Well, I guess we did end up with a Captain America: Civil War Super Bowl commercial after all, even if it’s before the big game. We got one for Captain America: The Winter Soldier back in 2014, which in turn led right into the second trailer for the film, but there is no reason to play 2-for-1 this time out with a frankly higher-profile sequel. And moreover, since the gimmick this time out is go small as much as possible (I’m assuming the big explosion scene is from the film’s inciting incident, but that’s a presumption), it makes sense to leave tonight’s sell at the thirty-second spot mark and leave the second trailer for the likes of Zootopia or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
By the way, if Dawn of Justice ends up being lousy (I am still hopeful that it is not) and Walt Disney DIS -1.23% does wait for said premiere to drop the next trailer, then we’ll have a situation not unlike August 2012 when Sony dropped their spectacular Skyfall trailer with Universal’s truly terrible The Bourne Legacy. I wrote back then, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Sony should have played said Skyfall trailer AFTER The Bourne Legacy as a kind of “Wow, that stunk, but this one is gonna knock your socks off!” showmanship.
Anyway, this pre-Super Bowl spot is only a little less low-key and small(er)-scale as the trailer that debuted in the run-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Said trailer certainly felt small compared to the third Dawn of Justice trailer or the likes of Warcraft, The Jungle Book, and X-Men: Apocalypse, but that’s arguably the point. As I’ve discussed here and there, it is of paramount importance that this film be treated as not Avengers 2.5 but rather Captain America 3. Disney and Marvel don’t want box office expectations leaning towards the $1.4 billion/$1.5 billion Avengers movies but rather the $714 million-grossing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And that arguably goes for quality perceptions as well.
Without going into critic-y nitpicks, I think we can agree that most critics/pundits liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier more than Avengers: Age of Ultron. So from a quality and business standpoint, it is utterly in Marvel’s interest to sell this as a third Captain America movie as opposed to a new Avengers installment. So as such the focus has been on character drama and real-world action sequences. Interestingly enough, save for characters with super strength and a beat with a man inside a computer, The Winter Soldier was as “real world” as a Fast/Furious or Mission: Impossible movie. And that’s the sell we’re getting here, with character drama and mostly real-world action between would-be superheroes.
It will be interesting to see to what extent Marvel offers up what presumably will be the third-act threat that brings our heroes back together, assuming the film doesn’t end with everyone in true disarray. Yes, I would hope that the film may have the courage to do what Age of Ultron would not, which is end with our heroes not necessarily on the same page going forward, at least until everyone gets back together for Infinity War. But there is still a potential concern about reassuring parents that the film doesn’t end with Iron Man and Captain America bloodily pummeling each other to death or what-not, which is why Warner Bros./Time Warner TWX -5.11% Inc. gave away the third act threat that unites its heroes in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.