Before we move any further:
This trailer for Captain America: Civil War is top notch. I have spoken about how the Distinguished Competition (what the old Marvel editors would call DC) have had a bit of trouble figuring out their marketing campaign for Batman v Superman. It is difficult to sell the conflict when we don’t really know either party in the fight. Ben Affleck’s Batman is a new iteration and while I thought I knew Superman, this version can be very violent and erratic. Captain America and Iron Man, on the other hand, have been with us for about eight years. We’ve seen them meet, bond, and fight before. And that’s why Civil War is going to hurt so damn much.
There are a lot of epic moments in the trailer. The underwater super prison, the Black Panther/Bucky chase, Tony Stark’s Iron Glove… thing, Black Panther totally unfazed by a barrage of bullets (because his suit is 100% Vibranium and absorbs all the impact force), Scarlet Witch vs The Vision, Ant-Man leaping off of Hawkeye’s arrow, the group shot of everyone running at each other and, of course, Spider-Man.
But what really stands out in this trailer, far more than the whiz bang explosions, is Steve Rogers.
It’s the quieter moments, like when all of the collateral damage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is thrown in The Avengers’ faces. Steve tells General Ross to stop, not because he’s had enough, but because he sees the look on Wanda/Scarlet Witch’s face at looking at Sokovia again.
Greater still, it’s when Iron Man has Cap dead to rights and says, “Stay down.” and Cap just replies, “I can do this all day.”
Because it’s this:
Because he’s still the scrawny kid from Brooklyn who can’t stand a bully. Even after World War II. Even after being frozen for nearly 7o years. Even after fighting aliens and gods and killer robots. Even after the enemy he thought he’d destroyed came back as strong as ever. He’s still that kid.
There’s a fairly iconic panel of Captain America from, ironically, a Spider-Man comic back in the comic series Civil War. It wasn’t the best event series in comic form, and I’m very happy the movie is only using the bare bones concept for its story. Still, I think this panel perfectly distills who Steve Rogers is, as he explains to Spider-Man what America means to him.
This is also why this character works so well in these movies. He’s too righteous and good to find internal conflict. His powers are too mundane for the epic stories of Thor but his enemies are too great for something smaller like Ant-Man. No, you test Steve Rogers by throwing everything against him, and watch him refuse to bend from his beliefs. You put him in a traditional conspiracy movie and watch him become the moral compass for everyone involved.
And then you put him into a no win scenario. You put his best friend from childhood on one side and his best friend from the present on the other. You see what happens when there no longer is a right answer. You watch him try to save everyone even when he knows that isn’t possible. You watch in horror as the friendships and life he’s built over the past few years comes crumbling down.
This is why the Marvel movies work as well as they do. They know their characters, and they know exactly how to test them. Tony Stark’s arc has been all about learning from his mistakes and learning to accept help from his friends. After Ultron, he knows they need oversight. He knows he needs oversight. Black Widow has always been with one organization or another. This is all she knows. Hawkeye will do whatever is best for his family. Each and every one of them are willing to fight for their beliefs, because that’s what made them heroes in the first place.
Whether we knew it or not, this story was always going to happen. Now I’m just scared of what the fallout of it will be. Just like in The Winter Soldier the entire MCU is going to change following this one, and it doesn’t matter which team comes out on top. Because they will all have lost a piece of themselves.
Except for Spider-Man. He’s just happy to be here.
Yay! Look how colorful he is!
PS – My recommended marathon before watching Civil War is: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. You come in with Cap, meet Iron Man, find out what makes him tick in one of his solo adventures, return for Bucky’s big debut, and then see how the Avengers roster changed so drastically.