What We Learned From the ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Super Bowl Trailers

No doubt that Marvel Studios stole the show at the Super Bowl again this year. Both of their highly-anticipated films, Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, dropped new trailers during the game. My main takeaway? The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a vital core message in mind with these TV spots: the good guys aren’t giving up.

Who better to be the faces of such a campaign than two of Marvel’s most hopeful characters? Yes, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has lost plenty in the lead-up to Endgame, but his spirit remains intact if only because it must. Meanwhile, new (old?) girl on the block Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) takes supersonic charge of her Captain Marvel clip.

We’ve been ready for these movies for a while, so let’s dig into the best moments of their trailers and relish in the hype.

A team rebuilds

Of all the characters that have beef with Thanos, Nebula (Karen Gillan) tops my personal list after the personal hell he put her through coupled with what he (purportedly) did to her sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Of course, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) also survived the “cleanse” on Titan and has his own agenda of comeuppance.

Basically, to see both characters preparing themselves for battle — quite literally upgrading their bodies — introduces a dynamic I never knew I needed.

Gearing up next to Rhodey (Don Cheadle) in a War Machine suit, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is crucially back from his detour into the Quantum Realm, too.

The trailer includes a couple of team shots and both of them can be read in a couple of ways. In the context of the emotional nature of Endgame, the image highlights just how fractured the Avengers have become, as well.

It’s still pretty weird to have these characters leave the core facility without the full force that we’ve come to expect from the group. Even after the team splintered in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, each character had their own journey with their established crews.

But if we’re going to assume that there’s more than meets the eye in this trailer — as is the case for many a Marvel promo clip anyway — there could be more ideas bubbling beneath the surface.

As some online have already begun to speculate, we could be looking at some clever editing magic that obscures certain team members in hugely conspicuous empty spaces in these images. As the Avengers strides across the field outside their base, someone could very well be situated between Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Rhodey.

And in another tempered group shot later on in the trailer, there’s also a discernible gap in front of Rhodey as he rounds out the team’s collective strut across the headquarters hangar. Have Tony and Nebula rejoined the crew at this point? Is Captain Marvel here or on her way?

Old faces, new possibilities

Rocket (Bradley Cooper) finally makes a trailer appearance as one of many quickfire solo snapshots. The absence of Groot is greatly felt. But real talk, what’s in the shack?

We also catch up with a stoic Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) — focused and badass as ever — while she trains with signature firearms. It’s been a while since Black Widow has had enough to do in an MCU film, so it’s great to see her back in top form.

Like Nebula, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is specifically put through the wringer in Infinity War, losing much of his home, family, and friends. Regardless, his appearance in the Super Bowl trailer highlights that although these events have scored noticeable wounds, he’s more determined than defeated and could be on a dogged solo quest to find Thanos.

Finally, in a brand new reminder that Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) will return to the Avengers in his Ronin persona, the character gazes up at something frightening while doused in red light. What strikes me most about this shot is that he seems to be in a place that is not at all Earthly, too.

But the focus is strongly on Captain America

No character gets as much throwback potential in this TV spot as Cap. Firstly, Chris Evans (sparsely and hoarsely) narrates the trailer itself. Furthermore, all of his scenes are contemplative; being careful to look back as much as they look forward.

When the trailer opens, we join our hero at a veterans’ meeting. While hinting at his pal Sam Wilson’s dusting at the hands of Thanos, it is somewhat reminiscent of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, wherein Steve stands on the fringes of Wilson’s counseling session.

“Some people move on,” Cap’s voiceover determines…

“…but not us.”

If Steve’s baggage was weighty back during The Winter Soldier days, he is much more perturbed now. Infinity War doesn’t allow him enough space to explore the emotional ramifications of his actions in his Nomad-adjacent persona. I’m wondering if we can look forward to the angst shining through in Endgame.

Overall, the trailer begins with Cap and pretty much ends on him as well, with an iconic shot of his shield in reverse. Fans have seen many iterations of Cap’s shield. Since the moment he was introduced, the hero’s personal values have always been defined by his inclination to defend rather than attack.

This has proven to be a difficult practice for Cap to reconcile with as his storyline progresses through The Winter Soldier and eventually Civil War. Taking up the shield costs him the support of the masses one too many times.

There is a sense of resigned finality in the way that Steve picks up his shield once more; possibly for the last time. After utilizing items from the Wakandan armory in Infinity War (one that is purposely visually similar to one of Cap’s very first shields), this close-up in the Super Bowl trailer reintroduces the circular vibranium, reaffirming the character’s identity.

However, where the Endgame spot emphasizes a heavy dose of bittersweetness, the Captain Marvel clip is a fast-paced montage of unabashed authority and positive energy. Although Carol Danvers’ origin story comes before Endgame in the MCU timeline, fans are assured that she’s here to save the day.

This one’s for the girls

As Carol’s fellow Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) remarks, right at the beginning of the teaser, “Time to show these boys how we do it.”

This mere 30 seconds of footage is so impactful as it zooms in on Carol’s confidence in her own abilities, to the point of her having a mantra of sorts. Everyone has been out here trying to figure Captain Marvel out once she crashes on Earth. We’ve seen it happen in prior promo materials. She definitely isn’t a perfect character with no insecurities.

But by now, just a month away from the Captain Marvel premiere, the world knows better than to doubt her. From longer, stronger, and superior, Carol goes…

Higher…

…further…

…FASTER.

The all-caps is totally necessary because this motto works exceptionally well alongside the many glorious shots of steely-faced Carol as an all-powerful being. She could be flanked by nameless men in the Air Force and be the most capable one in the room. She’s definitely got skills in the pilot seat.

Basically, Marvel can’t make it any clearer that even before all that alien energy of the Kree imbues Captain Marvel with superhuman powers, this “noble warrior hero” puts up a serious fight.

So, whose side are you on?

Are you like the elusively-cast Jude Law, who seems more and more villainous by the second? Honestly, we’ve seen this shot of Law multiple times now. Still, with the power of trailer editing, it’s amusing to reinforce how flabbergasted he looks every time he “witnesses” Carol’s sheer might.

To be fair, who wouldn’t be intimidated upon gazing at this superb character design? The Super Bowl spot has no shortage of badass Captain Marvel looks and this remains the best one.

Anyway, we should all be like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and cheer our girl on.

“Try to keep up.”

Captain Marvel has got this and everyone is only along for the ride. It is always satisfying to see her standing proudly and fighting for what’s right. She could decimate a spacecraft or two in one fell swoop.

That’s why the Avengers need not fear. These TV spots for Endgame and Captain Marvel complement each other in a way that most other movies on the MCU docket don’t tend to. There’s something deeply emotional about passing on the baton to a new generation, but from one Captain to the next, everything is going to be fine.

Sheryl Oh: @sherhorowitz Often chugging tea and thinking about horror movies. Particularly loves writing stuff and things with a feminist bent here at Film School Rejects.