‘Captain America: Civil War’: Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen on Their Characters’ New Lives

     March 11, 2016


One of the more interesting aspects of Captain America: Civil War is going to be why certain superheroes choose to fight for a certain side. We know that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) went into retirement following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and that Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is a New Avenger. So what brings them back together to fight on Team Cap?

Last May, a group of fellow reporters and I went to the set of Civil War and got to sit down with Renner and Olsen. During our conversation, they talked about the friendship between Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch, trick arrows and new powers, Scarlet Witch’s unique relationship with Vision, and more. Read the full interview below.

captain-america-civil-war-posterWhere do we pick up with your characters? [to Renner] At the end of Ultron, you’re chillin’ with your family, hanging at the farmhouse, and [to Olsen] you’re kind of reeling from the death of your brother. So where do we pick up with guys in Civil War?

ELIZABETH OLSEN: We leave Scarlett Witch without a home, without a family, and she ends up creating a surrogate family within the Avengers and making a decision to be a part of the team. I think a lot of that has to do with what Jeremy’s character – like his attitude towards her and the speech he gives her at the end of the film. So we pick up with her having started a new life, but still trying to figure out what her abilities are and if using them causes greater good or greater damage.

JEREMY RENNER: Marvel’s really smart about continuing the storylines of all the different movies from Ultron into this one and blah blah blah blah – it’s pretty seamless. So where we left off in Ultron is definitely picked up in Cap 3 here, pretty smoothly I think.

So are you still wrestling with the fact of do I stay with my family or do I help with the situation – is that still kind of your motivation?

RENNER: I think that’ll always be there for Barton, right? You have real life, and then you have fight life. And that’s the character that I love now – discovering that in him makes him a very sort of accessible Avenger. That’ll always be there, I’m sure. And it certainly plays in this one.

What is the bond like between you two? Pietro ultimately dies saving your life.

RENNER: Yeah, I think there’s a great connection between these two characters for sure. I mean, I don’t know if she’s coming over for dinner on the Barton ranch… [laughter]

OLSEN: … Yeah I don’t know – I could be!

RENNER: She may or may not, I dunno. Maybe with Vision…

OLSEN: Yeah, totally. I do think in this film we try to tie together that their relationship has gotten stronger – that their friendship has gotten stronger from the last film, sure.

How hard is it with the existing conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers for you guys to choose sides? [To Olsen] You’re new to this whole team, and Hawkeye’s been around for awhile, so how does that (work?) for your characters?

RENNER: I don’t know – I mean I can’t totally talk about why we divide, but… it’s interesting because we’re doing this scene today that’s sort of the pinnacle of that. Two gangs fighting against each other, ultimately knowing that… ya know, it’s like friends fighting friends. To me it’s fun, personally [laughs], but… no one wants to kill each other…

OLSEN: Just try to get from point A to point B without getting in someone’s way.

RENNER: Yeah, yeah, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye type of thing. There’s that kind of irreverence to it the humor and in the reality of what’s really going on that plays into this movie.


Image via Marvel

For Natasha, it’s hard to pick a side because she’s used to never putting her ideological foot down. For Barton, is it easier for him to make a decision or is he also torn?

RENNER: Nah he’s not a spy like Natasha – she’s a little more slippery in her decision-making, maybe. But Barton is a pretty brass tacks kind of guy. Kinda get the job done so I can go home. So I don’t think it’s very difficult for him to decide.

Scarlet Witch is part of the new Avengers now. Do we get to see how that dynamic interacts in this film?

OLSEN: Yeah… I mean we’re all on one compound together, so we are a team at this point. So there’s a lot of group scenes of us… just like conversationally and in action.

Will we actually see Scarlet Witch become friends with people?

OLSEN: Yeah well I think her relationships with people become really clear, and I think they all make tons of sense in line with Ultron as well.

