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Russo Brothers Reveal What ‘Civil War’ Would Have Been Like Without Iron Man


Have you ever thought about how fortunate you are to live in this dimension?

If there truly are, as some scientists believe, an infinite number of parallel Earths in existence, this is probably one of the nicer ones.

Somewhere out there is an alternate Earth where the atmosphere is made of poison gas. There’s another dimension where the Nazis won World War II, Man in the High Castle style.

Worst of all, there’s an alternate reality where Captain America: Civil War wasn’t made.

We came close to experiencing this existential horror ourselves. Back when the Russo Brothers were laying their initial plans for their follow up to The Winter Soldier, Robert Downey Jr was holding out for more money, and talks between the original cinematic Iron Man and Marvel weren’t looking good.

Now, the Russo Brothers, seemingly caught in an endless promotional interview period, have opened up about what fans might have got if Downey had stuck to his guns and Marvel hadn’t been willing to throw enormous fistfuls of cash at him.

“It was not a given that we were even going to do Civil War when we were talking about the next movie after Winter Soldier,” said Joe Russo in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “So there was a period of time when we explored possibilities for Cap stories that did not include it”.

What threat would the mighty pair of directors get to replace the indestructible Iron Man? None other than the terrifying Madbomb!


Yes, the Madbomb. That isn’t a joke, it’s the name of an actual weapon in the Marvel comics universe. If you’ve guessed that it’s a bomb that makes people go mad, give yourself a gold star.

Joe Russo went on to explain that “somebody pitched the idea of a third-act that revolved around the Madbomb, which makes people crazy. It almost like zombifies them – but not literally.”

According to Anthony Russo:

“The charm of the Madbomb is that you turn hordes of people into berserkers. That was the physical challenge that Cap and company would have had to face.”

So had Robert Downey Jr decided that he didn’t want to jump up and down in a red motion capture suit like an overexcited Santa Claus impersonator, the Russo Brothers would have given us a final showdown involving Captain America fighting the zombies from 28 Days Later. Oh joy.


So let’s all take a moment to appreciate Robert Downey Jr, and the executives at Marvel, for finding enough common ground (likely, the love of money) to settle their contract dispute.

One of the most powerful things about Civil War is the central conflict between Captain America and Iron Man, which culminates in their intense yet deeply personal one-on-one fight at the end of the film.

This kind of deep and emotional storytelling simply wouldn’t be possible if Cap was fighting rage virus zombies—not least because battling hordes of enemies is an accurate description of the finale to both Avengers films.

Considering that angry humans are less threatening than killer robots or space aliens, this would feel like something of an anticlimax.

Thank you, Robert Downey Jr, for being willing to take Marvel’s money. Thank you, Marvel, for giving money to Downey.

Were it not for this team, we’d be living in a very bleak reality indeed.

Matthew loffhagen

Matthew Loffhagen

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