First of all, the movie looks absolutely amazing. It looks like it will deliver on all aspects, and fulfill most expectations. Now, keep in mind that this is just a first trailer, and it is only 90 seconds long, so it may not really give a complete picture of what the film will actually end up being, but it is certainly longer than a teaser and does appear to give a fairly complete sense of what audiences can expect. That said, I have a few thoughts.
The first thing that jumps out at me is that the film seems to have omitted, or at least significantly altered, the original political themes of the original comic book miniseries from 2007. If you haven’t read the comics, the original story revolved around a Superhero Registration Act, similar to the legislation proposed against mutants in the first X-Men film from 2000.
This regulation was put forth after a group of inexperienced superheroes, the New Warriors, cause a devastating disaster, killing over 600 innocent bystanders and destroying several city blocks and an elementary school. The legislation was quickly passed, and SHIELD was given the authority to enforce the new law. The law would require superhumans, even those not actively involved in superheroing, to register their identities and abilities with the government and anyone actively engaged in any superhero activities would have to be trained. The Avengers Academy would be created as a means to train superheroes.
Captain America is soon called in by SHIELD, with the expectation that he would lead the Avengers in the enforcement of the law, specifically by hunting down anyone who refuses to follow the law and register. Cap, in keeping with his love of freedom and his unwillingness to go along with totalitarianism, respectfully declines. SHIELD immediately tries to arrest Captain America, but he escapes.
The story picks up from there wit Captain America assembling a team of Secret Avengers to fight against the law and Iron Man being recruited to lead the government-sanctioned Avengers in pursuing and arresting the new outlaws. This story was extremely interesting, and the film seems to have eliminated almost all of it.
The trailer gives the impression that the event that drives a wedge between Captain America and Iron Man is the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of Bucky Barnes – the Winter Soldier – for his crimes of terrorism against the United States and the assassination of various American dignitaries, including Nick Fury who faked his death after being attacked by the Winter Soldier in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Basically, Cap is harboring a fugitive, and Iron Man is trying to bring a dangerous terrorist to justice.
I have severe problems with these changes. First of all, it now puts Cap on the wrong side of the moral debate, when in the comics he was on the right side. Cap’s entire point of view in the film seems to be, “He’s my friend so I’m going to hide him out, even though he murdered many people and was an agent for Hydra.” As much as Cap respects and cares for Bucky, and would do anything to protect him, I don’t believe these actions fit with Cap’s character.
Bucky was under mind control when he was working for Hydra. There is ample evidence of this, which Cap uncovered in TWS. There is absolutely no reason for Cap not to encourage Bucky to turn himself in and then present this evidence to clear Bucky of any wrongdoing in the crimes of the Winter Soldier. There is no reason for Cap to go outside the system, because the system can work for Bucky in this instance.
The original story dealt with themes of an overbearing government, and the very real need to want to take away the freewill of the people as a knee-jerk reaction to every tragedy. It was completely relevant to the world we live in, and even more relevant today than it was in 2007. The original story can even be seen as an allegory for the gun debate. Because of the irresponsible actions of a few, the government decides that superhumans are simply incapable of existing without having government oversight over them.
The original story was very much about personal freedom, and the ability to exist without government interference in your every day lives. It dealt very much with the right of people to be in charge of their own protections and the protections of their families. The SRA required that superheroes register their secret identities with the government, which would place the safety of every superhero’s loved ones at risk should that information ever be stolen by a supervillain. And we all know how well the government keeps secrets…
The movie looks fantastic. I’m sure that it’s going to be a great movie, and I’m very much looking forward to it – though I do think “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” will end up being the better movie – but I’m disappointed. I was looking forward to “Captain America: Civil War” being the libertarian movie of the decade, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that. But hey, it’s just the first 90 second trailer, and maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong.