Captain America: Civil War Trailer Analysis & Discussion

Captain America: Civil War Red Logo

With Star Wars dominating headlines and the attention of Disney's marketing department, it was no surprise to see Disney-owned ABC late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! host the cast of Episode VII - The Force Awakens yesterday evening for all sorts of interviews and gags. It's that very movie's theatrical debut that was reportedly going to attach the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War to it. Not so.

Kimmel's followup to his Star Wars special was a Marvel-themed episode which saw Krysten Ritter guest to talk about her new Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones, as a well as Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. who came equipped with a few surprises. RDJ revealed the film's first official poster, and Evans followed the reveal up by sharing the first full-length teaser trailer.

Since it is only the first Captain America: Civil War trailer, what's shown sets up the main plot of the film and teases the greater conflict and returning characters. Several key characters though, including certain notable heroes and villains, don't even make an appearance, but there's more here that you might have missed. Let's take a closer look and compare the shots to what we know about the movie...

Sokovia Accords

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Sokovia Accords

"The Accords" were first namedropped in the post-credits scene for Ant-Man which featured more of the sequence teased in the opening of the trailer where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) have seemingly captured Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to question him. They discover from interrogating him - shown in this new trailer - that Bucky's been setup and want to tell Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who they doubt will believe him. Stark has already sided with the government(s) and their Sokovia Accords at this point. The interrogation scene could come later.

The Sokovia Accords is the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of the Superhuman Registration Act from the comics which are a result of the catastrophic events of Avengers: Age of Ultron - where the unsupervised meddling by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner created Ultron. Stark has sided with the government since then because of another international incident, one not shown in this trailer, but one we're guessing involves Crossbones (Frank Grillo) who was the subject of unofficial set photos during production.

Notice how the document is passed to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) who has the most personal connection to the Sokovia incident which resulted - again, thanks the Avengers - in the death of her brother, Quicksilver.

The Hunt For The Winter Soldier

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Bucky Arm in a Vice

The governments of the world are registering superheroes and Tony Stark, James Rhodes, and Natasha Romonov have joined the cause. At the center of this search is the ultimate assassin, Bucky Barnes, who they seem not to care was a brainwashed assassin (even though it happened to Hawkeye in Avengers 1).

The teaser opens with Bucky, seemingly aware of who he is, who he was, and what he's done. And it looks like he's finally been located and captured by Falcon and Cap. Bucky says "I don't do that anymore" in response to assassination missions so it could be that Bucky was framed for something - perhaps the international event teased in the film's official synopsis. We suspect that Black Panther and Tony Stark want Bucky, the former for something that happened in Wakanda to explain his arrival and the latter for what happened to his parents.

More: How The Winter Soldier Fits Into Captain America: Civil War

More: How Black Panther Fits Into Captain America: Civil War

General "Thunderbolt" Ross

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - General Ross (William Hurt)

Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner won't be in Captain America: Civil War, even though he was seen with the cast in Germany and was originally in the script, but a major character from The Incredible Hulk makes his overdue return seven years later - with William Hurt reprising the role of General "Thunderbolt" Ross. With S.H.I.E.L.D. still out the picture, as far as the movies are concerned, he's the military leadership presence in this movie and in the trailer he pays a visit to the new Avengers HQ (introduced at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron and in a sequence in Ant-Man) to reprimand them for whatever new international incident sets off the events of Civil War.

Marvel Comics fans can only hope it means Ross can keep coming back. Marvel will eventually need a villainous team-up movie of their own one day and the Thunderbolts movie might be the perfect choice. The modern version of that team in the comics features Ross, fellow The Incredible Hulk alum known as The Leader (who was teased at the end of that movie, played by Tim Blake Nelson), Elektra and Punisher (both coming to Daredevil next year), and Venom who can now be a part of the MCU thanks to Marvel's Spider-Man deal with Sony Pictures.

More: Thunderbolts & Other Movies Marvel Should Consider For Phase 4

Martin Freeman

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Martin Freeman

Martin Freeman's role has been kept secret by Marvel Studios but rumors point towards him playing Everrett K. Ross, a liason to Wakanda who works for the U.S. State Department. He appears ever so briefly in one shot in the trailer where the government looks to be confiscating the gear of the Avengers from their base. He's accompanied by Sharon Carter a.k.a. Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) who we know is loyal to Cap and who joined the CIA at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier after S.H.I.E.L.D. fell.

The continuing shot from different angles right after the image above depicts Captain America's shield and Falcon's flight gear being wheeled out of the base, taken from them, likely because they either chose not to sign up with the Sokovia Accords or they did and it's being moved to some other government-sanctioned facility. Either way, Sam and Steve are not pleased.

