Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Over the years I've had the great privilege of visiting the sets of the majority of Marvel Studios films, going back to a solo pre-production jaunt over to the offices of the very first Iron Man.
Things have changed a little bit since that visit, when an excited Jon Favreau happily showed me a ton of Adi Granov's suit designs and talked openly about how he was updating Tony Stark's origin story. That visit felt loose. As Favreau underlined back then, they were taking on a character with little fan expectation. Not so much anymore.
Now the weight of all fandom is on the shoulders of the maker of any MCU film. Movie by movie, character by character, they've built themselves up into an industry leading powerhouse. Gone are the days of casual “What the hell, why not tell you everything?” interviews, but that's to be expected.
Over the years I've personally seen the company grow and the productions get bigger and bigger. And you want to know something? It's still exciting to visit a Marvel set. There's always something different about those productions, a mischievous glint in the eyes of the producers, an air of mystery and a sense that anything could be behind those big soundstage doors.
The big trick these days is getting some information that's useful when the embargo lifts on these reports. A goodly amount of set visit time is spent doing round table interviews with the ever-expanding casts and everybody is so cautious about spoilers that our interviews are usually outdated by the time we can actually share them.
The Civil War visit was a little different. There's still one aspect we're embargoed on, an interview where some stuff about a certain web-head was discussed, much to the shock of the on-set publicist. I have a feeling I won't be able to talk about that stuff until we can all go buy a ticket to the movie.
However, there is some news to come out of this particular set visit that came courtesy of a big board that had a bunch of storyboards pasted on it. Before it was quickly removed from our line of sight I spotted something pretty interesting.
Some cool action stuff was going on, including Vision using his head beam and a close up of Crossbones. I'd expected some things like that, but what I didn't expect was to see was Giant-Man and that's certainly what was on that storyboard.
Yep, Ant-Man doesn't just shrink anymore, he also makes himself super big. I have no idea what the context is other than some kind of fight where a giant sized Paul Rudd (in what appeared to be his regular Ant-Man costume) punches something.
Scott Lang also appears to be Team Cap as well, at least in the bit of filming I saw, which covers the trailer moment of Team Cap and Team Iron Man running at each other on the tarmac of an airport (I believe it's an airport in Germany if my memory isn't failing me). Ant-Man (human size) was definitely running with Cap's team.
We didn't fly all the way to Germany, sadly. They shot this scene out in the backlot at the new Pinewood outside of Atlanta and it was ridiculously hot. I felt really bad for all the actors (and their stunt doubles) because it was baking and they had to run down the road over and over and over again.
Gotta say, it was a bit of a goosebump moment watching Team Cap (consisting of Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Ant-Man) all lined up in a row slowly start running towards camera, gathering speed until they're in a full charge. They were all in character, doing in-character superhero stuff as they cranked up, like Jeremy Renner pulling arrows from his quiver.
Both Cap and Ant-Man were in full costume. Paul Rudd was there that day, but at a splinter unit, so it was his poor stunt double running in the Atlanta summer heat. I overheard someone at the splinter unit over a walkie ask if “we're going to be in a Giant-Man angle?” so I think it's safe to assume big ass Paul Rudd will be in this scene since the splinter unit was filming about 30 feet away from where we were watching Team Cap haul ass.
We didn't get to see the reverse angle on Team Iron Man, but we did witness some fighting between the heroes, most notably Black Widow tussling with Hawkeye and Bucky fighting with Black Panther.
The Russos told us later that day was the very first time they filmed Black Panther in costume and boy was it cool to see him in action.
You know what he looks like now, so I won't describe the costume, but I will say it's awesome-looking in person. They brought the stunt guy over in-between takes so we could get a close look at it. The helmet in particular was impressive up close. Hard shelled and just sleek as hell.
The fight between Black Widow and Hawkeye was rehearsed by the stunt team for a while before Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner stepped in to do their part. It wasn't exactly a cut-throat fight from what I could tell, but it was pretty full-on. Widow was using what looked like those extendable riot batons things (one in each fist) and Hawkeye was using his bow to block and strike back.
