Exclusive: Sam Hargrave Reveals His 5 Best Marvel Stunts
The Chris Hemsworth thriller Extraction is now available on Netflix, and is a damned good time too. The film features insane stunts, crazy action, all of which sat comfortable with the film’s director, former stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave. As it turns out, Hargrave, who makes his directorial debut on Extraction, has been involved with some of the most insane stunts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and those Fox-owned films featuring Deadpool and Wolverine — since he handled all of Chris Evans’ stunt work as Captain America.
But which of his own personal stunts are his favorite? Luckily, Hargrave was kind enough to offer his Top 5 Best Marvel Stunts, and the list might surprise you! Check it out below!
#1: Cap vs Cap, “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)
Hargrave: I would say number one was the Cap vs. Cap in Avengers Endgame. For me, this is personal. And the reasoning behind it has to do with the personal nature of it. And I’ll give you those reasons. I think it was a fun fight. How often do you, as a character, get to fight yourself? That’s incredible. So the background of this is I started my career with Marvel on the first Avengers film, got to wear the suit that everybody in the Marvel world is kind of like, “oh, interesting choice.” So I started in that suit doing stunts for Marvel. So then, when Endgame came around, this character and this saga was ending and it’d been nine, almost 10 years. I was second unit directing this sequence. So I had designed it from the ground up. They wrote those guys fight in the space, but then with the art department and the production designers we designed the glass stairwells and designed a lot of the shots for directing the sequence, which is a big deal, I decided, because this was my last hurrah with the Marvel universe, that I would shave my big beard and go back on screen, doubling Cap in the same suit that I started in.
I’m directing myself in this sequence, but then my brother is the “younger Cap” in this sequence. My younger brother, Daniel Hargrave, who doubled Cap on Infinity War and Endgame, did most of that stuff, he was the main double. So I stepped in and got to fight my brother, who was where I started back when we were 10 years old and he was seven, we were fighting and doing little movies back in North Carolina. You have that full circle aspect, and then, my dad showed up. That’s like the second time he’d seen me on a Marvel set. The first time was on the first Avengers. He was in town for this sequence. And then, I was also directing my good friend Chris Evans. And so, there was so many aspects of that sequence that were just beautiful and serendipitous and like a movie. We did I think a pretty cool fight, and it was short in the final edit, but a pretty cool fight and big stunts and my brother and I were just smashing each other around. That as a sequence is my number one for those reasons. It’s for personal reasons of that one is up top.
#2: Cap vs Crossbones, “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)
On Captain America: Civil War I doubled Cap and coordinated. There’s a sequence in the opening where he’s fighting against Crossbones, where Crossbones shoots an explosive projectile, an explosion happens and then Cap falls over a balcony and hits a roof then hits a truck then hits the ground. There’s a big fall in that. And so, the first half of that was Jackson Spidell, who’s the other double, an awesome performer. I did the gravity portion, where there’s a little less skill involved, a little more just let gravity do what gravity does.
But another reason that one is big on my list is because, again, from concept to completion, I had a huge part in that. It was written as an explosion happens and then he falls out of a building. And so, I was like, “What if we build an awning here? What if he hits this and hits that?” And they’re like, “Sure.” So I was working with the construction department to build the right angle for the roof and to hide the thin pads in there and then build a shipping dock. That wasn’t there. That was just a building. We built a shipping dock. What would go there? Oh, a truck. So just designing the action and then performing it. And then, on top of that, that following year, winning a Taurus World Stunt award, two of them for that stunt, for Best High Work and Hardest Hit kind of just made it all very satisfying.
#3: Sabretooth vs Logan, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009)
Hargrave: Number three would probably be this sequence that I did in… they’re with Marvel now, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Does that count? Okay. Well, then because of that, it was X-Men Origins: Wolverine and it was a sequence where we were at the logging camp where Sabretooth and Logan fight for the first time. And Sabretooth is just smashing this character Logan all around. And so, the reason that sequence and that movie are high on my list was because it was one of my first superhero movies. Actually, it was my first superhero movie and it was where I met one of my best friends, Daniel Stevens, who was the stunt coordinator for me on Extraction. So there’s a lot of movie-like things in there. Our first job together, where we became best friends. I think I’ve never done more stunts embracing another man because where I would tackle him and we’d both do this stunt together, we’d crash through a door. And then, “Okay — now you’re going to grab him and you’re going to spin through the air together and smash into this water thing. And now you’re going to grab…” So we were doing all of these things together, and it was amazing, like welcome to the world of superheroes, especially one who’s indestructible. We had a good time with that sequence.
#4: Cap Gets Blasted, “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012)
Hargrave: Number four, probably the first Avengers, where I again won two Taurus World Stunt Awards for that shot with Captain America. There’s an explosion and he’s ratcheted backwards through a window and lands on a car. So that would be up there, one, because it was to that point one of the bigger gags I’ve done, with just little tweaks ahead of time. I was standing there. We’d rehearsed it a lot. Off set, the team was great. The stunt team was very accurate and very great. We’d done all these measurements and got it just right. And then, when I stood up there and I looked back, I was like, hmm, something doesn’t feel right. I couldn’t tell you what. But I got an instinct. And I was like, “Hey, can you move the car two feet closer?” And they’re like, “Whoa. That’s not nearly what our measurements are.” And I’m like, “I know, but I can’t tell you why, but I feel like I need the car closer.”
And to their credit, the newer stunt guy, they did it. They moved it. They’re like, “Hey, you’re doing the gag, man”. So they moved it closer. It was for whatever reason, I don’t know what it was, but it ended up exactly where it needed to be for the gag to be safer. Who knows what would’ve happened had it not been there, but I made that kind of judgment call and moved it and it worked out. And that was just a few cuts and bruises, but nothing that it could’ve had, had I not hit the car as I did. There’s so many of those moments where it’s an interesting blend of trusting the science, trusting the math, but then also at the end of the day trusting your gut just because your body never lies. The feeling going into it… I try to implement that or tell my performers. Or someone says like, “You know what? Should we put a pad in that space?” And now we have to because you’ve mentioned it. Something told you, something in your gut, you felt, so let’s do it. Because then, worst case scenario is you put something there or you take the precaution and nothing happens. That’s fantastic. It’s like, worst case, but if someone goes, ha-ha, you’re being over cautious, well, yeah, sure. I’m being over cautious, but if something bad happens and that pad saves someone’s life, you’ve just got to listen to your gut. That lesson solidified in that moment.
[Stunt at the 3-minute mark]
#5: Battle of Wakanda, “Avenger: Infinity War” (2018)
Hargrave: Number five is probably the Battle of Wakanda [in Infinity War] because I was stunt coordinating that and my brother was doubling Captain America. Getting to direct my brother. I also second unit directed a lot of those sequences, getting to direct a lot of close friends who were playing motion caption characters and a lot of the stunt people. But just the sheer scale of it! Marvel comes in, and we were in the middle of a horse pasture in Georgia, which three weeks, four weeks before was just rolling grass hills in the middle of Georgia. And then, when we shot our scene, we had a flowing river, a 200 yard long by 30 feet wide river flowing through the middle of this thing. We’re in the middle of Africa, like grass and shrubs and trees. And they’d built a river. They’d built a functioning river in the middle of this space. We were doing action all around this. Just the scale of that will always stick with me, and the satisfaction of seeing that come together into being a very memorable moment in the Marvel canon.