Explaining Captain America: The Winter Soldier's post-credits sequences
What did the mid- and post-credits scenes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier tell us about future Marvel movies?
SPOILERS: Don't read this until you've seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier!
Even since Nick Fury arrived to recruit Iron Man in 2008, Marvel's end credits Easter eggs and stinger scenes have become almost a big an experience as the movie that precedes them. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is no exception, and as usual, if you're not completely familiar with the source material there's a chance you've missed some details which we can explain for you.
As with Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has two extra scenes within the credits. One which leads into another Marvel movie, and another which continues a plot thread from the one you just saw.
To give you a last chance to get out before the spoilers hit, here is a big picture. Underneath said picture, we get to work...
We'll start with the mid-credits sequence, which is the one we expect most people will be talking about.
What We See: The scene opens on a Hydra facility where a team of scientists are examining Loki's mind-controlling staff – the one last seen shutting down the wormhole generator in Avengers. Overseeing the action is a man with a monocle and facial scars. Comic fans will recognise him as famous Captain America villain, Baron Strucker. He gloats about the destruction of SHIELD and muses how fortunate it was for Hydra that no-one there truly understood the power of the staff.
He then turns and walks around a corner into a different room of their facility. Talking with an aide, he wonders if now might be the time to activate "the twins". The camera spins around to show two jail cells, positioned side-by-side. In the left one, a tall, thin man with white hair is writhing in frustration. His movements are a blur and he jumps around nervously, flitting about the cell in near-instantaneous jitters that imply great speed. In the right hand cell, a dark-haired woman sits on the floor, huddled next to the wall. She seems confused and strung out, but she's holding both hands out in front of her and there are small blocks levitating between them. A few seconds later, the scene cuts to black.
What it Means: There are a few interesting things here. The most exciting is that we get our first glimpse of some new characters, particularly Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, both confirmed characters for Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In the comics, the twin mutants were members of Magneto's 'Brotherhood of Evil Mutants' who eventually reformed and joined the Avengers. Since Fox has the rights to the term 'Mutant' (for its X-Men movies) and the character of Magneto it's a safe bet that they won't be explicitly connected to that world in Age Of Ultron - so what will we see instead?
Perhaps, in Age Of Ultron, they'll be the results of Hydra experiments to create super-powered individuals of their own. Perhaps they'll be mutants and the movie will skirt around that explanation. Either way, they don't seem to be good guys at the moment. They might yet escape or reform (they certainly don’t seem particularly compliant with Hydra) but it's safe to say they won't be joining the Avengers straight away.
Interestingly, it also seems that the Scarlet Witch's powers – famously vague in the comics and defined as 'hex bolts' or 'probability manipulation' – will be moved closer to conventional telekinesis. Let's face it, that can only help their cinematic portrayal.
The next interesting point is the appearance of Baron Strucker, as played by Thomas Kretschmann. Strucker is the some-time head of Hydra whose offensive powers are the result of the Satan's Claw he wears on one hand. It's long been known that the character is slated to appear in Age Of Ultron, but it's not yet clear what capacity that'll be in if Ultron is going to be the primary antagonist. It certainly seems that he'll have control of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Will Ultron be his doing too?
Finally, we return to the matter of Loki's staff. Between Strucker's words and the general direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's arc, there's a strong chance that Loki's staff contains another of the Infinity Gems – most probably the Mind Gem, given the powers it displays in Avengers. We've already seen two confirmed Infinity Gems (The Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger, which is probably the Space Gem and the Aether from Thor: The Dark World, which may be the Power Gem) - and we're fairly sure that the thing Star Lord steals at the start of the Guardians Of The Galaxy trailer might be an Infinity Gem too. With Loki's staff, that makes four in total. Only two more to go until you've got a full Infinity Gauntlet lying around...
But that's not all! There's also a Post-Credits Sequence! This one's along the lines of what we saw at the end of Thor: The Dark World in setting up the status quo for the sequel rather than trailing the overall direction of the Marvel Universe.
What We See: We're back at the Captain America exhibit in the museum – the same one that Rogers visited incognito earlier in the film. This time, it isn't Cap who's looking around, but someone else. When we see his face, we realise it's Bucky. He's studying the same exhibit Rogers looked at: the one that tells of Bucky and Rogers' close acquaintance, his capture during the war and his eventual death on a mission with the Howling Commandoes. The visuals fade and the last thing we see are the words 'Captain America will return in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.'
What it Means: Given that we knew Bucky was alive at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, why do we care what he's doing now? Well, this sequence suggests what you may have suspected already. That Cap did get through to him on the Helicarrier. Instead of returning to his masters to be deactivated until he's needed for another mission, it seems that Bucky has broken his psychological programming and gone searching for answers about who he is. The Winter Soldier is free, and the race is now on between Hydra and Cap to get to him first. Given that, in the comics, Bucky eventually ended up replacing Steve Rogers as Captain America for a time, it's certainly very interesting to have him walking around the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Especially given that Chris Evans has all but confirmed he'll be done with the role once Captain America 3 comes out in 2017.
And that's your lot! Or at least, it is until Guardians of the Galaxy comes out later this year!
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