Robert Downey Jr. Squares Off in ‘Captain America: Civil War’
(l-r) Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle) in MARVEL'S CAPTAIN AMERICA. ©Marvel.

(l-r) Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle) in MARVEL’S CAPTAIN AMERICA. ©Marvel.


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—What’s a family without the occasional feud? When the family happens to be a bunch of super-powered Avengers, things tend to get extremely messy when a question of relinquishing their autonomy to the world’s governments divides them into opposing sides. Some of the members group agrees its time to cede its powers to a world government authority after several skirmishes with bad guys have left a number of innocent casualties on the ground. Others balk at being governed by a bureaucracy. Not only that but who’s to say the Avengers won’t be misused by an overseeing power in the future. That, in sum, is what “Captain America: Civil War,” is about.

Supporting the side of accepting oversight is Tony Stark/Iron Man, who believes that the Avengers’ power, unchecked, can be as devastating and lethal as the evil forces they’ve been fighting. Leading the opposition is Steve Rogers/Captain America, who thinks the Avengers are doing fine on their own, without supervision. It all leads to a big superhero smackdown in this Marvel action-adventure franchise.

Co-starring alongside Downey is Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Paul Bettany as Vision and Don Cheadle as Lt. James Rhodes/War Machine. Joining the Avengers action is Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Paul Rudd, reprising his role as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. Setting the Avengers on their implosion is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), a mysterious outsider who managers to take control of Steve Rogers lifelong friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), who is still a ticking time-bomb as a Winter Soldier.

Anthony and Joe Russo direct the film, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, which in turn is based on the comic book by Mark Millar.

Robert Downey Jr., reprising his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man for the sixth time (seventh, if you include his cameo in 2008’s “Incredible Hulk”), recently spoke about the divide that sets the superheroes on a self-destructive course in this installment.

Q: When you first started reading the script, did you ever think there would be this Avengers vs. Avengers fight?

Downey: I want to say I had it all mapped out in my head. I’ve been on the whole roller coaster (of “Avengers” films) for years and years now. It’s been great. I think we’re going into our tenth year. I remembered the comic book series “Civil War” and I thought, “Man, if we could pull that off, that would be swell,” but it was never in the docket of this is going to happen Marvel movies, so no.

Q: You’ve played Tony Stark and/or Iron Man in six previous films. Were you like “not the suit again,” or is it fun to put it on?

Downey: What I realized is that there is safety, fun and relief in numbers. I’m sure Chris (Evans, Captain America) would tell you that he’s in every shot of the movie practically. I’m on the poster but whenever you put the suit on, and they’ve improved it over time, there’s that (discomfort) thing. But rather than doing that thing of really fortunate people complaining about their circumstances, I’ve come to love the suit.

Q: When you put on the suit, does it bring out the nine or ten-year-old Robert? Do you see it through a kid’s eyes?

Downey: (He laughs.) I do and now there are kids visiting the set for a bunch of different reasons. Back on “Age of Ultron” my son Exton was visiting the set and he was going bananas for all the Hawkeye stuff. He’s kind of over it now because he knows that dad is deeply invested in it so it’s a little less new to him.

Q: We know you are a great Iron Man but what makes Chris Evans a great Captain America?

Downey: I really couldn’t imagine anyone else in that role from the first outing. Also, it’s probably the highest degree of difficulty of all the superheroes in the Marvel world to get right. I think there was a certain confidence and humility you had to have going in. Chris has gotten more and more detached from his own neurosis or judgment as the years have gone by. Initially you are like, “Oh my God, the thing with the shield,” and “What if…” Then once it was so embraced by the movie-going public I think it’s also afforded him the opportunity to do a lot of other stuff like directing and all that. First of all, to look good in that helmet, they should have done a random facial pattern search. He was just the right guy for the job.

Q: Maverick businessman Tony Stark does a flip-flop in “Civil War” when he sides with the government. As an actor, how did you approach making that change seem grounded and intrinsic for the audience?

Downey: In “Iron Man 2,” I’m saying that the government can’t have the suit and it’s my private property and now (in “Civil War”) I’m saying we’ve got to sign it all over but I was looking at it as a function of age. Like the things you are so determined and passionate about in your 30’s and 40’s, when you start looking at the back nine, you are like, “Or maybe I’m entirely wrong.” You don’t really have the time and energy to stay as rigid.

Q: This movie takes you back to being a teenager in one scene. I want that camera in my life every day. Wasn’t that a great special effect?

Downey: Right, but it’s kind of like some healthy hallucinogen wearing off then, “Oh, no, the real world again.” I don’t even begin to know how they did it.

Q: We’ve seen the emotional layers of Tony Stark pulled back in these movies. How does that continue in “Civil War?”

Downey: I’m still reeling from the fact that Paul Bettany was Jarvis and now he’s Vision. There’s something (strange about that). If you stop a minute (and ask) what’s going on with Tony? Wait, did he make the guy? Look at him.

As far as the emo arc of Tony over these bunch of years, I think that anyone who sticks around for more than a minute and joins the party here, that’s where Marvel has done its smartest moves. They’ve made sure there is a real emotional impact to what’s going on.

Q: The airport scene in which the Avengers battle each other is impressive. Can you talk about doing that?

Downey: (deadpan) There’s an airport sequence in this movie? Looking forward to it.