You know what? This year has been pretty fucking awful and we all need, nay deserve, a break. The world is a lot scarier and more uncertain than it was before (and it was already pretty damn scary and uncertain) and there wasn’t much I could do about it then and there certainly isn’t much I can do about it now. But I can write something that hopefully you’ll find funny and interesting and maybe brighten your day a little and I categorically refuse to believe that that’s nothing. So how about this? No more talking about politics and America and we just enjoy a review of The Winter Soldier, a political thriller starring Captain America OH GODDAMNIT!!!
Sigh. Okay. Let’s review the movie where the living exemplar of all that is best in America defeats the forces of tyranny and hatred.
I remember when it was announced over a decade ago that Marvel were bringing Bucky Barnes back to life and I was opposed to the whole thing. Damn opposed!
Bucky Barnes is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, debuting all the way back in 1941. Bucky and Captain America were introduced as a twofer in the very first issue of Captain America Comics because, ever since Robin had been introduced in Batman the previous year, superheroes had to have kid sidekicks. It was non-negotiable. In his origin story, Bucky is a kid who likes hanging around a military base and one day sees Steve Rogers changing into his Captain America costume. Bucky tells Steve that the only way to protect his secret identity is to let him be his crime fighting partner and Cap of course has the kid sent to a military lock up as a threat to national security agrees. This, incidentally, is how Steve Rogers deals with anyone who walks in on him changing, which is how you got such storied superheroes as Clothing Store Assistant Girl and the Incredible Mom. So anyway, Bucky was a pretty blatant Robin rip-off and not even a particularly interesting one and the character was eventually replaced by the female sidekick Golden Girl, before then being brought back for the fifties “commie smasher” version of Captain America in the fifties. When that comic failed, both Cap and Bucky were retired by Marvel.
Then came the sixties, and with superheroes popular again, Stan Lee decided to bring back Marvel’s most popular character from the war era, Captain America, to take his place alongside the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Spider-Man and all the other classic characters that Stan Lee and his collaborators had been minting at a rate of around three a second.
But Stan did. Not. Want. Bucky.
Why? Well, sidekicks from Robin onwards had been conceived as surrogates for their young, mostly male audience. But Stan found the whole idea of kid sidekicks to be condescending, and so instead had created teen superheroes like Spider-Man and the new Human Torch who were teenagers but also the stars of their own stories rather than playing second fiddle. Then there was the issue of the comics industry’s brush with death in the early fifties thanks to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent by Doctor Frederic Wertham which made the case that comics were a dangerous influence on the minds of America’s youth. Now the bulk of Wertham’s argument was against horror and crime comics but he also took aim at superheroes, claiming that Batman and Robin were clearly in a sexual relationship. Which, of course, if he had actually bothered to read the comics he would have realised that he was absolutely, totally, 100% percent correct.
So yeah, Stan rather wisely decided that the last thing the newly revived superhero genre needed was little boys in tight shorts running around so when Cap was revived in Avengers #4 he revealed that Bucky had died at the end of the war trying to stop a bomb from destroying London and that they were totally just friends, you guys.
This change gave the fairly one-dimensional character of Steve Rogers some much needed emotional shading. Steve was no longer a smiling, lantern jawed, shield-slinger but a grieving, troubled hero out of time and wholly unsure of his role and place in the world. In fact, it worked so well that Bucky was one of a Holy Trinity of dead comic book characters who it was implicitly understood would never, ever be brought back to life; Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes. So when Marvel actually did the unthinkable and brought Backy buck…um, brought Bucky back as a grim and gritty assassin with a robot arm called “The Winter Soldier”, I just rolled my eyes and decried it as another lazy stunt that would be undone in a few months at most. But, credit where credit is due, Cap writer Ed Brubaker made the damn thing work and it’s already considered one of the best and most seminal Captain America stories. In fact, it was chosen as the plot for the second Captain America movie despite being so recent, thereby skipping decades of older, classic Captain America storylines.
