‘Captain America: Civil War’ Trailer Breakdown: What We Learned

     November 25, 2015

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I don’t know about you, but I’m loving Marvel’s first look at Captain America: Civil War. Sure, Joe and Anthony Russo showed off a more stylized version of a 70s political thriller with their work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I’m loving the comic book craziness and brotherhood feels of this new trailer. So much so, in fact, that I combed through it frame by frame to pull over 60 images and scoured the edited scenes in an attempt to piece together a bit more of the story.

Captain America: Civil War may feature Chris Evans’ character in its title, but the movie is looking like a massive ensemble piece that also stars Robert Downey Jr. as Cap’s main antagonist. I like that this first look really drives home the theme of brotherhood between not only Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, but Tony Stark and James Rhodes, as well. There are some very interesting plot points going on here though nothing close to the full reveal has happened just yet. I attempt to pick apart as much as I can in the following trailer breakdown for Captain America: Civil War.


captain-america-civil-war-poster-capLet’s start off with the official synopsis for Captain America: Civil War:

“Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.

If you’ll remember back to Avengers: Age of Ultron, the climactic battle of that movie saw the Avengers teaming up to evacuate Sokovia’s capital city of Novi Grad before the villainous Ultron could slam the levitated city into the ground to simulate a meteor impact. Though the Avengers stopped this plan and destroyed Ultron, this was the second city-destroying incident on their record. And as the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War seems to show – and as the synopsis promises – a third international incident has tipped the scales against the Avengers and their unfettered power. Let’s take a look at what that might be.


In the comics, a group of junior Avengers called the New Warriors are battling a bunch of supervillains in a populated area, a battle which goes poorly when one of the villains self-detonates and takes out the heroes along with civilians of Stamford, CT. In the movie, it’s been rumored that Captain America and Scarlet Witch are attempting to hunt down the villainous Crossbones in an action scene that will play out in a similar fashion to the comics, thus signaling the need for legislation of superhuman individuals. It’s possible that a disastrous handling of the Crossbones situation could lead to the need for superhuman registration. We don’t have a lot of evidence for that in this trailer, but we do have shots of Cap and Falcon taking Bucky Barnes – the Winter Soldier – into custody.

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Cap gently interrogates Bucky and lets him know that he’s a wanted man, to which Bucky replies, “I don’t do that anymore.” These lines of dialogue are paired up with an explosion that seems to rip through some sort of gathering of reporters and dignitaries during what appears to be a U.N. media event. It’s likely this incident that leads to the passing of the “Sokovia Accords: Framework for the Registration and Deployment of Enhanced Individuals”, as seen in the image below. It sounds like this is the legislation that’s inspired by the comic book’s Superhuman Registration Act:

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Image via Marvel


I’m going to further speculate that this explosion is part of the big opening action sequence that might end with Bucky being implicated, or at least hunted down because of the newly minted legislation that sets up the main conflict at the core of Civil War. With Bucky framed for the incident, Cap and Falcon have to get him to safety, an act which would further drive a wedge between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

Instigating this bit of bothersome bureaucracy is William Hurt’s General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who is cherry picking super-powered allies as recruits to go after supervillains, ie Winter Soldier, and those other marginal super-powered folks who disagree with the government’s registration program, ie Captain America. Also apparently in cahoots with Ross is Martin Freeman’s unnamed character, who can be seen in the same frame with Cap and Falcon once they’ve presumably cleaned out their lockers:


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Image via Marvel

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(Is that supposed to be the C.I.A.’s Sharon Carter accompanying Freeman’s character? Perhaps.)

This is where the superheroes begin to choose sides. As Bucky now has a bigger target on his back, Natasha Romanoff asks Steve to stay out of the mission to bring the Winter Soldier in, if only because Bucky means a lot to him. While it’s surprising that Black Widow presumably chooses to side with Iron Man and the government – especially when Hawkeye is against it, apparently – there are some allies who are less surprising: Obviously Iron Man is going to have his buddy War Machine and his creation Vision by his side. Equally obvious is that Cap will partner up with Bucky Barnes, Falcon, and event Sharon Carter to an extent (though we don’t see her in this trailer). The wild cards are Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Scarlet Witch; this trailer gives no indication of why they chose the sides they did (though I can understand Wanda Maximoff’s distrust of the government and of Tony Stark – his creation Ultron destroyed her home and was ultimately responsible for her brother’s death). It does show a clear delineation of teams, however:


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Now’s as good a time as any to take a look at the action that unfolds in Africa, and the appearance of Wakandan Prince T’Challa as the Black Panther. It’s hard to tell just where these scenes fit into the story at this point, but thankfully the distinctive background, armored extras, and militarized vehicles make things pretty clear. But here’s a bit more speculation from me: Is it possible that the international incident that kickstarted this whole thing actually occurs in Wakanda, or at least somewhere in Africa? And perhaps T’Challa was there during the event as a traveling dignitary? This is the only conceivable way I can think of to both introduce Black Panther and give him a reason to side with Tony Stark and the American government against the presumed terrorist Winter Soldier and any allies he possesses, unless of course they crossed paths between the events of the Captain America movies.

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In this same sequence, at least the way it’s edited in the trailer, it also looks like Cap is running through some sort of medical or pharmaceutical facility that’s under attack. Remember back to Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which Sharon Carter mentions being in contact with infectious diseases; maybe it was just a joke, or maybe it’s got something to do with the IFID and whatever’s going on here.


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Image via Marvel

And I’m not sure just where this chase scene comes into play, but it looks like Black Panther certainly has the edge on Cap when it comes to pure speed:

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Image via Marvel


However Black Panther gets involved with this whole story, it seems like the gang is eventually going to come together for a big battle at a German airport, specifically Flughafen Leipzig/HalleJudging from the scenes in the trailer alone, not only do the two sides of the divide battle it out here (for some reason), but there are some unexpected casualties that further escalate the tensions:

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(That appears to be Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye running from an attack.)

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While Captain America’s real heart in this fight is provided by his longtime friend Bucky Barnes, Iron Man’s own emotional connection is apparently being served up by a defeated (And possibly dead? Probably best to avoid IMDb’s cast descriptions just in case.) James Rhodes, aka War Machine. Given the Winter Soldier’s apparent penchant for ripping arc reactors out of the chest of Iron Man’s armors, I’m wondering if Bucky was directly responsible for Rhodey appearing in rather bad shape. That would certainly push Stark over the edge, more than enough to engage in a one-on-two battle against the united super soldiers in what appears to be some sort of bunker.

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(This place is either a missile launch bay, maybe in a silo, or the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I’ll put my money on the former.)

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So while this first trailer was, in my opinion, an awesome introduction to the superheroic conflict that will afflict the characters of Captain America: Civil War, there’s obviously much, much more to the story. Surely the heroes can’t fight only amongst themselves when Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo is still lurking around. And you can almost certainly bet that the Avengers present in Captain America: Civil War will all unite to fight against a common enemy by movie’s end. That’s just as safe a bet as all of the heroes walking away from the action, utterly spent, but entirely whole … right?


We’ll find out when Captain America: Civil War opens May 6, 2016.

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