Civil War Film Influences

Can you talk about the challenges of the big cast for things like choreography and all the things you rehearse, especially in a movie like this? Are they all in the scene together and how does that work, practically, for you guys?

Joe Russo: You’re seeing a scene today, it’s a high character count in this scene, it’s not a very complex scene on an action level, but even a scene where you’re just talking becomes massively complex when you have a lot of characters.

Anthony Russo: And a lot of movie stars,

Joe Russo: Yeah. Because you have to shoot every one of them, they’re all special, they’re all special characters, they’re all important to the story line-

Anthony Russo: They’re all somebody’s favorite character.

Joe Russo: Exactly. Basically, this movie is only achievable with this amazing team that we’ve been working with, now over several movies. We’ve gotten an amazing shorthand with one another, we’re tuned into one another very specifically on a creative level. We have a really strong team, we’ve spent many, many months preparing. That’s really the trick, you have to … one thing I love about our process here at Marvel is we have the opportunity, with the technology and the budgets that we work with, we get to make the movie several times before we make the movie, through previews, through extensive storyboarding, through editing it all together. There’s a lot of experimentation and that is very helpful, especially when you’re dealing with such a complex number of characters, and action, etc. So basically, the way we work our way Through it is a lot, a lot of prep work.

Anthony Russo: And we’ve had the good fortune to have worked with a lot of the same collaborators on the last three films. The effects supervisor Dan Deleeuw, our editor Jeff Ford, our DP Trent Opaloch, our stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave. There is a core group of individuals that we’ve done a Vulcan mind-meld with over the last three movies that they know how we like to work, they understand the style that we like to employ. They think about the characters the same way that we think about the characters, we’re all in unison in terms of the storytelling. Having that support system has made it a lot easier with each successive movie. Certainly that airport sequence in Civil War was exceedingly difficult, but all of those people were there with us going thought it. And in this movie I think we have multiple sequences that that even more difficult and thank God that we have this great unit of really talented people.

Joe Russo: It does really feel like we are working at even another level now with these movies, which is very exciting.

Captain America: Winter Soldier behind the scenes

Can you talk a little bit about the action, because with Winter Soldier we were seeing the evolution of you guys as action directors in Civil War was another notch up. What is the action in this film going to be? Because that was more character-based.

Anthony Russo: Everything’s always got to be character based, we know we can’t, if we’re sitting in the editing room, watch the sequence for more than 20 seconds without a character having a point of view or moving the action forward, my brain just shuts down or I start thinking about my laundry. The action for us, it’s always character based-

Joe Russo: In Winter Soldier, in terms of character-based, Winter Soldier was so specifically for us, everything in that movie was designed around that version of Captain America that we wanted to see, that we wanted to explore. Everything in that film, all of the stylistic choices just flow from that. Civil War was a bit of an evolution, because even though it was a Captain America movie, we were bringing so many other characters into it, characters that had powers, that were different from the range of characters that we were using in Winter Soldier and now it’s even more so. So it’s like, as the characters change, as their particular powers change the meter of who they are-

Anthony Russo: The chemistry changes-

Joe Russo: The chemistry, the style of our action evolves with that, because again it has to be specific to character.

Anthony Russo: It’s dictated by who’s in the sequence, what is the sequence about, what do the characters want in the sequence. Are we trying to create a sense of urgency, are we trying to slow it down, is it about tension, is it about … aggression. So I think you’ll see several different styles employed in the movie, because the chemistry is different in each sequence and the needs of each sequence are different.

Despite being a follow up of the Captain America story that you guys have been working on, you’re also now on the third and fourth Avengers movies. How much do you have to look at Joss Whedon’s work and do you have to escalate that, or how do you look at this as a part of the Avengers trilogy?

Joe Russo: We look at it the way people would look at writers in comic books. People pick up different runs and they go with it, and if there are things from the mythology that you are inspired by, or you find thematic relevancy you go with that. If there are things in the mythology that you want to see differently, then you explore ways to execute it differently.

So I think of course there’s a list of movies that have preceded this, but those movies have been directed by a lot of different directors with a lot of different styles and a lot of different things to say. Anthony and I have found repeatedly that the best and only way for us to move forward is to receive that information, and keep what we like, and explore what we like, and exploit what we like, and tell the story that we want to tell, and I think the audience goes with you when you make those changes or there are things that you discard, the same way you do in a comic run when you’re reading it, you go “I want to see someone else’s point of view on that, that was an awesome point of view, I had a lot of fun with that. Now, I want to see something else.” And that’s, I think what Marvel’s done really well, bringing in a lot of different voices to execute the films.