What I find weird about the Captain America trilogy is that, while you often get movie series where instalments are vastly different from each other, it’s pretty damn rare to find a series of movies that hops between genres. This time around, Marvel followed Joe Johnston’s glorious, retro, Indiana Jones homage with a gritty political thriller that would have been perfectly at home in the seventies. How did that work out? Let’s take a look
The movie begins with a quiet little character based. Sam Wilson, (an absolutely magnetic Sam Wilson) is out for his morning jog and gets lapped three times by a 95 year old man. That’s pretty embarrassing but a little less so when you realise that it’s Captain America (Chris Evans). They get talking and Sam tells Steve that he’s former Air Force and is now working at the VA. He asks Steve how he’s handling life in the 21st century and Steve says that surprisingly, no polio, good food and internet is all a-okay with him. I actually like this a lot. I’m sure there’s plenty of things Steve misses about the forties (notably, all his friends and family) but it doesn’t make sense for him to be nostalgic for his own time because nostalgia is only possible when you’ve had years or decades to forget all the bad stuff and make the good seem better than it was. Put it another way, if I live to be a hundred I’ll probably be nostalgic for this time of my life, even if in the future they’ve reversed global warming, ended war and transitioned to an orgasm based economy. But if I was magically transported to that future now? Not so much.
Sam gives Steve some recommendations for music to help him catch up on all that he’s missed and then Natasha (Scarlett Johannson) drives by to pick up Steve for his next mission. This first scene is excellent because it is really, really hard to convincingly sell the idea that two people have already become friends after just meeting each other for a few minutes. But it works because the banter between Steve and Sam is genuinely funny, and also because Evans and Mackie are like two white hot suns of charisma locked in some kind of cosmic dance. After this one scene I already buy the Sam/Steve friendship more than the Tony/Rhodey bromance after five movies.
Steve and Natasha are flown in to the Indian Ocean to rescue a SHIELD vessel called the Lemurian Star that’s been taken over by pirates. SHIELD Agent Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) explains that the mercenaries are led by a French-Algerian merc named Batroc has captured the ship and is looking for a $1.5 billion dollars which surprises Steve who didn’t realise there was that much money in the world. As they suit up, Natasha tells Steve he needs some romance in his life and Steve’s all “well I was working on it back in Washington but then you totally cockblocked…um, that is to say…” and promptly jumps out of the plane without a parachute.
So Steve moves quickly through the boat, rather brutally incapacitating any pirates he comes across (although not actually killing anyone as near as I can tell). I have to say, I’m glad of that because the idea of Steve Rogers killing people never quite sat right with me. I mean, I suppose it’s fine in stories set during the war era (because it was a war and not the Kitten Tickling and Pillow Fighting Conflict 1939-1945) but in the modern era I prefer him to be a “no-killing” superhero.
Steve comes face to face with Batroc (Georges St Pierre) and the two of them throw down in an awesome, no-frills fight scene. This is probably a good time to talk about something that’s always bothered me about how people compare Marvel movies and DC movies. A lot of Marvel fans will tell you that the reason the MCU’s movies are better is because Marvel isn’t afraid to incorporate all the nuttiness of the comics into their movies (call it the Guardians approach) whereas DC is all about sanding as much of that off as possible in order to make their movies “gritty” and “realistic” (call it the Dark Knight approach). But I don’t think that’s the case. I think the reason why Marvel has been cleaning DC’s clock recently is because they know that both approaches are valid and when one is preferable over the other. There are some characters and stories that the Dark Knight approach is perfect for, Batman obviously is one of them, but I’d argue that Marvel’s Netflix shows very much fit in that category too. There’s a reason that David Tennant wasn’t actually purple in Jessica Jones, because it would have been wrong for the tone of a series that actually wanted to take a realistic look at sexual violence. But then, there are characters where taking the Dark Knight approach just leaches everything that’s fun and appealing out of them.
My point is, neither approach is wrong in and of themselves, it’s all about the right tool for the right job. Winter Soldier, for instance, is very much in the “Dark Knight” category and you can tell because in the movie Batroc looks like this:
And in the comics he looks like THIS:
And, much as I would have loved to see Chris Evans face off against the demented love child of Wolverine and Pepe Le Pew, I think we can all agree that it might have been a little harder to take the movie’s points about pre-emptive military action and government surveillance quite as seriously if they had treated the source material as sacred text.
