Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winter Soldier Blogathon, Day 3: Stuff That's NOT in the Videos (But Probably in the Movie)

And now, a brief rundown of stuff that’s not in the videos (or only briefly in the videos) but probably in the movie.
Agent 13/Sharon Carter. C’mon, she’s in the cast list, but so far her appearance has been confined to a single shot in the U.K. trailer. Yet much was made of Emily van Camp’s casting as the mysterious Agent 13, and there’s no way she’s not going to play a major role in events.
In the comics, Sharon was usually Steve Rogers’ primary love interest—and she was always a bit weird. Steve first met her after he thawed out in the 1960s and mistook her for her older sister, Peggy—his girlfriend from World War II. (Peggy was later retconned into being Sharon’s aunt, and I think she’s been promoted to great-aunt now. She was killed off, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, in 2011.) And very few people seemed to be weirded out by the fact that Captain America was dating the little sister of his World War II flame, perhaps because Sharon was also following in her relative’s footsteps as a badass SHIELD agent. Over the decades, Sharon stood out as one of the most competent girlfriends in comics, frequently saving Cap’s butt when his idealism (or lack of future-savvy) got him into trouble. She was apparently killed off in the 1970s and brought back in the 1990s, claiming she’d been in deep cover for years and bitter that Steve hadn’t gone looking for her. Things eventually warmed again between them, and Sharon played a major role in the Winter Soldier storyline, which included a reconciliation with Steve.
It looked kinda like this. I'm sure Peggy would approve.
And then it turned out Sharon was the second shooter at Steve’s assassination. She’d had some deep mind-control programming implanted by the bad guys. And she was pregnant with Steve’s child (probably a daughter, but its sex was never officially confirmed) at the time, though she later miscarried. Oh, and she once saved Bucky’s life by throwing him out of an airplane (yes, really). With all of those options in her character—sweet romantic interest, badass spy, angry ex, unwitting murderer, and mother-to-be—there’s no way to predict which way Agent 13 will turn in the Winter Soldier movie. But it’ll be important. And you’ll get to hear my theory on her character tomorrow.
"Who, me? I'm just an affable, average SHIELD agent.
And maybe a psychopathic killer."
Brock Rumlow/Crossbones. This one is weird. Go watch that “secure the ship” clip again. See the SHIELD agent doing most of the talking? His name is Rumlow. And while advance materials for the movie have portrayed him as a loyal friend and a bit of a Captain America fanboy, the name “Rumlow” means something else to fans of the comics.
That's not even his bike back there. Hello, traffic hazard.
Brock Rumlow is better known as Crossbones, a former street-gang leader who became a key henchman of the Red Skull. He was never a SHIELD agent, but he was a neo-Nazi and the boyfriend of the Skull’s psychopathic daughter, Synthia Schmidt (a.k.a. Sin). He was the first of the two shooters in the assassination of Captain America (Sharon fired the close-up shots). Obviously he’s got a different background in the movie, but you heard it here first—don’t trust Agent Rumlow.
Zut alors! (Okay, I'm done with the terrible French now.)
Batroc. Another strange choice. Also in the “secure the ship” clip, there’s a mercenary named Georges Batroc (pronounced “BAT-rock” in the movie, though most comics geeks say it “Bah-TROCK”—and no, I don’t know how you’d say it in French). Batroc, better known as Batroc the Leaper, is … well, here’s a picture, okay?
Yup, he’s a goofball. Supposedly a badass mercenary and a master of savate, Batroc is mostly a punchline in the comics, although there have been recent attempts to make him less pathetic. There’s something fundamentally humorous, though, about a guy in an orange and purple costume, bouncing around like a ping-pong ball and talking like Pepe Le Pew. About the only person who consistently takes Batroc seriously (and appears justified in doing so) is Bucky-Cap, who has his reasons:
Okay, not THAT seriously. But hey, concussion!
So maybe Batroc’s not such a joke anymore. And with MMA champion Georges St-Pierre playing him, he’ll probably get some serious fight scenes. One thing to remember about Batroc, though—while he’ll do just about anything for money, he has an unpredictable sense of honor that will sometimes cause him to switch sides, or quit, in the middle of a fight. And he respects Captain America as a worthy opponent, so he’s even been known to help Cap out (usually by slipping him information or sabotaging an evil plan) when the bad guys cross one of Batroc’s moral lines. Don’t expect him to wear a lot of orange and purple in this movie.
Okay, I lied about that last part.
Someday they're gonna do that salute with power tools or drinks in their hands
and we're all going to be very sorry.
