Captain America Winter Soldier: 43 Things Probably Missed In The Best MCU Movie
2020 is looking bleak for MCU releases, so it's time to revisit the best of the best.
It's been an odd year for the MCU, for countless reasons--but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The highly anticipated Phase 4 may still be in something of a limbo with major movies like Black Widow already experiencing delays and looking at further push-backs, but we've finally received a trailer for WandaVision--and while we don't have an exact release date set yet, it will definitely be out this year.
But thankfully for us, the last 10 years' worth of MCU content is still very available--and totally worth taking a deeper look at, for nostalgia's sake and to keep our MCU instincts sharp when the train finally starts rolling again. We've already taken a look at the first Captain America movie, and we've done a total breakdown of Tony Stark's evolution across every movie, so now it's time to take a look at one of the best MCU movies of all time: The Winter Soldier.
One part superhero movie, one part vintage spy-thriller, The Winter Soldier stands strong as one of the most beloved Marvel movies of all time, even six years after its theatrical release--and for good reason. It comes close to standing on its own, with less prerequisite knowledge of the complicated framework of the shared superhero universe needed to dive in, it follows a deeply personal story of lost friendship and betrayal, and it features some of the best fight choreography around.
We gleefully threw ourselves back into the fray with a scene-by-scene Winter Soldier re-watch to pick out every tiny detail and scrap of information we may have missed the first time around (or the first 20-some-odd times around, depending on how many rewatches you've managed to fit in this year alone--don't worry, we're not here to judge). So, without further ado, here are 43 things you may not have known about Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
1. Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson's comic book history is a tricky thing--first introduced in Captain America 117 back in 1969, he, like Steve, didn't have a specific or concrete origin story for the vast majority of his early appearances, with stories depicting him as everything from a former pigeon caretaker to a gang member named "Snap." The cosmic cube eventually was brought in for even more wackiness, involving Sam's mind being re-written and memory erased temporarily.
Even through all the comic book weirdness, Sam and Steve became close friends, eventually garnering their own joint title, Captain America and The Falcon, which replaced the solo Captain America series for seven years during the 1970s. Since then, Steve and Sam's friendship has become a foundational part of each character's identity. The idea that he's a veteran who was part of a special pararescue team, as well as his lost partner Riley (a deliberate parallel to Steve's lost partner, Bucky) were invented for the MCU.
2. Localized List
Steve's catch up list was localized across different markets during the film's release. For the UK release, the list included items like The Beatles and the 1966 World Cup Final. For South Korea, it had Dance Dance Revolution, Oldboy, and Ji-Sung Park. In Latin America, it had Shakira and the rescue of the Chilean Miners. France included items like Daft Punk and The Fifth Element while Russia included Yuri Gagarin and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
3. Brock Rumlow
Brock Rumlow is only loosely based on his comic book counterpart, Crossbones, who was a loyal hydra footsoldier and on-again-off-again boyfriend of Sin, the Red Skull's daughter. Rumlow doesn't begin to really resemble his comic book self until Captain America: Civil War, when he's briefly shown with a skull mask and fist weapons right before being killed by an explosion. RIP.
4. The Lemurian Star
The ship taken over by Batroc's gang is called the Lemurian Star, a reference to Lemuria, the fictional sunken city and home of the Deviants, the antagonists of the Eternals comics who are headed to big screens with the upcoming Eternals movie.
5. Georges Batroc
MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre played the MCU's version of one of Captain America's most absurd comic book foes: Batroc the Leaper, a savate (French kickboxing) master who, well, was known for being pretty good at jumping around. St-Pierre's costume even vaguely echoes Batroc's comic book self with its purple and orange color scheme.
Recently, it was confirmed that Batroc would be making his return to the MCU in the upcoming Disney+ TV show, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
6. Jasper Sitwell
SHIELD agent and HYDRA traitor Jasper Sitwell actually does exist in the comics, though he has a much less central role in those stories than he has here in this film. He was invented back in 1966 and, most commonly, was just a sort of background agent or supporting character who isn't actually evil. At one point he becomes a zombie. Don't worry too much about it.
7. Parachute free
Steve's (incredibly cool) parachute-less free fall is a nod to a moment in the alternate universe comic book series, The Ultimates.
8. Steve's new fighting style
In the commentary tracks, directors Anthony and Joe Russo explained that they wanted to have the introductory fight scene on the Lemurian Star showcase just how much Steve's world view has changed since WW2. He's more confident, exact, and has clearly been training--a sharp contrast to his explosive, spur-of-the-moment break-in to the facility in Azzano back in The First Avenger.
