Back in 2014, Marvel held a big event in Los Angeles to announce their upcoming slate of films. Marvel President Kevin Feige took the stage and announced the new Captain America movie would be called…Captain America: The Serpent Society? After much confusion (and even a fake logo!), Feige eventually let everyone in on the joke, bringing out Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans to announce Captain America: Civil War. But it turns out there was some truth to that gag. According to the writers of Civil War, Civil War wasn’t always Civil War.

Over the weekend we spoke to Captain America: Civil War star Emily VanCamp who said that after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released, she was getting word from Marvel about the plot of third Captain America movie, a movie that never happened. We followed up with the writers of Civil War, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, to get the lowdown on this abandoned storyline and how exactly it came to be one of the biggest superhero movies of all time.

Markus clarifies that while this version was the one they were originally mapping out when they were first hired, they never actually got around to writing it. “It never got to draft. We started out working on a Captain America 3 and what would that be, picking up the thread that had been left behind by Winter Soldier. So it was Bucky, it was Steve and the ramifications of digging deeper into that relationship.”

It seems very much like more of a direct sequel to The Winter Soldier that would’ve served as a standalone tale focusing on Cap and Falcon and their search for Bucky. But, Markus says that as they working on their movie, Feige came into their office and just said two words: “Civil War”.

McFeely laughs about it now saying, “Well, that’s a problem. An expensive problem.” Added Markus, “You know that means Robert [Downey, Jr.], right?” Feige, unfazed, asked them to start adapting the current story into Civil War and, as Markus remembers, “many lawyers were called.”

Despite the 180, both agree (and so will you when you see it) that a good portion of their original story survived into what became Civil War. “A lot of that movie is still in this movie,” explains McFeely. “The central theme, even the way [Daniel Bruhl’s character] Zemo is operating, are from that iteration.”

What’s unclear is what gave Feige the motivation to suddenly shift to the Civil War storyline, from a smaller, more intimate film. Did it have anything to do with Warner Bros. starting a superhero war by scheduling Batman vs. Superman on Marvel’s planned release date for what was then just Captain America 3? Said Feige at the time:

We are doing what we’ve always done, which is sticking to our plan and sticking to our vision for the movies going forward and we have a very large vision that we’re working on for Cap 3 and for all the “threes” movies and just because another movie plops down onto one of ours doesn’t mean we are going to alter that. Maybe we should, but we’re not going to.

Warner Bros. scheduled Batman vs. Superman for release on Captain America’s May 6 date back in January of 2014 (only later moving it up to March). Markus and McFeely were officially hired and began working on Captain America 3 in late 2013. While we’re likely to never know the real story, the timeline seems to support the theory that Marvel wanted to answer DC’s challenge with their own Hero vs. Hero blockbuster that was even bigger and Feige quickly made Civil War happen.

We’ll have much more with Markus, McFeely, Emily VanCamp and directors Joe & Anthony Russo (including more on the influence Batman vs. Superman had on the film) as Captain America: Civil War draws closer.

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