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10 things we learnt from Captain America: Civil War's commentary

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Captain America: Civil War – truly, the Kramer vs. Kramer of superhero movies – has finally arrived on Blu-ray, and unsurprisingly comes packaged with a whole host of juicy special features (including a gag reel, where they all decide to stop fighting and have a bit of a lark about). Among the disc’s treasures is a very interesting and illuminating commentary track from the film’s directing siblings, Joe and Anthony Russo, and its two writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, offering previously untold insights and intuition into the film. Here’s ten of our favourite tidbits.

WARNING: there are spoilers for Captain America: Civil War throughout this article.

1. Zemo was originally chasing the ‘Mind Crown’

Captain America Civil War commentary

The film’s nominal villain, Zemo (Daniel Brühl), spends much of the movie searching for Hydra’s mysterious notebook which activates Bucky (Sebastian Stan) into full-blown Winter Soldier mode. But it twasn’t ever thus. “There were many drafts where they were chasing the ‘mind crown’”, explains the film’s co-writer, Christopher Markus, referring to the Hydra device which fits over Bucky's head and turns him from docile Dr Jekyll into super-assassin Mr Hyde. “Then someone just said: ‘Couldn't it just be like a notebook or something?’”

So the writers opted for a considerably lower-tech McGuffin: a notepad containing the Winter Soldier’s trigger words. Co-writer Stephen McFeely says they “picked Russian words that had some chewiness to it”, which included ‘Freight Car’, ‘Benign’, and most intriguingly of all, ‘Homecoming’. A reference to the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, perhaps?

2. Robert Downey Jr. is basically the same age as his screen mother

Captain America Civil War commentary

We first meet Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in a sort of StarkTech holodeck, in which the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist reconstructs his final encounter with his parents. Hope Davis plays baby-faced Tony’s mother, Maria; as observed on the commentary, there’s only a year separating Davis (52) and Downey Jr. (51). It’s thanks to the miracles of CGI that the filmmakers were able to restore RDJ to his youth and make this a more age-appropriate casting.

3. Jaws inspired the confrontation scene

Captain America Civil War commentary

The emotional thrust of Tony Stark’s motivations comes from this early scene, where Iron Man is confronted by a grieving mother – and according to co-director Anthony Russo, it has Spielbergian DNA in it. “This scene is inspired by Jaws – [the scene] when Brody is confronted by the mother of the little boy who is the victim of the shark attack”.

In both films, it’s a brutal guilt trip that spurns the characters on. It falls to veteran actress Alfre Woodard to deliver the crushing blow. According to Joe Russo, “It was Robert's idea to cast Alfre Woodard, because he knew how important the scene was”.

4. Vision and Wanda will have a “key relationship” in future films

Captain America Civil War commentary

Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) are seen getting cosy at Avengers HQ, and Markus hints that there’s more to come from this pair-up. “This is a key relationship in the movie,” Markus says, “and it’s going to be a key relationship moving forward”. A romantic subplot, perhaps? We can only imagine the children. (In the comics, the unlikely pair do indeed get together, and even marry.)

5. Vision’s clothes are a projection

Captain America Civil War commentary

Vision wears a rather fetching shirt-and-cardigan combo at Avengers HQ, which makes him look like the kind of purple cosmic robot ready for a business conference. According the filmmakers, it’s his attempt to “assimilate” into the real world – but you won’t be able to buy his outfit from Marks & Spencer. "Vision is always naked," explains Christopher Markus. "Everything is made from his skin. It's a projection."

6. Black Panther’s costume is entirely CGI

Captain America Civil War commentary

Chadwick Boseman made his well-received debut as T’Challa/Black Panther in Civil War. While the actor was very much in-the-flesh on set, his costume was painted over, frame-by-frame, with computer trickery. “Every frame of Black Panther is a CG outfit,” says Joe Russo. His bulletproof vibranium-weave suit has “certain luminescence to it” which could not be created by real-life materials, and would make it impractical for an actor to wear “without sweating to death,” as Russo puts it. (Plenty of stuff was in-camera, however – the stunt where Bucky grabs the motorcycle, for example, was entirely real.)

7. The other Winter Soldiers are played by the film’s stunt doubles

Captain America Civil War commentary

Late on in the film, it’s revealed that there are five other Winter Soldiers besides Bucky. If you were thinking these actors look to be in incredibly good shape, well, there’s a good reason: they’re played by the film’s own stunt doubles, in a rare occasion where the camera actually shows their faces. The doubles for Cap, Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye all make appearances – and they also choreographed the bloody action scene.

8. Tom Holland was so nervous he forgot his cue

Captain America Civil War commentary

Tom Holland’s spidey-sense failed him slightly in this sparkling introductory scene with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. According to Anthony Russo: “Tom forgot the blocking of the scene. This line about [moving] the leg is Robert, staying in character, telling him: ‘You’re supposed to move now, so I can sit on the bed.’ Not only does he use it, but he uses it in a way that’s really entertaining and fun. That’s such a dexterous and inventive move on an actor’s part.”

So, what could have been a ruined take becomes a true-to-character ad-lib, and one that adds an extra bit of colour to the scene. As Anthony Russo puts it: “You’re never gonna be a better actor than when you’re acting across from Robert Downey Jr.”

9. Yes, that’s the Arrested Development stair car at the airport

Captain America Civil War commentary

Watch out for hop-ons! Eagle-eyed Bluth fans will have already spotted it, but the commentary confirms it: that is indeed the iconic airport stair car from cult sitcom Arrested Development, rebuilt especially for the movie. The Russo brothers – who directed several episodes of the show, including the pilot – couldn’t resist the cameo. “We would have people come and visit the set, and say, ‘Is that the Bluth stair car?’”. Rumours that the stair car has signed a five-picture deal with Marvel Studios are still to be confirmed.

10. Steve Rogers is no longer an Avenger (but probably not Nomad, either)

Captain America Civil War commentary

At the film’s end, Steve Rogers drops his shield, seemingly abandoning his Captain America mantle and the Avengers, writing to Tony Stark that “the Avengers are yours”. Where this leaves the character for future Avengers movies remains to be seen, though the filmmakers teased (tongues sounding very much in cheek) the possibility of Nomad, Captain America’s brief alter-ego which boasted a rather revealing costume.

“All I can say is I cannot wait to put Chris Evans in the Nomad outfit,” chuckles Joe Russo. “There is a lot of character in that chest of Chris's.”

Captain America: Civil War is available on Blu-ray and digital download now.

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