Marvel Studios is often (and weirdly) criticized for not killing any of its biggest characters after thirteen films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s as if Game of Thrones has somehow convinced a certain segment of the audience that there can be no consequences without death and the feeling that no one is safe. Many believed that Captain America: Civil War was the perfect time for Marvel to finally off a main Avenger (because they’re not counting Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron), but the filmmakers do not share that sentiment.
Last night, at a “For your consideration” screening of the film, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and producer/Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were asked (again) if they thought about killing any of their main characters. The focus of the question was Captain America (Chris Evans) since the character was killed in the fallout of the Civil War comic book storyline on which the movie was loosely based. HitFix was in attendance and captured the filmmakers’ response.
Anthony Russo: We never talked about killing Cap in this one, right? no.
Joe Russo: We did for a beat. We talk about everything.
Anthony Russo: I think the thing to remember is, we do talk about every possible scenario over and over and over again for months and months and months. We talked about it. But it never made its way into a realistic outline.
Feige: Well, the ending was always more about fracturing the team completely before getting into Infinity War.
Joe Russo: We talked about lots of potential characters dying at the end of the movie. And we thought that it would undercut what is really the rich tension of the movie, which is this is Kramer vs Kramer. It’s about a divorce. If somebody dies, it would create empathy, which would change and allow for repair, and we didn’t want to do that.
Feige: In the amazing comic book story, which certainly the conceit of this movie is based on and some of the specifics — during their big battle, which has a hundred times as many characters, a character dies. And we talked about that for a while. And, ultimately, we thought what happened to Rhodey would be enough of a downer.
Anthony Russo: The tragedy is the family falls apart. Not that the family falls apart and then somebody dies.
The Russos were basically echoing the thoughts they shared in the Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray commentary. No individual Avenger died, but as a team, The Avengers were catastrophically injured in the film. It ends with three Avengers left at the compound, one of whom is struggling to walk again, and the rest of the team as international fugitives. Those are pretty significant consequences.
What is far more interesting about last night’s screening is the fact that is was a “For your consideration” event aimed at awards-giving bodies as we head into awards season. I’m not sure if Marvel has done anything quite like this before, but historically, the studio has not received as much awards recognition as its films deserve, especially from the Academy.
To date, Marvel Studios has received seven Academy Award nominations (but no wins), five of which have been for Best Visual Effects (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Marvel’s The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy). The other two were for Best Sound Editing (Iron Man) and Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Guardians of the Galaxy). Those nominations are not to be dismissed, as they highlight the outstanding work by all of the people within those departments on all of those movies. Still, it’s hard not to wonder if Marvel Studios will ever have a film that receives more widespread awards consideration.
Captain America: Civil War certainly deserves an awards campaign. It remains one of the best-reviewed films of the year and is recognized by many as one of Marvel’s best movies, if not the studio’s very best. It has to be one of the favorites in the Visual Effects category, but until we see how the rest of the year goes, I’m not ruling anything else out. Robert Downey, Jr. gave his best performance as Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War, so it would not surprise me if he became the third actor, after Al Pacino (Dick Tracy) and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), to pick up a Best Supporting Actor nomination while starring in a superhero film.
And of course, awards and nominations are not the only means by which we can measure the quality and impact of a film. Marvel Studios and Captain America: Civil War do not need any validation or acclaim beyond what they’ve already received. It’s just nice to see the hard work and outstanding results be recognized.
What do you think about Marvel Studios keeping its main players alive in the MCU? What recognition do you hope Captain America: Civil War will receive? Let me know in the comments!