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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Breaking Down The Winter Soldier

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Let's face it, this is another year chock full of comic book movies that too some will live up to, for others will go beyond even that and for most comic book fanboys will fall far below but at the end of the day these films are an exciting prospect all round. 

Personally I'm bound to enjoy each and every experience. My favorite this year will most likely be X-Men: DOFP because I'm such a big fan of the comic arc it's being adapted from no matter how many changes Bryan Singer makes. The core time travel concept is the same, and intriguing as hell. 

My most anticipated is Guardians of The Galaxy, cause it will blow open the doors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way you've never even imagined. 

The one with my favorite character is Amazing Spider-Man 2...and it seems it will also be adapting a certain important character arc full of tragedy in the life of Peter Parker. 

That brings me to the fourth big comic book movie of the year. The one that is easily guaranteed to be a box office success. 


Because when it comes to their already franchised properties (unlike GoTG), Marvel has cracked the formula for success. Captain America might not be the most enjoyable character among the Solo Avengers bunch, but his second film from it's trailers promises a lot of the lighthearted high on great action that Marvel is known and loved for. 

Beyond that it's boasting possibly the next best Marvel villain since Loki and also substance in it's story like any other. (Something which should shut up those fanboy idiots who go to watch a Marvel movie and complain about it's lack of depth...seriously!!! it's a CBM not a fucking Oscar film!)

Anyways Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks set to be the best Marvel film yet, and one that is a direct sequel to The Avengers with the involvement of SHIELD.

So what I am going to do today, is look at a mix of all the promotional material and try to break down where and what the Captain America sequel will be all about.

Besides the obvious; Who is The Winter Soldier? There's going to be spoilers for a lot of things, from the ideas being presented on Agents of SHIELD to my own possibly correct theories of where the movies is headed.


Let's move onto the breakdown...

Where Captain America is at this point? 
Captain America reiterates about how he's the only one from his time left, he seems a bit joky about it which means he might be in a better place considering modern day
Chronologically Marvel's Phase 2 Post-Avengers films are running on real time, this means that it has been nearly two years since the events of The Avengers. (Kind of makes you question then that where SHIELD were while Iron Man was in trouble). 

Captain America having returned from the past has no place to go, as such it's obvious that he would join the SHIELD and supposedly make the world a better place. From the first trailer (picture above), you can see that he has come to terms with his predicament as a man out of time. While it would have been an interesting arc to follow deeply, it's better this way that he already be comfortable and then his world be ripped apart again. 

Do not also seems to share a much more relaxed chemistry with the Widow in this scene, we'll talk about that later. 

Has he already met Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter?

If you remember the first film, Peggy Carter was his superior who ended up being a woman he deeply fell in love with. He and Carter never got their dance together, hopefully a new scene in this film can remedy that in a poignant fashion. 

There's also the question of if he's met her, has he met Sharon Carter? In the comics Sharon is mostly Peggy's niece who has grown up on her stories about the amazing Captain America and his adventures. In a way the admiration turns into young love, years later when Cap resurfaces he and she meet and eventually fall in love. What's weird (beyond the obvious, he loved your aunt thing) is that Sharon looked exactly like Peggy. 

Sharon Carter in this film will be played by Emily VanCamp, so there's no twin aunt-niece factor. She lives right next to Steve Rogers in the film and they already have this built in rapport. VanCamp and the films writers have gone on to say, that this is merely an introduction to the character. 

Emily VanCamp will make an extended cameo as Agent 13 AKA Sharon Carter, Captain America's long time love interest

An interesting factor to take into account is the above picture, she is only shown in the trailer giving an icy stare to the Captain when he is set to meet the head honcho of SHIELD Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford). Rumors swirl among other things of Pierce being a major villain in the films, and maybe the next incarnation of Caps vaunted foe The Red Skull. 

With Red Skull a possibility and Crossbones (Sin's boyfriend) alter ego Brock Rumlow in the film, the picture makes me think that VanCamp's Agent 13 might be or will be turned into Sin (Red Skull's daughter in the comics). This theory will be explored further below. But that would make a bit sense and in continuity considering, it is a brain washed Sharon Carter that ends up killing Captain America in the comics after the Civil War event. 

With Sebastian Stan (the former Bucky) boasting a 9 picture deal, this becomes more concrete as he would take over the Captain mantle if Marvel decide to kill off Chris Evans Captain America anytime soon in similar vein to the comics. 

