Having watched Captain America 2 i’ve felt like talking about what this means to not only to the Avengers Movie but the Marvel Universe as a whole…
*PLEASE BE AWARE THERE ARE SPOILERS*
Now the basic story of Captain America 2 is that S.H.I.E.L.D is being run by hydra since it was formed and Cap has to stop a plot that they have to kill millions of people, like the Avengers, who they see as threats to them. This then causes S.H.I.E.L.D to essentially be destroyed and closed down.
With Captain America 2 basicly being the start of the lead up to Avengers 2 (Phase 2) and the fact the S.H.I.E.L.D is essentially closed what does this mean. There is still a few movies between this one and Avengers we can’t help but wonder where the Marvel universe is going. To start with i’ll talk about S.H.I.E.L.D.
the spy agency which has been the backbone of Marvel’s shared universe since day one. Marvel’s huge success with 2012’s The Avengers actually started way back in 2008’s Iron Man when Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury first dropped the hint that there were more superheroes out there, and that he had a plan to bring them together.
Since Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige’s mammoth crossover conquered the global box office, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have been suspiciously absent from the big screen MCU adventures. They didn’t do anything to help stop a plot against the P.O.T.U.S. in Iron Man 3 and they weren’t even answering important phone-calls in Thor: The Dark World – now we know why.
The Winter Soldier shows us that S.H.I.E.L.D. has some serious problems – former WWII-era HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola has been corrupting S.H.I.E.L.D. since the start. Present day Zola, now a living computer, has created an algorithm to identify potential troublemakers and kill them before they get a chance to commit any crimes. As the ever-righteous Steve Rogers points out – this isn’t freedom, this is fear.
When punching Zola’s computer monitor doesn’t seem to fix anything, Cap sets out to stop the modern day HYDRA representative leading S.H.I.E.L.D. – Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce. When the few remaining good guys meet-up to form a plan, Cap shoots down Fury’s idea of trying to salvage S.H.I.E.L.D. “Everything goes” says Rogers, and everyone agrees. S.H.I.E.L.D., as we know it, is gone.
At the end of the movie we see Fury incinerate his iconic eye-patch and head to Europe to stop some more corruption, while Maria Hill sits down to take a lie detector test at Stark Industries. So what does this mean for the future?
The immediate assumption is that the Avengers (including the remaining trustworthy agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), will form their own justice-keeping organisation, financed by Tony Stark. Not only would this tie into the tease of the ‘A’ left hanging on Stark Tower in Avengers Assemble (which alluded to the Stark-donated Avengers Mansion from the comics), this would be a neat way to keep Robert Downey Jr. in the franchise without too many action scenes for the World’s Mightiest Middle-aged Dude.
This private ownership would no doubt pit the Avengers against the government at some point, which could tee up nicely for a Civil War-style crossover. With the Avengers possibly working alone, surely Stark creating Ultron and putting the world in danger is going to get him/the team into a lot of trouble somewhere down the line. Why would Stark need to do a lie detector test on Maria though? Maybe he’s interviewing her to help run the new Head Quarters, but needs to know he can trust her. Either that or he just likes messing with people and making them nervous.
Another option is something similar to the aftermath of the Secret War comic book arc which saw Fury disappear in disgrace, with Maria taking the helm of S.H.I.E.L.D. – with no teases for a new S.H.I.E.L.D. team though, and Maria’s visit to Stark Industries surely being more than a red herring, a Stark-funded Avengers HQ seems more likely.
What does this mean the the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show? Well this is still unknown, with no one opening up to discuss where this season will end up it is entirely possible that they could use this to spring my above theory into action as you don’t really see much of the team in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D being a massive part of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Kept well under wraps in the publicity for this film was the fact that HYDRA were returning. The Nazi deep science research division, thought defeated during The First Avenger, has actually been gathering strength and numbers while Captain America was on ice.
Not only did it survive without the Red Skull’s leadership it has grown into powerful behind-the-scenes puppet masters of society by building cybernetic-enhanced killing machines, wiping out potential threats before they’ve done anything, infiltrating the most secure levels of the government and even influencing key historical events. A brief image even suggested that HYDRA was behind the assassination on the grassy knoll.
Truly, the events of The Winter Soldier show that there’s no limit to HYDRA’s reach, and we’re sure to see more of it. Although Iron Man 2 alumnus Senator Stern and established S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Agent Sidwell have been caught mid-heil, there’s bound to be more powerful figures in on the act.
While we’ve all been expecting each film to tie back to Thanos and the Infinity Stones, the Russo brothers have snuck another massive threat into the MCU in the shape of HYDRA. There’s several ways this could be developed on screen in the future; with the power of Loki’s sceptre, HYDRA could potentially open a portal and bring back Red Skull; with high levels of influence in government, it could try to stamp down on superheroes; in rebooting Zola, it could rain computerised terror on our tech-obsessed society; tying into the Clairevoyant’s experiments in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it could even create its own army of super-soldiers.