Hydra (again, in some form). For “Hydra” in this case, read “some secret organization of bad guys, and Hydra is the best option.” While the trailers have played up SHIELD infighting, there’s probably a legitimate Big Bad behind one of those squabbling factions. And since there’s a party of bad guys using a brainwashed Bucky Barnes as their weapon of choice, and the list of people who know or care what happened to Bucky in the war pretty much boils down to a) Cap and company and b) Hydra and company (remember, movie-Bucky was a Hydra test subject before Steve rescued him, and he died on a mission to stop a Hydra train and kidnap a Hydra scientist), the odds are good that we’ll see or hear from Hydra in this movie, if only in the form of an ex-Hydra scientist or black-market Hydra tech. This is especially useful when one remembers that the Winter Soldier in the comics was a puppet of the Soviets, but the Winter Soldier movie has to play overseas. Russian bad guys don’t play so well in Russia. Or China. Hydra is a good candidate to swap in for that.
Hello, again. That's an appropriately worried look you've got there.
Heyyyy, Arnim Zola survived the war, didn’t he? As far as we know? And I’ve got a theory about him that you’ll hear about tomorrow.
Hello, Mr. McGuffin.
The Zodiac. This is a bit more esoteric, but we’ve got a good reason to think that there’s a mysterious glowy vial of something called “the Zodiac” involved in this movie. Peggy Carter was seen getting her hands on it in the “Agent Carter” short that came with the Iron Man 3 DVD, and a prequel comic for the movie showed Cap, the Black Widow, and Agent Rumlow stopping a group of bad guys from unleashing the contents of that vial on an unsuspecting populace. Cap noted in that comic that SHIELD had previously claimed the Zodiac was destroyed, and the Widow replied that this was to keep anyone from looking for it. Obviously that didn’t work.
Pictured: Things not working.
In the comics, there were several Zodiac groups that opposed SHIELD or the Avengers in some way. The original Zodiac was basically a group of criminals in funny-looking astrology-themed outfits, but later versions picked up superpowers from various places. Could the vial be the source of those powers? Most notably, a new Zodiac appeared in the Avengers Assemble comic—highly superpowered, recruited and backed by Thanos. Are we going to be connecting the contents of that vial, and whatever it does, to the larger Marvel Cosmic movies? We’ve already seen Thanos at the end of The Avengers and heard mention of the Infinity Stones, one of Thanos’ favorite things to collect. Whatever “the Zodiac” is in the movies, watch out for purple dudes.
Pictured: Cause and effect.
Mind-control magic. I mean that “magic” part literally. Unless the writers of this movie decided to actually make Bucky evil, he’s being controlled somehow. The Super Bowl spot showed him in a room that looked like the Soviet memory-implantation chamber seen in the comics, but as I noted above, making the bad guys Soviets could seriously hurt this movie’s box-office numbers overseas. So we’re looking at a form of mind control practiced by some other bad guys … and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen mind control in Marvel movies before.
Oh, hi. Nice eyes you got there.
Remember Hawkeye’s glowing eyeballs? The Avengers got a lot of mileage out of the Hawkeye-as-flying-monkey trope, and the Tesseract was powering all of that. While there’s nothing to suggest that Loki will play a role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are plenty of terrestrial groups that have gotten their hands on Tesseract technology, including both Hydra and SHIELD. Using magic is a great way to get around the fact that, according to the best research out there, real-life brainwashing doesn’t work the way it’s usually portrayed in the movies. So all those American POWs in Korean War prison camps didn’t really become communists? That’s okay—we’ve got magical glowing blue stuff! We haven’t seen the Winter Soldier’s eyes glowing at any point, but that doesn’t mean Tesseract tech won’t be bound up in whatever makes him tick. (Or go boom, as the case may be.)
See what I did there?
And remember, if there’s a way to use magical mind control on people without giving them those telltale eyes, then any character can be acting under such control at any time. Including, say, Agent Rumlow. Or Sharon Carter. Or Robert Redford’s character. Or anydamnbody, really.
They always say this afterward. How often
do they expect the answer to be "yes"?
You know who else has a history with mind control?
Black Widow (again). I’m just going to drop this little reminder and leave it here. Remember in The Avengers, when Hawkeye was recovering from his flying-monkey phase and Black Widow was keeping an eye on him? Clint was babbling about having someone “pull you out, put someone else in”, and asked Natasha, “Do you know what it’s like to be unmade?”
I am actually not sure why he asks this question if he knows the answer.
To which she replied, “You know I do.”
Black Widow has a Winter Soldier-like history of being mind-controlled in the comics, including long deep-cover operations and elaborate backstories that she fully believed but that turned out to be totally fabricated. Was this line a reference to that history? If so, Winter Soldier is the logical place to explore it. It’s worth noting that she’s the one who seems to do most of the explaining where the Winter Soldier is concerned … and that there’s no reason she can’t be working an extraordinarily long deep-cover job on SHIELD itself.


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