Back to the Captain, his invigoration into SHIELD it seems has been slow. He is then set to meet Redford's Alexander Pierce as The SHIELD head and member of The World Security Council (those Shadowy people talking to Nick Fury in The Avengers). It seems from the trailer that he is being prepped to become a part of SHIELD's questionable agenda, not to mention Falcon and Black Widow with him. This would be an interesting scenario to explore, as knowing Cap's ideals and from the trailer he isn't falling for it. It's the last piece in the puzzle that would make The Avengers completely break away from the organization, and become their own heroic team in their own right. Forming The Avengers from the classic comics that we know. 

It's Cap during the movie though that will have most of the struggle and that's because of one man. 

The Winter Soldier

Close your ears cause you don't want to hear this...sorry, this is the blog...close your eyes. Wait why am I warning you, if you read the alert and still came down here...then it's your problem. 

Okay but seriously I don't think it's a spoiler that the titular Winter Soldier is Captain America's former war buddy; Bucky played by Seabastian Stan. Now Stan isn't a well known actor beyond the Once Upon A Time fan crowd, so them showing his face extensively in the market campaign isn't much of a problem unless as a casual fan you remember who or what Bucky from the first film looked like. 

Bucky played by Sebastian Stan is older in the films than the comic book teen sidekick, he also has an affinity for the Sniper making sense as to why he becomes the Assassin Winter Soldier. 

I think what Marvel is trying to tell us is that Bucky's revival doesn't necessarily have to be a shock for us, but an emotionally draining moment for Cap himself in the film. 

Winter Soldier is set to be the villain for this film and from any perspective he might just be the next best thing since Tom Hiddleston's Loki. The first trailer presents what a bad ass he is and does so without having us see his face, apart from one clouded scene. He destroys cars, faces off explosions and is much more faster than the Captain. 

It's both an equally matched physically and mentally opponent for Captain America, and also has a compelling back story close to the kind Thor and Loki share. It comes as no surprise that the Marvel movie villains haven't all that great, but with Winter Soldier this sets to be history. 

Once gain going back to the Bucky idea, more like fact. It makes an interesting viewing for the original Captain America film. Already within the film, the introduction shows the dynamics of brotherhood between these two characters without being too much or too some was too little. Factor in that Bucky here unlike the comics is an adult man and is the one who protects the feeble yet brave Steve Rogers. 

There's also scenes played out for laughs that hint to darker issues of resentment on Bucky's part, once the dynamic changes when Rogers becomes his leader. The most important of these is during the WWII montage sequence where Bucky trains his Sniper on Captain America alluding to their future, then ends up shooting an enemy hiding. Also the sniper seems to be the weapon he favors. 

There's also the fact that Stan could take on the Captain mantle like Bucky does in the comics when Steve dies at the hands of Red Skull through Agent 13. The action scene prior to his death saw Bucky wearing the Shield with a gun like he does in the comics, as an Easter egg for the fans. 

Of course the biggest thing was what Arnim Zola was doing toe Bucky during the events of his capture, Captain America came to save Bucky and found him lying on a table seemingly having been tortured or done something to, or at least tried on. 

An accurate homage to Ed Brubaker's Captain America: Winter Soldier panel where Bucky awakens from his transformation into the Winter Soldier

Remember that Toby Jones is returning as Arnim Zola, most likely in flashbacks. Not to forget the opening of the second trailer where Stan's Winter Soldier is on a chair being experimented. Possibly his origins, since how close those scenes seem to adapted from the comics. 

Bringing me to the comics is the other idea. At the end of Winter Soldier comic, Bucky is reminded who he is and in turn it causes him to really remorse the countless people he has killed as the Soviet assassin. It's a powerful scene that pushes Bucky to run because of the manhunt that will occur in the wake of his big fight against the Captain. It also pushes him to exile, eventually revealed in Civil War that he has been working to make things right and also in contact with an incognito Nick Fury. 

The Winter Soldier's I'm Sorry, it's me not you look. 

While it's unsure whether like in the comics that Bucky is brainwashed, or he's just with a memory loss. The Winter Soldier does show signs of knowing or trying to remember his past friendship. Look at the picture above, in the first trailer this is the final shot where Bucky catches the Shield thrown by Cap at him, it's a bad ass moment. In a second trailer we would see him throw the Shield back and hit Cap. The latest trailer heavily focused on the character had this one frame which most people rarely noticed or spoke about (yay me!), here Winter Soldier looks at Cap with a hint of remorse that screams "I'm sorry".

Another thing I see this film being along with an adaptation of Winter Soldier, is the idea that the trailer plants. It doesn't seem SHIELD is full on the right side, and maybe Cap and his team are in the middle of a conflict between SHIELD and their questionable methods against a terrorist cell that probably consider themselves revolutionary. 

