Comics and Cosplay
The Future Of The MCU, Seen Through Captain America 2 Easter Eggs

Ross Lincoln | 8 Apr 2014 15:30
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Shout outs to the larger MCU

One of the great pleasures of seeing the Marvel Cinematic Universe build over the last six years is the way Marvel has bucked conventional wisdom by aggressively tying each film together. Each movie stands on its own (with the exception of The Avengers, of course), but they all rely fairly heavily on shared mythology. It's an ambitious project, and The Winter Soldier has perhaps the most links back to previous films.

After spending most of the film presumed-dead, we learn that Nick Fury faked his own death using an experimental serum that slows his heart down to one beat per minute. The serum, Fury reveals, was developed by Bruce Banner to help him with his hulking out problem. It didn't work on Banner, but The Avengers shows that Banner had finally managed to gain a measure of control over his hulking out, so NBD, right?

For obvious reasons*, Tony Stark gets a ton of references. The fleet of helicarriers SHIELD (HYDRA) intends to roll out as part of its global security system have replaced the giant turbines seen in The Avengers with Stark Industries-built "repulsor" technology. Later, Alexander Pierce asks Nick to arrange an appearance by Iron Man at his granddaughter's birthday party. And in the end, once SHIELD has been disbanded, Agent Maria Hill even goes to work for Stark Industries. More on that in a moment.

It also turns out that some of the events that have defined the Iron Man series were actually connected to the conspiracy behind the events of The Winter Soldier. Midway through we find out that Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger being blackmailed by Tommy Lee Jones into betraying Red Skull, is still alive as a digital construct. When his body died in the early 70s, he transferred his consciousness into a computer system housed in a secret HYDRA/SHIELD warehouse.

Brought back to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip, he became instrumental not only in the founding of SHIELD, but in reconstituting HYDRA as a third column within it. As a living computer program, he has devoted his energies to creating an algorithm that can detect threats before they can occur, which in this case means "anyone who can harm HYDRA". And, as it turns out, the random car accident that killed Tony's father and mother was actually an assassination.

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The most satisfying callback comes courtesy of Gary Shandling's Senator Stern, last seen in Iron Man 2 demanding that Tony Stark turn over the Iron Man technology to the government. In The Winter Soldier, it's revealed that he's actually a HYDRA mole. (He's arrested at the end of the movie.) This not only makes for some nice continuity between the films (not to mention gives us more Gary Shandling), it also takes some of the sting out of Tony Stark's dickish behavior in Iron Man 2.

Finally, and I only mention it because I'll be excoriated if I don't, Black Widow wears an arrow pendant on her necklace. I don't know if this is supposed to indicate a relationship between her and Hawkeye - it could just be a cool look - but given the implied connection between Black Widow and Hawkeye, it is at least a significant character establishing detail.

*Namely that Iron Man launched the MCU and also, it never hurts to say "Hey, remember Robert Downey, Jr.?"

Click on and see how The Winter Soldier's Easter eggs might give us clues about what to expect in future MCU films...

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