Anyway, they save the hostages but Steve is furious to find that Natasha abandoned her part of the mission to extract data from the ship’s mainframe. She explains that she was working on Nick Fury’s orders so back in Washington Steve storms into Fury’s office demanding to know what he’s up to. Fury says that Natasha had a different mission because Fury didn’t want Steve doing anything he was uncomfortable with and that Natasha is comfortable with “everything”.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Fury is actually genuinely hurt that Steve doesn’t trust him and says “You’re wrong about me. I do share. I’m nice like that.” and takes Steve on the grand tour of Project Insight, a fleet of three helicarriers, each half a mile long, stored under the Triskelion, SHIELD’s massive multi-storey headquarters in the middle of Washington with a huge lobby with a statue of their logo. But SHIELD is totally top secret and no one knows about it, you guys. Hell, the ordinary folks of the MCU probably think the Chitauri attack on New York was a Saint Patrick’s Day parade that just got a little bit rowdy. Anyway, this movie is interesting because for the first time we get a little bit of background on Nick Fury beyond “badass super-spy with an eye patch”. It’s not really a lot to go on, and honestly part of Nick’s appeal is that he’s an enigma, but he does tell Steve about his grandfather, who worked as as an elevator operator for forty years and protected his tips with a loaded gun in his lunch bag. The story sums up Nick’s philosophy; he loves people, but he doesn’t trust them. Nick explains to Cap that the helicarriers are synched up to a satellite that was launched from the Lemuria Star and that once in the air they will orbit continually, taking potshots at anyone who represents a threat to world security. Steve’s not happy about this and Fury snaps that he’s read about the old files about what Steve’s generation did in the forties and he’s hardly one to judge.
Steve then points to the helicarriers and says “This isn’t freedom. This is fear.” which is a line that Chris Evans and Chris Evans alone can make work. He goes and visits Peggy (Hayley Atwell and a shit ton of latex) and tells her that working for SHIELD just isn’t the same as punching Nazis in the face. Peggy is now ninety something years old and we learn that in the years since Steve was frozen she married and had a family. This scene is honestly kind of heart-breaking for me, not just because Peggy is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s (and that is no decent way to die) but that in end it was all for nothing. Peggy Carter dedicated her entire life to SHIELD, and SHIELD was a lie. That’s fuckin’ bleak, man. Peggy tells Steve that sometimes you just need to start over and then her memory goes and suddenly she’s seeing him again for the first time and can’t believe that he’s still alive and goddamit Evans and Atwell are just carving up my heart in little pieces and feeding it to the dog so let’s move on.
Meanwhile, Fury tries to open the files that Natasha retrieved from the Lemurian Star but is told that he doesn’t have access and that the files have been decrypted. When he asks on whose authority, the computer replies “Fury, Nicholas J.”
Fury decides to pay a visit to Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who’s one those World Security dudes who spends so much time in the shadows that they should by rights sparkle in the sunlight. Casting Redford wasn’t just a casting coup because the dude is Hollywood royalty. The Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, were heavily influenced by the political thrillers of the seventies that were Robert Redford’s bread and butter. But I also love this casting choice because, if they had made a Captain America movie fifty years ago, Redford would have been the absolute, hands down perfect choice to play Steve.
Fury tells Pearse that he’s a little concerned about the safety of their plan to launch flying death machines that can pick off any human being on the face of the earth and asks him if they can take a rain check. Pearse agrees, on the condition that Iron Man visits his niece’s birthday party. Take a minute to savour the image of Tony in full armour lying in a ball pit and enjoying some ice cream cake. You’re welcome.
Driving through DC, Nick is suddenly ambushed by four cop cars that ram his car from all four directions, open fire with machine guns and then try to break down his car door with a frickin’ battering ram. But they don’t use any racial epithets which is Nick’s first clue that these aren’t actually real cops. Badly injured, Nick speeds away and manages to give the cops the slip only to come face to face with a mysterious masked figure standing in the middle of the road. The masked man blows up what remains of Nick’s car and his whatever hopes had for his no claims bonus but when he approaches the smouldering wreck to finish Nick off he finds that Fury has used a lazer torch to burrow into the sewers and escape like Bugs frickin’ Bunny.
