It’s Captain America: Civil War week and if you’re a Marvel movie fan, you will not see as many stories and headlines about the movie until it opens in theaters. The week began with embargoes lifting for our set visit coverage where we were allowed to share notes and interviews from our visit to the Atlanta production last summer, and it was accompanied by a dozen new posters (here and here) featuring new and returning Avengers.
And for the one young Avenger we all knew was coming but hadn’t yet seen, Marvel Studios addressed that today, lifting the web of secrecy so to speak on unveiling Spider-Man for the very first time. Peter Parker is finally at home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he got his long-overdue introduction today in the second full trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
But that was only a few seconds of the rather dense trailer and in it we learned so much more. So let’s break down the order of events, new snippets of footage and dialogue, and try to determine what’s really going on in the first chapter of of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Winter Soldier Origin
The opening shot of the Captain America: Civil War trailer #2 highlights cold Russia, where we suspect Marvel may delve into Bucky Barnes’ history and origin story as The Winter Soldier. We see a frozen landscape followed by a Russian guard (notable from logo and text on his left arm).
The Russian guards open a vault where a frozen Bucky lay waiting for his next mission, his next assassination. For moviegoers wondering why Sebastian Stan’s character hasn’t aged, it’s because of this. Like Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), he was frozen in cryosleep for most of the last 70 years, only unleashed for special missions in between brainwash sessions.
And also like Steve, Bucky is a super soldier – built from Russia’s own formula. That’s why he has incredible strength when we first met him in the modern era in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And that’s why he can stand up to Steve in a brawl and will stand up to Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War.
The Real Conflict
As we discussed in our Total Geekall podcast episode this week about my visit to the set of Captain America: Civil War, the film’s story – while clearly political in nature – is not politically focused. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the “political thriller,” and this one is the “psychological thriller.”
What really divides the Avengers is the emotional attachments. It’s what makes Steve Rogers give up everything to protect and fight alongside his old friend Bucky. It’s also what drives Black Panther’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s after Bucky for his own reasons (presumably, the death of his father and the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka for which Bucky is framed).
“There Will Be Consequences”
That line was delivered by Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) in the first Captain America: Civil War trailer when he met with the Avengers at their HQ to discuss to Sokovia Accords – legislation that requires the Avengers and any vigilante hero to register with the governments of the world and only conduct missions sanctioned by them.
This action by the governments of the world is a reaction to another international incident in Captain America: Civil War as revealed by the synopsis (more on this in a moment), but it’s something that’s been brewing for a while. Ross highlights this by recapping the devastating events the Avengers have been a part of, beginning with the Battle of New York (which happened because of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s meddling with the Tesseract), with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. (thanks to Hydra) and their fleet (thanks to Cap), and a year go, the destruction at Sokovia (this one’s entirely due to Tony Stark and the Avengers).
What gives the Avengers the right to enter any city in any country and bring with them vehicles and weapons? On whose authority? That’s the central conflict from the political standpoint and what may make Steve Rogers and his team fugitives for not signing up, or for continuing to conduct missions on their own (to rescue Bucky for instance).
The Other International Incident
The official plot synopsis for Captain America: Civil War includes this notable bit:
But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team
The next sequence in the trailer provides our best look at this very incident, at what appears to be an international summit. It’s here where we suspect T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his father T’Chaka are representing Wakanda, and where T’Chaka may be killed in the blast. This is not only the incident that pushes the Sokovia Accords legislature over the edge, but it’s the entry point for T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther to hunt down the number one suspect of the bombing: Bucky.
Of course, while everyone is after Bucky, he was framed. This is the central part of the personal conflict of Captain America: Civil War. Steve knows Bucky is innocent and will protect him at all costs out of principle. Even if it means standing up to the government(s). And if we’re right about Black Panther’s motivations, we can see why he may team up with Iron Man since Tony Stark’s parents may have also been killed by Bucky in the past – as hinted at in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Iron Man’s Back
Not that he was ever really in retirement given that he helps outfit and fund The Avengers Initiative post-S.H.I.E.L.D., but at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Stark steps away from the team and we meet the New Avengers.
Now Stark’s back, seemingly summoned on behalf of the government(s) of the world, to help be a face for what the new sanctioned Avengers organization will look like.
“That’s why I’m here.”
The exact order of events in Captain America: Civil War remains somewhat unclear, but clearly Stark has had a change of heart. After all, the events of Sokovia were entirely his fault. Now he believes he and his allies need to be held accountable so that sort of stuff doesn’t happen again. Did his pal James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) convince him to enlist with the government and military? Did Vision make him see a new way of appreciating life? Is Pepper Potts going to make an appearance in the movie? Is this the beginning of Tony Stark leading the next S.H.I.E.L.D. organization like he did in Marvel Comics?