I think a big relationship people are wondering about is the one between Scarlet Witch and Vision. Can you talk a little about her reaction to Vision…

OLSEN: Yeah I mean I think there’s something unique in the fact that her powers come from the same thing that powers him, and that is how we’ve made them have that kind of… that specifically in common, as opposed to it being something else that the comics kind of created, which has been pure romance. But they do have something uniquely special because of that.

Is that touched on in this film – the science behind her powers at this point?

OLSEN: Yeah, you’ll see her do some things that she didn’t get to do in the first one.

Does part of that come from working in a team dynamic as opposed to working solo?

OLSEN: I think part of that comes from time’s passed, and she’s been in an environment where training is part of the thing. It’s not like we do a montage of her discovering her powers like in every X-Men film [laughs] but yeah, there’s no montage. But she does have these new abilities that we pick her up with.


Image via Marvel

Talk a bit about having worked with Joss in this world and now working with the Russos. Obviously with Winter Soldier, it seems they’re taking a grittier approach to this world, so what’s it like for you guys to work with them?

RENNER: Yeah it feels a bit more tangible, I suppose, even though you’re in a green box for part of the time.

OLSEN: The language is easier to wrap your mouth around…

RENNER: Yeah yeah, it’s so ethereal, it’s a bit more rooted I feel like. Not that Joss ‘s wasn’t, it was just a broader stroke that Joss was doing with all the Avengers. The Russo brothers are taking this Avengers 2.5, if you will, in keeping it still a Captain America movie. It’s very sort of boots on the ground kinda thing, except for the flyers and things like that. It’s much more… I guess gritty is the word that you said. But it has a different tone. We’re not flying around in different universes – it’s a bit more earthy.

In Ultron, Scarlet Witch had a bitterness towards Stark. Has that gone away or is she still angry?

OLSEN: I think she by this point has learned that Stark’s not specifically responsible for her parents’ death — that it’s more something that has to do with him stopping… I think there’s even a reference to him stopping his selling of weapons because they cause damage.

Have either of you guys pushed for your own spin-offs?


[To Renner] On the Age of Ultron set we talked about costume with your character and equipment upgrades to. Do we see him suit up in something different maybe?

RENNER: Yeah there’s always something different. He’s still limited to what he can do – ya know, no super powers, just a high skill set. But they have a cool thing – this time I learn very quickly… um, bow. Cause in the first Avengers he had that short bow that cracks open, and then I can crack and close with a staff. So now I’m a master with a staff apparently. I have to learn that today. [laughter] So there’s that, and then there’s always things you can do with the tips. Except for this, what they call the aero tips, they’ll all be non-lethal cause again we’re not trying kill anybody, just sort of take control of the situation. They’ll probably throw in a lot of gimmicks with the tips and trick arrows, and things like that. I love this costume the most of them all so far , the one I’ve got. It’s got a cool vibe to it. Very very very cool. I like it – it’s very comfortable. I’m still hot, but it’s fantastic, I love it. And it’s got cooler colors… I like it.

OLSEN: We look unified in our costumes…

RENNER: Yeah yeah, that’s correct.

captain-america-civil-war-hawkeye-posterOn Hawkeye’s personality, will it line up more with what we see in the comic? Will we see more of his humor…

RENNER: Yeah that self-deprecating, irreverence – all that sort of Han Solo-ish, old school Indiana Jones kind of thing. That’s fun to play. I’m only here for a short amount of time, but getting a lot done. We’re having a lot of fun. That’s also what’s so great about the Russo brothers – literally they’ll have a line that’s pretty good and have a couple of alts that was good, and then we can just throw in whatever the heck we want. Joss was good with that with me too in the last one, just kind of throwing in some funny lines. I think we’re gonna have a few zingers in this one too, I hope.

What do you think characters like Black Panther and Ant-Man add to the dynamic of an ensemble movie like this?

OLSEN: It broadens the globe of Marvel. I mean they’re doing an Ant-Man film, so getting him for part of this makes sense.

