ve seen them fight world-devouring villains like Loki and his hoard of Chitari, like Ultron and the Ultron drones,” Moore explains. “What could be more interesting than them turned in on themselves? The time has passed for the larger-than-life villain. It’s not that we won’t get back to it, because obviously there are other films on the horizon that will deal with a big mass of galactic villains. But this movie had the opportunity to really explore the interpersonal pressure of a world in which the Avengers exists. . In this case, it’s the world saying, “This is how the Avengers can be run.” Who better to push up against that kind of pressure than the guy essentially wearing an American flag?”
So the heroes are fighting each other – would they ever kill each other?
Let’s put it this way – they don’t intend to kill each other. But without spoiling anything major, we get a sense that the events in this film will create a lot of collateral damage, and it will greatly impact the future of the Marvel cinematic universe.
“There's an intensity in this film,” Joe Russo says. “We dug deep to find motivations that were extremely personal and very emotional to the characters. It's not for all characters because like any fight people take sides and some people have stronger motivations than others, and as the fight gets worse people drop out because they don’t have the stomach for it. We have a couple characters that go to the end and they go to the end pretty hard and pretty ugly.”
Will one team ultimately prevail over the other?
You’ll have to wait and see on that front, but everyone we spoke with felt that if they did their job right, audiences would leave the theater not fully sure of whose side they’re on.
“We want people walking out of this movie going, Tony's right. And half the other people going, Steve's right,” cowriter Stephen McFeely says. “That would be a dream if we got 49-51 split. Because the question is a legitimate one. Do they need oversight or not?"
Will Civil War feel like the culmination of a trilogy of Captain America movies?
It some sense, yes, since it’ll be exploring the next (and maybe final?) evolution of Cap’s relationship with Bucky, which began in The First Avenger. But because there’s this other monster on the horizon in the two-part Avengers: Inifinity War, Captain America’s story will continue on... for now.
At least that’s how Chris Evans feels when asked whether or not Civil War completes a Cap trilogy. “Probably not,” he admits. “Just given what’s gonna happen in the Avengers films. You can’t really put a stamp on it and then dive into what they’re planning on diving into.”
Tune in tomorrow for more on Team Iron Man from the set of Captain America: Civil War, in theaters May 6.