This cell could most likely be Hydra, with the idea of Redford playing Red Skull. He could be using both sides in his agenda to destroy the SHIELD and have himself usurp a new Hydra which is being led by Baron Von Strucker (being played in Avengers: Age of Ultron by Thomas Kretschmann). This Hydra could be an amalgam of the original terrorist organization that broke ties from Hitler's Nazis and flourished into the 21st century and the Ultimate Universe version, which are an American organization that consider themselves revolutionaries against the Government and in the films case governing bodies like The World Council and SHIELD. There's a lot of deep politics to this latest feature. 

It also does well to tie itself to the first film, and if indeed Alexander Pierce is the Red Skull then it gives him an opportunity to take control of Earth for a bigger picture. So at the end of the day Winter Soldier could easily be a man working for Hydra against his own will or convinced to do so over the years. Against his own will making the most sense, since Bucky is picked up from his supposed death near the Alps and reawakened in present day. 

All these ideas come to head only and if Robert Redford is playing Red Skull. Why do I think he is? 

(Note I'll speak more on Winter Soldier's relations later on this post)

Robert REDford

Do not be fooled, that might look like superstar Robert 'Our Man' Redford, but it's actually the face of evil

As a tongue in cheek aspect, Robert Redford was acquired for this sequel because it's script is an homage to 70's espionage thrillers. The kind with the secrets and government agendas where Redford himself was the hero. 

It's ironic now that Redford supposedly plays the Government villain with clandestine methods and ulterior motives. From the on set of the trailer it's obvious that Redford plays a villain or some form of such, he just gives of that vibe not to mention breaking the whole old world down thing to erect a new one in its place. It makes sense with the whole Red Skull lead Hydra credo they had. See the image below, the whole new world order thing.

The biggest reason I believe he is Red Skull or possessed by him is the clue in the comics. From a larger perspective it may not seem so but Marvel's Captain America sequel is trying as hard to keep in tune with Ed Brubaker's iconic story Winter Soldier. There's the obvious hints in the trailer to Cap not knowing something that SHIELD knows about Winter Soldier, Winter Soldier and his identity itself, flashback ideas, Captain America going on a well traveled adventure with a female companion (in the comics Sharon, on screen Black Widow), Nick Fury getting stressed enough to begin his plans to go AWOL (possibly dying in the film) and other such things that stay true to the comic story yet keep intact that Marvel Cinematic Universe ideas. 

In the aforementioned story arc there is the character of Alexander Lukin who is the master and controller of the Winter Soldier. He has in his hands control over a Cosmic Cube (The Tesseract) engineered by AIM (the offshoot of Hydra, and tech/science villains in the Iron Man 3 film). Now Lukin had this man made Cube because he killed Red Skull to get it, such that during the course of the comic he is possessed by the Skull and is fully turned into him by the end of the film. 

Now I don't think possession will come into play. What might happen in the movie is that Red Skull has come from space. 

How you ask?

Well the first Captain America film ended with Red Skull taking hold of the cube and being transported into what looked like a dimension of space that the cube ripped through. With the idea that the Cube is an infinity stone this makes sense. 

The infinity stones or gems in the comics have specific powers to them (I will explain them extensively in my Guardians of the Galaxy preview, but one such gem has the power to open portals in other areas in space around the universe). The Space Gem is most likely the Tesseract, considering that it opened the portal for Loki to enter Earth and allowed the Chitauri to do the same. 

Alexander Pierce might be Red Skull simply because the cube had been in SHIELD's hands for the past decades. The Cube would have factored into SHIELD's early plans when it formed between Nick Fury and Howard Stark, Stark acquired the object from the ocean when he was searching for Steve Rogers. An experiment would obviously have taken place to see what it does, and have brought Red Skull back without maybe Fury or Stark knowing. 

Obviously Stark would have experimented with the cube, since it would make sense why Fury would wait so long till The Avengers to want to begin to use it because he realized the resources back then wouldn't help.

Red Skull on the other hand would have taken the guise of Alexander Pierce and become war buddies with Fury. 

Pierce would go onto live his life as an American soldier, biding his time for when Hydra would resurface (who were possibly on the moon like the faux Nazi conspiracy theories, there's a comic book reason why I think Hydra would have gotten to the moon). He would then somehow take over SHIELD and begin to plan to use it too his own advantage. 

This way Red Skulls return would also round out the Captain America trilogy for its third film. 

Another solution could be Red Skull being transported into space where he would come across another Infinity Stone; the time gem version, which is supposedly set to play a part in Guardians of The Galaxy. He would have used this to jump himself to any era, most likely close to the present maybe the 90's to be able to make himself a man of a high position. 

