By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Chris Evans reprises his role as a star-spangled superhero in Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.” The latest installment in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise finds Cap and his fellow Avengers (Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany’s Vision, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Don Cheadle’s War Machine and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon) taking sides on the issue of whether superheroes should be restricted to serving under the control of the world’s governments.
In 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans) found out his fellow former serviceman James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) had, like Cap, survived World War II with his youth miraculously intact. Unfortunately, Bucky was turned into a mind-controlled and memory-impaired assassin known as The Winter Soldier. In the new movie, the still-on-the-run Bucky is blamed for a terrorist incident. Captain America and others pursue him, Iron Man and others pursue Cap, and all of their futures are at stake.
Tony Stark/Iron Man is guilted into wanting to cede the group’s autonomy when confronted with information about casualties that have resulted during previous world-saving exploits. Captain America opposes the idea of heroes giving up their independence to choose where they can do good. “Civil War” introduces a few new characters, notably Spider-Man/Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland (“The Impossible”) and the villainous Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl, “Inglourious Basterds”). The action-packed superhero fight fest is helmed by returning “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” directors Anthony and Joe Russo and scripted by that film’s screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Boston native Evans spoke at a press conference about the latest adventures of his Cap character and the ideological divide that brings him and his “team” to blows with Iron Man and his crew.
Q: Everyone in the film is so represented and balanced, yet do you feel a bigger responsibility when the first two words of the title are “Captain America?”
Evans: There’s pressure but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the pressure that people like the Russos and Marvel feel. Movies live and die based on directors and the producers. We’ve all seen phenomenal actors and great scripts that still didn’t come to fruition in a good way.
You could have all the other pieces in place but unless you have quality storytellers, you may fall on your face. So they did it. They did the job real well.
Q: This is the fifth time you’ve donned the Captain America suit. How did you feel when you stepped into it this time?
Evans: A lot more comfortable. The first few times you’re terrified and you want to make sure you pay the character the respect it deserves. Now I feel a little bit more comfortable doing it. It’s exciting and it feels like home now.
Q: Cap goes on a different moral journey in this film. How did it feel as an actor to explore Captain America further?
Evans: It was great. He’s a very binary guy. It’s this or that. He’s black and white and this is the first time it’s kind of been an uncertain decision in terms of what the right move is and it’s self-serving so it was fun to see him have a struggle that wasn’t so clear.
Q: How does the relationship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes play out in this story?
Evans: It’s very relevant. It’s a very personal struggle for Steve. Steve always tries to take his emotions out of the equation. He tries to think of the greater good. And, when it comes to Bucky, it’s a very personal situation so it’s easy to become human and to let your emotions fog and cloud your judgment. Bucky represents something from his past that no one else can match. I don’t care how strong his bonds are with his current family, Bucky is his original family and that can take precedence.
Q: You filmed movies where the Avengers are united so what was it like to film the battle scene where you’re going against each other?
Evans: Filming a movie where The Avengers are crumbling from within is, it’s strange but exciting because you know that the stakes are going to be higher than they ever could have been prior. It’s far more akin to struggles in life. Anyone can agree that a fight you have with your enemy is nowhere near as a fight you have with a family member. When it’s someone you simultaneously hate and love, it just makes it that much more complex.
Q: Who do you wish were on Team Cap that isn’t?
Evans: Hulk would be nice. He would just bat clean up and just take care of this whole mess.
Q: Was there any friendly rivalry between Team Cap and Team Iron Man off screen?
Evans: I don’t think so. We’re all so close and we’ve done multiple movies together now. It’s funny to even come to set and remember “Oh yeah. We’re not on the same team. Do I fight you tomorrow?” We’re used to making these movies together as a unit and doing press together as a unit, it was strange to come to work and remember “Oh yeah, we’re on opposing sides tomorrow.”
Q: You guys slam on each other so much. Were there any stunt mishaps this time?
Evans: There’s some tricky stuff. A lot of these characters are physical fighters. Iron Man, Vision and guys like Thor they are all CGI-based combat characters but Black Panther, Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, myself, these are characters that fight with hand-to-hand combat so when you have these giant running scenes, you need to hit and collide. I saw a few stuntmen take a few nasty tumbles, really hitting the ground hard.
