8 Reasons to Look Forward to The Winter Soldier

Posted October 23, 2013 by Stuart Kirkham in Comic Books

The first Captain America movie was a bit polarising. It was well-loved by a lot of people, but others just didn’t take to it.

One thing you can’t argue with is that it told a great origin story, deftly setting up the Winter Soldier storyline, and made his modern-day revival feel significant by establishing Steve Rogers in his own time and then taking him away from the people he cared about (like the lovely Hayley Atwell, who wouldn’t be devastated?).

The great thing is that whether you loved or hated the first movie, there are lots of reasons to be excited for the follow-up. Here’s a few of the reasons why Captain America 2 is the Phase 2 movie to watch.

If you don’t know anything about The Winter Soldier then you may not want to continue reading, there are some spoilers below for Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run which the film is loosely based on.

1. The Russo Brothers

Marvel have a knack for thinking outside the box when hiring their talent, it may be financially motivated but they certainly aren’t risk averse, especially when it comes to directors. Kenneth Brannagh and Jon Favreau were both untested in tentpole action films before Thor and Iron Man.

Joe & Anthony Russo

Joe & Anthony Russo

For phase 2 they’ve turned to television to find some fresh blood; Alan Taylor has been poached from Game of Thrones to head-up Thor 2, and Captain America 2 is being helmed by The Russo Brothers, whose directing credits include cult comedies like Arrested Development and Community. If you know anything about either of those TV shows its that they’re intelligently put together and definitely not aimed at the lowest common denominator. The closest thing either of them has done to action directing would probably be Joe Russo’s Spaghetti Western episode of Community, A Fistfull of Paintballs.

So why would Marvel trust these people with one of their big name properties? If I had to guess I’d say it comes down to one thing: They’re nerds. They understand the character, they know the source material, they know how to tell a story. Action direction can be learned, Favreau and Brannagh have proven that already, but being a nerd takes years of dedication, and there’s two of them behind this movie.

2. Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier

Previous Marvel films have been influenced by specific story lines; origin stories are normally very faithful to the source material and Thor felt a lot like J.Michael Straczynski’s run (probably because he worked on the script), but Captain America: Winter Soldier is the first time a movie has been based on a specific book, or even named after one.

Winter Soldier Vol.2

Winter Soldier Vol.2

Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America is easily one of the best runs on the character of all time and won multiple Eisner awards throughout the eight years it was published (come back Friday for the full reading list).

What set the book apart was it’s tone, it stayed grounded for the majority of the run and felt more like a spy-thriller than a superhero book. When more fantastical elements were called for they were treated like science-fiction, so the story never lost its footing when Red Skull was living in the mind of another person thanks to the Cosmic Cube. This reality driven approach is the perfect model for the movie universe to take inspiration from.

The supporting cast in the movie is made up of the same people Brubaker surrounded Steve Rogers with; Nick Fury, Black Widow and the Falcon, characters that rely on technology and intel, and fight without the aid of magical Hammers. What does this mean for the film? Less CG, more practical effects and wirework, conflicts will be decided by stealth and strategy, firefights and fisticuffs.

3. Bucky Barnes
Captain America & Bucky Vol.1

Captain America & Bucky Vol.1

Bucky’s fall from grace is a truly tragic story. A man who put his life on the line for his country is captured by Russians (who were supposed to be America’s allies at the time), and his legacy is perverted by turning him into a brainwashed assassin. He is deployed throughout the Cold War to murder his own countrymen, he is a twisted shadow of his former self with no memory of his past life, for James Barnes this is a fate worse than death which undermines everything he accomplished during World War II.

It’s no secret to the audience that the Winter Soldier is a revived Bucky from the first movie, but it will be a surprise to Steve Rogers and it will be really interesting to see how this plays out on screen when he realises what his best friend has been turned into. Simply killing Bucky to end the threat will not be an option to Captain America, so more people may be put at risk while he struggles to find another solution.

4. Black Widow
Captain America & Black Widow Vol.1

Captain America & Black Widow Vol.1

Natasha Romanov makes her third Marvel appearance in as many franchises, but this might be the most suitable place for her. Black widow has been confirmed as playing a large role in the film, working as an existing member of SHIELD and temporary partner to Steve Rogers.

The more interesting potential for this inclusion involves some spoilers for the Death of Captain America storyline, during which it’s revealed that Natasha knew Bucky as the Winter Soldier during her days in the Red Room training program. We see in the series that a romance was kindled between the two, but the Russians put the kibosh on that as soon as they discovered it.

This can potentially lead to a very interesting dynamic as the story plays out, and they could also be the first hero couple in the Marvel cinematic universe, If the Russo’s decide to include this romance it may just be hinted at and left to play out fully in future movies, as it could otherwise draw focus from Captain America’s struggle with the revelation.

5. The Falcon
Cap, Falcon & Redwing

Cap, Falcon & Redwing

Long time partner of Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon makes his first appearance in the Marvel universe. Also possessing a very limited power set, it’ll be interesting to see how Marvel displays his flight and ability to communicate with birds on the big screen.

In the books, being long time friends and allies, Sam provides Steve with great support in battle as well as friendship so this could be the beginning of a true bromance. After realising the true identity of the Winter Soldier, Steve will probably need some moral support. At the very least, the inclusion of The Falcon will provide some interesting opportunities for action scenes, cutting between Cap’s ground level and Sam’s aerial combat.

Falcon fans all over the world are crossing their fingers for a Redwing cameo.