The Third Party

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Black Panther

One of the most game-changing new characters joining the MCU in Phase 3 is Black Panther. T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) makes his debut in Captain America: Civil War as a character who may not hold allegiances with either side of the conflict. He's not an Avenger and has little reason to care for the Sokovia Accords. His job, as the Black Panther of Wakanda, is to protect his nation. Reports indicate his path crosses ways with our familiar heroes due to The Winter Soldier, who he's after as well for personal reasons. A sequence in the trailer shows Black Panther on foot chasing down Bucky, both followed by Cap.

More: How Black Panther Fits Into Captain America: Civil War

T'Challa's role as a leader of his nation could have more implications on the political side of things as well. For now, we'll enjoy our first look at the live-action adaptation of his vibranium-laced costume which he uses later in the trailer in combat against Bucky. Compare to the concept art here.

The Other Game-Changers

Captain America Civil War Paul Bettany Vision Discusses Themes

The most outlandish of the Avengers returning for Captain America: Civil War is the one we saw born in Avengers: Age of Ultron as a mix of alien and human tech. The Android Avenger known as Vision (Paul Bettany) seems to care for life above all else and is fueled by one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones embedded in his forehead. In the team-based concept art for the movie, Vision appears on team Tony Stark, but rumors indicate he may switch sides during the conflict and then leave entirely, to do something potentially much greater in the MCU.

More: Vision's Future and Role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Interestingly, James Gunn said during a Q&A on Facebook this week that the one Avenger he'd love to use most in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie is Vision who - aside from Scarlet Witch - might be the most powerful being on Earth (that we know about).

Just like Vision is nowhere to be seen in the trailer, the same can be said about Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) who gets his MCU introduction in Captain America: Civil War. He's the youngest hero in the movie and will reportedly live up to that name, stepping outside of the conflict to be a true hero.

Friendship and Loyalty Above All

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Bucky

Rogers is sacrificing everything for his best friend, his only friend from WWII. And joining him at this side the entire way through is Sam Wilson. It's exactly this that makes all three characters worthy of the Captain America mantle as they were in the comics. It's therefore appropriate that these three characters get the most screen time in this first teaser (alongside Tony Stark who opposes them), especially given that this event movie marks the completion of the Captain America trilogy.

More: Sebastian Stan "Game" to Become Captain America For Marvel

Where Sam is loyal to Steve and Steve loyal to Bucky, so to are Rhodey and Stark loyal to each other. It's these bonds the define allegiances when the Avengers disassemble. There are now two teams of Avengers...

Choose Your Side

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Avengers

If the concept art, leaked merchandise photos, and hints from the cast and crew of Captain America: Civil War didn't give it away, the teams of Civil War break down like this which should make the shot of Cap standing and running alongside Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) come as no surprise:

Team Cap/Anti-Registration

  • Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier
  • Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Sharon Carter / Agent 13
  • Scott Lang / Ant-Man
  • Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch

Team Iron Man/Pro-Registration

  • Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • James Rhodes / War Machine
  • Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Vision

"There Will Be Consequences"

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Iron Man and War Machine

Phase 3 will introduce lots of new characters, as stated earlier today by Disney and Marvel in the official press release for Doctor Strange beginning production. With more characters joining the party, some must leave. There must be higher stakes now that the MCU is beyond a dozen films strong.

War Machine is depicted in this trailer as severely injured, his armor torn through down the center. What caused this damage and is he dead? When does this happen in the film? Did Cap's team do this to Rhodey or did the real villains of the movie cause this...

The Real Villains

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 1 - Crossbones

When talking about the villains of Captain America: Civil War RDJ says there is "no clear bad guy" but he's referring to the conflict between Cap and Tony, not the external threats. No official details on what characters new additions to the MCU family, Daniel Bruhl and Martin Freeman, have been revealed. It seems all but officially confirmed that Bruhl is playing classic Captain America villain Baron Zemo but Freeman's role remains less certain (we think he's Everett Ross, as previously mentioned). We do know that both characters have crucial roles in the main plot of the movie and both characters could be setup in Civil War for a return later, in future movies.

When Bruhl was first cast it was reported by the trades that he'd be in Doctor Strange as well but there's been no mention of that, not even in today's official press release revealing the main cast of the movie which is already in production. The other key villain who's only seen in one background shot in this trailer is of course Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), who returns after his dark turn in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He holds a personal grudge against Falcon and Cap, remains loyal to Hydra (Zemo connection?!) and was seen on set as full-on Crossbones.

Notice something we didn't mention? Share your thoughts in the comments!


The movie 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, Frank Grillo, Tom Holland, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl. Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” is directed by Anthony & Joe Russo and produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee serve as executive producers and the screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.

Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange - November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - May 5, 2017; Spider-Man - July 28, 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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