Last night, late night host Jimmy Kimmel surprised everyone when he, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans premiered the first trailer for their upcoming Marvel movie extravaganza, Captain America: Civil War.
The reaction to the trailer was overwhelmingly positive, but there were a few bits that may leave those not as inundated in the world of Marvel's Cinematic Universe confused. Why are Iron Man and Captain America at war with one each other in the first place? Who's the guy in the cat-like suit?
Perhaps most importantly, what's the story directors Joe and Anthony Russo are trying to tell with the third Captain America installment?
We broke the trailer down, practically frame-by-frame, to see what we could figure out.
We don't know just how closely Captain America: Civil War is going to follow Marvel's 7-part comic book event of the same name. Certain relationships that are stressed in the MCU aren't as important in the comics, and that directly influences massive potential changes for the film. To get a better understanding of just what's going on in the trailer, though, here's a mini-backstory of the actual comic.
In the book, Captain America is on the run after refusing to join S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Superhuman Registration Act; an act that would force every superhero to give up their secret identity and effectively register all their information with the United States government.
In the process, dozens of lives are lost — including a few integral characters — but it's highly unlikely that the movie will follow that exact storyline. There's only so many characters Marvel and Disney have at their disposal. They couldn't possibly follow the comic book arc to a tee and expect to continue the franchise with these characters.
The trailer picks up where the end credits scene of Ant-Man left off, with Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson (Falcon) walking into a room where Bucky Barnes (otherwise known as Winter Soldier) can be seen stuck in a machine of some sort. At the end of the last Captain America film, Barnes had managed to get away from the two heroes who were hellbent on capturing him and helping him remember what had happened in the past.
During a post-credits scene in Winter Soldier, Barnes can be seen walking through a museum and standing in front of a Captain America display, loosely acknowledging the fact that after months of being chased by his good friend Steve, he regained at least some of his memory.
"Buck. Do you remember me," Rogers asks in the trailer, staring down at Barnes.
This may not seem incredibly important, but it is. Barnes remembers everything about his past, including his strong friendship with Rogers. The two can finally go back to being the brothers in arms they were before, and it gives Rogers a reason to fight to protect Barnes.
They could be in each other's life again, but now that Barnes is a wanted man, they couldn't possibly fly under the radar if the Superhuman Registration Act were to go into effect. It's the motive Rogers needs to fight S.H.I.E.L.D. and his Avenger teammate, Tony Stark.
"You're a wanted man," Rogers says to Barnes as a building explodes in the background.
The building definitely belongs to a government agency, although there's no indication as to what that agency may be. The only clue we have is that it's in Germany, based on the "polizei" vests some of the officers can be seen wearing. Sam Wilson can also be seen standing among the chaos as employees sprint out of the building.
"I don't do that anymore," Barnes says in response.
"Well the people who think you did are coming right now. And they're not planning on taking you alive," Rogers answers.
While this conversation is going on, we get a little bit more information about the previous scene. The officers that are running up flights of stairs to get to Barnes are wearing the same polizei vests as the ones seen worn by the people running into the government building.
Based on Rogers' response, too, it's safe to assume that Barnes has been hiding out since the explosion. Wilson and Rogers have spent their time tracking him down and that lead them to the destroyed government building before they finally found his hideaway.
Rogers, who quickly transforms into Captain America, then helps Barnes fight his way out of the building, taking down all the officers who stand in their way. His side has been chosen. There's no going back.
"Captain, while a great many people see you as a hero, there are some who prefer the word vigilante," General Ross (William Hurt) says to Rogers in the next scene, who's sitting at a table with Black Widow and Falcon.
There's a lot to unpack in this scene. First off, the building they're housed in for the meeting sports the large Avengers symbol on the side of it, but it doesn't look like the new Avengers Headquarters shown at the end of Age of Ultron. It could just be a S.H.I.E.L.D. complex, but there's no way to know for certain based off the half-second glimpse.
The second interesting thing to note is that Hurt will be reprising his role as General Ross, who some may remember as the antagonist from The Incredible Hulk.
Although he was definitely the baddie in that film, Hurt has said in interviews that this is a much different General Ross than fans are accustomed too. Still, as the trailer moves forward, we can see Black Widow pick up a document titled "The Sokovia Accords," before General Ross adds that Rogers has "operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's something the world can no longer tolerate."
The Sokovia Accords have had a long history in the MCU with only brief hints given as to what it is exactly. In Ant-Man, for example, a passenger on a trolley can be seen reading a newspaper with a headline that reads, "Who's to blame for the Sokovia Accords?"
Even more interestingly, in a second post-credits scene in Ant-Man, Captain America references the Accords, speculating that Iron Man may not be able to help him and Falcon with Barnes because of it. Although we still don't know what the Sokovia Accords are, rumor has it that it's the international event that sets up the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act in the first place.
Could it be the explosion of the building we see during the first bit of the trailer? Who knows? But the importance of it is blatantly obvious.
In deciding not to sign up for the Act and help Barnes escape, Rogers has become a wanted man. At one point in the trailer, we see him in civilian gear, wearing what I imagine is supposed to be a pair of inconspicuous sunglasses, and talking to Black Widow over the phone.
"I know how much Bucky means to you. Stay out of this one," she warns him. "Please, it'll only make this worse."
"You saying you'll arrest me?'" he asks.
At this point, Rogers is aiding and abetting a crime, as well as helping a known fugitive escape from the multiple law enforcement agencies. He's become a criminal in his own regard, and as such, brings the heat down on himself. That's including, as we can see in one scene, being chased down by Iron Man.
There's not much information given about Iron Man's character in this trailer, and although he plays a major part in the comics, this is still a Captain America movie.