“Whatever form that takes, I’m game.”
Readers of Marvel Comics who experienced the original Civil War crossover event (Civil War II debuts this summer) know that one of the more contentious ideas explored in the story was that of Prison Alpha, a prison created within another dimension (the Negative Zone) by Tony Stark, Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas in Ant-Man) and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four.
Superheroes who chose not to sign the Superhero Registration Act or who operated as a vigilante were placed in this outlandish prison – referred to as “Fantasy Island” by inmates – until their trial. It was over-the-top, way too harsh, and helped make Iron Man the clear villain of Civil War in the books – something the filmmakers are trying to avoid in the movie.
From this trailer, it appears the prison aspect of the source material may be adapted for Captain America: Civil War. There’s an intriguing little eyebrow-raising sequence where we see a dark, cylindrical facility emerge from the ocean when a helicopter potentially carrying Tony Stark landing within it. The next shot features a beaten and weary Stark browsing around what appear to be jail cells, as if he helped construct a prison for his fellow Avengers.
Of course, this could be a pre-existing S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where powered villains were held, as referenced in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC (where The Abomination from The Incredible Hulk could be, for instance).
“We’re Not Perfect”
Why would Captain America, the literal symbol of America’s military might, liberty, and freedom, stand against his own government? WWII was a simpler time. The Nazis were evil and they had to be stopped. The lines of the battlefield were clearly drawn.
That’s not the case anymore, not for a long time, and certainly not since Steve Rogers was unfrozen in the modern era. Steve worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. who he thought were the good guys, but they were infused with Hydra. They had plans to build weapons that could take out people before they become a “threat.” That put Steve at odds with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Now, Rogers is hesitant to work under someone else’s orders – whether that be a specific government or organization. This is why he only trusts himself and his closest friends.
“I know we’re not perfect but the safest hands are still our own.”
War Machine Down
Revealed in all the trailers so far is the shot where Rhodey gets shot out of the sky. It’s unclear what blast took him down but we have a hard time believing it was another Avenger. The marketing materials have strayed away from revealing the true villain of the film, Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo, but we think it might be him and his cronies responsible.
While there are rumors that War Machine (or Falcon or Scarlet Witch) could be “killed off” in Captain America: Civil War, it would be a massive letdown to reveal that in the trailers from the get-go.
The editing is cut to make it appear Bucky is shooting War Machine out of the sky, but given the angles and backdrops (the German airport), this definitely isn’t the case. That being said, the previous shot of Bucky firing a sidearm at point blank range into Tony Stark’s armored hand is certainly curious. Is he brainwashed at that point?
We Don’t Have to Fight
The brainwash element is an interesting idea to consider since at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky has begun realizing who he is and remembering bits of his past. But from the limited snippets of footage we’ve seen for Civil War, we have a hard time reconciling the Stark gunshot mentioned above and this other curious scene on the back-half of the Captain America: Civil War trailer where Iron Man, Cap, and Bucky are in an old facility with a yellow tube in the background housing what could be another character (or an very, very odd looking chair):
It could be the very same tube from the beginning of the film where we see The Winter Soldier awakened. So, is this in Russia? Or is it a Hydra facility in Germany? Why is he in it at this point? Is Steve trying to repair Bucky’s memories and is Stark trying to stop him?
Is that why the fight breaks out? We suspect this is the big 1-on-1 fight and that Iron Man will beat down Cap (more on the specifics in a moment), and that Bucky will wake up to help Steve out, leading to that final shot from the first Captain America: Civil War trailer where it’s a 2-on-1 beatdown.
The First Avenger Homage
The best shot of this fight sequence however, is when Iron Man gives Captain America a final warning, and tells him to “stay down,” to which Steve responds “I can do this all day.” This is a callback to scrawny Steve Rogers in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger where he gets beat down by a bully in an alley, but keeps getting back up, eventually picking up a garbage can lid to use as a shield of sorts.
Bullet Proof Black Panther
The second full-length Captain America: Civil War trailer may have revealed Spider-Man, but the new Avenger we should focus on is Black Panther. Like Spidey, Black Panther is getting his own solo movie later in Phase 3 but his role as a third party in the Civil War conflict is a crucial one.
He’s in it for personal reasons. He’s a warrior prince of his nation, a monarch that his people know about. No secret identities or vigilantism. He’s trained to be the ultimate protector of his nation and is above the worldwide politics and conflicts that the two teams of Avengers are battling over. He’s as smart as Stark, as capable as Cap, but serves arguably a greater purpose.
