Now that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has finally been released to our American cousins, I feel it is a good time to talk about what happened in the film and how it affects the Marvel cinematic universe going forward.
The film has been described by many as a “game changer” both in the films shift from a general superhero film to a full on political thriller, and in the way the events of the film seem to have a greater effect on where Marvel will go now, and how films like Avengers: Age Of Ultron seemingly take on a new light.
Now, while I would never encourage anyone to avoid one of my articles, I will warn anyone who hasn’t yet seen Marvel’s latest outing that spoilers lie within. So if you have yet to see the film and don’t want anything ruined, then you should go no further.
No more S.H.I.E.L.D.?
This was definitely something I never saw coming. How does the MCU move forward without the one thing that kept it together all these years? Ever since the first Iron Man film was released in 2008, S.H.I.E.L.D. has had a major part to play in every film since, but now they are no more. More importantly, where does this leave The Avengers? Can they be privately funded, by Tony Stark perhaps, or will they become a renegade team defying the government?
At the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier we see Nick Fury lay down his eye patch and telling his few trusted friends that he is off to Europe to tie up a few loose ends, seemingly HYDRA (more on that later). This could lead straight to the events of the next Avengers film, where I believe we will find Hawkeye working undercover, which would explain his absence in The Winter Soldier, and also the set photos of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (more on those two later too).
There have been rumours in the past of a stand alone Nick Fury film, something I never thought could work, but one way it could work would be to re-introduce The Howling Commandos. The team was used in the first Captain America film and are mentioned briefly in The Winter Soldier, and have had several incarnations in the comic books. They have consisted of soldiers and characters with supernatural abilities, now Marvel have introduced Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye will likely stay by Fury’s side, could we see a cinematic version of The Howling Commandos in the future? At the moment this is all speculation, maybe Age Of Ultron will give us a few more clues?
“If a head is cut off, then two more will take its place”, the motto for the renegade Nazi group has never been more telling. Having thought we had seen the end of HYDRA once Red Skull was seemingly killed at the end of the first Captain America film, they were then name dropped in Avengers: Assemble when it was revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been using their World War II tech to create nuclear weapons, but now we know they have been working deep within S.H.I.E.L.D. ever since the end of The First Avenger.
Agents of HYDRA have infiltrated the worlds governments as well as, the now defunct, S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a well-kept secret, as there was no mention at all of HYDRA in the trailers for The Winter Soldier, and if you’re like me then you presumed they were dead and buried. It is also revealed that Armin Zola is still alive, sort of, and has helped HYDRA infiltrate various organisations over the years, placing Alexander Pierce at the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well having a hand in various world-changing events. Another thing of note, is the algorithm that Zola has created is apparently able to predict future events and thusly enable HYDRA to stop them happening if they wish to do so. The keen-eyed among you may spotted a quick glimpse of a picture depicting Captain Americas assassination, this is of course one of Marvel’s more famous comic book storylines, and is hinted at heavily in this film.
The death of Captain America?
Several clues lead us to believe that a future Captain America film may well see Steve Rogers demise. Firstly we know from interviews that star Chris Evans may not stick around forever in the role. Secondly, the character who kills Rogers in the comics is Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones, who is played by Frank Grillo in The Winter Soldier and is clearly being saved by the end of the film after being left for dead by The Falcon. Thirdly, the kill is ordered by Red Skull in the comics, and who many believe will return at some point now we have seen the return of HYDRA. Lastly, The Winter Soldier himself, Bucky Barnes, takes over the role of the Cap in the comics following Rogers death, and can be seen claiming some redemption at the end the film, firstly by saving his friend and secondly by visiting the Smithsonian museum where he looks at the same exhibit Rogers had visited previously in the film and see’s the man he used to be.
Magic is now a factor?
During the mid credits sequence of The Winter Soldier we see a HYDRA base in full working order and led by Baron Von Strucker. The Baron is said to be the secondary villain in next years Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and will be using Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to his advantage. During the mid credits scene we also see that HYDRA now possesses Loki’s scepter, and they have seemingly used the scepter to manipulate the twins to do their bidding with the Baron claiming we are now in the age of miracles.
Another thing to note is the admission in the film that Steven Strange, aka Dr. Strange, officially now exists in the MCU, having being name dropped by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell during an interrogation scene. Strange is one of the targets of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their shiny new helicarriers. Marvel have played this one out smartly, first introducing us to men in tin suits, to green rage monsters, then gods and superhuman experiments to a full on alien invasion, and now we have something a little more otherworldly. Are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch mutants or are they given their powers by another source? Will Steven Strange pop up in Phase 3? With the space opera Guardians Of The Galaxy soon to be released and The Collector doing his thing behind the scenes, can we expect things to get truly cosmic now?
So, there you have it. Four major talking points raised from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If I’ve missed anything or if you’d like to talk about any of the points made, then please do so in the comments section below.