The New World Order has fallen. We’re now in a Brave New World. Since the announcement of a fourth Captain America film, with Anthony Mackie‘s Sam Wilson in the lead, fans have had one nagging concern: that subtitle.
To the uninformed, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Marvel calling its movie Captain America: New World Order. After all, the movie will deal with the Leader (Tim Blake Nelson, reprising his role as antagonist Samuel Sterns from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk) and the Serpent Society establishing a secret government, causing trouble on the world stage. However, the phrase has been used by Right Wing conspiracy theorists in the U.S., often with racist and explicitly anti-Semitic views. While Marvel likely did not mean to invoke these ideas, there’s no denying that the title may have put a damper on the first movie starring a Black Captain America for some.
So it’s quite a relief to see the latest set photos from the film, which feature an updated title to the movie. In a tweet from Marvel Studios, we see Mackie in his Cap gear talking excitedly with Harrison Ford, who takes over the role of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross from the late William Hurt. “Captain America: Brave New World. In theaters May 3, 2024″ reads the caption.
Not only does the new title have less hateful implications, but it also gives us a better idea of the movie’s plot. We already know that writer Malcolm Spellman, who is co-writing with Dalan Musson, intends to continue building on the plots he began in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, for which he served as showrunner. That series saw various forces take advantage of the retirement of Steve Rogers and Sam’s reluctance to take the shield to put forward their own Captain America, the ultimately unhinged John Walker. It ended with Sam taking up the mantle and urging the world’s governments to do better to care for displaced populations represented by the Flag Smashers.
But the title also hearkens back to a classic literary work, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. That 1932 book features a dystopian world in which the populace has been largely anesthetized by automated machinery, media saturation, and widespread use of a drug called Soma, all to the benefit of a totalitarian government. Given the (literally) big-brained Leader’s use of mind-control in the comics, we might see a similar plot in Captain America 4, potentially involving the use of the media to turn the world against Cap.
Marvel Comics fans may also recognize the subtitle as a miniseries from the Secret Empire storyline, which saw Hydra use the Cosmic Cube to rewrite history, making Steve Rogers into a Hydra Agent who conquers America. The Brave New World series followed various heroes through the Marvel Universe as they dealt with their friend’s betrayal and totalitarian tendencies. If Spellman, Musson, and director Julius Onah plan to use parts of that story for their film, we may see how the Leader’s actions affect the rest of the MCU.
Whatever the new subtitle means, we’re just glad it doesn’t bring to mind hateful nonsense that shouldn’t be entertained anywhere, least of all in a Captain America film.