Once upon a time, Marvel Studios contemplated a Captain America: Civil War movie without Robert Downey Jr, as contract negotiations for a new deal with RDJ were not going well. In the event that RDJ did not sign up and the Cap/Iron Man rivalry could not be portrayed on the big screen, the Russo brothers had a back up plan: a zombie movie.
No, not a Marvel Zombies movie. Rather, a plot inspired by a January 1976 Captain America story, illustrated by Jack Kirby and centred on a little thing called the Madbomb. It would have seen Chris Evans’ Cap facing down a demented, zombie-like horde. Anthony Russo told Entertainment Weekly:
“There was a period where we did discuss a third act that revolved around the Madbomb from Cap mythology/ 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 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.”
In the comics, the Madbombs were the brainchild of a secret society called the Elite and their foot soldiers the Royalist Forces of America, as part of a plot to take over America. In the movie, the Russos would have put Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) as the one setting off the Madbomb.
Cap would have had to take down a horde of civilians, as well as some of his superhero friends, which made for an “interesting moral conundrum”, said Joe Russo in the same interview ahead of the Civil War Blu-ray DVD collection release.
But all’s well that ends well, as RDJ and Marvel Studios reached a deal, and Civil War went on to make more than US$1 billion worldwide. So the Madbomb storyline went into cold storage, although it was brought back as part of the Agent Carter season 1 finale.