Robert Downey Jr. Talks Captain America: Civil War

'It's Steve's story; it's not Iron Man 4: Civil War'

To borrow from Paddington, the impending mayhem of Avengers: Age Of Ultron promises to leave the Marvelverse in its stickiest predicament yet. Stickier than the Loki-fuelled carnage of Avengers Assemble. Stickier than the dark conspiracies at work in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Stickier even than that time Thor tried to buy a horse in a pet shop. The aftermath of Ultron, as we all know, is Stark and Cap squaring off amid the rubble in Captain America: Civil War. When Empire caught up with Robert Downey Jr. last month – before news of Spider-Man's entry to his world broke – that film was firmly on the agenda.

So will Tony be taking the mantle of bad guy? “I wouldn’t put it that way,” Downey Jr. counters. “Ultimately it’s Steve’s story; it doesn’t say ‘Iron Man 4: Civil War’. I think that’s great too.”

We will, he stresses, see an ever-more commanding Steve Rogers move further and further from his Hydra-bashing roots. “I think Chris [Evans] has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that. I remember the comics - on the surface you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time. Now we know he’s made his peace with that. What’s the bigger issue? It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernised in their own conflict.”

Cryptic stuff. Clearly the pursuit of modern weaponry, particularly in the form of deviant A.I. Ultron, will be sending the Avengers down this rabbit hole in the first place. How Cap responds to this shattered new superhero world will take the limelight away from Stark, although potentially not for long. “The clues are in Ultron about where we might find him next,” says Downey Jr., “but what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for, quote-unquote, because he was the right-wing guy who could still do his own thing. The idea of Tony being able to march into Washington and say, ‘I’ll sign up’, wouldn’t have made sense if the political climate in the real world hadn’t shifted the way it has. It’s a little bit of things following a real world continuum in, ‘What would you do?’ You have to figure, ‘Were you to ask the question, what would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn’t imagine?’”

Head here for the full RDJ interview transcript or pick up the new issue of Empire for a bumper crop of Avengers: Ages Of Ultron coverage.