Robert Downey Jr. saved Captain America: Civil War from being a zombie movie

The final act of Captain America: Civil War - which sees Iron Man fight both Cap and Bucky after learning a brainwashed Winter Soldier killed his parents - is one of the best sequences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Of course that scene - and indeed, the entire movie - would not have been possible without Robert Downey Jr., but the Russo Brothers had a backup plan in case they weren't able to work out a deal with the MCU's highest-paid actor:

"There was a period where we did discuss a third act that revolved around the Madbomb from Cap mythology", Joe Russo told Entertainment Weekly. "It didn’t have anything to do with Civil War, and if we couldn’t get Downey – in the very, very early conversations before we nailed him – 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".

"The notion of the Madbomb would have been Cap having to fight civilians and how he would he handle that", Russo continued. "We were always trying to put him into these interesting moral conundrums because of his nature. That would have made a compelling third act because if civilians are the antagonists, how could he stop them without killing them?"

Cap vs zombified civilians is not an uninteresting way to go but that idea pales in comparison to what we actually got, which was two heroic friends beating the crap out of each other and the dismantling of the Avengers as we know it. When you consider the fact that Civil War almost didn't include Black Panther as well, it becomes increasingly fascinating to think of what might have been.

Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, and starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan, Captain America: Civil War arrives in digital format in the US on September 2. The Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD hit the UK on September 5 and the US on September 13. 

Images: Marvel 

Amon Warmann

Amon is a contributing editor and columnist for Empire magazine, but is also a Film and TV writer for GamesRadar+, Total Film, and others. He has also written for NME, Composer Mag, and more, along with being a film critic for TalkSport. He is also the co-host of the Fade to Black Podcast, and a video mashup creator. Can also do a pretty good Bane impersonation.