6. The Costume

The World War II uniform from the first Captain America movie was well received; it was a practical update to the comic book costume that worked on screen and looked as realistic as could be expected. Avengers attempted to update the costume into something more streamlined and modern, it was a necessary move but it ended up looking somewhat peculiar in practice, the combination of the bulbous cowl and slim-fit torso made Chris Evans look skinny and unimposing.

Fortunately they seem to have gotten it right this time

Fortunately they seem to have gotten it right this time

The new costume is a much needed improvement, modelled after the Super Soldier costume from the comic, which Steve Rogers wears while Bucky is serving as Captain America, this look suits the big screen well and the smaller details ground it in reality and suit Cap’s new role as a SHIELD agent. Whoever heard of a spangly super-spy? Other than Austin Powers…

7. S.H.I.E.L.D.

S.H.I.E.L.D continues to be a looming presence in the movie universe, since Cap is without a role in the modern world it would only make sense that he would find at least a small feeling of familiarity with S.H.I.E.L.D. One of the interesting things about Cap’s dynamic with Nick Fury has always been how Steve’s 1940’s black and white morals clash with the modern moral shades of grey S.H.I.E.L.D operates within. Considering the topic at hand, it’s fairly certain there’ll be some difference of opinion on how to handle the Winter Soldier situation, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Cap is still working with S.H.I.E.L.D by the end of the movie.

This also leads to another question, what agency will be pulling the Winter Soldier’s strings from the shadows? Will we see Hydra make a return? A modern day Hydra could be very different from the Nazi WWII version. Or perhaps it will be AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) that make a return, under new leadership after Iron Man 3. It could even be something new like the Kronos Corporation from Brubaker’s run, but whoever it is there may be some hints sooner than you’d think.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The creation of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television show introduces some interesting possibilities. It’s the perfect place to start building up these larger organisations into genuine threats that can be carried into the movies. The Rising Tide could even be a cover for one of these organisations (most likely Hydra judging by the name), and just before a film release a few tie-in episodes could serve as an interesting tease and generate some impressive viewing figures. Whatever the threat is, this weekly outlet for the Marvel cinematic universe will definitely be used to create some hype for the upcoming releases.

8. The Future

Possibly the most exciting thing about this movie is what might come after it. There are several potential ways Marvel could go from here, and all of them are pretty interesting. For starters, Sebastian Stan is a TV actor, so the likelihood of a Winter Soldier appearance in the S.H.I.E.L.D TV show is pretty high. Maybe a two-part special bridging the gap between Cap 2 and 3.

Foreshadowing  perhaps?

Foreshadowing perhaps?

At some point one of the Avengers is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice, Joss Whedon is a serial murderer so it can’t be too long before one of them bites the bullet, and it’s probably more likely to happen in a team movie than a title character dying in their own film.

The good news is that if Cap should take the fall there’ll be someone waiting in the wings to pick up the shield. Bucky-Cap could rise like a phoenix from the ashes of his disgrace, so he can finally redeem himself for his actions as The Winter Soldier.

Ed Brubaker on Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

When I saw the first Captain America movie I got to go to the Premiere and the after party, and I was talking to the screen writers who told me what was coming, and I knew the guy who played Bucky had signed a five picture deal… and I talked to him for a little while and he said he’d read all the comics and he was so excited about what was coming next if they did it.

And I didn’t hear anything about what the next movie was going to be about because they keep that stuff so top-secret, and I was literally walking from the convention centre to my hotel and my phone just started exploding with texts saying CONGRATULATIONS…but the Eisners were two nights ago, did my friends just find out that I’d won? Then finally someone in the text said “I can’t believe The Winter Soldier is the new Cap movie”, then I stopped and went on the internet… and I immediately called one of the screenwriters and said “Did you know?”, and he said they’d just decided this morning on the title of the movie. They knew who was in the movie and what the story was but they didn’t know they were actually going to call it The Winter Soldier.

But thank god there’s actually a book called that, that’s the problem with the Marvel movies… DC sold a million copies of Watchmen, V for Vendetta a million copies.. but there’s nineteen volumes of X-Men: First Class so where do you start? But there’s actually a book that the movie is adapted from.

Then I got to read the script and go out to dinner with the directors and talk to them about it, and got to go on set for a week and watch them film, meet Robert Redford… it was really exciting. I honestly love the script, I didn’t have any, like “You should have done this”, it was just right down the middle exactly what I would have done if I’d been able to sit there and say “You should do this, this and this”, they did it all. IT’s really great, it’s got a sense of humour, but it’s very serious, it’s a thriller… I haven’t seen the editing yet, apparently the Russo’s said I could come and look at some of the editing when they get back in town, but I’ll believe it when I see it because they are so top-secret about this stuff, it is nuts.

If what was written and what I saw ends up on screen as it is, it’s going to be the best superhero movie ever made up to now, and I would include the Batman movies in that.

Update! The first full length trailer for The Winter Soldier is now available

Velvet #1 Advanced Review

Brubaking the Rules: Reviving Bucky Barnes

A Conversation With: Ed Brubaker (Part One)

A Conversation With: Ed Brubaker (Part Two)

Brubaking Bad: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Reading List

Ed Brubakers Captain America Reading List

The Genesis of Velvet

About the Author

Stuart Kirkham

Stuart is a comic book collector, film and TV enthusiast, and video game crackerjack. Unfortunately these pursuits are occasionally interrupted by having to go to work and do real-life things.