Captain America: Civil War – Robert Downey Jr. Talks Iron Man’s Mindset

While ideological infighting is set for Captain America: Civil War, Robert Downey Jr. reveals deeper motivations for Tony Stark.

As far as next year’s Captain America: Civil War is concerned, word about the film’s status as a showcase of superhero-on-superhero violence has more than spread. While the film will loosely adapt Marvel’s post-9/11, politically charged, and brand-expansive Civil War comic book crossover, it seems that the film could anchor the rivalry between Captain America and Iron Man onto something far deeper than mere ideology.

Everything we’ve seen of Captain America: Civil War from the recent trailer seems to depict Iron Man as a cold-hearted, pragmatic antagonist of sorts, opposite of Cap’s more romantic idealism. But Robert Downey Jr. sees things differently. As the Iron Man star tells EW of Tony Stark’s mentality:

“I’m not having to patter around what I think the worldview is. I wholeheartedly agree with what he does in this. Which is, by the way, more than I could say for some of the other movies.”

With that rather provocative statement, Downey has seemingly revealed the moral ambiguity spread throughout the film’s main themes. In the film, our Avengers comrades will be devastatingly divided with the U.S. government’s initiation of a measure known as “The Accords,” a mandate for transparency and accountability aimed at Marvel’s mostly incognito costumed heroes. Likely out of guilt, it seems that Iron Man/Tony Stark will be in favor of these measures; especially considering that his attempt for automated justice and safety in Avengers: Age of Ultron resulted in unthinkable, nation-destructive implications.

However, for Captain America/Steve Rogers, his own personal beliefs about individual freedom will be magnified with the sudden awakening of his buddy, Bucky. Under the Accords, Bucky would suffer severe consequences for his previous terrorism and espionage as the Hydra-brainwashed Winter Soldier. With Steve essentially “choosing” Bucky and perceived lawlessness over his own uniqe Avengers friendship, Tony feels betrayed. Moreover, having always been the provider of all the cool tech and infrastructure of their Avengers exploits, it also leaves him feeling used. As Downey explains:

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“Alls I’m saying is ultimately he’s never been in a status position over Cap. It’s a crappy deal for Tony. It has been from the time he came out. I think he’s actually been pretty civil, all things considered. When he tries to bring lightness into the fact that he actually, at certain points, has the real upper hand; he just can’t help himself. Because it’s just been simmering for years and it’s very unrequited.”

Yet, for all of Downey’s potentially sympathetic leanings towards Tony’s plight, he does concede that the character is quite prone to severe moral myopia relating to his own personal demons (sometimes in a bottle) rooted in childhood tragedies, and loads of guilt and pressure from the world. In essence, Downey admits that Tony is, in many ways, a man-child. However, after sharing his proverbial toys, Tony seems to need something more in return: trust and support. He’ll try to get it any way he can. According to Downey:

“He’s really trying everything from great earnestness to outright manipulation, emotional manipulation to try to get Cap to just make this, to swing the vote.”

It does seem that directors Joe and Anthony Russo have taken this screenplay adapting a comic book story very much rooted contemporaneously in the early War on Terror debates and transformed it into something far more palpable from a universal perspective. The ideological component that was dominant in the comic story seems to be secondary, maybe even only incidental. Clearly, the groundwork that we’ve seen slowly laid down in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films relating to the rocky relationship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark will culminate in this explosive and potentially unforgettable series of confrontations.

We will certainly see how it all manifests when Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6, 2016.