Civil War's Writers and Directors Explain Why You Shouldn't Side With Iron Man or Captain America

Illustration for article titled Civil War's Writers and Directors Explain Why You Shouldn't Side With Iron Man or Captain America

Going into Captain America: Civil War, all the conversation was about what side were you on: Team Captain America or Team Iron Man? According to the writers and directors, walking out of the movie, that debate should not be over—because they specifically didn’t want to answer it.

“We weren’t interested in enforcing a point of view that might limit a conversation walking out of the theater,” co-director Joe Russo told io9. “We always felt from the beginning that the most compelling story we could tell is if at the end of the film, when you walked out, you were arguing with your friends and family about who was right. It was important to us to honor both points of view.”

What’s also important is how those points of view are actually the complete, 180-degree opposite of what the characters were at the beginning of their journeys. In Civil War, Iron Man is for the Sokovia Accords, a law that would put the Avengers under the control of the government. Captain America is against them and believes they should be able to operate independently.

Illustration for article titled Civil War's Writers and Directors Explain Why You Shouldn't Side With Iron Man or Captain America

“In many ways they find themselves on opposite sides of where they started,” said co-write Stephen McFeely. “Tony was the rebel. Now he’s a bit of a company man because of decisions he’s made in other movies. And Cap was, in essence, a company man, right? ‘I want to do the right thing for my country.’ And now, because of the experiences he’s gone through in these movies that that can’t always be the safest way to handle it. And hopefully, 49 and 51 percent of the people go ‘I’m with that guy.’ That was always the challenge and it’s great that we have so much to work with.”

It’s actually kind of brilliant when you think about how these characters have evolved over a dozen or so movies. In the first Iron Man, Tony Stark creates the suit because he wants to police the world himself. He’s not beholden to any rules and kind of spits in the face of authority. And yet, over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, events such as creating Ultron and flying into space have made him realize, maybe we do need to be watched over. Meanwhile, it’s the opposite for Captain America. When he came out of cryo-sleep, Cap was all about helping S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers and following orders. Now, after finding out HYDRA took over S.H.I.E.L.D, he trusts himself and his friends more than anyone else. They’re total opposites, which makes them great foils.

Illustration for article titled Civil War's Writers and Directors Explain Why You Shouldn't Side With Iron Man or Captain America

“We wanted both characters in this movie to play protagonists and antagonists alternatively at different points of the film” added co-director Anthony Russo. “And they both have very sound, emotional reasons for doing what they do in the movie. And what’s interesting is Cap the hero becomes Cap the anti-hero and Tony the anti-hero becomes a hero. We felt that that trajectory would be a complex trajectory for the audience taking into account all that’s come before it.”

Russo also believes that ambiguity was basically the crux to the entire movie. They couldn’t have done the film without it.


“It’s almost impossible for us to have done it any other way,” Anthony Russo said. “Yes, at the heart of the story it’s Captain America vs Iron Man, but these two guys, they’ve been developing now of the course of many movies and many years and played by amazing actors. How do you turn one of those guys into a villain? It’s impossible. They’re too well-rounded as characters to be villains so you have to treat them both as protagonists even though they serve as antagonists to one another.”

Illustration for article titled Civil War's Writers and Directors Explain Why You Shouldn't Side With Iron Man or Captain America

And so, even at the end of Captain America: Civil War, you may side with Iron Man or you may side with Captain America. Even the characters aren’t quite sure what’s next.

“We wanted [audiences to choose a side, but we didn’t want anyone to be right or wrong,” said co-writer Christopher Markus. “The appeal of it is no one is clearly on the side of righteousness. There’s a good argument to be made [with Iron Man] and there’s a good argument to be made [with Captain America].”


Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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Angrier Geek

I hate to say it but I am not a fan of Captain America: Civil War. Like many, I was horrified it was going to be the plot of the 3rd film, but many kept insisting that it would be that in name only, like Age of Ultron didn’t use that storyline. Unfortunately they still kept the core essence of Civil War which is that to make heroes fight, one if not both of them has to act like a complete idiot and in this case it’s the goddamn titular hero. I love Cap. He’s one of my top three superheroes (Superman and Dick Grayson are the other two), but this movie makes him not just wrong in his position but completely and utterly unreasonable. He’s flat out saying no moral authority is superior to his own which is beyond arrogant. If their goal was to make neither right nor wrong, then they failed miserably. Not to mention this is a world decision, not simply the US saying “Sign up or retire!” What’s worse is it could have completely been avoided. He could have simply been the reasonable Cap he’s always been (outside of the horrific Civil War) and signed up. Then the bomb happens with Bucky implicated. Cap is ready to go after him, but the UN tells him to stand down. They’ll handle it because there’s no intention on bringing him in alive. This doesn’t sit well with Cap and he goes off the reservation to save his friend. Boom. Same result, but he’s not an arrogant jackass this time. Unfortunately, if you still want this dumb hero fight—-and both Marvel and every fanboy who inexplicably liked that horrible book clearly do—-then Iron Man has to be the unreasonable one at the airport because the right response to him saying he was given 12 hours to bring Cap in and 24 have passed is, “I think that’s enough time to get to Siberia and get the real person behind this before he unleashes an squad of Winter Soldiers. Come with me.” The flaw in all this will never change: heroes shouldn’t and wouldn’t fight one another. The only legit reason that comes for Tony and Steve to fight is the horrible, stupid, “Everybody must be Batman” revelation of Bucky brutally murdering Howard & Maria Stark in 1991, because apparently forensic science couldn’t tell a woman was choked to death. I hated it when it was suggested in The Winter Soldier and I hate it even more now when it’s confirmed. I’m even glad now Agent Carter isn’t coming back because the brutal murder of Howard at the hands of someone he knew would cast a pall over his always entertaining appearances. Everyone does not have to be goddamn Batman! But protecting Bucky from Tony is a legit reason for them to fight and honestly should have been the source of the conflict for the whole damn film. Not a 3rd act reveal.

The difference between this and Batman v Superman is that was simply a poorly made film overall using a stupid conceit to make the heroes fight. This is mostly well-made (don’t get me started on that godawful CGI fighting used constantly for Black Panther; it’s fucking Blade circa 2002) using a stupid conceit to make the heroes fight. And like that film a supporting character (three in fact: Spider-Man & Black Panther obviously, but also Ant-Man) is more interesting than the big two trying to bludgeon each other to death.

Best part of the whole movie:

Bucky: Can you move your seat up?

Sam: No.