The only real question left in the run-up to Captain America: Civil War was whether or not they would reveal Spider-Man before the movie was released. The answer to that question is the visual equivalent of a mighty “hell yes!”
Because of the nature of contracts and licensing, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never felt quite right. There are certain characters that are just so ingrained in the greater Marvel experience that to not have them interacting with Iron Man and Captain America is just weird. Big major crossovers without the Fantastic Four? The lingering threat of Dr. Doom deciding to be Doom at the drop of a hat? Wolverine being jammed into every single story for no reason? Like them or not, these are all very Marvel things, and yet they’re things that will not happen with this generation of Marvel movies.
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But Marvel has always made the most of what it does have to play with. It made a movie with a talking raccoon and a walking tree that made more money at the box office than the last Superman movie. (We’ll save a discussion of Batman v Superman running away from Civil War for another day.) Marvel made an Ant-Man movie so popular it’s getting a sequel. The company knows what it's doing when it comes to building properties, or at least having enough audience goodwill that we’ll forgive something like Thor 2.
But the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs Spider-Man. Times may have changed, but in the hearts of many, Spider-Man is always going to be the flagship Marvel character. That the company managed to work out a deal to bring him into the film universe shows how important he is to the Marvel brand.
And his reveal is maybe the best moment in a Marvel movie trailer to date. It is perfect, from the fact that he’s holding Captain America’s shield to the way he says, “Hey, everyone.” Take note: This is what a hero reveal looks like. It’s a moment so cool, it temporarily made me forget how great the rest of the trailer is, and how video game-y the scene of everyone rushing at each other looks.
And yet, it might not even be the best moment of the trailer. If there were ever a question about whether or not the Russos and screenwriters Christopher Markus/Stephen McFeely get Captain America, look no further than his final line of the trailer, a callback to The First Avenger. The body may change, but the things that make Steve Rogers the man he is don’t change.
Yes, this year’s theme of superhero-on-superhero violence is a bit weird, but it’s all going to lead to bigger and better things, in theory. Justice League has serious potential to be awesome – unnecessarily gritty and gloomy, perhaps, but awesome nonetheless – and the Marvel Cinematic Universe appears primed to have an amazing finish, provided someone figures out how to make a truly great Avengers movie. Hopefully Civil War is proof that’s possible.