Shooting Lagos: Production designer Owen Paterson talks ‘Captain America: Civil War’

The film consists of four major action scenes: the opening Lagos sequence, the stairwell sequence, the splash panel and the finale.

L to R- Executive Producer Nate Moore and director Anthony Russo on the Lagos scence set- Photo by  Zade Rosenthal

The Marvel film, which sees several superheroes battling for screen time, kicks off its big action sequence in a bustling Lagos market and for production designer Owen Paterson, creating Lagos was no easy fete.

“Originally we were going to shoot Lagos in Puerto Rico, which has got some great big-scale exteriors. But as we explored that, it proved to be very difficult for us and not cost effective. So we had to make it work in Atlanta,” says Paterson, who served as a production designer on “Godzilla,” “Gods of Egypt” and “The Matrix” films. “Our location manager found us a great looking location and then my set designers transformed it into our Lagos market.”

Falcon in a scene from Captain America Civil War

The third film in the Captain America franchise, “Captain America: Civil War” finds iconic superhero Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. As the film opens, Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) are brought to Nigeria to pursue a group that’s stealing guns from the police and the military and selling them on the black market. What follows has a devastating effect on the team as an incident leaves a dozen innocent civilians dead in the city of Lagos.Owen Paterson

“In the scene you see all the background artists and cars, motorcycles and set dressing and with visual effects we were able expand it and seamlessly make the market within the massive city of Lagos.”

To create this open-air marketplace environment, the filmmakers found what they were looking for in an empty gully in downtown Atlanta, a back lot where the city was built.

By casting hundreds of extras, the scene is made to represent the vibrant city of Lagos.

“It was all in a day’s work,” continues Paterson. “I had a great team of people from construction teams to scenic artists to painters.”

The film consists of four major action scenes: the opening Lagos sequence, the escape sequence, the splash panel and the finale.

With so many superheroes jostling for screen time, directors Anthony and Joe Russo do a great job of focusing on the flaws within the characters and show us that despite their spats and differences, the Avengers are a team.


Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” sees the return of several familiar faces — Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Newcomers include Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and a young spunky Spider-Man played by Tom Holland.


The film is out in theaters Friday.

Pictured above: L to R- Executive Producer Nate Moore and Director Anthony Russo on the Lagos scene set, photo by  Zade Rosenthal (middle): Anthony Mackie as Falcon/Sam Wilson photo by Film Frame (middle): Owen Paterson, (middle) Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther/T’Challa  (bottom): Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker 

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