Civil War Film Influences

After all of the Marvel films we’ve seen and what’s to come, how do you manage, as filmmakers, to keep the genre fresh?

Joe Russo: We knew very early on we wanted to deconstruct the genre. We’re fans, too. The genre is ubiquitous right now, and that three-act structure is becoming tiresome, where the hero has a personal problem in the first act, the villain gets introduced, in the second act the villain comes into conflict, and in the third act he beats the shit out of the villain. An adage that we always use at Marvel is: people can tell you they fucking love chocolate ice cream, but if you give them chocolate ice cream every day for five days, then by day five they’re going to be like, “I hate chocolate ice cream.” You have to be predictive. You have to be a futurist. You have to look ahead two years because you’re starting these movies two years before they come out, and you have to ask, “Where is storytelling going to go?” I think it’s interesting that a bunch of us have landed on deconstruction as the next step in storytelling. There’s Deadpool, Batman v Superman, and Civil War all coming out very near each other.

It’s not dissimilar to what happened to the Westerns in the 1960s in counter-culture, where it went from the guy in the white hat being the clear hero to the guy in the black hat being your anti-hero, where people are starting to doubt the system and doubt those people who supported the system.

This film does a nice job building on past relationships from Marvel movies. Looking at Civil War, are there any relationships you’re particularly looking forward to further exploring? 

Joe Russo: Certainly Scarlet Witch and Vision. I think that’s a very compelling story. It’s ripped from the comic, and there have been many years of interesting storytelling between those two characters. One character is searching for how to identify with humanity and another who is on a journey away from her humanity towards becoming a very powerful being.

Anthony Russo: I would also say Captain America and Iron Man. That’s really central. Can those guys ever repair their relationship? What is their relationship ever going to be like moving forward from this?

Joe Russo: Should they repair it?

Anthony Russo: That’s as complicated as anything. The other relationship that’s exciting to us is still Cap and Bucky. The wonderful thing about this movie that started in Winter Soldier is that Cap had a belief in him, because of who he is, that there is still a human being inside the Winter Soldier that he knows and that he can save. He’s gone through incredible lengths now, the incredible faith that’s waiting for him if he goes there. He’s found that human being inside of Bucky Barnes but it’s, like, who is that guy going forward? Just because he found him just because he’s there, this guy is still some crazy bastard hybrid of who he use to be in The First Avenger and this killing machine.

Joe Russo: It’s not really Bucky Barnes, it’s not really Winter Soldier. Who is he?

Anthony Russo: He’s somebody new now, and what kind of relationship will he and Cap have moving forward?

You’ve both called Civil War a psychological thriller. What sort of template does Infinity War follow?

Joe Russo: The template that Infinity War is following is a very different, complex template because you’ve never seen so many characters in one film. It obviously has to be a multi-perspective film. Its ambition is as large as you can possibly have in a movie and the amount of characters are larger than any movie up to this date because they are meant to be culmination films of everything that has happened in the Marvel universe up to the point when the movies come out. Yes, we’re biting off a lot. We’re just going to eat the elephant one bite at a time, but the approach with those would be something like [Robert Atlman‘s] Nashville, a clear multi-perspective, vignette storytelling where vignettes combined lead towards…

Anthony Russo: An epic adventure. We’re still fine-tuning what those movies are, so it’s hard to say totally succinctly. It does have that dimension of what Joe’s talking about married to sort of an epic adventure, an epic saga.

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Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters.

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