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Captain America: Civil War Trailer Analysis

The trailer for Captain America: Civil War is finally here – so it’s time to ask just what it tells us! First, for those of you yet to see it, here it is in all its glory:

 

Now – on to the analysis!


The trailer opens with a revisit of the after-credits scene of Ant-Man, with Captain America and Falcon finally succeeding in finding Bucky. That said, the conversation plays out a lot more, suggesting we got an abridged version of that scene in Ant-Man. The dialogue flows easily, making it very likely that Marvel is giving dialogue from a single scene, with other moments from early on in the film running alongside it.

This is a very different approach to anything we’d expected. This is no moral debate, as in the Civil War comic; there’s no hint of the Scarlet Witch being blamed for an explosion, as early rumors had hinted. Instead, the whole trailer focuses in on Captain America’s personal decision to remain loyal to his friend, over and above the legal framework he operates in. If this trailer is to be believed, everything seems to escalate from there.

Comic book fans take note: if this trailer is any indication, Captain America: Civil War will not be strongly based on the comics.


According to the dialogue, nobody is planning to take Bucky in alive, and it’s likely that this is the issue Captain America feels strongly about. Here we see seriously armed forces raiding what we can only presume to be Bucky’s location, and such a shoot-to-kill policy – for a man Steve Rogers believes was not in control of his actions – would be something Captain America would strongly oppose. Notice Crossbones is actually part of the strike team (he’s in the background center).


Here we see it begin; Captain America chooses to oppose the police in their kill-strike on Bucky. It suggests that, because of Captain America’s help, Bucky escapes and goes on the run.


Now a very different ethical debate comes out into the open. Avengers: Age of Ultron evidently led to these mysterious international Accords that govern the actions of the superheroes. Captain America has gone against these within moments of their becoming law, choosing loyalty to a friend over his legal obligations. As such, powerful forces begin to treat Captain America – and, by extension, his Avengers – with the word ‘vigilante.’


So here we have our first glimpse of the Accords. The continuity is actually a little tricky here; surely Captain America would have seen these before they became law? But if the after-credits scene of Ant-Man is right, they were already in force at this point?


We’ve long known that the close teamwork between Captain America and Black Widow will be shattered by Captain America: Civil War. Here, we get our first hint of that breach forming, as Captain America challenges – will Black Widow arrest him if he doesn’t keep his friend safe?

While Captain America is an idealist, Black Widow is a pragmatist, and her understanding of this situation will logically differ to his. She has another angle on this, too – as a former assassin with red in her ledger, she no doubt understands Bucky in a way that Captain America can’t. (In the comics, the two became lovers.)


Iron Man is treated in a surprisingly unsympathetic way by this trailer; although the trailer opens with Stark presented as one of the “consequences” of Captain America’s decision, by the end we’re left with no doubt who we should be rooting for.

Again, comic book fans will be uncomfortable with this approach. The Civil Warplotline originally carried the tagline “Whose side are you on?”, and tried to tread an ambivalent path, leaving readers open to choosing their own side. But this is no Avengers: Civil War movie – this is Captain America: Civil War, and the trailer is angled towards its protagonist. It looks extremely likely that Iron Man will indeed play the role of villain.

Cast-watchers, of course, know full well that Daniel Bruhl is playing the role of Baron Zemo, and that Frank Grillo is reprising Crossbones. That means the film will have real villains in it, and raises the possibility that the trailer is performing a bait-and-switch – moviegoers head in vaguely expecting a film that centers on Captain America versus Iron Man, but get a very different experience. Although you could argue that Captain America: Winter Soldier did something similar with the Hydra revelation, the first trailer for that film dropped all the themes that would pull together to reveal Hydra.

To pull a bait-and-switch without causing disappointment will be very, very difficult.


This looks to be the decommissioning of the Avengers!


Anthony Mackie’s Falcon slipped into the role of sidekick in Captain America: Winter Soldier, and he looks to be the Avenger most in the spotlight. Although the others are seen in the trailer, Falcon comes in fourth for screen-time, behind Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Man.


The trailer’s flow is clearly intended to make us believe that these four – Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Bucky, and Captain America – are going head-to-head with Iron Man and War Machine. It’s intriguing that the rest of Iron Man’s supporters – such as the awesomely powerful Vision – aren’t given much screen-time in the trailer.

Early rumors had speculated that the Scarlet Witch would play a key role in igniting the Civil War, as she was blamed for Crossbones’ suicide-bomb. I’m not saying that scene won’t happen, but it is seriously unlikely that it plays out as the igniting event – the theme of the trailer runs very differently, and Scarlet Witch plays a very minor role in it (this is her only appearance). If that scene does indeed happen, it may instead be a scene showing the escalation of the Civil War.


Our first real glimpse of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther! For all the fans particularly excited about Tom Holland’s Spider-Man cropping up in this film, it’s Black Panther who gets some major attention, suggesting he too plays a key role. He’s clearly presented as extremely competent.


This scene of charging Avengers is swiftly followed by a montage of fight-scenes that could realistically happen anytime in the film, but that clearly cover a wide range of locations.


OK, for the record: just how strong is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America?


In the comics, Civil War accrued casualties – notably the hero Goliath. This scene suggests that the escalation includes a very bad moment for Don Cheadle’s War Machine, and will no doubt inspire a lot of fan-theories that War Machine dies in this movie. This would explain the hardening of Stark’s resolution to bring in Captain America.

There are other possibilities, though. In the comics, War Machine became increasingly cybernetic, and there’s no reason he couldn’t be badly injured but repaired as a cyborg.


The trailer ends with a climatic view of Captain America and Bucky battling Iron Man. What’s interesting is how the trailer weaves a narrative of its own, one that I suspect won’t be followed in quite so linear a fashion in the movie. I’ll be vaguely surprised if this is a scene at the end of the film, for example, rather than towards the three-quarter mark.

So there you have it, guys – my thoughts and analysis!

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