This is it. We've reached the end of our week-long look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
I had fun, and I hope you did too. This week we discussed The Winter Soldier‘s record-setting opening weekend, how it affects Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the properly used villains of Cap 2 and how the events of The Winter Soldier just might affect the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. Today we will look directly to the future of Captain America and his allies, based on what we saw in Captain America: The WInter Soldier.
The finale of The Winter Soldier leaves a unique new world to play around with in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, considering that S.H.I.E.L.D. – which has been the driving force behind the MCU since its creation – is no more. This leaves Steve Rogers on his own, a soldier without an army. However, with Avengers: Age of Ultron set to see the team develop from its origins in the first Avengers, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Cap is alone on his journey. Rogers is now becoming a definitive part of the modern world and he is moving on from his fish-out-of-water status.
Focusing away from his time with the Avengers and following the events of The Winter Soldier, it looks like we will see Cap on a path to find and potentially rehabilitate Bucky Barnes, accompanied by his first real friend in the present day, Sam Wilson. With his cast of characters limited due to his life across the ages, we can expect more of Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who had confirmed the Cap 3 release date (May 6th, 2016) a few days before Marvel Studios made it official, leading us to believe he had already been in discussions to return for the film.
We’ve seen Nick Fury go off the grid at the close of The Winter Soldier, which interestingly enough mimics the actions of the original Nick Fury in the comics after the Secret War event. However, with only a cameo slated for Avengers: Age of Ultron, it remains to be seen how much more we’ll see of Samuel L. Jackson in the MCU. Rounding out Cap’s modern family of characters is the tragically underused Agent 13 AKA Sharon Carter, played by Emily VanCamp. Hopefully her role in The Winter Soldier was intended to set up the character for future roles, as her time alongside Steve as partners, both professionally and romantically, is a big part of Cap’s mythology.
A key moment in the finale hints at just what we might see in Captain America 3, when Black Widow gives Steve the Winter Soldier’s classified file from her KGB contacts. She leaves Steve with a single warning, to be careful about pulling that thread, which is obviously in reference to the sordid details of Bucky’s past as an assassin.
But is that all it is in reference too? We’ve heard recent statements from returning screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely regarding possible directions the next sequel may take, which might relate to some of the “threads” in that file Cap won’t be too happy with. The pair recently discussed the sequel with Den of Geek, which of course started fans talking.
“You can probably predict some of the threads we would like to pick up again that we’ve laid out there,” McFeely said. “And we always go back to the comics and dive back in and look at anything we’ve missed in the last few years that might be relevant.”
“We’ve definitely set out on a more realistic road in the Cap movies, you know,” Markus added. “Even more grounded than in the other MCU movies. And so it kind of rules out Cap fighting the Dinosaur Man or something like that. There are some that aren’t gonna start and other ones that — I mean there’s a couple we’re playing with right now that we really want to take elements from. Which we’ll not reveal. … All I’m saying is psychotic 1950s Cap.”
now in the comics, Captain America wasn’t always frozen in ice after WWII. Before his appearance in Avengers #3, Cap had continued fighting after the Allied victory, and spent a portion of the 50s fighting communism alongside Bucky. But when it was decided to include the character in the Avengers in the 60s, this was retconned to fit the story, leaving those adventures from the 50s in a state of limbo.
Eventually they were brought into continuity with an incredible new explanation that set up a ton of future stories. Now, with Captain America frozen following WWII and Bucky presumed dead, the government felt it still needed a Captain America and attempted to recreate the super-soldier serum that transformed Steve Rogers. William Burnside, who had stolen a version of the serum from Nazi scientists, was slated to become the new Captain America when the program was cancelled.
Burnside had been obsessed with Captain America, and had even had plastic surgery to resemble his idol, while also changing his name to Steve Rogers. When a new communist Red Skull attacked the UN, Burnside injected both himself and his student Jack Monroe with the untested super-soldier serum, and became the new Captain America and Bucky. Unfortunately, the serum was faulty and hadn’t been exposed to Vita-Rays, which aided in the real captain America’s transformation, and eventually caused both mental problems that would factor into later storylines heavily.
How that storyline relates to the cinematic Captain America still remains to be seen, but it certainly poses an interesting story for Steve Rogers and his crew to discover and deal with in the sequel. We would also hope to expect the return of some of the villains we’ve seen in the MCU so far, including Brock Rumlow AKA Crossbones, and the potential return of the Red Skull, in one form or another.
However, there is still one character with a huge future in the MCU we need to talk about. Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier is the potential new star of the Captain America franchise, especially considering some of Chris Evans comments regarding his future with Marvel once his contracted movies are finished after Cap 3 and Avengers 3.
Sebastian Stan still has an estimated 7 films left with Marvel Studios, which leads us (and most fans of the character) to expect another storyline from the comics to develop in Captain America 3. In the comics, following the death of Steve Rogers at the hands of Crossbones (and others….), Bucky is chosen to replace his friend as the new Captain America, which he reluctantly agrees to.
When Steve Roger inevitably returns to life, he allows Bucky to keep the shield, who operates as Captain America alongside the New Avengers. With Marvel allegedly planning films out until 2028, it seems very likely that we will see the evolution of Bucky into Captain America, instead of simply recasting the character after Evans is finished as Steve Rogers.
We’ve seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier deconstruct some of the fundamentals of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, maybe we’ll see a new foundation form in the future with Bucky and Captain America 3.
This concludes our week-long series exploring one of, if not the best Marvel Studios films to ever hit the big screen. Falling firmly in line with Marvel Studio’s model of connectivity, The Winter Soldier built on everything that came before it and helped potentially set up the future of the MCU more than almost any other film from Marvel Studios yet while remaining independently enjoyable.
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Images: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics