When Captain America: Civil War was announced, I was worried that meant the Cap (Chris Evans)/Bucky (Sebastian Stan) plotline from The Winter Soldier would be quickly dismissed. Instead, it looks like it will be the anchor for Civil War, and while Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) will be the main antagonist, Cap and Bucky’s relationship isn’t going to be reduced to a prologue. It’s a major part of the story, which involves Captain America and Iron Man coming to blows over superhero regulation.
Last May, a group of fellow reporters and I got to visit the set of Civil War and speak with Evans and Stan. During our conversation, they talked about Bucky’s psychological state and struggling with the guilt over the things he did as the Winter Soldier, putting Steve into a new, difficult position, how both characters dealing with being “men out of time,” and more. Read the full interview below.
CHRIS EVANS: No, I’ll take all the help I can get.
We were talking to Markus & McFeeley earlier, obviously there are a lot of characters in this movie, are they still exploring Cap’s character?
EVANS: You look at the cast, and you ask how are they going to spread this story around, but they still do a good job of exploring Cap’s throughline. We left a lot off in The Winter Soldier. There’s still a lot left unresolved between [Cap and Bucky]. And I think the friction between myself and Downey, given where Marvel is gonna go in the next Avengers film, there’s a lot of ripe avenues to pursue. But I still think Cap is the anchor.
Do you think tonally, it follows from Winter Soldier?
EVANS: Completely. That’s the Russos. It doesn’t matter what would be in the script, the Russos have done a really good job. Instead of making superhero movies with grounded elements, they make grounded movies with superhero elements. The Russos keep everything in a very real environment.
How central is the relationship between your two characters in the story?
EVANS: See, this is where we tread into dangerous waters. It’s central. Any other person who has gone through what Cap is going through, I think there’d be a lot more…they’d probably bleed on people a bit more. Cap’s such a selfless guy, he kinda stuffs all that down, which is a shame because there’s a lot of good meat on the bone to chew on. In this one we get to explore that struggle a bit more. Again, I can’t say too much, but this is a huge relationship. This is a huge piece of his history, it’s a huge piece of his struggle, not just to have someone that he can connect to on a friendship level, but just the guilt that he must have. ‘I let you go. I’m sorry.’ Just the survivor’s guilt element. So there’s plenty to play with. They certainly do explore it. I’m not gonna go too far into how relevant it is to the plot though.
Sebastian, the screenwriters mentioned Bucky’s journey as someone who has to wrestle with doing 70 years of doing evil. Can you talk a bit about your character’s journey in this film and how his separation works as opposed to Cap’s just being on ice.
SEBASTIAN STAN: I think it would be similar to what [Cap] went through. Where we find the character is really where he’s at the post-credits scene at the end of Winter Soldier. So that’s where he picks up in this film. It very much is a big struggle, figuring out what his life has been about and what he’s really been up to. That’s what I think the similarity between them is. They’re men out of time, struggling to embrace this new life, and how do they do it.
Can you speak a little more as to where he’s at when we pick up with him? Is he a loner sort of drifting?
SEBASTIAN STAN: I’ll say this. Whatever notions you had about that post-credits scene where you see him in the museum and obviously he’s staring at himself, whatever ideas you got from that scene, keep thinking about those and go with your own thoughts on that.
Where is Cap when we pick up in this movie?
EVANS: He’s still on the search for Bucky. That’s the thing about these movies. You go do The Avengers, you gotta put your own plot on hiatus for a second, and then we try to pick up where we left off. A big piece of that is searching for Bucky. But at the same time, we left off The Avengers [Age of Ultron] with a new team of Avengers. So they’re still trying to break in the new members. And I think it’s no secret that what happens is there’s a world around them that expects a little bit more responsibility for their actions. The Avengers have been operating independent of any government restriction, so I think there’s plenty of people that makes nervous. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying what happens is certain governments expect a bit of a change.
STAN: That’s why it’s kinda cool, since it parallels a lot of the things we’re dealing with now. Thinking about all the recent stuff about the government being able to look into your phone, to see what you’re texting or who you’re calling.
EVANS: Don’t look into my phone. Career over.
