SINGAPORE—Anthony and Joe Russo were so meticulous about the action scenes in their film “Captain America: Civil War” that they hired other directors to help them.
After the complex combat in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the Russos wanted to take it further, recruiting Spiro Razatos, second unit director of the “Fast and Furious” films, as well as Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, directors of “John Wick.”
“So we had an all-star team of directors working on just the action scenes,” Joe told Inquirer Super at a press screening of “Civil War” in Marina Bay Sands.
The Russos knew they had an opportunity to tell a unique story. “Everyone was both a protagonist and an antagonist,” Joe said.
It’s been a long way for the brothers, best known for directing episodes of the cult TV comedy series “Community” before doing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
But shooting “Civil War” was different. “It’s literally a dream you had as a kid who collects comics, about who would win when fighting with whom, and we get to play it off on the grandest scale,” Joe told reporters.
Much of “Civil War” was informed by the Russos’ keen interest in politics. Coming from a political family, Joe said he reads about current events everyday, which wind up in the storytelling.
“This movie is about accountability,” he noted. “Who has the right to wield power? The world we’re in right now deals with very similar points of view. The movie is trying to reflect that.”
The seriousness is balanced by the wonder of the assembled Avengers, including new character Black Panther and the latest Spider-Man. Count the returning ones and you’ve got a giant-sized cast.
“Fortunately we’re working with this incredible repertoire of characters who have been built up over 10 years with ‘Civil War,’ which never would have been made as a stand-alone film. Imagine if we had to introduce all of them in one movie,” Joe said. “Impossible. It would be a seven-hour film.”
But it was still an ambitious shoot, spread over five months in the United States, Puerto Rico and Germany.
Much was asked from the cast. “Imagine trying to be in Olympic athlete shape for seven months. It’s a lot of work. I don’t think there’s a harder job in the business now than playing these superheroes,” Joe said.
The cast and crew worked well together. “It’s a gift to have a cast with such camaraderie,” Joe added. “Almost everything Paul Rudd says was improvised.”
Joe explained that 17 minutes of the massive airport sequence was shot using the cutting-edge IMAX/Arri 2D digital cameras instead of the usual anamorphic format utilized for the rest of the film.
“Civil War” is the first in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and leads into “The Avengers: Infinity War” (part one in 2018, part two in 2019), also to be directed by the Russos. Joe hinted that people who wonder about the absence of Hulk and Thor should get ready for the third Thor movie, 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Joe said he fully understands the role that “Civil War” plays in the overall scheme of things. “We’ve changed the external structure of the Marvel Universe with the dissolution of SHIELD. This movie changes the psychology of the Marvel Universe in a very significant way. The ramifications of ‘Civil War’ are not over. They’re going to carry over to Infinity War. It puts all the characters in a very complicated place. It’s probably the most important Marvel movie to date.”