WARNING! The spoilers start here.
For a movie subtitled “The Winter Soldier” it really isn’t about the Winter Soldier. For those of you thinking that the film would follow the storyline from the graphic novel you may be disappointed. I could tell from the multiple trailers and TV ads that a lot had changed.
In a sense it was the old bait and switch similar to the one from Iron Man 3 in which the Mandarin turned out to be an actor playing a part. In this case the film was much more of a political thriller set in the world of comic book characters than it was about Steve Rogers best friend James “Bucky” Barnes becoming a killer working for the Russians.
Marvel never hid the fact that Sebastian Stan who played Bucky Barnes in The First Avenger was in The Winter Soldier. My friend who doesn’t read the comics didn’t figure out the Winter Soldier’s true identity until the scene in the Smithsonian where we saw the display about Captain America and his Howling Comandos. I’m sure that a lot of people didn’t figure it out until Cap did in the movie, and I am also sure that is what Marvel intended to happen. They could have gone the route that J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek Into Darkness and issue non-denial denials as to the true identity of the character that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing, when everyone knew that “John Harrison” was actually Khan. Of course, many people who knew that Sebastian Stan is in the film but don’t regularly scour the Internet for movie info may have thought that he would be playing Bucky in flashback scenes.
Although The Winter Soldier wasn’t a faithful adaptation of the comic book story writen by Ed Brubaker I still loved it. I previously stated that The First Avenger was my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but The Winter Soldier surpassed it.
It was a very clever idea to make The Winter Soldier a political thriller since it plays right into the hands of Captain America’s sense of right and wrong and how Nick Fury sees things more in shades of grey. The thing is neither one is right or wrong. In some sense it would be nice if there were clear, definitive lines in the sand as in Cap’s day, but things have changed a lot in the last seventy or so years.
The fact that Hydra not only infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. but have been there from the start is a very interesting idea. Still, one wonders why Armin Zola would still hold on to the ideals of the Red Skull. Maybe Zola thought that the Red Skull was on the right track but went about it the wrong way. Maybe Zola was just power hungry.
Much was made of the scene where Cap and Black Widow discover the computer containing Zola’s consciousness and Zola states that Natasha Romanov or Natalia Romanova, or whomever she is, was born in 1984, when it has been previously stated that she worked for the KGB, which supposedly disbanded when she was a child. First of all, why didn’t anyone think about this before now? I guess it’s because in the comics Black Widow was given a slow aging formula, and in fact she is about the same age as Captain America. Give or take. I’m sure this will be addressed at some point. We know that Fury has all kinds of files on everything.
I am sure that we haven’t seen the last of the Winter Soldier. Marvel is good at setting something up in one film and paying it off in another. Then there’s the mid and post credit scenes. I am almost convinced that some people go to the theatre just to watch them much in the way some people watch Mad Men for “Next time on AMC’s Mad Men.”