'Captain America 3' Almost Turned Into A Zombie Movie

Robert Downey Jr. landed a huge paycheck for Captain America: Civil War. The actor, whose contract had expired before the Captain America sequel, was reportedly paid $40 million upfront and a significant back end fee. This enormous payday, however, almost didn't happen, so directors Anthony and Joe Russo and all involved had to consider other stories to tell. What was another story that was a viable option for the filmmakers? Cap taking on zombies or, as Joe puts it, infected people that are similar to zombies.

Below, learn more about an early Captain America 3 zombie storyline.

Securing Robert Downey Jr. for Captain America: Civil War wasn't easy, as both sides, according to Variety's initial coverage of the story, had some disagreements. In the end, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige helped close the deal, but the Russo Brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely imagined other stories for Captain America 3, just in case a deal wasn't sealed.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Joe Russo said making Civil War wasn't always a sure thing:

It was not a given that we were even going to do Civil War when we were talking about the next movie after Winter Soldier. So there was a period of time when we explored possibilities for Cap stories that did not include it. We spent a few weeks doing that, although Civil War came up fairly early in the process and once that happened it took over our brains and we ran hard at it.

If the directors couldn't make Civil War, then Jack Kirby's 1976 "Madbomb" story would've been a key piece of inspiration. Anthony Russo and his brother considered the storyline for Captain America 3's third act:

There was a period where we did discuss a third act that revolved around the Madbomb from Cap mythology. It didn't have anything to do with Civil War, and if we couldn't get Downey – in the very, very early conversations before we nailed him – somebody pitched the idea of a third-act that revolved around the Madbomb, which makes people crazy. It almost like zombifies them – but not literally.

If they continued down this path, it would've been Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who set off the bomb. Cap fighting "zombies" doesn't sound as dramatic as his fight with Iron Man, but Joe Russo said a zombie battle still would've given the boy scout both an internal and physical struggle:

The notion of the Madbomb would have been Cap having to fight civilians and how he would he handle that. We were always trying to put him into these interesting moral conundrums because of his nature. That would have made a compelling third act because if civilians are the antagonists, how could he stop them without killing them.

Anthony Russo added somebody Captain America knew would've been infected by the Madbomb, forcing him to combat a friend, which probably would've made that film's stakes more personal. Who that character might've been, the directors either didn't reveal or never had time to figure out, since they quickly jumped at the opportunity to tell the famous Civil War story once a deal with Robert Downey Jr. was reached.

Captain America: Civil War is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 13th.