PREDICTIONS FROM THE VIDEOS (from Day 2):
1. Paranoia and conspiracies abound. Yeah, I think we can say this showed up. I don’t know about you, but by the end of the movie I was watching every blue uniform out of the corner of my eye.
2. SHIELD vs. SHIELD is officially a thing. Well, considering that Hydra was inside SHIELD, I think we can safely say that one happened.
3. Cap goes on the run. Yeah, he took it on the lam, all right. Bonus points for the sight of Captain America stealing a car … and walking around a shopping mall. The horror. And lying low really did not work out too well for him. Of course, breaking into the Smithsonian didn’t help …
4. Cap maybe falls in love (but probably not). Well, they kissed, but I did call the shot there—they weren’t kissing for the most common movie reason. (It was the second most common movie reason.)
5. The Falcon is Cap’s rock. Yes, yes, and yes. Falcon wasn’t a SHIELD agent (good thing, too), but he was definitely the solid foundation Steve Rogers needed in this story.
6. Peggy Carter returns. Briefly, but yes. And not only was Steve a bit wrecked by that scene, I don’t think I’ve been in a single screening where I didn’t hear somebody sniffling by the end of it. Bravo, Hayley Atwell.
7. Robert Redford is a spook. Eeeeeyup.
8. Nick Fury has a bad day. Oh, hells, yes. And may I just point out that I said before the movie came out that “Fury’s major weakness … is bureaucrats who go over his head to get things done. How high do the bad guys go?” Pretty damn high, as it turned out.
9. The Winter Soldier is a sock puppet, not the main bad guy. Yeeeaaaaaahhh. I’m gonna call that prediction a slam dunk. The main bad guy would be the guy smacking Bucky in the head for misbehaving.
No, not Steve! The first guy to smack him in the head!
10. Black Widow plays a major role. Yup. Though we didn’t get to see as much of her backstory as I would have liked.
All right, all right, I hear you saying. It’s hardly rocket science to predict stuff that is obviously in the trailer. What about the stuff that wasn’t in the trailers?
THE SAFE PREDICTIONS (from Day 3):
2. Agent Rumlow is not to be trusted. This is a big ol’ check. You definitely can’t trust that guy. He even rocked Crossbones’ crossed-straps-and-horrible-scarring look by the end.
3. Batroc is Batroc. This wasn’t much of a surprise, but check. He even did some leaping. And while he didn’t betray an unscrupulous employer, he did turn out to be (probably) working for the good(ish) guys. Well, Nick Fury. As close as you can get.
4. Hydra is back in some form. Holy hell, yes. Not even “in some form.” Actual Hydra, dumb salute and all. Nice. I hereby pat myself on the back.
5. The Zodiac is involved. Big ol’ miss. Not a word about the Zodiac in this movie. Oh, well. Maybe it’ll show up in Guardians of the Galaxy.
6. Mind-control magic will show up. Well, it certainly didn’t look like the means of mind control was Tesseract-related … though it did turn out that Hydra had Loki’s scepter, and SHIELD had the Tesseract more than long enough for Hydra to power their shiver-inducing brainwashing rig with it. I’ll call this a miss, but it just might be a split decision. We may find out more in the next movie, when Bucky’s set to appear again (and, presumably, Steve’s going to dig into that file).
And interestingly, the movie kept some of the Soviet trappings of the Winter Soldier origin story—Bucky speaking what sounded like Russian during the bridge scene, what looked like a 1950s Soviet soldier in Bucky’s flashbacks, Widow getting the Winter Soldier files from “some friends in Kiev” (you decide whether that means the recently booted Yanukovich government, or the new one that booted him, or whatever the hell Putin tries to put in next) and what looked like a dossier written in the Cyrillic alphabet. So I might be wrong about the Russians being untouchable Marvel movie baddies.
Of course, that last paragraph did include the word “Putin”. So who the hell knows. And here ends my geopolitical rant.
7. Black Widow’s history will be revealed. Miss. We didn’t get much of that at all, except Zola revealing her patronymic and her date of birth (which I totally don’t buy—more on that later) and Natasha mentioning her past connection with the KGB. We got nothing on a possible Red Room past, or whatever she was talking to Hawkeye about when he was babbling about mind control in The Avengers. And she wasn’t running a long con on SHIELD (that we saw). Sigh.
All right, on to the main event …
THE BATSHIT-CRAZY THEORIES (from Day 4):
Honestly, I was surprised at how on-the-mark these were.
1. Robert Redford is the Red Skull (or someone like him). Well, he wasn’t the actual Red Skull, but he was the head of Hydra and he tried to kill Captain America a whole bunch. That’s pretty like the Red Skull. I’m prepared to call this one a hit.
2. The nurse across the hall is Agent 13. Yup. Called it. She was there as a bodyguard rather than as a starter friend, but she was flirting with him, too. Call that a hit.
3. The Steve-Natasha romance ain’t happening. Bingo. The kiss was a fake-out.
4. The Bucky-Natasha romance might happen. Wrong. This was a big miss on my part, but I’m not terribly upset. Like I said up above, I don’t believe Natasha was actually born in 1984 like Zola said. Even if you can’t do the basic arithmetic involved (no more Russian KGB after the early 1990s), here’s a simple illustration: half my friends were born in 1984, by a remarkable coincidence, and if they ever worked for the KGB, they would have to have done it in grade school. Early grade school. I know Natasha “started early” in the spy game, but I’m not buying the notion of her being an experienced and competent KGB agent at five to eight years old. As a result, I think the birthdate Zola gave her was wrong. I still think Natasha has a longer past than she seems, and I still think Bucky’s in it somewhere. Maybe next movie.
5. Fake death(s). Oh, look. A major character faked his death. And another one conveniently disappeared. I’d call that a palpable hit. It wasn’t Bucky under that sheet, granted, but it was a fake death. Point to me.
6. Bucky is a super-soldier. Ding ding ding! And he was apparently supered up before he fell off the train, at least according to Steve’s theory of how Bucky must have survived. It’s pretty consistent with Bucky’s flashbacks, too. Go Steve with the inductive reasoning!
7. Arnim Zola resurrected Bucky. Oh, yes. They even used the same real-life history I cited. If you were in a theater on the evening of April 3 and a random woman punched the air and whooped when the Black Widow said “Operation Paperclip” … yeah, that was me. Sorry for the interruption.
8. The Winter Soldier is working for SHIELD. All right, it might be a bit of a cheat to claim both the “Hydra’s back” and the “Winter Soldier is working for SHIELD” theories as true when he was, in fact, working for the organization that I credit as both Hydra and SHIELD … but it was Hydra inside of SHIELD. I’m calling this a win. Look, it was even Pierce pulling the strings, and he was the head of both Hydra and SHIELD. Stop looking at me like that.
9. Peggy Carter and Howard Stark helped build the Winter Soldier. Okay, I was dead wrong about that one. I’ll have my crow medium well, thank you.
10. The Winter Soldier is a false-flag operative. Yeah, more or less. He was working for SHIELD/Hydra (Healed? Shydra?), but attacked Nick Fury under the guise of being not working for them. Check.
FINAL SCORE (not counting the stuff in the videos and the split decisions): Hits 11, Misses 4. Not bad for armchair screenwriting.
So what did you think of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Let me know in the comments, while I try to stifle my fannish squealing …