The focus isn't necessarily on the civil war between superheroes, but more so about the friendship between Barnes and Rogers. We can assume that by the time this particular scene in the movie takes place, Stark has already been contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D and is out looking for his friend, but we don't know if he's been ordered to take him down yet.
That's not how their relationship works in the film universe, remember. Based on Stark's bruised eye and Rogers' quip of "well, it's been a long day," the two have probably already fought prior to meeting up in this building. It almost looks like a final showdown, but there's no way to tell for certain. In the comics, there's a very important and tense moment that occurs between the two leaders, but whether or not that's what's taking place here is questionable.
"If we can't accept limitations, then we're no better than the bad guys," Stark says at one point.
"That's not the way I see it," Rogers retaliates.
This is a crucial moment in the comic book, and I hope translates well in the movie. It's the moment the two men realize they'll have to fight each other and defend their own ideologies about what it means to be a superhero.
While one wants the ability to protect the world and not have to worry about answering to a government agency or worry about his true identity coming out, the other wants more order surrounding the league of superheroes that have popped up, and from a strictly narcissistic standpoint, recognition for the work they do.
This is where the fighting really begins in the trailer and the sides are finally drawn. Now, whether or not the teams are the same in the film as they were in the comic is debatable. For example, in the film, it wouldn't make sense for Falcon to join Iron Man's side. He's Captain America's friend and loyal right hand man, but in the comic, that's exactly what he does.
"Those people shooting at you, usually wind up shooting at me too," Falcon says to Rogers at one point, after being heavily shot upon.
The use of this scene towards the end of the trailer is interesting, because based on Rogers' outfit, it's obvious that this was around the same time he found Barnes and helped him escape. The building he's lying on looks like it could have been the government agency that was blown up at the very beginning of the trailer, but it's impossible to tell for certain. Still, it's abundantly clear that Rogers gets into a bit of trouble while rescuing his friend.
"You know what's about to happen," Black Widow says as the trailer continues. "Do you really want to punch your way out of this?"
It's the quote that leads to the very first face-off of superheroes in the trailer. On one side, there's Iron Man and War Machine and on the other side there's Captain America, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye.
Although we can't see it, we know from previous promotional art released by Marvel that Black Panther, Black Widow and Vision are also on Iron Man's team, while Ant-Man will join Captain America's.
In the next scene, we can see Barnes and his team running away as Iron Man and War Machine take to the sky, opening fire on some of their former Avengers teammates. It looks like they're fighting on an airport tarmac, probably in Germany, although there doesn't seem to be anyone else around.
"What do we do," Falcon asks, standing at one end of the tarmac.
"We fight," Rogers answers as his team starts sprinting toward Iron Man's.
It's the first time we get to see Black Panther in action, as he delivers a whopping kick to the side of Winter Soldier's face. It'll also be the first time that the character, played by Chadwick Boseman, makes an appearance in the MCU, two years prior to his own film being released in 2018.
This is a perfect example of what I was referring to when I mentioned that it's clear the MCU will have to split off from the comic. In the comic, Black Panther is on Captain America's side and Falcon is on Iron Man's side, but it appears the two have switched to keep in line with the relationships already built within the films.
In fact, in the next scene, Captain America can be seen chasing Black Panther pretty intensely in what appears to be an underground parking garage. While that's going on, there's also a somewhat revealing moment between Winter Soldier and Iron Man.
During a fight sequence, Winter Soldier manages to get his hand wrapped around Iron Man's arc reactor and squeeze it pretty hard. In the original comic, Iron Man isn't the superhero that dies, but there's been speculation that he may be killed off in Civil War. It seems like a bit of a stretch, considering there's still another Avengers movie that has to come out, but if they decide to forego the first round of superheroes for the next Avengers film and replace the characters with the second phase heroes, the possibility is there. It just seems very, very unlikely.
However, in the next scene, Iron Man can be seen sitting on the ground and holding the body of War Machine. Will that be the shocking death that occurs in this movie? Probably not, since it's already in the trailer and we don't know if he's actually dead, but it's a starting point for looking at the casualties of this war.
"I'm sorry Tony. You know I wouldn't do this if I had any other choice. But he's my friend," Rogers says toward the end of the trailer.
"So was I," Stark responds, before breaking out into a fight with both Barnes and Rogers.
The last scene of the trailer features Barnes and Rogers teaming together, working closer than any other duo in the MCU, to take down Iron Man, who's slowly being brought to his knees. Barnes and Rogers toss Captain America's shield back and forth like it's nothing, each taking turns to whack Iron Man with it, before the trailer ends.
It's a testament to their power as fighters, and the power they have when brought together instead of taking on each other.
The biggest question is how much of a role Spider-Man is going to play in the movie. We know that Spider-Man will make a brief appearance, to re-introduce the character to the MCU, but in the comic, Spider-Man is easily the most important character.
He plays the voice of reason throughout the entire fight, examining the question of freedom and liberty through both Captain America and Iron Man's point of view. That character needs to exist in Civil War, but it's highly unlikely that it'll be Spider-Man who's chosen to be the voice of morality. There was no hint in the trailer as to who that character will be, but my best is on the one other character we didn't really get a glimpse of in the trailer, Ant-Man.
Seriously, where was Ant-Man? Of course there's a possibility that we just couldn't see him because he had shrunk down to his itty bitty form, but it's still strange that we didn't get one glimpse of him throughout the entire two and a half minutes. Still, we know he's in the film and we know he's there to help Captain America, so it's not overly worrying.
Captain America: Civil War is the third installment in the Captain America series and the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's scheduled to hit theaters worldwide on May 6, 2016.