STAN: It’s very relevant. That’s where the Russos have been great, because the movie will be relevant to things that are happening today, that you read in the news.
It’s interesting because Cap, in the first movie, he’s the great leader of World War II, he’s a great American symbol. In Winter Soldier he discovers that this organization that he’s been working for is actually corrupt and now in this movie he finds himself in a position where he’s kind of on the run from a situation where the government is trying to control and sort of regulate him. Where is he emotionally with regards to all this? Is it hard for him to make that change from being the great hero to being this guy on the run?
EVANS: Yeah, it’s tough. Because ultimately he knows he has a good heart. The problem is we all think we have good hearts, we all think we know what’s best. And this is the nature of compromise. It’s tricky to understand where to bend. I think in the past films, in [Captain America: The First Avenger] we all know Nazis are bad. In [The Winter Soldier] Hydra is no good either. But this one, there’s no clear bad guy, and I think that’s far more parallel to the struggles we got through in our current political state. There’s logic to both sides, and where do you bend? Where’s the compromise? What’s the goal? I think Cap’s struggling because every time he has fallen in line, and has been a soldier, and has taken orders and leaned on the structure of society, it’s kinda turned on him. And I think he ultimately feels the safest hands are his own, because at least he can trust them. But again, that’s not gonna work for the masses. So it’s the first time he really doesn’t know what the right answer is.
What is Cap’s perspective on Black Panther as a character and how does that come into play in the plot?
EVANS: Risky again. Real tough one. All these new characters, it’s hard to divulge anything.
How does he deal with him as a leader of Wakanda?
EVANS: I don’t know how much I can tell. I’m gonna get in trouble. I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t want to be the guy. He respects anyone who’s of logic. Any style of governing, I think he’s gonna support as long as it comes from a place of rational thought.
At the end of Age of Ultron, Cap and Tony seemed to bury the hatchet, they seemed mostly okay with each other. Is there some kind of explosive event that makes them mad at each other again?
EVANS: That’s a good way of putting it, burying the hatchet. We’ve had our growing pains as men, but I think we’ve found an understanding with one another. This isn’t a character struggle, this is just a kind of execution struggle. How things should be done. I respect Tony as a man, I’m sure he respects me as well. We just each have different emotional concerns, I suppose.
How do the rest of the Avengers feel, along with Tony, about your desire to help Bucky be redeemed after being involved with Hydra as this organization of evil.
EVANS: Oh man. There is a way to answer this question. I don’t want to keep saying I can’t. There’s a way to do this. I can do this! Nope, can’t say that. This is gonna be process of elimination. This is a tough one. They sympathize. They certainly sympathize. Cap’s done nothing but give himself to this group, so I think they understand the value of what it means to me to find him. And especially after [Jeremy] Renner’s been brainwashed, Scarlett [Johansson’s] been misled, we’ve all had our share of being taken advantage of, so I don’t think they hold him completely responsible for some of his actions.
How does Cap’s dynamic with this new Avengers differ from the previous group?
EVANS: I don’t know how much it does. He’s still trying to lead, trying be a good man. He’s got a lot of newbies. People trying to get comfortable in their own skin. I don’t know, I can’t really answer that one either. This is so dangerous.
When we met Winter Soldier, he was geared up, he was wrecking shit. Does he get a lot of good action in this film?
In Winter Soldier, there’s been hints that Bucky may have been involved with Tony Stark’s father’s untimely demise, is that something that may cause friction between yourself and Tony?
STAN: I feel like it’s pretty given if you know the comics. He’s in a place where he’s not very stable or healthy environment in his head. So he could easily go either way.
99% of your screentime in Winter Soldier, Bucky’s brainwashed. So this is probably the first time we’re gonna see this character on his own, with his own thoughts. Are you approaching the character differently? Is there more Jim Buchanan now that there’s no brainwashing?
STAN: I’m just trying to tie in to what we know in the comic books. I think it’s going to be a mix of different things. He’s not gonna go back and be the guy he used to be. There’s just no way that would happen. He’s definitely, probably affected for life. It’s sort of learning about how you live with who you are now. Learning how to tame that wild beast that is a part of you at this point.
