Marvel Stunt Coordinator Reveals Most Difficult MCU Stunt He’s Ever Pulled Off
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Marvel stunt-coordinator Sam Hargrave has revealed the most 'difficult yet satisfying stunt' he's ever managed to pull off for the MCU, explaining that it was an ambitious scene from Captain America: Civil War that worked him particularly hard.
Hargrave has been involved in countless Marvel films over the years, with credits as a stunt coordinator, fight coordinator, action coordinator, fight choreographer and stunt double across hits including Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers Assemble, Thor: Ragnarok and Captain America: Civil War.
But of all the Marvel stunts he's worked on, Hargrave has revealed there's one that sticks out as being the most satisfying to pull off. He singled out a moment in 2016's third Captain America flick was 'extremely difficult but most rewarding for a number of reasons'.
Hargrave told LADbible: "On Captain America: Civil War, I designed this one stunt in the early part of the movie with an explosion that propels Captain America out the window of a balcony. He hits an awning or a roof and then falls to a truck and then falls to the ground.
"On the page it was an explosion and Captain America falls and hits the ground. I'm like, 'How do we make that more exciting? How do we make it bigger and more dangerous, and more satisfying?'
"And so I took some inspiration from Hong Kong cinema, where a lot of times instead of just falling, on the fall they would hit off of different things on the way down just to make it a little more acrobatic and exciting."
Hargrave and his team eventually settled on a location and found an awning with the 'right angle'. They built some high density foam into the set and they were ready to go, with Hargrave himself performing the stunts for Captain America as the character tumbled from the building onto the floor.
Hargrave continued: "We were losing the light and we had one shot at it.
"I was doing falls that hit the awning, the truck and the ground, so with the logistics of it - the design, the execution and only getting one go at it - and it coming out pretty well in the final product, that was one of the more difficult yet satisfying stunts that I have put together for Marvel."
Written by Joe Russo, who is also a producer on the film alongside his brother Anthony, Extraction marks Hargrave's directorial debut - an experience that Hargrave was 'honoured' to be a part of.
He said: "I say it casually - like, 'Oh yeah, the Russo brothers approached me to direct a movie' - but when you think about that and unpack that, that's huge, that's like a huge thing.
"The Russo brothers - who directed like the highest grossing movies of all time, legends in the Marvel universe, they asked me to direct a movie for them and their company, that's insane. And I'm forever grateful for this opportunity."
Of course, with such a rich legacy in stunt work, Hargrave's first feature film was never going to be a gentle ride.
In fact, lead actor Hemsworth has since admitted that one sequence from the movie was 'by far the most complicated action sequence' he's ever been a part of.
While the ambitious 12-minute shot was also 'challenging' for Hargrave, not least because it was filmed to make it look like one long shot, the director said it was a process he 'relished'.
He said: "I love that kind of stuff, coming from an action and stunt background, that's the kind of thing that gets me going and gets me out of bed in the morning!
"It wasn't written that way. It was written as a very action-set piece that was kind of broken up in to a car chase and then a foot chase.
"But I tried to infuse all of that into one big sequence and add a lot of hand-to-hand combat with it, and intertwine the combat between the characters, Tyler Rake and Saju.
"I thought it was important to set them up as adversaries so that later in the film what happens later pays off stronger."
Hargrave rewrote and redesigned the scene with that one shot in mind, and finally he was ready for the gruelling 10-day shoot - which just do happened to be 'the first 10 days of shooting on the whole movie'.
He said: "The intention was to take the audience, grab em by the scruff of the neck and say 'Hey, you're coming with me!' from the moment of the escape, the extraction.
"You're with them in real time, experiencing this with the characters, and the camera is part of the sequence - you are in it with them."
Despite Hemsworth confessing he found the shoot something of an intense experience, Hargrave assured us that the actor never once complained, and gave his all to the production.
Hargrave added: "We pushed him. He and I talked about it and he was really wanting to have a movie and a sequence that highlighted [his abilities].
"He's a very talented martial artist and action guy, and he gets a lot of good stuff as Thor and all those other movies. But I felt that he felt that he had a lot more to offer audiences, and so we pushed him.
"We put him through the ringer on this one and he was right there every step of the way. He never complained.
"After 10-12 hour days, he'd come home from shooting these extremely strenuous sequence and he would ask for two more hours of rehearsal with the stunt teams, so he was more prepared for the next day of shooting. He was an animal.
"Without him and his commitment to the role and the physicality and the rehearsal process, the sequence would not have been as exciting as it is."
Extraction is available to watch on Netflix from Friday 24 April.