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Why Is McDonald’s Spoiling Captain America 4?


Why Is McDonald's Spoiling Captain America 4?


Summary

  • The toys from McDonald’s reveal new characters for
    Captain America 4
    , hinting at a Red Hulk appearance and Diamondback’s role in the film.
  • The inclusion of Sabra in the movie has sparked controversy due to the character’s ties to the Israeli Secret Service amidst real-world conflicts.
  • Changes in the film’s release date led to McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-ins, offering fans a sneak peek at key details from the original script.



Captain America: Brave New World will be both the fourth Captain America film and the follow-up to the 2021 Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which saw Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) take on the mantle of the new Captain America. The movie has had a long road to the big screen, having been delayed multiple times due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in 2023, and the movie is now set for a major round of reshoots. The film was originally supposed to open on May 3, 2024, before being delayed to July 25, 2024, but is now set for release on February 14, 2025.


With the movie now a year away, fans must have been confused when promo art started making its way online, particularly as it relates to a McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in. The popular fast-food restaurant has begun rolling out plush toys for Captain America: Brave New World, which reveals some major characters for the film that fans have suspected, but Marvel has yet to confirm officially. Here is why McDonald’s has Captain America: Brave New World toys and what they reveal about the upcoming film.


McDonald’s Marvel Toy Reveals


The toys for the Captain America: Brave New World Happy Meal tie-in are all plush-based key clips, something a kid could clip to their backpack or even on a Christmas tree as a potential ornament. The lineup includes Sam Wilson as Captain America, Sam’s robotic drone Redwing, and a mini Captain America shield. It is the new additions, though, that should draw fans’ attention.

The first is the inclusion of a Red Hulk toy. Red Hulk was introduced in Hulk #1 in January 2008, created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, but was not revealed to be longtime Hulk foe General Thadeus “Thunderbolt” Ross until Hulk #23 in June 2010. General Ross was previously played by William Hurt in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in films like The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War, and Black Widow, but following his passing in 2022, the role was recast with Harrison Ford taking on the part.


Ford’s Ross will now be President of the United States in the MCU and will first appear in Captain America: Brave New World before appearing in Thunderbolts. Fans have speculated Red Hulk would appear in the film, as we even wrote about it in 2022, but this toy officially confirms Ross will Hulk out in the movie.

The other major reveal is the character of Diamondback. Rachel Leighton/Diamondback debuted in Captain America #310 in October 1985 as a member of the villainous group The Serpent Society. While she originally started as a villain, she eventually became an ally and romantic partner of Steve Rogers/Captain America. Alita: Battle Angel star Rosa Salazar was cast in Captain America: Brave New World, but Marvel has not officially announced her role. Many rumors suggest that she would be playing Diamondback. The character’s toy inclusion all but confirms that Salazar will be playing Diamondback in Captain America: Brave New World.

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There is also the first look at Joaquín Torres (Danny Ramirez) in his new Falcon suit following Sam Wilson’s promotion to Captain America. Torres was created by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña Torres and debuted in 2015 in Captain America: Sam Wilson #1. He was previously introduced in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, working alongside Sam Wilson, and is a U.S. Air Force lieutenant. It looks like he will be suiting up to join Sam Wilson.

Finally, there is what might be the most problematic character and part of the reason for Marvel’s delay: Ruth, who goes by the name Sabra in the comics. Sabra was created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema and made her first full appearance in Incredible Hulk #256 in February 1981. She is a mutant but also an Israeli superhero who works as an agent of the Israeli Secret Service, the Mossad.


Marvel announced the character inclusion and casting of actress Shira Haas in September 2022 during D23. This was immediately met with criticism by Palestinians and many critics as it was seen in bad taste to feature an Israeli superhero, particularly in a movie from Disney and Marvel Studios, which has a wide reach to a general audience and could be seen as endorsing Israeli propaganda, be it intentional or not.

Following the start of the Isreal-Hamas war on October 7, 2023, the issue of featuring an Israeli-backed superhero has only intensified as calls for Isreal to ceasefire in Gaza have been made all over the world, and millions of Americans are taking to protest Israel’s continued assault on Gaza, as reported by AP News. Sabra’s inclusion poses a significant controversy that Marvel Studios and parent company Disney don’t want to have their big-budget superhero blockbuster thrust into, particularly when they need some big hits after concerns of superhero fatigue.

Why Did McDonald’s Spoil These MCU Reveals?


One has to wonder why Marvel Studios had the first look at characters like Red Hulk or why the official announcement of Diamondback came from McDonald’s tie-ins. This is because it was not the plan. As previously mentioned, Captain America: Brave New World was initially set for release on May 3, 2024, but then it was delayed to July 26, 2024, following the WGA Strike.

Then, in November 2023, it was announced that Marvel Studios would give the July 2024 release date to Deadpool & Wolverine and that Captain America: Brave New World would be delayed to February 14, 2025. This was partially due to the SAG-AFTRA strike concluding that same day but also to rework the film. Yet this delay in the release date came so late that by this point, the deal was done to have McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-ins for the movie that could not be moved, likely due to McDonald’s needing something for that window of time. That is why McDonald’s has a tie-in with Captain America: Brave New World right now because it was meant to tie in with the original release date.