9. The Triskelion
SHIELD's headquarters, The Triskelion, was actually a relatively recent addition to the comics, first appearing in the Ultimates series back in 2002. Prior to that, SHIELD worked out of all sorts of bases--even a secret one beneath a barber shop with a hidden entrance that required the agent to sit down as if they were about to get a shave. No, really.
10. "I lost an eye"
Fury coldly explaining that the last time he trusted someone, he lost an eye, feels kind of ridiculous in retrospect, considering Captain Marvel revealed that it was actually a Flerken cat-scratch that did it. We'll chalk this one up to writers not communicating with one another over the years. They have a lot to keep track of. Or maybe Fury is trying to make a very strange point.
11. Fury's grandfather
The story about Fury's grandfather attending an elevator is actually loosely based on Samuel L. Jackson's real life grandfather who actually did work as an elevator attendant.
12. Alexander Pierce
Alexander Pierce is based on a comics character from the late '80s, though you wouldn't recognize him if you stood him up next to Robert Redford's version. The comic book Pierce was just a regular SHIELD agent who briefly ran one of SHIELD's more subversive black ops teams. In the movie, however, he's secretly a high ranking HYDRA agent. Redford was cast partly because his grandkids are massive MCU fans, but also because of his filmography of classic thrillers which the Russo Brothers constantly made reference to with certain scenes. Also, interestingly enough, young Robert Redford had straw blond hair and bore an uncanny resemblance to the comic book incarnation of Steve Rogers, which makes his position as a HYDRA kingpin even more insidious.
13. All The President's Men
The Triskelion is located at the location of the real-life Watergate Hotel, which featured in another Robert Redford thriller, All The President's Men, about the scandal. Later, a copy of the novel can be seen on Steve's bookshelf in his apartment.
The Russos wanted to both pay tribute to and raise the stakes of the iconic car chase scene in the 1995 thriller Heat, which they call one of the greatest car chases of all time, with Fury's ordeal.
15. Vertical Take-Off
Remember Howard Stark's introduction of flying cars back in The First Avenger? They've become standard in the MCU for SHIELD--though we rarely get to see them. This is a detail borrowed directly from the comics, where SHIELD agents typically get around via flying car.
16. The Winter Soldier
The film's titular antagonist is none other than the brainwashed Bucky Barnes, returned from "the dead" as the Winter Soldier. This story borrows heavily from the comic book story arc of the same name where Bucky, who had been assumed dead since Steve's revival in the 1960s, was revealed to have actually survived the explosion that should have killed him. But unlike Steve, who was revived relatively untouched by time, Bucky had been found, resuscitated, and brainwashed by the evil organization known as The Red Room to be the most feared and illusive assassin in the world.
This differs slightly from Bucky's story in the MCU, where rather than the Red Room, HYDRA was responsible for Bucky's reconditioning. Also, Bucky's memory loss in the comics had less to do with repeated electro-shock therapy and more to do with cosmic cube interference and him being literally brain dead when recovered. Don't worry too much about that.
17. Agent 13
This movie also introduces Sharon Carter, niece of Peggy Carter, who has roughly the same story as her comic book counterpart--though in the comics, Sharon and Peggy's dynamic with Steve was much less clear cut. They both were roughly the same age for a while, thanks to comics tricky business of timeline compression and decompression, and Steve dated both of them--roughly simultaneously for a while--which made for all sorts of wacky soap opera hijinks. Ultimately, however, in modern comics, Sharon emerged as one of Steve's core supporting characters (and love interests) while Peggy faded into relative obscurity.
18. It's been a long, long time
The song playing in Steve's apartment when he returns to find a wounded Nick Fury is Harry James and Kitty Kallen's "It's Been A Long, Long Time," a song that was made popular at the very end of World War 2 in 1945.
19. The shield catch
Bucky catching the shield in his metal hand exactly mirrors a moment in the Winter Soldier comics.
20. A Bridge Too Far
Pierce tells Steve that his "father served in the 101st" during their first meeting. This is actually a nod to yet another Robert Redford movie, A Bridge Too Far, where Redford himself played Major Cook of the 101st Airborne.
21. Natasha and Bucky
In the film, Natasha plays a critical role in providing some exposition about who the Winter Soldier is. She's encountered him before, and come away with a scar to prove it. In the comics, however, Bucky and Nat's connection runs much deeper--Bucky was actually used by the Red Room to train Black Widow agents and played a major role in crafting Natasha into the person she is today. But, because the MCU version of Bucky was trained by HYDRA rather than the Red Room, this change was necessary.