The theories do seem to have uncertainties and loop holes, but making Pierce Red Skull would fit into the theme of phase 2. Phase 2 is the post Avengers to Avengers 2 set of  films for Marvel. 

If you watch both Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, the running theme of the film seems to be the darker politics of the universe and a villain behind the villain. Heck it started with The Avengers when Thanos was revealed to be behind Loki's actions, in Iron Man 3 it was Aldrich Killian behind Mandarin while in Thor 2 it's a bit complicated. 

Thor 2 shows that Odin's ruling methods and politics aren't as righteous or beneficiary to the larger world as Thor thought, he's a simple minded warrior who cannot comprehend the things he would have to do as a King. There's also the whole Loki behind Odin thing, and maybe Loki working under Odin's orders or having taken the place to secure for or against Thanos. 

Even if he isn't Red Skull, Robert Redford has stated that he will be playing a villain. The usual secret high level government types is an easy idea, but destroying SHIELD from its roots is why Pierce makes sense as Skull. Unless it's just a straightforward conflict between misguided insurgents and a corrupted SHIELD, with Cap in the middle then Pierce is just a corrupted official.   

(beyond my explanation, there's this theory here, that I particularly like and improves on my own idea)

Which brings me to...

The Breaking of SHIELD

SHIELD's internal struggles will most likely break it up. In place we could see it resurrected or maybe a version of Norman Osborn's/Green Goblin's HAMMER (sans Norman Osborn of course)

The biggest notice from the SHIELD breaking down seems to be how Agents of SHIELD will be ending it's first season. While the show hasn't really been any good, the upcoming release of Captain America threatens a terrific tie-in that could result in Agent Coulson finally putting his foot down.

Lat weeks episode promised some development on the alien that was used to bring Coulson alive, but it also hinted at Nick Fury's whereabouts. He's gone in hiding, maybe to perform a clandestine mission to confirm his suspicions on either Hydra's revival or who Alexander Pierce really is? 

Both from the outside and the inside it seems such that SHIELD is breaking down, and why not. The organization is committing some very illogical moves (using the Tesseract) and then in the trailers for this film they seem to be moving towards a more policed state. When Nick Fury shows Cap all this, his ideals clash with SHIELD's. Nick Fury could be either begrudgingly testing Cap's loyalties, or simply trying to see if he can trust Cap to thwart SHIELD's plans while secretly warning him by showing him all the weaponry.

It all happens to tie into his dialogue of 'You need to keep both eyes open!'. Fury is a man stuck between a rock and a hard place, and he needs to be saved by Cap and his team. A fail safe just like the LMD's (Life Model Decoys) that he uses in the comics. Speaking of LMD's. 

Is Nick Fury going to die?

Is this the end of the road for the Bad-Ass Motherf****r?

It's another good question since the trailers seem to suggest so. But at the forefront comes the Phase 2 theme again, in Iron Man 3's trailer we were falsely warned of Mandarin's coming and in Thor 2 of Loki's heroism. All these seemed like distractions just like Cap 2's trailers do. 

Nick Fury will die, but not as himself but as the LMD he uses. There are scenes where Natasha and Steve visit an old SHIELD bunker, it's here that they might end up finding the real Fury. This will be where Fury and Howard Stark began their SHIELD operations, and this where Cap will be forced to reflect on the situation and take leadership. 

Injured you are, dead not yet...hrmm...strong is the force still within you Master Win...I mean Fury...hrrmmm

Samuel Jackson has a nine film contract and he is set to appear in next years Avengers sequel, so don't worry Fury ain't going to die. 

The SHIELD as a whole however might, their cause of destruction will be internal and this will make the world reflect on what should happen. SHIELD will eventually be reformed under whose head not sure; most likely candidates being Fury again if he doesn't disappear, Coulson if he decides to tell the truth of his existence to The Avengers and if he finds out his own secrets, Maria Hill if once again the World Council come into play or Victoria Hand in case Hydra do secretly take over SHIELD. The one thing is for sure that if SHIELD does rebuild then it's bound to become incompetent again and when it does both Iron Man and Captain America will fight to reform it's policies forming the basis for A Marvel Cinematic Civil War. 

Basically it seems like the SHIELD is going down and both Alexander Pierce as well as Winter Soldier will be responsible.

Onto some Agents of SHIELD that will make the turn for better...

