Captain America: Civil War Trailer Analysis

Our Captain America: Civil War trailer breakdown is here to help make sense of the big battle of Marvel Phase 3.

This article contains potential Captain America: Civil Warspoilers. It has been lightly updated with some suggestions from our readers.

Well, here we are. The Captain America: Civil War trailer arrived earlier than expected. Not that I’m one to complain about something like this, mind you.

One thing to consider before we go any further, know this: Captain America: Civil War is loosely based on the Marvel Comics story known as (wait for it) Civil War, by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. There are some familiar elements here, namely Captain America and Iron Man beating the living crap out of each other over a difference in ideology, but the reasons for said beatings are substantially different in the movie than what we got in the comics.

Stock up on Captain America comics, Blu-rays, clothes, and toys on Amazon

Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is…

That doesn’t mean there isn’t some cool stuff to explore, though.

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One other thing to consider before I go into a deeper analysis. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Tom Holland as Spider-Man, well…it ain’t happening this time. They’ve kept their new Spider-Man and Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo a secret here in this first batch of footage. But if you really think they’re in there, I’m prepared to listen. You’ll have to provide me some pretty convincing photographic evidence, though!

As usual, this isn’t necessarily a chronological breakdown of the shots in the trailer. I picked the stuff that seems important, and then grouped them where I found the most context. If you think I missed a major Marvel revelation, shout it out in the comments or right at me on Twitter, and I’ll see about updating this where appropriate.

While not quite identical to the post-credits scene in Ant-Man, we see Falcon and Captain America confronting Bucky. It’s almost like an intervention for brainwashed, cybernetic former assassins.

Bucky could be on the run for any number of things, but since we know that some kind of massive event involving superhumans is what sets the Civil War in motion, it could be something Bucky did or something he’s been framed for. The events of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron were probably enough to get the world worried, but at least there’s some accountability there. With someone like the Winter Soldier, well…not as much.

Could this be a terrorist act either perpetrated by Bucky or by someone trying to blame superhumans for it? Or is it possible that this is something from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, perhaps a look at the collateral damage from all those helicarriers crashing into buildings?

Either way, more superhuman carnage, especially that with seemingly official casualties like this, can’t be good for anyone involved.

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Bringing back William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is a nice piece of Marvel Cinematic Universe world-building. General Ross is traditionally a pain in the Hulk’s green ass, but his general distrust of superhumans should translate nicely to this story, which requires someone with considerable authority to push through some legislation on superhuman activity.

Speaking of which…

So, now we’re getting into the root of the problem. “The Sokovia Accords” refer to the catastrophic events from the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. No matter how many folks the Avengers saved there, the cost in damage and human life was astounding…not to mention the PR disaster that “AI created by a superhero tried to destroy the world by dropping a country on it from orbit” must be.

Really, the damn gub’mint will just look for any excuse to pass laws restricting freedom, won’t they? Anyway…

In the comics, the event was relatively more small scale, just the destruction of a town by an errant group of well-meaning but dumb superheroes filming a reality show. What caused the split between the heroes there was that the plan was to get everyone to register their real identities with the government so that they could be organized and monitored. Tony Stark went along with it pretty readily, Steve Rogers did not. 

Since secret identities are mostly meaningless here in the MCU, that’s not what the fight is about. I wrote a little bit more about the comic book version of Civil War and what it might mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe right here.

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Hey, Tony! Who gave you that shiner?

It’s not clear if this initial conversation between Iron Man and Captain America happens before or after some of the other things we see in the trailer. If I had to guess, though, we’re not going to see any proper throwdowns between these two until later in the film. So far, I’m impressed with how relatively restrained this movie looks, despite featuring a damn near full roster of Avengers.

This is our only glimpse of Martin Freeman’s mysterious character. Blink and you’ll miss him. Maybe he’s Henry Peter Gyrich?

That may or may not be Agent Carter, Agent 13 standing next to him, too.


…this also appears to be Cap and Falcon’s “turn in your badge and gun” moment. Maybe Tony talked him into it. Maybe Black Widow did. Either way, it isn’t going to stick.

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For proof of that, I offer…

okay, this is just badass, and should get all of us to the gym after Thanksgiving. Holy moley, Evans couldn’t possibly look more like a superhero. Anyway, this seems to be part one of a nod to the comics, albeit a sideways one…

The whole, “chopper rescue gone wrong” (possibly during an escape) may or may not remind me of this scene from the comics. I haven’t decided yet…

But speaking of escapes…

This definitely feels like one, doesn’t it? The idea of Cap and Falcon as fugitives/freedom fighters assembling their own team to get shit done is pretty appealing. It also, in many ways, feels like a natural extension of what we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Seriously, after that movie, why would Cap ever trust any sweeping government mandate that requires guys like him to be monitored or reined in again?

On the other hand, Bucky clearly isn’t going to answer to anyone, and certainly throws in with Cap. And why shouldn’t he? Steve is the only person who has believed in him.

Which brings us to Team Cap. Not pictured here: Ant-Man. 

Team Iron Man also includes Black Widow, and likely the Vision. It’s not clear yet if Black Panther is strictly a Tony Stark guy, or if he’s a wild card/neutral party.

We’d better talk about Black Panther, though…

Black Panther looks extraordinarily badass.

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We wrote quite a bit more about him right here.

This appears to be Black Panther chasing Bucky, with Captain America in pursuit of/trying to stop Black Panther. Again, it’s possible that Bucky is being framed for an additional event that helps put the Sokovia Accords on the table, or that Black Panther is just after him for something that the Winter Soldier did to Wakanda. 

Since the Black Panther mantle is a generational thing, handed down from one Wakandan king to another, could T’Challa be after Bucky because the Winter Soldier assassinated his predeccesor?

So, we don’t get to see Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo in this trailer. But…

…we do seem to spend quite a bit of time in Germany, don’t we?

I admit, it’s a tenuous connection. It’s just that Zemo is one of my favorite Marvel villains, and I’m looking for any excuse.

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I have no idea what the IFID is. There’s an International Federation for Information and Documentation, which would certainly fit with some of the Civil War themes, but somehow I don’t think they’re as heavily armed and equipped as what we see here.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff…

I feel that in order for this movie to have maximum impact, somebody has to pay the ultimate price. The thing is, if it was War Machine, they wouldn’t show us in the trailer. Now…

The big Cap and Iron Man punch-up is what they’re counting on everyone paying their money for, right? But the bit where Cap and Winter Soldier are going back and forth with Cap’s shield has considerable significance, considering that the conclusion of the comic book Civil War also featured someone new taking up the shield.

It has also been pointed out to me (thanks to Momin in the comments), that this fight appears to be taking place in the Red Skull’s old lab/fortress. While there’s virtually zero chance that the Red Skull imself will actually appear in this movie, that’s a villain whose legacy is too large to ignore. Daniel Bruhl has already said that his Baron Zemo isn’t like the character from the comics, so perhaps instead of a Zemo family legacy, his legacy extends to Johann Schmidt, instead.

But since this clearly isn’t a straight adaptation of the comics, I suppose anything is possible. This should be fun, though.

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Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6th, 2016.