Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2016 by Ethan Anderton
On June 10th, 2015, in the sweltering heat of Atlanta, Georgia, I found myself on the set of Captain America: Civil War, the third installment in the patriotic superhero’s Marvel Studios franchise that began with Captain America: The First Avenger and continued with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In the middle of nowhere lies Pinewood Studios, and this is where we spent half the day conducting interviews with stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and franchise newcomer Chadwick Boseman, not to mention writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, executive producer Nate Moore and directors Anthony & Joe Russo. All of those will be coming to you today and tomorrow, but first we want to talk about what we saw on set, because that’s what you’re going to see in theaters in May.
Outside on the studio lot, three massive green screen walls have been constructed to surround a set made to look like an airport tarmac. The only real objects on the set, besides the Marvel heroes who would be fighting shortly, is a fuel tank (that may end up exploding at some point) and some vehicles that say “Flughafen Leipzig-Halle,” which dictates that this is the Leipzig-Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany. And this is where the Civil War begins. We are about the witness the beginning of the first fight between Team Captain America and Team Iron Man
After the jump, find out what we observed on the set of Captain America: Civil War, and how Marvel dealt with plenty of questions about Spider-Man entering the Marvel cinematic universe. All this and more can be found in our Captain America Civil War set report. And in case you haven’t realized it already, beware of spoilers after the jump!
First of all, let me say this is the first time I’ve been on a Marvel Studios film set, and the experience is rather surreal to say the least. It’s one thing to see Captain America and the other heroes of the cinematic universe on the big screen in a completed feature film. It’s another to see them right in front of you fighting each other. No matter how clichéd it sounds, it really is a dream come true to see the superheroes you grew up on existing in a tangible form right in front of you, especially in a story arc you never thought could be manifested on the big screen.
But at the same time, it’s also amusing to see things like Jeremy Renner, suited up as Hawkeye, jumping around and yelling things like “Let’s do this!” to get everyone excited. Before the first scene we watch, Anthony Mackie can also be seen doing some push-ups in full Falcon gear to get himself jacked for the scene too. And before they’re at each other’s throats (literally), Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner have a nice hug. Like I said, it’s surreal to be on set while all this is happening.
The Scene: The Civil War Begins… in IMAX
Here on the tarmac of the Leipzig-Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany is where the Civil War begins. But at the time we’re on set, we have not been told why the fight begins here.
The first scene we observe is rather exciting because it shows one-half of the hero line-up walking in an intimidating line and then breaking into a full sprint towards their opponents. This side includes Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Winter Soldier a.k.a. Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). This is Team Cap.
We now know how the teams play out thanks to details that have surfaced since I was on set, but at the time we had to determine ourselves that the other side has Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Vision (Paul Bettany). As of now, it doesn’t seem like Spider-Man is part of this fight, but he could end up coming into play later, maybe to even the playing field and make it a six-on-six fight. We’ll get to how Marvel was dealing with Spider-Man inquiries on this particular day a bit later in this report.
During this first scene, Scarlet Witch stops running and veers off from the rest of the team. It’s not clear if this was just so Elizabeth Olsen didn’t have to run the full length of the tarmac in her stunt heels (yes, those are real), but I imagine it’s because she’s going to use her her powers to levitate during the fight. The directors indicated we will see her use those powers in this movie, and that’s something that has since been confirmed in promotional art and a couple shots in trailers.
Joe Russo is on set and describes the shooting we’ve been watching:
We’re referring to this sequence as the Splash Panel or the double panel. If you’re a comic book fan you know that any epic book you would open it up, as a kid I would just go through and look at who was fighting who. I’d stand there in the store for 15 minutes until the guy told me to buy the book or get out. You’d just study it and so this sequence is our live action splash panel or double panel. It’s a big epic sequence.
And this sequence is certainly going to be big, because it will be shot entirely in IMAX on a new camera that is being used for the first on this film, sort of as a tease to The Avengers: Infinity War being shot entirely on this camera. Joe explained:
This whole sequence is in IMAX, it’s about a 15 minute sequence. It’s the only one that we’re doing on the camera. The camera literally just rolled off the press like a week before we started using it. It’s an IMAX 65, so it’s the Ares 65. It’s a joint camera between Ares and IMAX. We’re going to shoot all of Infinity War on those cameras.
And the sequence needs to be big, because while we were on set, a sheet of storyboard and pre-visualization shots was seen before it was taken away. A brief glimpse only offered one cool detail as it was confirmed that Ant-Man will become Giant Man at some point.
We can’t be sure, but it seemed like Paul Rudd was shooting some Giant Man sequences in a small green screen set with an elevated platform off to the side of the airport tarmac set. This was happening while his stunt double was running alongside the rest of Team Cap in the earlier scene. Considering the fact that a LEGO set on shelves now has a Giant Man not-so-minifigure in the airport action sequence, this should come as no surprise to those following. Otherwise, Ant-Man’s armor is only slightly different, with some metallic elements added to give it a bit of shine and a sleeker helmet.
On the next page, find out what it’s like to watch superheroes collide, and find out what Anthony & Joe Russo, producer Nate Moore and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have to say about having these superheroes fight hard without killing each other but still making it exciting.