Starsky and Hutch reboot

I understand that James Gunn is working on this film, so can you tell us a little bit, outside of Thor and Guardians stuff, what other aspects of the story is he collaborating with you guys on and what’s your experience been like?

Joe Russo: It’s been very similar. I think again it’s very much a piece of how we’ve interacted with all the voices in the MCU. Whether it be Taika or James-

Anthony Russo: Peyton or Scott. I would say collectively, everyone in the Marvel universe has been involved in this movie. We’re very close with all the directors, we love them all. We have a lot of conversations with people constantly, we have a lot of talks with Taika, because that movie isn’t finished and he had executed things on set that we needed real information, about tonally, about the direction it was going in. The two Guardians movies existed in the same world, so we had an understanding of how those characters behaved. I think James has functioned the same way that everyone has been functioning. I think it’s a nod to James, the EP credit, that he really helped create those characters. But as far as how we’re working, we’re working in a real collaborative united artists approach to the movie. In respect to hearing people’s … where people are taking their characters. Ant-Man 2 is just about to start shooting, so we need to keep in communication with Peyton constantly about story elements in that that may affect this. Coogler. Sorry, we didn’t mention him. Ryan was in the middle of shooting Black Panther and he was here and we had several conversations, met with him many times, met with the crew many times with him, his production design department, we looked at fight vids from the story. We had a lot of interaction with Nate Moore, the producer, many text messages back and forth with Ryan. It’s really just trying to do the job of managing the universe as it’s progressing.

Joe Russo: And I think here’s really where it becomes most relevant, if a movie has been completed there’s really nothing else to talk about, right? The movie exists, everything you need to know about that movie is in the movie, is on the screen. That’s the expression, that’s the story, that’s the experience that we all had of it, and that’s what you need to know to carry that story forward and those characters forward. For the movies that haven’t been completed, that’s where it gets into a tricky spot for us, because we want to make sure we’re being sensitive to what’s happening during the execution of those films, the process of discovery that they will go through in the execution that different from what was on the page in the scripts, because of course we read all the scripts. So that’s really where it becomes critical that we communicate with other people, just to understand how things are evolving while we’re executing, while they’re executing-

Anthony Russo: And what we need from their storytelling to help move us forward. I think in particular on this one that was Ryan. Because he was shooting while we were shooting, and there was a lot of cross-collaboration there. He’s done an amazing job with the level of detail that he has brought to the Wakandan universe. Incredible. You see it in the trailer, it’s mind-blowing.

Joe Russo: James and Taika, because they were both executing and finishing while we were developing-

Anthony Russo: And Peyton, who’s about to get going-

Joe Russo: Peyton’s ramping up, so yeah-

Anthony Russo: There’s story elements shared. It’s part of the fun with us!

Captain Marvel Details

I’m curious, have the directors of Captain Marvel come by?

Anthony Russo: Not yet,

Joe Russo: No, they’re newer to the-

Anthony Russo: I’m sure they’ll be by soon, but I think they’re just getting their feet wet. They’re figuring out the story that they want to tell. That’s where Marvel is, respectful, everybody gets to-

Joe Russo: Have their space-

Anthony Russo: Have their space to come up with their individual visions for what they want to do, and then there’s a point where it makes sense for us to intersect with them and talk about the storytelling. I’m assuming we’ll be meeting with them in the next month or so.

I wanted to ask about Thanos, because we’ve only seen him a couple of times and he’s sitting down and talking to people or he’s just putting on his gloves. But you guys are really bringing him to the screen where he’ll be, assumably, doing things, so if you could talk about the process of bringing that character to life, and working with Josh.

Joe Russo: Josh is an amazing actor, obviously. One of the things about Thanos that we’re most excited about is, one of the great things about these movies, the visual effects technology is always evolving. Every couple of years, you’re able to make a leap forward in some respect, and bring something to the screen on an execution that you haven’t quite seen before, that’s what’s so exciting about it. Whether it be something like skinny Steve, or whatever the case may be. As that technology evolves, we are able to bring more and more of what Josh Brolin can do as a performer into the fabric and the texture of what Thanos is in a way that we are extremely excited about, and I know that he is as an actor, our visual effects teams are pretty excited about it. That’s, I think, one thing … just figuring out, again, having such a cursory view of the character in the past, it’s almost like now we get to do the flip side of that, where you’re going to see every little vein on his face, and every little twitch that Josh does. It’s a very, very intimate portrayal and performance.

He’s now shooting Deadpool 2. Are you finished with him, is he coming back? How is that working schedule wise?

Anthony Russo: We’re sharing a lot of actors with a lot of movies.

Joe Russo: Because our production is so long, and because we have so many characters we don’t need them all the time.

Anthony Russo: If we locked everybody up for the time that we were shooting, we would shut down Hollywood.

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