The latest Captain Marvel trailer fixed the marketing problems that have been plaguing the next MCU film: it’s good! A new look at the movie, which stars Brie Larson as the half-human, half-Kree Carol Danvers teaming up with a two-eyed Nick Fury in the 1990s, released during the College National Championship on ESPN to coincide with the ticket release, and despite it being the third proper trailer, it’s the first that’s really sold what Captain Marvel‘s actually about.
So far, Captain Marvel‘s marketing has been defined by its obfuscation. Both trailers have drip-fed not only plot details but character ones: who Carol Danvers is, how she got her powers, what those powers are, who she’s fighting, and the Kree-Skrull war that’s supposedly the movie’s backdrop have all been left unexplained. While many fans will no doubt be grateful for a spoiler-lite marketing campaign, this does little to sell the film itself or explain the character to casual fans. And it must be stated that most audiences for Captain Marvel will be casual fans; Carol only took up the moniker in 2012, and since then her distribution numbers have been low. She’s not a Spider-Man or an Iron Man. She’s not even a Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet Marvel’s marketing has acted like a tease was the best approach.
Thankfully, this new Captain Marvel trailer (technically an extended TV spot, but at 90 seconds will be treated as such by most) finally shows off some of the goods. Front-and-center is the banter between Carol and Fury, giving some sense of personality to Brie Larson’s thus-far overly-serious solider, and through that we get a proper explanation of her photon blasts, a clearer stating of the timeline, and a brief exploration of both Skrull and Kree cultures. There’s newer, more refined effects, period-suitable music, a careful integration of character-focused jokes, and an overall sense of confidence. For the first time, a Captain Marvel trailer has sold the movie – and it looks good.
The question remains why it took Marvel so long to get to this point. Marketing their films in a character-forward fashion has been the norm since Iron Man in 2008, a result of many of their heroes being lesser known against the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and Fantastic Four, all of whom were licensed to other studios. Now, Captain America and Thor are icons with known origins and powers, but it’s still important to introduce new characters in a fully-rounded way. There’s not even the classic excuse of effects not being ready, given how most of the good stuff in the new Captain Marvel trailer is (mostly) in camera.
What we do know is there’s a lot of twists to come in Captain Marvel. It’s notable that, for all its character, the new trailer doesn’t spend much time outside of the Carol-Fury dynamic, and there’s barely a hint of the actual narrative drive. It also doesn’t provide any clues in the ongoing mystery of who Jude Law is playing (he was originally reported as playing hero Mar-Vell, but now all signs point towards him being villain Yon-Rogg). At the least, the narrative will be non-chronological, picking up with Carol after she’s joined the Kree and slowly teasing out her past. The marketing may have been thrown by that, leading to trailers that picked up on elements but not the actual sense of enjoyment.
Interest in Captain Marvel appears to have satiated somewhat in the past few months. Before the first trailer, hype was high, but since then the two teases haven’t done much to grow it. As Avengers: Endgame took the spotlight, that excitement has dissipated. Hopefully, this latest trailer is a sign of change.