After five films playing Marvel’s First Avenger, it should come as no surprise that Chris Evans has developed some serious insight into what it means to embody the role of Captain America, and headline a major blockbuster film.
CBR attended a recent press conference for the soon-to-debut “Captain America: Civil War” where Evans fielded questions about his experience playing the shield-wielding superhero, and his answers made it clear he’s given a good deal of thought to just who Steve Rogers is and what he means to the world — as well as his own take on his place in the continuing, 13-films-and-counting pop cultural phenomenon that is Marvel Studios‘ Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On his sense of responsibility playing the character with his name in the movie’s title:
Chris Evans: There’s pressure, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the pressure that, to be honest, the people like the [“Captain America: Civil War” directors Joe and Anthony Russo] or Marvel feel. Honestly, movies live and die based on the directors and the producers. We’ve all seen phenomenal actors and great scripts that still didn’t come to fruition in a good way.
It really goes to show that a good movie lives and dies based on the directors. You could have all the other pieces in place, but unless you have quality storytellers you may fall on your face. So yeah, there’s pressure, but not as much as [those] guys. They did it. They did the job — real well.
On representing an aspect of America on the big screen before an international audience:
That was always a concern, the name “America” — whether or not that would kind of polarize certain audiences. The truth is, what he stands for is something that’s ubiquitous across the world. What he believes in — honor and morality and values — that’s something you can find anywhere.
But in terms of who he’s been throughout the arc of his character, he’s always fought for the greater good. He’s always put the needs of the masses before his own desire, and that’s exactly what’s different in this film. Instead of kind of dedicating himself toward what others need, in this film he kind of prioritizes what he wants, which is a departure from what he’s normally allegiant to.
So again, it colors the character in a really nice way. The guy who’s this incredibly austere and moral character, it’s hard trying to find ways to make him layered and dynamic. I think in this movie, he becomes potentially selfish, where he kind of puts his own desires first. But it’s rooted in family, which I think is a through line we can all relate to.
On the surprising aspect of making high-profile Marvel films:
I was just doing an interview with [Marvel Studios President] Kevin [Feige] and the Russos, and they were just talking about how they form these stories, and form these arcs… I’ve been doing these for a long time now, and we were having an interview, and they were talking about how they’re going to a meeting.
Sometimes you think with these movies, these giant Marvel movies — 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’s 30 people in suits being like, “This is what it needs to be.”
But the truth is, it really is Joe and Anthony and Kevin and [Executive Producer] Nate [Moore] in a room, mapping out stories for so many characters, so many arcs, and they’re making them real. They’re making them actually 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… It blew my mind because I’ve been doing this for a while, and it was nuts to realize that it really does start from just a few people. The end.
On how long he thinks his tenure as Captain America might continue:
In the first couple years of your involvement in the franchise, you’re very internal. You’re scared about being the thing that’s going to cause it [to fail], you’re going to be awful, and you’re very terrified in a very ego-ic manner. But as you kind of continue on the journey, you kind of realize how amazing it is what they’re doing and what they’re accomplishing and how fortunate you are to be a part of this unbelievable inter-webbing of stories. You kind of are just so fortunate to be a part of it.
I say, “Keep going. Let’s keep going. Let’s let the wave get bigger and bigger.” It’s not stopping. It’s not like they’re making bad movies. They’re making great movies… Especially the Russos, they ground them in such an authentic way. It’s real humans, real struggles, real conflict, good cinematic storytelling with, like, a streak of superhero flavor in it. So I say, keep going. If you can keep doing it, keep doing it.
It’s amazing. It’s amazing that it’s happening. It’s unprecedented. I don’t know how you do it outside of the use of preexisting properties of the comic book world. And they’ve got a monopoly on it. They got it. They’re doing it. No one else can try and copy. You know what I mean? It’s really unbelievable to try and venture out into these uncharted waters and do it so well. It’s just really impressive.
On the effect the reemergence of Bucky/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) has had on Cap’s life:
That’s the best. It certainly adds a nice element of Steve’s struggle. It’s like when you have friends you had from high school and you try and make your friends from high school get along with your friends from college. It’s this blending of the worlds, and Steve has this part of him where it’s Bucky from his old life, and he has this new family. And this movie makes these worlds collide.
Bucky [is] the last remaining part of Steve that is a part of his old self. His memory of home, of who he is before this shield. It’s who Steve was before he had this responsibility… Bucky becomes so much more meaningful. It really becomes, 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 guy’s only looking for home, and he’s found it with his current Avengers. But Bucky’s that Achilles heel. It’s impossible pitting that against his current family, and he chooses his old family. Which is again, a little bit of a selfish thing. But that’s something he’s never done before. It’s new territory. It’s a grey area that he has. Joe uses this, and I love it. He’s a very binary guy: this or that. With Bucky, it becomes grey. I think it’s tough for him. He chooses Bucky.
“Captain America: Civil War” opens on Friday, May 6, with early showings on Thursday night.
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