MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Captain America was originally going to die at the end of “Captain America: Civil War.”
One of the biggest areas of speculation leading into 2016’s blockbuster film, “Captain America: Civil War” was how much the film was going to parallel the Marvel comic book crossover by the same name.
Most specifically, fans were dying to know whether the ending of the film would mirror the end of “Civil War,” which ended up with Captain America losing the war against Iron Man and then being murdered while in police custody.
Obviously, the movie did not end that way. In fact, no major hero actually died in the film, although James “War Machine” Rhodes did suffer a crippling injury (at least crippling for now).
Reader Wayne H., though, wrote in with a movie legend suggestion. He heard that originally, the directors of the films, Anthony and Joe Russo, DID plan on having Captain America die at the end of the film, just like in the comic. Is that true?
I can see where Wayne got that impression, because there have been a number of stories out with that take on it, but I think ultimately the fairest way to answer this one is with a no. The issue is a BIT tricky, but in the end, no seems to be the best answer.
Specifically, here is how the Russo brothers described the situation of whether they considered killing Captain America at a screening of the film a few months back:
We did for a beat. We talk about everything. I think the thing to remember though, 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.
I think the most important part of that quote in the final line “[I]t never made its way into a realistic outline.” That certainly seems to answer the question, right? We’re not seriously going to count “Well, we thought about it” as “Cap was originally going to die in ‘Captain America: Civil War,'” are we?
This is not like having an actual script written with Cap dying, like how there was an actual written-out screenplay of “Dead Poets Society” where Robin Williams’ character dies at the end of the film. This is not even like how George Lucas had Han Solo dying in an early outline of “Return of the Jedi” before the actual screenplay was written without including his death. This is just, “We thought about it, but it never made its way into a realistic outline.”
The Russos also added at that same screening that they gave much more thought to killing other characters in the film, but even there, though, it sounds like “a superhero was originally going to die in ‘Captain America: Civil War'” would also be a stretch as a statement…
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.
Therefore, I think the fairest way to judge this one is to say that the legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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