Alex Garland’s Civil War Reveals a New Kind of Apocalypse

It’s the end of the country as we know it.

Giant golden torch with a sculpted flame, surrounded by a wreath, with soldiers in camouflage climbi...

In a world that feels divided, a civil war feels more like speculative fiction than dystopian drama, and that’s exactly what director Alex Garland is betting on. The 28 Days Later writer is returning to familiar territory by portraying another apocalypse, but this one isn’t fueled by zombies or aliens. Instead, the terror comes from us.

A new trailer for Civil War finally gives us a glimpse of the scale of America’s new warzone. It spreads from sea to shining sea, and it all begins with two very different states: Texas and California. Have a look at the trailer below.

While the President tells us “the people of the Florida Alliance” and the seceded states of Texas and California will be welcomed back into the union once their governments are deposed, we never learn why these states left. Garland told Empire Magazine earlier this month that this is by design. “I tend not to spell things out in films,” he said. “I sometimes feel overly spoon-fed by cinema, and so I probably just react against that. That question, why Texas and California, is a question that I want the audience to ask.”

Getting too deep into the politics of the plot might just make Civil War sound a bit silly. Instead, the trailer includes a new look at the war’s ramifications, from tent cities on football fields to a mortar hitting the Lincoln Memorial. That’s called symbolism.

The President is played by Nick Offerman, in his most Nick Offerman role yet.


While Civil War isn’t sci-fi — “There’s no ‘sci’ in it,” Garland said — it’s still an apocalypse story. We see people revert to their base survival instincts as war breaks out across the country. When Wagner Moura’s character asks a soldier why he’s shooting when he doesn’t know what side his target’s fighting for, the soldier simply says, “Someone’s trying to kill us. We’re trying to kill them.”

Civil War shows America ending not at the hands of an outside force, but with a long-simmering resentment destroying the union from within. It may not be sci-fi, but with all the paranoia and violence we’re in for, it’s definitely going to be horrific.

Civil War premieres in theaters on April 12, 2024.

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