Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Analyzing the Endings

Spoiler alert! Captain America: The Winter Soldier has TWO post-credits scenes, both of which have ramifications for future Marvel movies.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is finally in theaters nearly everywhere today, and, as is the tradition with Marvel Studios movies, the focus will be just as heavy on what happens in those mid and post-credits scenes as on the film itself. The good news is, both of these scenes are loaded with significance for fans of Marvel comics and films. The bad news is, we may have to wait awhile before they pay off. So, feel free to use this space to discuss and speculate on what we were just shown. In the meantime, here’s our take…

Neither of these contain any real shockers, but they are absolutely spoilers, so if you’re waiting until you’ve actually seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you don’t want to read any further.

The First

Our first look at Baron Strucker is encouraging enough, with Thomas Kretschmann displaying an appropriate presence for the head of HYDRA. And yes, comic book fans, he does have a monocle. In fact, other than the lack of a giant HYDRA insignia on his chest, this is very much the Wolfgang Strucker of the comics. Of course, Strucker isn’t really the show. For starters, he’s got Loki’s staff, the same one used to “murder” Phil Coulson in Avengers. I scoured the screen looking for the Satan Claw, but other than an arsenal of more traditional looking weaponry, I didn’t see much else. But again, this still isn’t the real spotlight…

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That distinction would be our first look at Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Both are imprisoned, and Strucker refers to them as his “miracles.” In fact, the full line is VERY telling: “There is nothing more horrifying than a miracle.” Is this going to be the buzzword that replaces “mutant” in the Marvel cinematic vocabulary for now? Well…

Kevin Feige has danced around the issues of whether the word “mutant” would be a problem in regards to Wanda and Pietro (who will also appear in Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past), and has flat out denied that other genetic superhumans from the Marvel Universe (such as the Inhumans) would form the basis of Wanda and Pietro’s super-powered origins. Is Strucker supposed to be their father since Magneto isn’t available? Strucker may be a kind of surrogate father to them (and clearly not a very kind one), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the parentage of “the twins” is left intentionally vague, even going into Avengers: Age of Ultron. While the X-Men franchise and all related concepts remain safely at Fox (and they show no signs of letting that one go dormant), there’s no reason Marvel can’t play with fans’ expectations a little bit. Judging by the reaction this got in a crowded theater, it worked.

Nevertheless, this is our first look at Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch, and they’re both using their powers. We almost certainly won’t see them again until Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both seem a little “out of it” right now, so it looks like the first mission in Avengers 2 will involve their rescue (and taking down Baron Strucker). Neither are particularly in control of themselves. Whether this is a result of their captivity, some process that gave them their powers (could the mutations on this Marvel universe be a result of experimentations using Chitauri tech?), or something else entirely (there’s all that alien experimentation going on over in Agents of SHIELD to consider) remains to be seen.

The Second

This one is much shorter, and there’s less to play with in terms of looking for goodies in the background…but it’s no less significant. The Winter Soldier shows up at the Smithsonian, particularly at the section of the Captain America exhibit that memorializes the fallen Bucky Barnes. Throughout the movie, there’s little doubt that, eventually, the Winter Soldier would remember who he is. But fans of the Captain America comics that this film borrows liberally from (and if you haven’t read Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Captain America stories, you absolutely should) will understand the significance of this. Eventually, Bucky is not only restored to something resembling normal (the general trauma of being turned into an unwilling killing machine for decades notwithstanding), but takes up the mantle of Captain America for a period of time.

Is this something that the filmmakers might explore in future Captain America sequels? Almost certainly. With the same directors and writers returning for Captain America 3, and with those writers indicating to Den of Geek that they might just intend to go even deeper into the Ed Brubaker written comics that began with The Winter Soldier storyline, well…expect to see more of Sebastian Stan. And then there’s the fact that Chris Evans has shown some reluctance to commit to much more than his six picture deal in the red, white, and blue…so Sebastian Stan taking over as a character who, even in the comics, has been known as Captain America, would give Marvel a logical out, without having to resort to potentially traumatic recasting.

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Barring that scenario, Marvel have done their very best to shore up Bucky Barnes and the Winter Soldier concept in the comics, where the character has now starred in TWO solo ongoing series. The latest is by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and it’s quite good. So, should Chris Evans have a change of heart, or should Marvel decide to give the Captain America franchise a rest, a Winter Soldier movie starring Sebastian Stan shouldn’t be ruled out.

All told, while this second one doesn’t throw quite as much as fans, nor does it point directly to an imminent movie in the Marvel franchise (and now, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a mere 13 months away), its implications are potentially much more far-reaching.

Neither are as particularly earth-shattering as the introduction of Nick Fury at the end of the first Iron Man film or Thanos’ grinning cameo at the end of Avengers, but as far as giving comic book fans what they want, Marvel still seems to know exactly what they’re doing. 

What did YOU think? What else did you spot in the background? Let’s hunt some Marvel easter eggs together!