Q: Was Joe or Anthony Russo more like to discuss specifics with you while shooting this in Georgia?
Evans: They speak differently to different actors. They understand that you’re going to have a different audience. You can see that they address people in a different way.
Q: What character would you like to challenge to a battle?
Evans: I’d probably want to aim low. You don’t want to fight Vision because he’s going to destroy you. If I wanted to survive, I’d take on Black Widow because she’s human. But from my character’s standpoint it would probably Iron Man because our characters obviously have the most friction.
Q: One of the big set pieces involves the Avengers characters battling it out at an evacuated airport. How was it shooting that sequence where you’re fighting some of your fellow Avengers?
Evans: It was great. It was hot. We were in Atlanta in August so I think everyone was toasty. There are only a couple of scenes or shots where everyone is together. You’re getting it in bits pieces. So there is a lot of waiting around but you really have a confidence that it’s going to be something special. You can see Anthony’s and Joe’s faces. These guys are so excited when these moments work. It’s a meticulous process because it’s such a grand scheme so on the day it’s not as cool and romantic as you think it would be but there’s an energy on set and excitement that keeps you invested knowing that it’s going to be something epic. But it was hot. I’ll say that.
Q: Actors always fill in the gaps in the backstory in their head of stuff that conforms the character that isn’t in the script and that we never see. What is something that you know about your character that we don’t know?
Evans: As an actor, there are some things you want to share and certain things you don’t. To some degree, it’s almost nice having certain parts of the character that are intimate. And ultimately, (the Russos) do a good job of flushing out the tones that they want you to see better than we ever could.
Sometimes when you think with these movies, these giant Marvel movies or any big movie where you think there’s a thousand cooks in the kitchen, you assume there’s some sort of formula, some algorithm that kicks in and there are 30 people in suits saying, “This is what it needs to be.” But the truth is, it is really Joe and Anthony and Kevin and Nate (Moore, an executive producer) in a room mapping out stories for so many characters. They are making them real. They are making them actual fleshed out arcs and conflicts that are worthy of a film. All the explosions in the world aren’t going to make you care. It’s nuts to think that it really comes from a few people’s brains.
Q: One of my most touching moments in this film is when Steve has to say goodbye to a dying Peggy. And then there also is the joy when he kisses Sharon Carter (played by Emily VanCamp) for the first time. Could you talk about the range of emotions Steve has in this film?
Evans: Oh sure, yeah, I get to make out. (He laughs.) The loss of Peggy certainly makes Bucky the last remaining part of Steve that is a part of his old life, his memory of home, of who he was before (he became Captain America). It’s just who Steve was before he had this responsibility. When he loses Peggy, Bucky becomes so much more meaningful (to him). That’s what motivates Steve to become selfish. You’ve got the most selfless guy in comic books all of a sudden saying I care a little bit more about my relationship than what it means to you guys (the Avengers).
Bucky is his Achilles heel, and it’s impossible pitting that against his current family. So he chooses his old family, which is, again, a little bit of a selfish thing. But that’s something he’s never done before and it’s new territory. It’s a gray area that he has. Steve’s usually a very binary guy. It’s this or that (with him). But with Bucky, it becomes gray. It’s tough for him, and he chooses Bucky.
Q: After this film, fans are going to be clamoring for “Captain America 4,”and maybe a War Machine movie. How do you deal with that pleasant problem?
Evans: I’ve been doing this for a while now and it really is nice to kind of step back. In the first couple years of your involvement in a franchise, you’re very internal. You’re very scared about being the thing that’s going to cause it, you’re going to be awful and you’re very terrified in a very ego-like manner but, as you continue on the journey, you kind of realize how amazing it is what they are doing, and what they are accomplishing and how fortunate you are to be a part of this unbelievable interweaving of stories.
You kind of are just so fortunate to be a part of it and I say keep going. Let’s keep going. Let the wave get bigger and bigger because it’s not stopping. It’s not like they’re making bad movies. They’re making great movies. And if you want to keep putting them in this superhero box, you can but the fact is they’re still good movies. The Russos ground (the films) in such an authentic way. They’re all about real humans, real struggles and real conflict. It’s good cinematic storytelling with a streak of superhero flavor in it. So I say keep going.