It’s a Brave New World for Captain America, so just forget about any other title Marvel’s fourth installment in the franchise might have once employed. Anthony Mackie’s first official outing as Cap has got a shiny new subtitle, which helpfully distances the film from the kind of conspiracy theory espoused by Alex Jones.
Mackie shared the news on his Instagram with a behind-the-scenes shot of himself and Harrison Ford, who is taking over the role of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. “When Harrison Ford tells you how kicking ass should look, you listen! LoL… Thanks for the on set wisdom and laughs my friend!” Mackie wrote. “Can’t wait to do it again… Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Brave New World in theaters May 3, 2024.”
The previous title, New World Order, is a phrase with a long history, and has been associated with Woodrow Wilson’s vision of the future in a post-World War I society. These days, it’s the kind of thing Kyrie Irving would share on social media, inciting paranoid fears that a secret shadow government seeking totalitarian control of the entire world. (New York Magazine has a thorough timeline of the conspiracy here.) Further, that “secret, powerful cabal” narrative is often tied to antisemitism.
All the more complicated is that the film, described by director Julias Onah as a “paranoid thriller,” will feature the MCU’s first Israeli superhero. The character Sabra (played by Shira Haas) has historically been depicted in the comic books as a Mossad agent, and her inclusion in the film has already generated controversy. Even the character’s name is divisive: “To Israeli Jews, a Sabra can simply be a person born in Israel. But Sabra is also the name of a refugee camp in Lebanon where a Christian militia massacred hundreds of Palestinians while Israeli troops stood by 40 years ago,” according to The New York Times.
In a statement to Variety on the subject, a Marvel spokesperson said, “While our characters and stories are inspired by the comics, they are always freshly imagined for the screen and today’s audience, and the filmmakers are taking a new approach with the character Sabra who was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago.” These are somewhat dangerous political waters for the MCU to be treading—probably for the best that the company “freshly imagined” the title, too.