Sam Wilson’s (Anthony Mackie) journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to continue in the fourth Captain America film, formerly subtitled New World Order. Given the roles that The Leader (Tim Blake Nelson, reprising a role teased 14 years ago in The Incredible Hulk) and Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (Harrison Ford, taking over for the late William Hurt) could play in the film, that subtitle certainly made sense. In the world of the comics, both characters look to reshape the world in their own respective images.
The film will also likely introduce the Serpent Society, a coalition that’s often tried to install secret regimes in the comics. But “new world order” already carries a controversial connotation in our own world. The phrase has been used by right-wing conspiracy theorists and is rooted in racist and antisemitic sentiment, which doesn’t bode well for the new Captain America film.
Fortunately, Marvel Studios seems well aware of the negative implications of the phrase. Recent images from the set of Captain America 4 reflect a brand-new subtitle: Brave New World.
What Brave New World Could Mean for the Plot of Captain America 4
What, if anything, does this new title represent? It could offer a more specific insight to the story that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showrunner Malcolm Spellman is developing with co-writer Dalan Musson. Brave New World shares its title with a classic dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. The 1932 story was eerily prescient: it explored (and effectively predicted) our current obsession with technology, media desensitization, and intelligence-based social hierarchies. With The Leader set to make his official MCU debut, Brave New World could be leaning hard into the same dystopian dread.
Brave New World is also the title of a miniseries from Marvel Comics. The story takes place under the larger Secret Empire event, and it sees Steve Rogers revealed as a secret agent of Hydra. Brave New World followed many of Rogers’ friends and allies as they worked to undo his totalitarian regime. Given that the MCU’s Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is pretty much out of the picture, perhaps indefinitely, it’s unlikely that the new Captain America film will be adapting that storyline directly. But there are still a few antagonists that could fill that void in Brave New World.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced a perfect foil to Steve in John Walker, a.k.a. the U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell). Fans took particular issue in the way the Disney+ series set him up as a major villain — and the perfect personification of America’s underdiscussed sins — only to drop the ball in the series finale. He’s set to appear in the forthcoming Thunderbolts, but with Spellman looking to continue certain Falcon/Winter Soldier threads in Brave New World, there’s a chance he may play a role in Thunderbolt Ross’ scheme.
So much of Brave New World remains a mystery to Marvel fans. The film has had its fair share of difficulties since it was announced — from its initial title to the introduction of the hero Sabra — but it’s good to see that Marvel is at least conscious of the controversy, and doing what it can to distance the new film from further scrutiny.