The Widow's Bite and Secret Avengers

From the trailer that specifically focuses on the titular Winter Solider, the film alludes to Black Widow knowing more than she lets on about this man. In the comics Widow like with Captain is a very old woman, who takes a serum of eternal youth (just so they can explain why she is young in 00's yet her history as a soviet spy from the comics of the 70's remains intact). She was trained by The Winter Soldier (oops did I forget to mention Winter Soldier was a Russian weapon, his metal arm has a star on it to prove it). As her training commenced the two became lovers. 

Will Widow have a similar relationship to him here? Maybe she is a Russian or former Hydra operative who knew Bucky as Winter Soldier and came to love him. Black Widow is a very complex character to crack, with jumping allegiances it will be interesting to see her develop through the franchise not just the film. 

The return of Hydra now or down the line could allude to a double turn once again, adding enough drama for her and her allies especially someone like Hawkeye (who is sadly not in this film). What I don't want and the trailers seem to be hinting to much towards, is a Cap and Black Widow romance even if it's for a little bit. The two characters in my idea don't suit and Widow is currently the only female Avengers. Saddling her as Cap's 'girl' becomes an annoying dynamic more so than the awkward Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers romance.

Is this undercover or are Widow and Cap going to be the next power couple? Seriously No!

Widow needs to be a character through the universe that stays unattached in that area, including her sizzling but not romantic chemistry with Hawkeye and allusions too when working with Daredevil or a future Punisher.

What this film needs to do for Black Widow is most importantly set us up for either her own solo film or a duel film with her and Hawkeye that can either be a prequel or sequel. the other side of Caps foray is Falcon. It's good to see more diversity in the movies, I just wish the new re-writes for Avengers 2 add Anthony Mackie onto the team. Currently the Avengers has one female, with another female coming in the form of Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch. Yet when said and done including Aaron Johnson as Quicksilver and Paul Bettany as Vision, the Avengers will be a total up to nine without any racial diversity among their ranks. The reboot of the Avengers cartoon into Avenger Assemble had me hoping that Falcon's main role in that meant he was headed for the big leagues on celluloid. Anthony Mackie is a fast rising star who seems like he will make an impact as the Falcon, and one beyond being shorted as sidekick. 

There's a dialogue in the trailers where Mackie's Sam Wilson states that Captain America needs him. It shows how important this bond could become and kind of does well for the films central conflict to highlight Caps new buddy when his old buddy, Winter Soldier comes knocking.

I believe I can fly!

Not only that but I'm happy how he has been presented in the trailers as a loyal and hard fighting soldier, not to mention the trailers have constantly highlighted him as the center of some of the most spectacular action set pieces from him jumping from the Hellicarrier and opening his wings to fire, to Winter Soldier pulling him down. Mackie will be an awesome actor as an awesome addition to the film, and should be the same for future Avengers films if not the sequel. 

Post Credits and The Future

Captain America 3 has been announced and it will go head to head with Batman vs. Superman on 2016. Which one will you be seeing? Interesting fact, Superman is the first superhero for DC Comics, Captain America is the same for Marvel Comics technically.  

Captain America 2 has been touted like Thor for Phase 1 as a direct entry into The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I don't know how that is apart from the Avengers possibly having to become their own unit without SHIELD and Fury coaxing them to. Maybe Fury began the Initiative because he has his hunches about the coming dangers from within the organization and outside it in the form of Hydra. 

What remains an X-Factor then is Ultron, could Ultron be a creation of SHIELD or Hydra?

The film teaser hinted towards Stark rather than anyone else, but just like how Tony was haunted by how his work was being used by The Ten Rings in the first Iron Man. The same way SHIELD could be using his resources to make Ultron, thus making him partially responsible.

So the post credits will obviously build towards Ultron. With the affinity Marvel has of adding two credits now, the second could show us where Winter Soldier ends up if by the end of the film he has the epiphany of his wrongdoings and knows who he really is. It could bring him back to wherever he was created, or allude to another secret master. 

My initial idea was the Winter Soldier would have been controlled by Baron Zemo (Captain America's greatest foe, who in the films would be Red Skulls son-an idea I got from someone else on the net-) and he would have used Bucky and other soldiers to create a revolution to destroy SHIELD and sort of show up Baron Struckers Hydra. This would allow Zemo in future films to wreak vengeance upon Cap for presumably killing his father, and give him an opportunity to take over Hydra. 

But I don't think that will happen. Although Baron Zemo should be in a future Captain film in one way or the other. 

So I cannot wait to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This was the comic that made me start reading about the First Avenger, and boasts one of my favorite modern Marvel characters. It can give us an equally bad-ass and compelling villain, not to mention craft spin-off franchises for both Winter Soldier and Black Widow. 

Hopefully it's as good as it looks.

'Nuff Said 

Aneesh Raikundalia  

PS: Enjoy one more trailer


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