Back at his apartment, Steve gets talking to a cute neighbour and asks her if she wants to come in for coffee and maybe look at some newly colorised footage of Operation Market Garden. The neighbour, Sharon, needs to do her laundry and so turns him down, and tells him that he left his stereo on. This is surprising to Steve, one, because he didn’t leave his stereo on and two, because he didn’t realise that’s what it did and thought it was some kind of air conditioner. Inside the apartment he finds Nick Fury who’s bloody, bruised and who smells just fantastic. I really like how Steve’s apartment is presented in this scene. There’s a lot of old furniture from the forties but it’s very incongrous with the obviously modern apartment building. It’s also quite sparse, and there are paintings opened on the floor along with piles of books that haven’t been put on shelves, giving the impression that Steve doesn’t really spend a lot of time here and hasn’t even properly moved in yet. It’s not a home, it’s a just a place where he lives. Fury tells Steve that SHIELD has been compromised and promptly gets shot through the chest from outside. Nick gives Steve a USB card with the date from the Lemurian Star and passes out from bloodloss. Sharon, who it turns out is a SHIELD agent who was assigned by Nick to guard Steve. Sharon radios for medical assistance and Steve chases after the assassin, leaping ACROSS THE FRICKING STREET and chasing him across rooftops. Which I guess pretty much lays to rest the question as to whether movie Steve is more powerful than comic Steve. See, people often forget that Captain America is not supposed to be superhuman; he’s peak human. He’s as strong and as fast as it’s possible for a regular human being to be which means he’s still weaker than, say, Spider-man, whose strength is explicitly stated to be superhuman. Movie Steve though? He can leaps across city streets and bench curl helicopters so I’m pretty sure he’s superhuman. Damn. What did Erskine put in that serum, anyway?
Steve flings his shield at the assassin who just catches it like it ain’t no thang and flings it back at him. The shooter escapes and Steve and Sharon rush Nick to hospital. Natasha and Maria Hill arrive just as Fury goes into surgery. As the SHIELD agents watch, Fury starts to flatline and dies on the operating table. Hill tells them that the shooter used an untraceable, Soviet made rifle which makes Natasha put on her “I have a dark, mysterious past but I ain’t sayin’ nuffin’“ face. Steve is summoned to Alexander Pierce’s office and, before he goes, stashes the USB key in one of the hospital’s vending machines where no one will ever, ever find it.
Pierce and Steve reminisce about Fury and Pierce asks Cap about what Fury said to him before he died. Steve says that Fury told him not to trust anyone and Pierce is all “well obviously he didn’t mean me” and Cap is all “Yeah, see, you’re a huge name actor and the main villain hasn’t been revealed yet and we’re at around the halfway mark sooooo…yeah, not gonna trust you” and bails.
Taking the elevator down to the ground floor, Steve is surprised as it slowly starts to fill up with Rumlo and some of his burlier and more sasquatch esque-underlings. Realising that he’s about to get jumped, Steve asks if anyone wants to get off before they do this and it all goes to hell. I just love the fact that some of the SHIELD goons are wearing suits. It’s like:
“Bobby, why are you wearing a suit? I told you to wear your violence casuals.”
“It’s Captain America, dude! Gotta look my best!”
Anyway, after a fantastic fight scene (in an ELEVATOR no less) Steve busts out of the Triskelion with half of SHIELD on his star spangled ass. He doubles back to the hospital only to find that the USB key is gone from the vending machine and Natasha seems to have taken up chewing gum. He confronts her and she admits that she took it. She explains that she knows who Fury’s killer is, and that he matches the description of a legendary Cold War assassin called The Winter Soldier. Steve and Nat decide they need to find out what’s on the USB key and after a quick stop off in the Apple Store Natasha is able to decrypt the data because she is just that damn good. The data leads them to the abandoned ruins of Camp Lehigh, where Steve was trained. They discover a secret bunker underneath the base which was SHIELD’s original headquarters. They then find a secret bunker BENEATH the secret bunker. Who designed this place, Xzibit?
In this secreter bunker they find banks and banks of old timey computers. A screen lights up and they find themselves face to face with Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). Zola begins to info dump, explaining that after the war he was brought in to SHIELD as part of Operation Paperclip. Paperclip’s goal was to take Nazi scientists and put them to work for American interests, which is the kind of crazy “what could possibly go wrong?” plot that could only happen in comic books. What’s that? It was a real thing? I see.
Zola explains that HYDRA was reborn within SHIELD and that for the last century they have secretly been manipulating world events, fuelling chaos and fear so that with each new atrocity the population will be more willing to relinquish their freedoms and submit to HYDRA’s authoritarian rule and oh fuck it you know where I’m going with this…
Zola even survived his own death, transcribing his consciousness into a 1970s computer the size of a small town. Steve and Natasha suddenly realise that Zola is being really helpful and that this isn’t a Bond movie so what even the hell? Zola admits that he’s just been stalling them while HYDRA locks onto the base with a missile. They survive (obviously, I mean, how anticlimactic would that be?) and decide to lay low at Sam’s place. Sam offers to help and reveals that he’s no ordinary pilot. He flew a special jetpack in Afghanistan called the Falcon and, even though he’s retired, he’s pretty sure he can get it back. Y’know. Just like using your office printer on the weekend. Sam offers to help and they’re all “sure, more the merrier”.
