As loyal readers will know, this week’s column was supposed to be a Jessica Jones review and recap. There isn’t a lack of material to write about on that front. To give you a preview, I’m still internally debating whether Jessica Jones is the best Marvel property developed yet out of both small and big screen (not to rile Daredevil fans, myself being one of them, but Jessica Jones is definitely the best of the small screen). That review and that debate will have to wait until next week though. Why? Four words: Captain America: Civil War. Did anyone predict that teaser dropping when it did? Maybe it was all the hinting that we’d first glimpse it during the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it came completely out of the blue, very much catching me by surprise. Not complaining though. What a teaser it was.
To put it bluntly and a bit ironically, the single best part of the Captain America: Civil War teaser was its focus on Captain America. That might sound obvious or redundant to an outsider unfamiliar with the MCU. But as us fanboys and fangirls know, it wasn’t certain that this movie was going to be Cap 3 as opposed to Avengers 2.5. As more and more members of the Avengers roster kept getting added to the cast, many of us out there, myself included, grew nervous that Steve Rogers would fall out of the limelight in his own movie. There is, of course, no way to know for certain from a teaser trailer alone, but any fears I harbored have been obliterated. Based solely upon this teaser, we’re getting the Cap movie we want, with an emphasis, it appears, on the relationship between Steve and Bucky. This is an excellent continuation of the events of Winter Soldier.
Right here, however, we have an opportunity to highlight how the Marvel Cinematic Universe has accomplished something rather unprecedented in movie-making history. Even though, by all accounts, this is going to be a Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Falcon centric story, the teaser still seamlessly incorporates countless other beloved characters in the background. Black Widow, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, War Machine—none of them feel out of place. Flash back to 2008, when Iron Man first premiered, could you have imagined this many powered characters being plopped into the landscape of a movie’s plot without jarring effect? By virtue of laying the groundwork over the course of twelve excellent movies, Feige and Company have created a rich world of plentiful characters that can weave in and out of storylines without upsetting the balance of each respective film. This is how the comics have operated for years, and the up front cost Marvel Studios has leveraged to create this world might get its highest return on investment yet in Captain America: Civil War.
Post teaser, my one and only concern right now centers on Captain America’s motivation. The Civil War comics series is my all time favorite, in great part because of its focus on an issue of immense moral and political significance that mirrored our world at the time of its publication (and still mirrors our world today). Should superhumans be registered with the government and forced to reveal their secret identities in the process? That’s the question at the heart of the series, and it manifests itself as a stark debate of civil liberties versus national/international security. In the comics, Captain America comes down squarely on the side of civil liberties, championing the cause against Iron Man, who sides squarely in favor of registration. Watching the teaser for Captain America: Civil War, I worry that Steve Rogers’ ideological motivations might be downplayed, replaced with an emphasis on his desire to protect his childhood friend, Bucky. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the teaser plays up the Bucky Barnes storyline, and the inherent bond between him and Steve. But it was the ideological objections at the heart of the story that formed the crux of the comic series’ strength (and similarly, what made Captain America: Winter Soldier so impactful and relevant). Steve Rogers, in Captain America: Civil War, should not object to the Sokovia Accords because he wants to save Bucky. He should object to them because he disagrees with the legislation on principle. The relationship with Bucky, if employed properly, can serve as an excellent catalyst that manifests itself as a real world example of Cap’s ideological objection, but it should not replace it. I hope this is the direction Marvel goes.
This minor concern is not to override, however, what is a compelling and excellent teaser by any measure. As teasers go, I’d give it a four out of five on my Strunk scale of excellence. Some stray observations below, detailing more takeaways. And only 160 days left until what I fully anticipate will be the best Marvel movie to date!
- A lot of noticeable absentees. No Ant-Man (as far as I can tell without a magnifying glass) or Baron Zemo. Crossbones, Sharon Carter, and Martin Freeman’s mystery character are all briefly seen in background shots but never highlighted (as my fave Mr. Sunday Movies notes). Most notably, Spider-Man is absent—but I think that’s a good call. My bet is Marvel will hold out a while before having a Spider-Man reveal.
- Pretty dark tone (though Marvel has a history of dark teasers). The only quip I could count was the one concerning Cap’s “perfect teeth.” Personally, I’m hoping that this movie keeps the darker tone of Winter Soldier and lightens up on the quips.
- Way more focus on Bucky Barnes than I anticipated, but I am more than happy about that. I think the development of Cap and Bucky’s relationship brings excellent emotional heft.
- Black Panther, looking pretty, pretty good. My favorite scene of his is when he’s chasing Bucky while being chased by Cap.
- The full title of the Bill passed to Scarlet Witch (presumably that is Scarlet Witch) is: Sokovia Accords: Framework for the Registration and Deployment of Enhanced Individuals—an obvious nod to the aftermath of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- At first I wasn’t a fan of the fight scene between Bucky, Cap, and Iron Man at the end, but now I love it upon numerous re-watches. Excellent choreography. As a friend noted to me, superbly fluid coordination when passing Cap’s shield back and forth.
- Best part of the teaser: “But he’s my friend”—“So was I”