This is not new for Marvel. The Marvels was originally set for release on July 28, 2023, but in February 2023, the film was delayed until November 2023, with Haunted Mansion taking its planned July release date. However, Disney and McDonald’s already had the window set for The Marvels Happy Meal tie-in, so that is why there were toys for The Marvels in July instead of November, which was meant to tie into the film’s original release date.

This is one reason why studios plant release dates so far in advance and are often so hesitant to delay them: because of promotional tie-ins that need to be made months, if not years, in advance, which then ensures the ultimate marketing blitz for audiences that drive them to see the movie because of how inescapable it feels, particularly with toy deals that are often struck 12 to 18 months in advance to give the toymakers enough time to design, build, and distribute.


Famously, in 2012, when Paramount Pictures delayed G.I. Joe: Retaliation from June 2012 to March 2013, just one month before its release, the toys for the film were already on the shelves. Fans might also remember seeing toys for The Super Mario Bros. Movie at McDonald’s in December 2022, four months before its April release. This was because the movie was originally set for release on December 21, 2022, before being delayed by the tie-in that was already in place.

What the McDonald’s Toys Reveal About Captain America 4

The inclusion of Red Hulk, Diamondback, the new Falcon, and Sabra certainly gives plenty of details of the plot of Captain America: Brave New World or likely was until the recent delays due to major changes in the film behind the scenes. The toys for the movie were made using the background of the film’s original script and outline.


The most obvious is in terms of the Red Hulk, where CinemaCon footage showed an attack on the White House at an attempted assignation of President Ross. With on-set photos of what looked like a funeral that saw Liv Tyler reprising her role as Betty Ross from The Incredible Hulk, it seems that Ross might fake his death and transform himself into the Red Hulk, which will be the film’s main antagonist. With the inclusion of Tim Blake Nelson reprising his role as Samuel Sterns, aka The Leader from The Incredible Hulk, it is clear this movie will be both Captain America 4 and also a follow-up to The Incredible Hulk.

The character of Diamondback confirms rumors that the Serpent Society would play a role in the film. Back in 2014, when Marvel had their big presentation to announce their Phase 3 films, the first reported that the third Captain America movie would be titled Captain America: The Serpent Society as a misdirection to the reveal of Captain America: Civil War as the official title and bring out star Robert Downey Jr. and the recently cast Chadwick Boseman to round out the show. Captain America: Brave New World looked to include the Serpent Society in the MCU, finally, but recent rumors have circulated that the reshoots for the movie now all but remove the organization from the film, except for Rosa Salazar’s Diamondback.


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Footage shown at CinemaCon saw President Ross meeting with Sam Wilson and mentioning a mission in Mexico that Sam successfully pulled off. It is likely that the Serpent Society were and are still part of the film’s opening action scene, as the Captain America movies have typically featured a big mission action set piece with a classic Captain America villain before the main plot, be it Batroc the Leaper in Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War.


The rest of the Serpent Society members might have been cut down. However, if Rosa Salazar’s Diamondback is still a major part of the movie, then it could be that Marvel Studios is adapting the Diamondback/Captain America romance from the comics. Still, instead of Steve Rogers, it is Sam Wilson. Sam Wilson has not had a major romance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and putting him in one with a former villain would add some complexity to his mission as a superhero and how someone like President Ross could turn the world against Sam Wilson.

Sabra’s inclusion, meanwhile, might have been greatly reduced. When the character was first announced in 2022, Marvel already responded to the concerns of including a superhero who works for the Israeli government. They told Variety:

“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.”


Sabra’s inclusion to begin with indicated the movie would be one dealing with a major global conflict, one that would draw in various countries of the world, so Sabra was likely another superhuman to represent the nations of the world beginning to assemble their own superpowered forces in a world where the Avengers seem to have disbanded. The fact that she is also a mutant in the comics builds off the reference to mutants in Ms. Marvel and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever but ties into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier featuring Madripoor, a major location from the X-Men comics and might have been part of laying the groundwork for the X-Men.

Her toy does not call her Sabra but by her name, Ruth, meaning that they had already reimagined her a bit not to be a traditional superhero. Yet the announcement of the release date change from July 2024 to February 2025 was made in November 2023, one month after the Isreal-Palestenian War broke out. This means that with the film undergoing reshoots, they might be working to reduce the character’s role even more.


There is currently no trailer for Captain America: Brave New World and the first advertisement for the film to the general public is now Happy Meal toys. In addition, the commercial for the tie-in doesn’t contain any footage from the movie. A trailer likely won’t arrive until late July, coincidentally with the release of Deadpool & Wolverine and San Diego Comic-Con. Until then, it appears that the best look of the film comes from a fast food tie-in. Captain America: Brave New World is in theaters on February 14, 2025.

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