The first time I watched the new trailer for “Captain Marvel,” it seemed like all sizzle and no steak — totally sick and generally awesome, but light on details. It made sense, considering the way Marvel likes to keep important details under wraps. They’d naturally want to save the good plot stuff for the movie itself and not give it all away like some other studios tend to do.
But after a couple more viewings things, I realized that actually it’s full of little details that could be telling us a lot about what’s in store. And one of these details involves a dialogue exchange that feels very much like something that would take place late in the movie. Maybe even immediately before the climactic fight.
It’s not immediately obvious that the exchange in question even is one, because it involves one bit of dialogue from early in the trailer and another bit that comes far later. The first part comes right after the Marvel logo, when Annette Bening’s unnamed character is telling Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) about her backstory.
“Your life began the day it nearly ended. We found you with no memory. We made you one of us, so you could live longer, stronger, superior. You were reborn.”
It’s actually a weird line even in the context of the trailer — other dialogue indicates that for at least a while Carol is going to think she’s just a Kree alien, and not a human from Earth. So that line above feels like it’s part of a late stage conversations on those grounds alone. But something Captain Marvel herself says near the end of the trailer reinforces that idea.
“I’m not gonna fight your war. I’m going to end it.”
Before connecting those two lines to each other I remarked to one of my colleagues here at TheWrap that Carol’s comment felt like a defiant response to the main villain, who would be somebody who has been manipulating her. And then I noticed that we get a brief glimpse at the scenery when she’s making that declaration.
Here’s Captain Marvel delivering that line:
And here’s Bening delivering the other line from the beginning of the trailer.
That’s pretty obviously the same place, and with standard shot reverse shot dialogue framing.
The vibe from these first two trailers is that the structure of the movie will be something like: in the first act, Carol chases the Skrull Talos (Ben Mendolsohn) to Earth and discovers she has a history there; in the second act, she finds out what that history is; in the third act, she responds to that revelation.
This scene from the new trailer plays like Carol has found out she’s human and is confronting the person who gave her those Kree superpowers/hid her past. Then, that person tries to spin the situation as being for Carol’s benefit. And, finally, Carol defiantly declaring that she’ll no longer be a puppet for the Kree Empire.
So if that’s an accurate read on the general structure of the film and on this scene in particular, that would place it in the third act.
The question, then, that I have is why this bit would be in this trailer. Marvel is very clever with its marketing, and wouldn’t include something like this on accident. It would likely be because there has to be something else at the center of this story that we’re really given no hint of in the trailer — something, maybe, that ties “Captain Marvel” directly to “Avengers: Infinity War” and next year’s “Avengers 4.”
So while we congratulate ourselves for piecing these details together, we’re still missing crucial pieces of what will matter in the story this movie presents. There’s definitely some other hidden layer. Unfortunately, we still have to wait another three months to find out what that layer is.
It’s also possible that this is an intentional misdirection inserted in such a way that it seems like they were thought you’d never notice, but which they actually hoped you would notice so you wouldn’t figure out the truth. Damn, Marvel, you got me paranoid.
Whatever the answer ends up being, “Captain Marvel” is out March 8.