In less than 48 hours, there is a good chance many of you will either be watching or be in line to watch Captain America: Civil War on the movie’s opening night. The lead up has filled plenty of people with anxiety as they are not sure how it will end, who will survive, or even what side they stand on. The latter is one of the points of emphasis writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely focused on during the early stages of forming the script.
This was not their first time working on a Marvel film, and it won’t be their last. The Hollywood Reporter was able to talk to the writing pair about what it’s like putting together a script, what characters they want to see still, and of course, Civil War. One of the biggest talking points around the film is the inclusion of both Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Speaking as someone who has seen the film, neither character is forced into the story and that was the goal Markus and McFeely wanted to achieve.
McFeely: They came around very organically. We needed a character who sat outside of the Avengers who was wronged by their actions and could take party in the festivities, if you will, and not have the same agenda to either side of the Avengers. By the same token we needed another fresh face — an ingenue — who would work with the Avengers and his ark would be something like, ‘Look I am playing on the big team!’ We needed those different perspectives on the same conflict, people who didn’t have the same angst about everything because they hadn’t shared five movies with these people.
One of the reasons they are seamlessly introduced is the film does not bother to show the origin stories for either. There may be brief bits of dialogue to explain certain aspects of the characters, but the characters do not detract from the larger story at play. They liked being able to introduce them without explaining how they got to this point.
Markus: Part of the fun of comics is in coming upon a new character or new superhero that is fully formed and then finding out where they came from. Spider-man has had five movies prior to now so it isn’t necessary to give them an origin, but it’s fun to just come in on their kid. The same thing with Panther — this is not his origin in this movie, but he has been introduced so now you can go into the mechanics of a real plot as opposed to having a half-hour where he become that guy and then having less time for plot.
I think it makes for a better movie if people are just coming in. It also makes for a more organic Universe, where previously existing things are intersecting in an interesting way.
We would not have included Spider-Man if we had to show him getting bitten by a radioactive spider. The whole movie is long enough as it is without adding that. The mantra for us was to bring in characters when the story needed them.
The previous installment in this franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, had a political heavy tone, even more so than The First Avenger. For Civil War, the political aspect is still there and it is because it is a necessity for a movie with this title.
Markus: You can’t have a character named Captain America and not get knee-deep in some form of government policy. By having that title, you are sort of beholden to talking about being American and what that means. It has almost by accident chimed into what has been going on in our daily life.
I think our political climate, while incredibly conflicted at the moment, is always incredibly conflicted. I can’t think of a certain time when we weren’t arguing. I’d be interested to see which candidates would be on Cap’s or Iron Man’s side.
The Captain America franchise is only one small part that makes up the larger MCU. This formula is being copied across Hollywood and it all started with what Marvel made. They have continued to evolve their universe and keep testing what they can do.
McFeely: The longform storytelling that they have committed to has completely influenced every study. Everyone is rushing to do this. I think other people can do it. Maybe. Marvel just did it slower and well and the filmmaking has grown and they keep aiming for better storytelling. Every day you see that someone else has decided to make a new Universe. It is a testament to Kevin Feige.
Markus: There is just so much history now that these characters are finally starting to feel like real people. It’s like the fourth or fifth season on a really good TV show. When we signed on to the first Captain America, I would have never thought this place would have become self-sustaining.
This is the fourth movie the writing duo have worked on for Marvel, which has kept them very busy. They were asked what advice they would give themselves when they began this journey, and they’d rather not do such a thing.
Markus: Oh boy…uh…. What is really weird is that there have been no breaks between [each movie] so I feel like the same person because I haven’t had the time to become anyone else.
McFeely: I wouldn’t want to tell us anything because we got hired back and I wouldn’t want to mess that up.
Next up on their plate is both parts of Avengers: Infinity War. They have been working on this for quite sometime, and it is necessary with the film going into production at the end of the year. If they thought Civil War was big, it will be nothing in comparison to Infinity War. How do they keep track of all the characters and connecting stories?
Markus: There are a lot of index cards.
McFeely: We learned with Civil War that you can have different stories that rotate around a central question. So when we have people all of the universe, relating to one central thing, it is going to cohere more than having five separate strands that you are hoping will bang into each other by accident. This is nothing new. In Star Wars there are a lot of different things happening on a lot of different planets but it all comes together.
Infinity War could be an avenue to see even more new characters introduced into the MCU. As writers, they have the ability to do just that, but if they had their dream, who would they like to see more than anyone else?
McFeely: Namor. He is kind of a jerk and has a chip on his shoulder and he is a king and lives underwater. The degree of difficulty is so high, though. Cause it could be a great movie or it could be truly terrible.
Markus: I think it would be cool to make a Marvel Zombies movie but that would require a whole other wing or, at least, another dimension.
With the combination of Markus and McFeely writing and the Russo brothers directing, we are in very good hands as Marvel closes out Phase 3 with Avengers: Infinity War. Let us know what you think of what Markus and McFeely said in the comments below!