Marvel brought Captain America filming to Germany
Marvel returned to Atlanta, Georgia, to film superhero epic Captain America: Civil War but the movie also shot scenes in Germany.
The film pitches Captain America against Iron Man (pictured) as the former friends clash over plans to have superheroes regulated by the United Nations.
The disagreement causes a superhero rift that sees famous characters including Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, The Falcon and Ant-Man picking sides.
Filming was based at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Georgia but also featured four weeks of shooting in Germany. Location scouting and pre-production for this international leg lasted nearly a full year and involved Studio Babelsberg as a co-production partner.
The relative brevity of the German shoot was partly due to the limitations of the country’s filming incentive, which is administered by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF).
“The 20% DFFF incentive has a cap of about €10m, which means that high-budget productions like Captain America will only spend a portion of their total budget here,” says Markus Bensch, a production executive with Studio Babelsberg, in comments to KFTV.
“It is my job here in Babelsberg to make that portion as big as possible and in the best case make the producers forget about the cap and go for the great locations we can offer plus some stage work.”
Director siblings Anthony and Joe Russo and the Marvel team – including supervising location manager James Lin – scouted all over Germany and ended up writing new scenes into the script to suit specific locations that grabbed their attention.
“Initially I was just asked to come up with any kind of huge or weird or modern or brutalist or in any other way interesting location here in Germany,” Bensch continues.
“I showed them pictures of the shipyards and weird architecture in Hamburg, Eastern European-looking tower blocks in east Germany, steel mills in Duisburg, brutalist architecture all over Germany, car factories in the south and of course anything great-looking in Berlin and the fantastic airport in Leipzig.”
The airport in fact became a key location for the film as the setting for a dramatic showdown between the opposing teams of superheroes. Marvel faced a production challenge as safety considerations meant only half the normal crew size – a strict limit of 175 people – was allowed past the airport’s security checkpoints at any one time.
Complex pyrotechnics needed for the Leipzig-set showdown weren’t possible at the real location. Instead, parts of the airport were also built on the backlot at Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
Pinewood Atlanta Studios offers 11 separate sound stages. Marvel also used Georgia’s generous filming incentive – worth up to 30% of eligible expenditure - that’s turned Atlanta into one of the top production hubs in the US.
Marvel previously doubled Atlanta for San Francisco in Ant-Man and is also filming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in the city. The upcoming Avengers: Infinity War will also be based in Georgia.
Atlanta locations doubled for other key international settings including Lagos in Nigeria, which was built in a narrow valley.
Filming scenes in Germany enabled Marvel to develop its growing reputation for shooting in parts of the world that appear less frequently in big-budget Hollywood movies. After filming the first Avengers movie largely in the US, the studio expanded the scope of the follow-up partly to help grow Marvel’s global fan base. Avengers: Age of Ultron used the UK as a production base and also filmed partly in Italy, while a key action sequence was shot in the South Korean city of Seoul.
Marvel will expand its filming operations to Australia later this year for Thor: Ragnarok, which will get considerable financial support from the country's incentives programme.
For more on filming in Germany see our production guide.
Captain America Civil War images: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel
Leipzig Airport image courtesy of Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures