Warning: Spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Marvel: Civil War. Read at your own risk.
In his first solo film since The Avengers, we finally get a good look at the way the modern world is treating Steve Rogers. He is a man out of time, a patriotic soldier who sees black and white in a grey world. A political thriller, I don’t know if I can sing its praises enough. So I won’t other than to say even if it weren’t a superhero movie, it would still be damn good.
But what I really want to talk about is the Winter Soldier. An assassin with a metal arm that is a ghost even in the espionage community, his secret is that he is actually Bucky Barnes, Cap’s best friend who supposedly died falling off a cliff during the first Captain America movie. Unbeknownst to Rogers, he is actually found by HYDRA, upgraded with cybernetics, brainwashed, and put on ice until he could be of use.
And use him they do, having him assassinate world leaders and VIPs to keep the world destabilized. By the end of this newest movie, he is left without a master and with his memories possibly restored, as shown by the post-credits sequence.
And then there’s this.
Bucky Barnes as Captain America
This image is what set off the alarm bells in my mind. As my fellow comic book nerds know, Barnes has taken up the mantle of Captain America before, most famously after Steve Roger’s death at the end of Marvel: Civil War.
Now why would Marvel kill off one of their beloved characters? Well first, we have Chris Evans stating that he is going to want to take a break from acting after his contract with Marvel is up (he later retracted that statement saying he was misquoted, but I call BS). Rogers’ death is one of the most famous in comic book history, and all of the necessary elements were introduced during Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Let’s take a quick look at these:
Captain America, while being escorted into a courthouse for his trial, is shot once by a sniper named Crossbones.
Crossbones’ real name is Brock Rumlow. Where have we heard that name before? Oh yeah, the leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. tactical squads that are actually Hydra agents. He apparently dies when S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ is destroyed, but then we see this.
So in Marvel: Civil War, this sniper’s bullet is presumed to have killed the Cap. He dies there on the steps. But if he was only shot once by the sniper, where did those stomach wounds come from?
The real killer is his on-again, off-again lover, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 13, real name Sharon Carter. And where have we seen her before?
Cap’s next-door neighbor, Nurse Kate, aka Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter. She is brainwashed by HYDRA and forced to ensure his death after the sniper attack.
And where have we seen brainwashing tech before? Oh yeah, Loki’s mind control staff that we see in the hands of HYDRA agents during the mid-credits sequence.
Marvel has brought together all the ingredients necessary to recreate the death and replacement of Steve Rogers. They definitely have plans far into the future and, whether or not Chris Evans is actually planning on retiring, this option has to at least be on the table. With our current Cap’s insistence on always doing the right thing, I have to wonder if his 20th-century values will allow him to survive his present.