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Will ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Drop Marvel’s Political Commentary?

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The new trailer for ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is out. Let’s guess at what it tells us of the Marvel-themed movie series.


Marvel released the new trailer for “Captain America: Civil War,” giving audiences their first look at the third entry in its Captain America film series. Initial reception looked to be high, especially considering that the trailer featured the much-anticipated first look at the Black Panther. However, the story elements the trailer displays suggest this movie may lack the sharp political edge of “Winter Soldier” and the comic book source material.

The trailer obviously gives away the battle between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, but the source of their feud looks different. In the comics, a group of poorly prepared and relatively novice superheroes end up fighting some overpowered bad guys, laying to waste a local elementary school. In the aftermath, the government requires all “super powered” beings to register. Stark and Rogers fall on opposing sides of the issue, and punching occurs.

Naturally, the original material draws allusions to a huge range of topics, the gun debate being chief among them, but also explores the usual themes of over-expansive government, the encroaching security state, and the idea of individual mandates.

This makes it less about where you fall on government regulation than whether Captain America is right in defending his buddy.

The key change in the movie, at least from what’s shown in the trailer, is that Captain America is aiding his friend, Bucky (a.k.a. Winter Soldier) in avoiding law enforcement, who are rightfully ticked-off about Bucky’s role in the prior film’s events. This seems to incite the civil war and shift the dialogue of the movie to “What will you do to stand up for your friends?” It turns the rest of the cast into enforcers of the law.

Remember, in “Winter Soldier” Bucky laid waste to public buses and downtown DC. Think about how much flooding landing those hellicarriers into the Anacostia River caused! This change of focus puts Captain America into an illogical position because it shows those looking to bring super-powered beings in have a just cause.

This all results in taking the ideological stakes out of the fight, which makes it less about where you fall on government regulation of people’s lives than whether Captain America is right in defending his buddy who, while brainwashed, caused huge loss of life and property damage. In the comics it was heroes who, while intending to do good, wound up causing a large amount of collateral damage, which led to a call for regulation. The movie’s shift looks to be making an emotional appeal for Captain America’s side, rather than any sort of reasoned rationale.

Considering that “Winter Soldier” did a great job talking about the National Security Agency, it feels like a step backward to potentially lose the trail of political commentary. Of course, this is all speculation based on a two-and-a-half-minute trailer, so it could be debunked. However, now would be the time to read the “Civil War” comic. It’s one of the better books Marvel has put out, and one of the few that actually has some interesting things to say that aren’t wrapped in identity politics.