22. War Games
Natasha quotes "shall we play a game?" from the 1983 movie WarGames, about killer AI.
23. Zola 2.0
Zola was seen as a normal human back in The First Avenger. Here we see him much closer to his comic book counterpart, where he was a human consciousness uploaded into a robotic body with his face projected onto a screen.
24. Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip, which Natasha talks about, is a real life operation conducted after World War 2 where America recruited German scientists and engineers who worked in Nazi Germany. They were brought into the country and given jobs to put America in a better scientific and strategic position through the Cold War.
25. Governor Stern
Garry Shandling reprises his role in this movie as the governor from Iron Man 2 who tried to force Tony Stark into giving up the armor--turns out he was HYDRA all along.
26. Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange
Sitwell talks about both Bruce Banner, who had already been re-introduced as Mark Rufallo in The Avengers, and also Stephen Strange, who would not be cast as Benedict Cumberbatch for several years, as potential Insight targets.
27. Who the hell is Bucky?
Like the shield catch, Bucky's "Who the hell is Bucky?" line comes directly from the Winter Soldier arc of the comics.
The doctor who rushes to save Natasha is co-director Joe Russo.
Though Bucky's Red Room backstory was changed for the movie, he still spent a considerable amount of time being trained in Russia, as demonstrated by him defaulting to Russian rather than his native English. This idea was expanded in Captain America: Civil War, where it was revealed that there was a program, not unlike the Red Room, that HYDRA had cooked up to train other Winter Soldiers, hidden in Siberia.
30. Bucky with the shield
Bucky catching and holding the shield during the fight on the street is a direct mirror of the moment that cost him his life back in The First Avenger on the train--and again to the comics.
31. Banner developed it for stress
Fury is of course talking about The Hulk here as he explains how they faked his death.
32. Ed Brubaker
The writer behind the Winter Soldier story in the comics has a cameo here as one of the lab techs working on Bucky.
33. The flashbacks
Bucky has flashbacks to events that we already saw in The First Avenger, with some new ones added in--like his arm being amputated and replaced and a message from Dr. Zola. Interestingly, Zola was a part of Project Paperclip immediately after World War 2, and we saw his capture back in TFA, which means that Zola had to have been working on the Winter Soldier project right under the noses of the non-corrupted members of SHIELD (people like Peggy Carter and Howard Stark) back in the '40s and '50s.
34. The electric chair
The concept of Bucky having his memories wiped by electric shock was invented for the MCU--in the comics, his memory was completely erased during his fall, making him a sort of empty vessel for the Red Room to "reprogram" as they wanted. It took interference from the cosmic cube for Steve to revert Bucky back to his old self.
35. Cap vs. SHIELD
Ironically, Steve Rogers squaring off against SHIELD is more reminiscent of the Civil War event from the comics than the actual MCU movie titled Civil War.
36. Dani Pudi
The Russo Brothers got their start working on the show Community, and have since worked to include Community actors as cameos in their MCU movies. Dani Pudi, who played Abed in the show, is seen here as a SHIELD tech.
37. Rumlow's accident
In the comics, Crossbones' face is heavily burned from his own (temporary) meta-abilities. In the movie, his facial scars (seen later in Civil War) come from being caught in the collapsing Triskelion.
38. Steve vs. Bucky
Steve awakening Bucky's old memories was a less dramatic affair in the comics--Steve simply had to take the cosmic cube and wish for Bucky to remember, rather than allowing himself to be nearly killed.
39. Till the end of the line
"I'm with you 'till the end of the line" became one of the major motifs for Steve and Bucky's relationship through both this movie and Captain America: Civil War.
Steve being dropped into the Potomac river unconscious as the helicarrier crashes was a deliberate parallel to his "death" aboard the Valkyrie back in The First Avenger--both were about Steve willing to die for a mission he believed in, and both featured near-misses with watery graves. Except this time, Bucky was still around to pull him out, rather than letting him fall.
41. Trouble man
Steve is listening to the Trouble Man soundtrack that Sam suggested at the start of the movie.
42. Carter in the CIA
With the collapse of SHIELD, Sharon Carter joins the CIA, a role we see her in during Civil War as she provides intel for Steve about Bucky's status as a wanted terrorist.
43. Pulp Fiction
Fury's headstone features a fake Bible quote Jackson's character famously recited in Pulp Fiction: Ezekiel 25:17, "The path of the righteous man…"
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