Chris Evans on fighting RDJ and his seventh – seventh! – time bulking up to be the Cap
Given his image as an all-American hero, it might be surprising that the straitlaced Steve Rogers ends up being a bit of a loose cannon in his third solo outing Captain America: Civil War.
While Tony Stark believes superheroes need boundaries, Cap thinks they must operate outside the law or else be at the behest of a corrupt political system. “No one man should have all the power,” Evans explains to ShortList, when asked about Cap’s reasons for breaking bad.
Everything about stepping into Cap’s shoes again sounds routine to Evans, and it’s no surprise, given that he gets a few short months between finishing promo for one film before leaping back into filming for the next one. “There’s always pressure,” he concedes, when asked about regaining his carved-marble physique. “It’s seven or eight months of hitting the gym, constantly. Although,” he adds, “it’s not the worst thing in the world to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”
Evans is no stranger to keeping plots secret, either, having played Captain America since his 2008 debut film. “It’s fun to be ahead of the curve,” he says, but “my friends don’t ask. The first movie, I wanted to tell everyone all of its secrets, but as you become more involved, it gets more secretive.”
Well, ShortList likes a challenge.
Where do we find Cap at the start of Civil War?
The governments of the world feel that the Avengers can no longer act as a vigilante group – they need to answer to somebody. And they present us with a certain proposition called “The Sokovia Accords” – basically we’re going to be working under the UN’s whim. Tony [Stark] feels we need to be responsible for our actions; he feels a level of guilt about the ripple effect. In his experience, he thinks the safest hand and coolest judgement is his own, and he feels that reporting to a government is the right route.
How early on did you know you were going to beat up Robert Downey Jr? Was that a particular selling point for you?
Yeah, that was a really exciting thing. We talked about it during Ultron. I knew about the Civil War plot from the comics, and how loved it was back then, and how exciting it would be. [This story] really only works if you get Downey. My favourite scenes in this Marvel universe have always been with him, so it’s good to have a movie that’s built around it.
Having all this inner conflict among superheroes must be an exciting change…
Sure, it makes for better storytelling. In the previous movies, there’s a clear bad guy, but when there’s no villain it makes it more human. A little more relatable.
You have to change the rules if you want to keep films interesting. There’s a lot of swings and misses in the superhero world. I was part of one – Fantastic Four struggled to find the audience. There were a couple of attempts since the Superman films of the Seventies and the Batman films of the Eighties to make the genre work.
Do you find Avengers films or Captain America films harder?
The Cap films are far more demanding, which you’ll see in this one. There’s more screen time and the amount of fights you’re required to film are enormous. In Avengers, the plot is spread around. In this movie, even though we have a lot of other actors in it, the film is pretty much Steve’s point of view, so there’s more demand and responsibility when it comes to my scenes.
There are some new additions to the team in this film. Did Paul Rudd ask for any Avengers-related advice?
He was great, he’s so funny. I love Ant-Man, and he brought a lot of life to set. It was wonderful. Once we knew Downey was up for [Civil War], I had a hunch that they would be incorporating a lot of the other characters into it. He didn’t ask for any advice, though, so I didn’t want to force any on him.
Is there a scene or moment in the film that you’re most excited for people to see?
I think the introduction of the Black Panther is one of the coolest things, because they’ve already announced his standalone films. This isn’t just a one-off appearance, he’s gonna have his own universe to explore, so we’re really excited for people to see what he can do. Chadwick’s a great guy, everything about him was great.
How do you think Marvel will keep making these films bigger and more ambitious?
You haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait until the [next Avengers film] Infinity Wars – that’s when we’re really gonna start blowing people’s minds.
Captain America’s such a political symbol in the comics, it’s hard not to bring up the current state of politics in the US. What do you think of Trump?
Oh man, he’s a tricky animal, isn’t he? I personally am not a fan – I think he’s tapping into people’s fear and frustration. Some of the things he’s said in the past have been a little offensive. I can’t say I’d feel comfortable with him as commander-in-chief.
Do you think Captain America would like him?
Which character in the Marvel Universe could beat you in a fight?
I think Thor would be top. That lightning, that hammer – that could really be nasty for Cap. He’s a god – Cap would have a hard time walking away from that one.
Thor is noticeably absent in this film. Could Cap not give him a call and ask for a bit of help?
Well, he doesn’t really have a phone. I guess we’ll have to bring him into the 21st century.
What do you think people will take away from this film?
I think it’s gonna be very relatable. It’s difficult to find resolve when you’re fighting the people you love. It’s a relatable story. It’s not clear good vs bad, so hopefully it will prompt a lot of discussions. Each of our stories helps educate the other person’s point of view. Both stories are critical, but you get a sense where each of us are coming from. That’s the goal here – I don’t think anyone is close to being a clear good guy. People will walk out and have a different opinion on whose side to take.
Including your cameos across Marvel films, this is your seventh film playing Cap. Do you start to think “this might be the one where they bump me off”?
You never know! That does happen in the comic books. Cap does die, so that’s always in the back of your head. It’s been a good run. No regrets and no complaints.
Captain America: Civil War is at cinemas nationwide from 29 April. Read our interview with Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr, right here, right now.
[Image: Zade Rosenthal; Marvel]