Oh, and there’s a hilarious bit where Chris Evans just sits down and hits her with the full power of those baby blue eyes and it literally looks like Scarlett Johannson’s brain has just been shorted by the hotness and forced to reboot.
Nat and Steve twig that, since Jasper Sitwell was on the Lemurian Star guarding the HYDRA data, he must be a HYDRA agent and decide to pay him a little visit. By which I mean they throw him off a roof and let Sam catch him until he spills the beans. Sitwell shrieks that Project Insight is essentially a cull, capable of picking off all individuals that HYDRA views a threat through a complex algorithm. Steve asks who the targets are and Sitwell replies: “You! A TV anchor in Cairo, the Under Secretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa City, Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, anyone who’s a threat to HYDRA.”
Yeah, there’s really no way around this. Doctor Strange is clearly established in its opening scenes as taking place after Captain America 3, which means that he doesn’t have any powers yet and couldn’t possibly be considered a threat to HYDRA. Now, Kevin Feige, that weasel, has tried to explain this away by saying that HYDRA’s algorithm identifies current and future threats meaning that HYDRA knows that Strange will become a threat further down the line. Sorry, not buying it. If HYDRA have a programme that can predict that Stephen Strange will be mangled in a car wreck, travel to Nepal and learn how to be a wizard in a few short months that’s not an algorithm, that’s magic, black and eldritch. But the real clue is the wording. Sitwell wouldn’t say “Stephen Strange” if that wasn’t a name that Steve Rogers is supposed to know. In short, ya done goofed Marvel.
The three drive towards SHIELD with Sitwell in tow, hoping to stop the launch of Project Insight. But they’re ambushed by the Winter Soldier who shoots Sitwell and that doesn’t sit well with him him, so he dies. As Nat and Sam fend off HYDRA’s goons, Steve faces off against the Winter Soldier in a vicious knife fight.
In the course of the fight, Steve knocks the mask off The Winter Soldier’s face, revealing him to be none other than Bucky, aka the last Spaniel puppy left in the pet shop.
So, here’s something I don’t get. In the comics, the Winter Soldier is a Soviet creation. The Russians fished Bucky out of the ocean, gave him a robot arm, brainwashed him into being an assassin and kept him cryogenically frozen whenever they didn’t need him (as you do). The weird thing is, the movie jettisons the Soviet connection almost entirely (although Cap 3 shows that he was trained in a HYDRA facility in Siberia and you have to wonder how Leviathan felt about that). My point is, in the MCU, Winter Soldier is HYDRA, not Soviet. But he still has all the Soviet trappings of his comic book counterpart, speaking Russian, using Soviet weapons, the Red Star on his arm. If anyone who’s more well versed in the remoter regions of the MCU can fill in the blanks, lemme know in comments.
Cap calls out Bucky’s name and he answers “Who the hell is Bucky?”. Rumlo and his STRIKE team arrive and take Cap, Natasha and Sam into custody. But on their way to be shot behind the chemical sheds, they get get busted loose by Maria Hill who takes them to a secret SHIELD hideout where they learn to their shock…
Okay, this is probably my least favourite part of the movie and not just because of my usual hatred of this kind of fakeout. Let’s just walk through Fury’s plan for a moment, shall we?
- Someone is trying to kill me.
- I should therefore fake my own death.
- I will wait until someone actually very nearly kills me.
- While I am being rushed to hospital for emergency surgery I shall get one of my associates to inject me with a drug that will make the doctors think that I’m already dead.
- The doctors think I’m dead and so stop trying to repair my injuries which are actually killing me.
- They leave me on a slab in the morgue, thinking I’m dead.
- But I’m not dead.
- I am dying though.
- Wait a minute.
- Aw shit. Am I drunk planning again?
- Well, too late to go back now.
- Okay, I get one of my associates to take me to different doctors who will stop me dying for real.
- This seems really, really, risky when I write it out like this.
