Civil War is a big, loud ensemble movie. That’s what we expect from it, and that’s why it’s fun. But when the camera is whipping around during a huge fight scene, how come we still know what’s happening?
As Sound Editors Shannon Mills and Dan Laurie point out, part of that stems from designing sounds that become inexorably linked to the characters who make them—making them identifiable even if they’re off screen. The repulser *bweeeeeeep* noise is, in effect, Iron Man when there’s not enough screen real estate to focus on him. Civil War provided the additional challenge of creating those memorable sounds for Black Panther, even though he had’t been introduced to film-going audiences yet.
One of the other challenges Mills and Laurie discuss is making superheroes fight in a way that’s believably awe-inspiring, but not concerning. They’re suppose to be much stronger than regular people, otherwise they’re not all that super. However, “you don’t want superheroes to hit normal people quite as hard,” Mills points out, “because it feels like it would kill them.”
Sound design is a huge part of what makes movies like Civil War successful, but the score is equally as important for setting the mood of the film. SoundWorks has also filmed a lengthy interview with Henry Jackman, Civil War’s composer, which you can watch here.