It seems like Cap takes solace in being in conflict. Even in Winter Soldier, he just seems comfortable in conflict. Is this the first time we’re going to see him in a conflict he doesn’t know how to handle?
EVANS: I don’t know if he necessarily enjoys being in conflict. I think he handles it well because he is so selfless. He refuses to show the struggle. I think this is the one time there’s a conflict where his compass doesn’t know which way to point. I think he handles conflict well because he knows what’s right and he knows the right thing to do. Sometimes that’s hard, because it may affect certain people, and it may butt with what other people believe, but at least he knows his own mind. I think this is one of the first times he doesn’t know. And I think when you’re kind of aimless, I think that’s terrifying. Whether rooted in conflict or not, he just doesn’t know what the right move is.
In the action in Age of Ultron, there’s a lot of good combos between the Avengers, especially Thor and Cap, cool moves between them as a team. Is there anything you’re really excited about in this movie that we’re gonna see?
EVANS: I think we can talk about that. I think that’s safe. I feel comfortable with that. Yeah, when you look at the cast of characters, it’s great. These fights are not gonna be boring. We got the same stunt crew from Cap 2. I’ve loved all the stunt work we’ve done across the board, but I have a soft spot for Cap 2 stuff. Something about the action in that I thought was great. Not just by their design, but the way the Russos shot it. It just felt good, it felt grounded. I think they’re gonna outdo themselves on this one. I really do. There will be a lot of team combats.
This is a really big cast. Is there anyone in particular you were looking forward to playing off of, or is there a character you were hoping you’d get to interact with.
STAN: Vision. I really have a soft spot for Vision. I haven’t seen him on set. I have to say, Paul Rudd was pretty difficult for me to work off of.
EVANS: Did you just get in trouble?
STAN: Oh I don’t know. That could be just me walking by at the craft table.
EVANS: I’ve grown to really like my scenes with Scarlett [Johansson]. Something about that relationship, because I don’t think it drifts into a romantic place. I think it’s a place where we each just need somebody. She’s kinda been a loner for a long time and probably avoided friendships for professional purposes. And I had no friends because I was frozen. But I think in Cap 2 there was this opposites attract thing where we kinda found camaraderie, and now it’s like a really nice brother and sister bond. There’s some nice scenes in this one.
Do you feel like this movie wraps up a trilogy for the Cap movies?
EVANS: Probably not. Just given what’s gonna happen in The Avengers films. You can’t really put a stamp on it and then dive into what they’re planning on diving into.
STAN: I’m so glad you know what’s going on. Maybe we should talk a little bit more.
Anthony Mackie says that he only got a couple pages of the script when he was on the last Avengers movie. Do you get the whole script for this?
EVANS: Yeah! I don’t mean that to sound bad. I think that’s just Mackie though.
With all these new characters, is Cap trying to build something bigger with these new guys like Ant-Man or Black Panther or even Bucky?
EVANS: No I think a lot of the things that happen in terms of new characters are born out of necessity in this film, which is always the most interesting thing to me. I think on the contrary, Cap is looking, especially at the end of Cap 2, questioning his place in the world. What’s home? Like you said, he’s always been in conflict. Even though he’s always done well in conflict, I don’t know if that’s where he wants to be. And I think he’s trying to struggle with his purpose, and in this one, stuff happens and he’s force to dive back in and force to navigate waters with a new group of people and play the role of their leader whether he wants to or not.
What would Cap’s favorite Earth, Wind and Fire song be?
EVANS: That’s a good one. Is that a Mackie question? Ask Mackie what Falcon’s favorite Beatles song is.
For more of our Captain America: Civil War set visit coverage, click on the links below:
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: 115 Things to Know about Marvel’s New “Sprawling, Epic” Film
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Directors Joe & Anthony Russo on Crafting a Psychological Thriller
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: Robert Downey Jr. on the “Sokovia Accords” and Irreparable Things
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: Chadwick Boseman on Bringing Black Panther to Life
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Screenwriters Explain How This Is Not an ‘Avengers’ Movie