And he has an incredible costume to fit the part. Laced and constructed with Vibranium, the rare near-indestructible metal Cap’s own shield is made of and that’s exclusive to Black Panther’s home of Wakanda, makes him completely bullet proof when shot at by the machine guns of a Quinjet.
The moment we knew Hawkeye and Ant-Man would be on the same side of the Civil War conflict, it was a must for fans that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) would ride an arrow fired by Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). This combo maneuver from Marvel Comics was later confirmed via multiple leaked photos of promotional art.
And now we see it in live-action. Renner told us on the Captain America: Civil War set (read the full interview here) that he’d have all sorts of new nonlethal trick arrows, and in this one we see a cluster shot (maybe to take down Spider-Man?) and another shot (again, cleverly edited but this is a different shot) featuring Ant-Man riding an arrow head through Iron Man’s gauntlet.
Maybe this is where Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man (revealed in toy sets) and becomes a formidable opponent against #TeamIronMan.
Vision vs. Scarlet Witch
With Hulk and Thor out of the picture in Captain America: Civil War (they’re off on a cosmic adventure together and return for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok), the two power house characters on each Avengers team are Vision and Scarlet Witch.
Both were introduced and got their powers in Avengers: Age of Ultron and both have been untested when it comes to their true powers. There are rumors that Vision may rise above the conflict since he values life above all else and may even leave Earth (read about that here) but we know for certain that Scarlet Witch’s powers will be “hugely transformed” and we’ll see all sorts of things we never saw before (but not more mind control – read our on-set interview with Elizabeth Olsen for more on that).
In one brief shot we see Scarlet Witch able to overpower Vision on her own. If there’s any chance of a weird romance between the two just like in Marvel Comics, they’re off to a rocky start.
The Next Captain America
This one’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s very plausible given the source material, what we know about actor contracts, and given recent rumors about the conclusion of Captain America: Civil War. This movie is going to change the dynamic of the MCU forever, according to directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and it’ll serve as the third act in Steve Rogers’ arc.
For comic book readers, there’s only one way the ends: Steve Rogers “dies” or at least, is put in a position where he’s no longer Captain America. Given that this is the Civil War story and that Steve stands against the government, the logical next step would be that Bucky Barnes picks up the shield and star-spangled Avengers outfit to continue the legacy of Captain America, but how does that happen?
Chris Evans is signed for Avengers: Infinity War and openly talks about returning for it. So, he’s not going to “die” but that reality doesn’t mean that within the story it can’t appear this way to the public to get him out of the government’s crosshairs. The telling piece of dialogue for the Avengers reuniting, Bucky taking over, and earning Tony Stark’s approval is this bit of voice-over:
“I was wrong about you. The whole world was wrong about you.”
The “payoff” moment of the second Captain America: Civil War trailer, the symbol of two studios working together, and the long overdue introduction to Marvel Comics’ most popular character of all-time into the Marvel Cinematic Universe all happen within the final seconds of this video.
At the same German airport where the film’s 15-minute IMAX “splash page” sequence takes place, pitting #TeamCap against #TeamIronMan, there’s another sequence where Iron Man is facing off with Captain America, with Black Widow standing in the background. We can’t tell if it’s in effort to get Rogers to listen, but Stark summons his apprentice of sorts, shouting “underoos” and a moment later, we see Spider-Man’s webshooters disarm Cap from his shield. Then the money-shot, the first ever look at Tom Holland’s Spider-Man costume, the first live-action Spider-Man outfit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The costume as mechanical eyes, and we’re guessing this could be something Tony Stark helped Peter Parker construct. There are rumors that when we first meet Spider-Man, he’ll already have his powers and already be trying to be a hero in the streets of New York with a homemade costume. Stark may not only give him that suit and his crazy new eyes, but help make his web shooters as well if reports are true.
Want more? We have you covered:
- Captain America: Civil War Set Visit Report
- Chris Evans & Sebastian Stan Interview
- Robert Downey Jr. Interview
- Chadwick Boseman Interview
- Jeremy Renner & Elizabeth Olsen Interview
- Anthony Mackie Interview
- #TeamCap Posters
- #TeamIronMan Posters
- Spider-Man First Look!
- The new Captain America: Civil War trailer!
- Captain America: Civil War stunts video
- Captain America: Civil War preview podcast
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd and Frank Grillo, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.
Anthony & Joe Russo are directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.
Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018;Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans– July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
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