Although there are plenty of options for future plot lines, one thing is for sure – we haven’t seen the end of HYDRA. It seems likely it will become established as a recurring threat meddling in the background of the MCU, returning repeatedly to torment the Avengers over several films. The film’s mid-credits sting confirmed that The Winter Soldier only represented one battle, and that the war is far from over. Introducing Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, this short scene introduced us to a HYDRA project which is bound to dominate Phase 3…
Mid Credits Scene
Before going into what the movies means for Captain America we must go over the mid credits scene. The monocled man will be recognisable to some Marvel fans as infamous ‘Captain America’ villain Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. He is a ruthless HYDRA officer and will appear in ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’. However it’s the introduction of “the twins” that is the most exciting…
Pietro and Wanda Maximoff will be recognised by their infamous ‘X-men’ names: Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. Quicksilver’s main power is being able to move and think at super human speed. The Scarlet Witch’s abilities are notoriously more difficult to define: she uses spell-like “hexes” to manipulate probability (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s thought this will be changed to telekinetic powers). In the comics the twins are members of the Brotherhood Of Mutants, and the children of iconic ‘X-Men’ bad guy, Magneto. However they eventually reform and join The Avengers, where they are seen as regular heroes on the Avengers’ roster.
Is this the start of an Avengers/X-Men crossover?
Sadly, no. Twentieth Century Fox, who own the ‘X-Men’ franchise, are unlikely to team-up with studio Marvel anytime soon – no matter how much the fans might want it. The only reason ‘X-Men’ characters Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch can appear in a Marvel movie is because the two studios actually share the rights to the characters – as they feature in both the ‘X-Men’ and ‘Avengers’ back catalogues.
Interestingly Fox also own the rights to the word “mutant”, which is why Strucker and his aide describe Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch as being from the “age of miracles”… and not actually mutants.
All this studio silliness has resulted in the bizarre situation where TWO different Quicksilvers will appear in two different franchises at the same time. The character is also being played by US actor Evan Peters in ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’, out 22 May 2014. Though some insiders have suggested Marvel chose to introduce their version now, despite ‘Age Of Ultron’ not arriving till 2015, just to beat movie making rivals Fox.
You can read all about the “age of miracles” in my other article.
What about the Sceptre’s mysterious power?
Loki’s Chitauri Sceptre, and Strucker’s quip that no one understands it’s power, hint at Marvel’s bigger picture for their movies – as studio boss Kevin Feige has previously stated that we’re dealing with one of the Marvel universe’s coveted Infinity Gems here.
In the comics, there are six of these mysterious stones which, when possessed by one person, grants them incredible power.
We’ve already seen two: The Tesseract from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, and the Aether from ‘Thor: The Dark World’ – which we saw handed over to The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro, in the mid-credit sequence.
Del Toro is also the villain of this summer’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, which is set to feature another of the Infinity Gems. He’s said to work for Thanos, the creepy blue-faced dude that was revealed as Loki’s chief string-puller in the mid-credit sequence of ‘The Avengers’, and acts as a custodian for the gems on his behalf.
Thanos has been teased as the main villains of ‘Avengers 3’, so expect to hear more about the Infinity Gems over the course of the next few Marvel films.
Although not overtly mentioned, Bucky Barnes rediscovering his human side at the very end of the film, coupled with the return of Arnim Zola and the reappearance of HYDRA, seems to point towards one famous comic book arc making it to screen in the future – The Death of Captain America.
The fact that Chris Evans has displayed an interest in winding down his acting career lately, while Sebastian Stan has signed up for a nine film deal, also serves to support the theory that the mantle of Captain America might soon be changing hands.
This 2007 comic book arc was written by Ed Brubaker, the man who first brought back long-dead Cap side-kick Bucky Barnes as The Winter Soldier. Brubaker’s work was a huge influence on the Russo brother’s development of The Winter Soldier and if logic prevails, they are likely to find more inspiration in his further work.
Brubaker famously killed off Cap after the events of Marvel’s Civil War crossover. As Crossbones looked on, a brainwashed Sharon Carter dealt the final blow on the orders of the Red Skull. In introducing Crossbones and Carter, as well as giving HYDRA a sceptre with mind control powers, there are so many clues alluding that Marvel Studios is building towards putting these events on screen in the future.
With Evans tied in for at least two more films after Age of Ultron on his six film contract (his Thor: The Dark World cameo doesn’t count), it seems likely that he will appear in Captain America 3 before bowing out in Avengers 3, letting Bucky take on the role of Captain America in phase four.
To wrap up then, although Captain America might not be the most charismatic or powerful Marvel hero, his latest movie has been arguably the most significant film of phase two so far and has delivered by the far the most change we have ever seen in the Marvel cinematic universe.
Going forward, the legacy of this film will have repercussions throughout the MCU for years to come. HYDRA has now been reintroduced and will likely be a background baddie (like Thanos so far), tormenting and testing the Avengers from afar through its evil schemes.
Using Loki’s sceptre, HYDRA has managed to give ordinary people incredible powers, and by throwing Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch into the mix in Age Of Ultron, Marvel Studios will move forward with its own experiment of introducing many more superpowers, which could lead to their biggest, most epic crossover event to date.
This brave new world of crazy super powers will be governed by a new team, possibly a new, non-government-aligned Avengers team, funded by Tony Stark with leadership help from Maria Hill. Steve Rogers will be a key part of this team for the next couple of years, but Bucky Barnes is likely to take on the mantle of Captain America after Chris Evans’ contract ends after Avengers 3.
Whether or not my predictions and assumptions are right, we can expect the MCU to be a very different place from Age Of Ultron onwards, with super-powered people running around, something new in place of the established S.H.I.E.L.D. set-up and a shady bunch of Nazi scientists attempting world domination. No wonder Marvel has so many films lined up, if it’s looking to cover that little lot…