At one point Hawkeye has Widow pinned to the ground, but that doesn't last too long. In a very Black Widow move her legs shot up, hooked around his neck and flipped him over.
I'm pretty sure in the framing of this fight you could see Winter Soldier and Black Panther fighting in the background. If not, then the stunt guys were working for no reason! The fight seemed pretty weighted in Panther's favor. All of it I saw had Bucky on the defensive, using his metal arm to block the vibranium-tipped slashes from Black Panther. Bucky did get in a good chest punch, using both arms in unison like he was trying to restart Panther's heart.
Panther didn't just use his claws, though. He was also throwing precise, quick kicks. His fighting style was much different than what we're used to in the MCU so far, which is really exciting.
What's funny is that despite Scarlett Johannson and Jeremy Renner being A-list stars, most of the visiting movie writer types (myself included) wandered away from that part of the shoot so we could get a better angle on the Black Panther fight. Sorry, ScarJo, but we've never seen Black Panther in action before!
A lot of time on-set interviews are pretty boring, but not so much on this visit. Instead of just pulling a few quotes from them I'm actually going to run almost all of them in their entirety. They're either fun, enlightening or crazy entertaining. Anthony Mackie's interview in particular is amazing. Promise me you'll check it out!
Mackie's interview is funny as hell, but my favorite chat of the day was probably our conversation with the Russo Brothers. I've talked to them a couple times before and they're always crazy sharp. Smart, insightful and thoughtful, but never without a sense of humor. They take this shit seriously, but you can see them get excited about their work when discussing it, which is infectious. At least to us when we're talking to them. I assume that translates a little to you guys, as well.
I'll post the full interview with them, but I do want to run through a few things they talked about before wrapping up the set report part of this coverage.
First off, the sequence we saw shot this day was shot on the Alexa 65, which was is Ari's IMAX camera. They said it was part of a 15 minute sequence that will be shot with that camera. Joe Russo specifically said that he viewed what we watched today as a “Splash panel” sequence, referencing those great, big single or sometimes double page action moments in comics where it's not a series of comic panels, but one big piece of art showing the action. It makes sense they're going with the higher resolution (and sometimes different aspect ratio'd) cameras for this scene.
What's interesting, though, is they said the whole of Avengers: Infinity War (presumably both parts) will be shot exclusively on those Alexa 65s. If they view the Alexa 65 as giving them the ability to make a cinematic equivalent of a Splash Page, then it sounds like they're looking at the whole of Infinity War as one giant Splash Page.
Another thing of note was when they discussed the writing process it wasn't the writing by committee feeling that I think most people assume Marvel movies are done like these days. That could very well be the norm, but it sounds like Marvel treats the Russos a little differently because they talked about spending a year and a half on this script.
Specifically they said they beat their story up constantly, making sure that every character motivation was real and not movie-real, which was quite the task when you have a movie with as many characters as this one does.
They also referenced movies like Fargo, Rumble Fish, Se7en and The Godfather (as well as a shout out to Brian De Palma movies in general) as influences on this one, either in tone or in execution.
If Winter Soldier was a political thriller, they view Civil War as a psychological thriller.
The full interview has many more tidbits and will run tomorrow along with all of the Team Iron Man chats, including Robert Downey Jr, Chadwick Boseman and producer Nate Moore and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Today's no slouch, either. Before the sun sets you'll have this wordy piece of geekiness as well as interviews with Anthony Mackie, Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen.
In other words, hold on to you butts. So much Marvel geekitude coming out you in the next 48 hours. I think you guys won't mind the over-indulgence in comic book movie goodness, though. Just a feeling I have.
Hope you guys enjoyed the peek behind the curtain at Civil War. More to come shortly! Do. Not. Miss. The. Anthony. Mackie. Interview. I promise you it'll be your favorite thing you read today.