The movie Captain America: Civil War has a very dark theme underneath all those flashy superhero costumes, seamless CGI and intense fight scenes. And that was quite deliberate as directors Anthony and Joe Russo admitted that they are really going for a “psychological thriller” kind of tone.
In one of the turning points in the movie, the directors have employed what is known in effective storytelling as showing “what’s in the box?” This is when they introduce the Nazi mastermind Helmut Zemo, the archenemy of Captain America in the comics.
In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo is so confident about making Captain America and Tony Stark to do his bidding that he even outlines his evil plans in front of them, and they still can’t do anything but fight each other.
“When we get to the video at the end and we see the footage of the crash, we want that to be ‘what’s in the box?’ and have this really awful moment,” writer Stephen McFeely told Uproxx.
The movie’s directors have never denied that they count, The Godfather, Se7en and Fargo as their inspiration in making Captain America: Civil War.
Joe Russo brought up The Godfather just because of the sheer number of characters that need to be shuffled around to create a unified theme while not compromising their already rich individual storylines.
“The movies we’ve been referencing a lot on this one are Se7en, weirdly,” he said. “Se7en, Fargo, just as far as we’re not making comparisons in terms of quality we’re just talking influences.”
As to the psychological thriller angle, Anthony Russo explained to IGN, that Captain America: Winter Soldier already carried that tone, and they only continued on that trajectory in Captain America: Civil War.
Aside from the dark mood, Anthony said a superhero movie needs lots of gunfight and showdown, and that’s the reason why they also took inspiration from a lot of Spaghetti Western movies to create tension.