- Maybe I should just fake a plane crash or something?
Fury tells Steve, Natashsa and Sam what the plan is. They’re going to swap the computer chips on the helicarriers for different ones, thus foiling Project Insight. Steve isn’t really in that happy to be taking orders from Fury, accusing him of letting HYDRA corrupt SHIELD under his nose and of keeping Bucky’s existence from him.
Fury wants to save SHIELD but Steve is adamant that the whole organisation is corrupt and there’s nothing left to do but bring the whole rotten edifice down. Hill agrees and they launch their attack, stopping only at the Smithsonian to borrow Cap’s old WW2 uniform. The break into SHIELD and Cap addresses the agents over the intercom and blows the lid on HYDRA’s plan. Suddenly, it’s chaos. HYDRA and SHIELD agents are firing at each other, Rumlo is launching the helicarriers and Agents of SHIELD instantly becomes, like, sixty per cent better.
Now revealed as the leader of HYDRA, Pearse tries to convince the World Security Council to go through with Project Insight. He asks the Indian councilman, Singh, “What if Pakistan marched into Mumbai tomorrow, and you knew they were going to drag your daughter into a soccer stadium for execution, and you could stop it with a flick of a switch… wouldn’t you?”
Singh replies “Not if it was your switch.”
Pearse is about to kill the council members when one them reveals herself to be Natasha and holds him at gunpoint while she dumps all of SHIELD’s classified intel on the internet. Ah yes. This movie was made back when we all thought WikiLeaks was heroic and admirable and not Putin’s bitch. Hill and Sam manage to get the second and third Helicarriers reprogrammed. That leaves the first, where Cap has to fight his way past Bucky who comes at him with a knife (Howard, you putz). Stabbed, shot, bleeding, and probably smelling pretty ripe, Steve nonethless manages to get the chip installed at the last possible second and the three helicarriers target each other and shoot themselves out of the sky. Fury has to shoot Pearse to save Natasha, and he dies saying “Hail Hydra.”
As the last helicarrier goes down, Steve pulls Bucky from the wreckage but the Winter Soldier keeps attacking him. Steve refused to fight him, saying “You’re my friend.”
Bucky replies “You’re my mission.”
“Then finish it.” Steve says “‘Cos I’m with you until the end of the line.”
Finally remembering who he is, Bucky pulls Steve from the water as the helicarrier crashes into the Potomac, and leaves him safely on the banks of the river. And the movie ends with SHIELD in ashes, Fury going into hiding, Natasha telling a bunch of military top brass and senators to kiss her ass and Steve and Sam setting out to find Bucky.
The Captain America trilogy was (with the possible exception of Thor) always going to be the hardest series of movies for Marvel to get right. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Cap’s outings have consistently been the best of the MCU standalone films. A complete departure from its predecessor in tone and style, Winter Soldier is a smart, superbly crafted and politically engaged thriller.
A smart, compelling retelling of the Winter Soldier arc.
Our Heroic Hero 25/25
Our Nefarious Villain 19/25
Redford is so good at radiating warmth and decency that it does actually shock you when he’s revealed to be the villain even though, on a structural level, he doesn’t do anything that couldn’t be done by Nick Fury so OF COURSE he’s the villain. Here we get a villain that hits the sweet spot; a plot that’s diabolical and genuinely terrifying but also understandable and possessed of its own twisted logic. He also gets some really funny lines.
Our Plucky Sidekicks 23/25
Anthony Mackie makes a compelling case as to why he deserves to be the next Will Smith. Johansson keeps going from strength to strength as Natasha and Jackson shines as a more world weary Fury.
In a secret HYDRA base, Baron Von Strucker tells his lackies to prepare for the “Age of Miracles” and we see two of them in a prison cell; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
And the audience went
The reveal of two A-List avengers plus a fairly major Marvel villain? Why Stinger, you spoil us.
The Second Stinger
Bucky visits the Smithsonian and sees that everything Steve told him was true.
And the Audience went
So we’ll be seeing more of this guy.
Infinity Gem Count: 3
Holding steady, but the first stinger gives us another look at Loki’s sceptre/the mind stone.
Wait a minute, was that Stan Lee?!
That was Stan Lee, as a Smithsonian security guard who really, really should be retired by now.
Hey, what’s Thanos doing?
FINAL SCORE: 90%
NEXT TIME: Meet me in the next post. I got news.