There are plenty of great moments in the new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War that debuted last week. Spider-Man’s reaction to Doctor Strange, Cap shaking hands with T’Challa, Gamora warning everyone about what Thanos is capable of. This, though, is the one that jumps out at me.
If you’ve watched both this and the first trailer, you know that Thanos seems to smack heroes around like it’s nothing. Iron Man, even in full Hulkbuster-type armor, is dismissed seemingly out of hand, as if he’s a gnat being swatted away.
Cap, though, he resists. He keeps going. He simply refuses to be beaten down. To coin a phrase, he could do this all day.
In the trailer, you can see that Thanos betrays a little bit of shock that someone who seems to be a mere mortal should offer such fight. He’s not a god. He doesn’t have a suit of high-tech weaponry, nor does he derive his powers from a mystical source. Yes, we all know that Captain America has the Super Soldier serum coursing through his veins, but that only takes you so far. As Dr. Abraham Erskine said in Captain America: The First Avenger, the serum doesn’t change who you are, it amplifies it. This moment, more than anything else in Cap’s cinematic appearances to date, represents who he is: The one who stands up to the bullies.
That it’s a “mere” mortal (albeit one with enhances abilities) makes it all the more poignant. He’s refusing to fall because of his spirit, not his abilities. Those powers simply allow him to do what he needs to do, they don’t drive him to do it. There’s a bit difference.
When I saw this moment in the trailer it reminded me of the cover of Justice League #6 from DC Comics’ The New 52. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was working with DC at the time and remember one comics site talking about that cover when it was released and pointing out that Batman was the only member of the team who looked like they were trying to get up, like they were fighting back against Darkseid. Him being the only human and unpowered member of the team showed how it was his spirit, his reluctance to ever give up fighting, made the cover memorable and showed more about the character than any number of whole storylines put together.
It’s moments like this that offer small bits of character in large, dramatic moments. Whether it’s Captain America pushing back against Thanos or Batman struggling against the might of Darkseid, these moments are inspirational, reminding us that the real strength that makes sci-fi and fantasy so relatable are ones that highlight and celebrate the human spirit, the ideals we all strive to represent. Those are the moments that resonate much more loudly than any massive FX spectacle.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.