RENNER: It’s like a video game, really. Everyone’s got different attributes. You look at Ant-Man and you learn more about him. And you look at Black Panether, who’s sort of like a Hawkeye or others in that he doesn’t have super powers, just a really great skillset. It’s just a great balance and mixed bag to add to the Marvel universe.

OLSEN: He has the worst costume Black Panther….

RENNER: I know that poor guy. It’s the worst of any Marvel character…

OLSEN: Yeah I thought Ant-Man was bad and then I saw him…

RENNER: Yeah Cap would complain about his cowl and it’s like dude, he’s got three on! Terrible, sweating – if it takes you 30 minutes to go to the bathroom, that’s a problem.

OLSEN: It takes me 30 minutes…

RENNER: 30 minutes! You got a mini-skirt on!

[room erupts with laughter]

OLSEN: Nah I got pants on!

RENNER: Oh, maybe that’s just a dream I had…

[more laughter]

RENNER: Maybe it’s the Hot Toys I’m thinking about. It’s the Hot Toys…

OLSEN: It’s the Hot Toys… No, there’s a Hot Toys – he was showing it to me the other day.

RENNER: Have you seen it? It’s awesome. So awesome.

captain-america-civil-war-elizabeth-olsen-scarlet-witch-1OLSEN: Yeah and so weird to look at. But yeah I have a onesie and a corset over my onesie, and a corset is a lace-up, so those always take like 10 minutes. I had to do it yesterday during the storm by myself. I learned how to take off a corset by myself yesterday.

RENNER: I’m very proud of yourself.

Is there a reason why she wears that?

OLSEN: Yeah because it gives me a waist.


RENNER: And a couple other things, too!

…Corset and heels?

OLSEN: I am in heels, but they are very comfortable. I’ve been in my stunt heels the entire time, which are incredibly comfortable. They’re short , they’re rubber – it’s easy.

RENNER: We have very few women Avengers and superheroes, but the ones we do have are amazing, and happen to be hot as well. There needs to be more of them, right?

OLSEN: Well there will be, I think. I don’t know.

What’s it like to be one of the first women to join the group and to be the first who’s truly super powered?

OLSEN: It makes my training nil. I mean I work with a choreography who makes it look more dynamic than the pre-vis, that’s for sure. Essentially it’s fun. I make a joke about it all the time on set, like I can actually do a, b and c and you’d all be dead.

RENNER: It’s kind of one of the most uninteresting things to watch live…

OLSEN: It’s not interesting to watch live?

RENNER: Well it’s kinda funny – we were laughing!

OLSEN: Oh yeah… because I can hurt myself rotating my arm fighting nothing. It does make for a great laugh.

captain-america-civil-war-scarlet-witch-posterRENNER: No but she’s a very formidable friend.

OLSEN: She’s incredibly helpful and such a great ally to have on your side, that’s for sure.

You’ve talked about some of the comics that you’d love to see on screen, and a lot of it has to do with Scarlet Witch sort of—

OLSEN: Going nuts?

Losing powers, yeah. I imagine there’s some rage after losing your brother – do we get into that?

OLSEN: I think… I don’t know what’s happening next. I don’t think they know – I think they’re writing now. I would enjoy if we can play with the illusion of what’s real and what’s manipulated through reality and things like that. I think that would be cool. It’s not in this – this is Captain America – but I think that would be cool.

And to speak to that, Ultron was so much about you getting inside people’s heads and manipulating them—

OLSEN: Yeah we move away from that just because that was so much of the Avengers. There’s no reason to do more mind control – that was like the whole film. Not the whole film, but a huge part of it.

So that’s not a weapon for her anymore?

OLSEN: No, it’s not needed at all.

Do you think that has something to do with whether people fear her because of the mind control?

RENNER: I think he’s afraid of her.

OLSEN: Yeah I think so. I think people do fear her abilities and no one’s quite really sure what they fully are because she’s not either.

For more of our Captain America: Civil War set visit coverage, click on the links below:

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