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April 7, 2014

Captain America: the Winter SPOILERS
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:24 PM * 133 comments

So that moment when Cap uses his shield to surf down an oliphant’s back during battle, slaying his attackers with the sparkle of his white teeth? And the bit where Black Widow reveals that she has become the Widow of Many Colors? The moment when it turns out that George R.R. Martin secretly wrote the script and everyone’s dead, including an audience hoping for continuity?

Yeah, those. Discuss ‘em here. And if you don’t want to see spoilers, like that thing with the hedgehog and the needlenose pliers, maybe stay out of the thread.

Comments on Captain America: the Winter SPOILERS:
#1 ::: Liz Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 01:42 PM:

A Captain America movie is so not where I expected to see a Pulp Fiction reference.

#2 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 01:46 PM:

So that's what GRRM has been doing when he shoild have been writing The Winds of Winter!

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 01:59 PM:

AHHHHHH so much to love! The fight choreography! The car stunts! The bit with Peggy! Sharon! Hill going to work for Stark! (scifigrl47, GET RIGHT ON THAT!)

The banter between Cap and the Widow! The Widow's necklace! (My OTP is secure!) Cap's little notebook!

And I KNEW that damn scepter would be back, as witness anyone who read "Silently, Invisibly".

A couple things NOT to love: the new baddies at the end. (Col. Klink cosplay, anyone?) Yet another fake death. (I am reminded of the joke about the hunter calling 911 after accidentally shooting his buddy: "My friend's dead! I accidentally shot him!" "Okay, calm down. First, make sure he's dead." "BLAM! Okay, now what?")

But most of all, that they've eliminated the Winter Soldier's history as one of the Widow's former trainers/colleagues. That was my favorite part of his story line. I haz a sad.

#4 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:06 PM:

I had a lot of fun over on Reddit explaining to fans of the movie that Operation Paperclip was a real thing, and really was that bad an idea, that Cap:TWS is just a fictionalization of the way Reinhard Gehlen's branch of the SS took over the CIA.

#5 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:14 PM:

Responding to Jennifer Baughman@692 from the Open Thread:

See, I think the Fury assassination chase was brilliantly done

I won't argue the point strongly; there was a lot that was good about it, including Abi's point about collateral damage. (And yes, that car definitely has some Stark tech.)

I'm almost absolutely sure the movie doesn't pass the Bechdel test..., but then, this is one of those movies about which the Bechdel test is misleading.

I agree with everything you said about the characterization*, but I still notice when a film comes this close to passing and misses—when an almost identical film would have passed. I don't think the Bechdel test says all that much about an individual film, but if I'm wishing that the number of passing films were higher in the aggregate than I'll wish that the near misses hadn't missed. (If someone wants to argue that the film is a technical pass because the ballistics conversation was really focused on identifying the assassin, rather than on Fury, on the other hand, I might accept it; although I'd also point out that Natasha presumably suspected the assassin was a man.)

All that said, let me go back to that point of agreement: Natasha's characterization was really wonderful in this film.

* and I like how you loop back to Alien, the original Bechdel-passing film

#6 ::: Quixotic James ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:21 PM:

I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Arnim Zola. The sort of man who uploads his consciousness into a computer, a 1972 computer no less (albeit in the super-science MCU), is not the sort of guy to give up his life to "stall for time". As mentioned in the Agents of SHIELD thread, he's an excellent candidate for the clairvoyant. Or someone using his prediction algorithms.

I was totally taken in by Councilwoman Hawley's martial arts ability. I just figured that *of course* Jenny Agutter's character would be a bad ass.

#7 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:27 PM:

Quixotic James@6: I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Arnim Zola.

Yeah, it doesn't seem likely, does it? Especially since he was clearly up to date in terms of understanding modern MCU technology.

I have to admit that I kind of squee'ed at the endless banks of tape drives. You don't see much retro sf computer imagery like that anymore.

#8 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:39 PM:

I have to say, I don't think of the Bechdel test as being talking about a man in the sense of "a person of male gender" so much as "a male person who is a potential or actual romantic parter".

Like, if I am a doctor discussing my patient, the only reason it matters what sex they are is if the problem is in a sex-specific part of the body; I don't think that two female doctors discussing their male patient flunks the test.

Which is to say, Hill and Natasha aren't talking about "a man", they are talking about an assassin, who happens to be male. The conversation would have been precisely the same if the Winter Soldier were another Red Room graduate like Nat.

I desperately wanted Hawley to just be that badass. :) Though by that point I was really wondering where the heck Natasha had got to.

#9 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:40 PM:

dotless ı: They walked into the server room and I was like, look, almost as much processing power as my laptop!

With the number of machines that were shown by the end, it might actually have been more power than my laptop, though.

#10 ::: Quixotic James ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:41 PM:

Another thing I wanted to praise was the whole Captain America Smithsonian exhibit. It worked into the movie in numerous way (including the final post-credit scene) and it just felt like a real museum exhibit. I wonder if they went to an actual curator and said something like "Imagine the first Captain America movie was real and the events were known history - now make an exhibit".

#11 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Despite the obvious escape hatch for an AI, I dig the idea of the Zola AI being built, and marooned, on obsolescent technology, which is my reason for hoping he's *not* the Clairvoyant.

#12 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 03:16 PM:

So... They made a reference to Doctor Strange.

#13 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 03:18 PM:

My friends are begging me to make an image macro out of this, but I lack the skills to do it well:

WHAT I LEARNED FROM ...

all the Hulk movies: Leave moody loners alone, or people will get hurt.

all the Iron Man movies: Thank God we have rich people; it's so sad that they have jealous enemies.

all the Thor movies: Nerdy girls get the hot guys.

all the Captain America movies: Everybody to the right of FDR is evil.

#14 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 03:18 PM:

I expected to find that nothing is real, and that everything was in the mind of the frozen Winter Soldier.
(Ubik? What Ubik?)

#15 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 04:20 PM:

We live in a universe where Robert Redford said "Hail Hydra" on camera.

That's pretty okay.

#16 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Not everyone who refers to DC's airport as "Reagan" instead of "National" is evil. But I will firmly pretend that was intended as a tell.

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 05:08 PM:

Back to Abi's comments about collateral damage... I hope that those helicarriers that the good guys brought down in the middle of DC didn't have nuclear reactors.

#18 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 05:23 PM:

NATASHA'S NECKLACE!!!!

NATASHA'S

NECKLACE

That necklace.

*Officially Obsessed*

#19 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 05:25 PM:

Oh, BTW, Lila: The "Col. Klink" character at the end is Baron Strucker, who (often) leads Hydra in the comics.

#20 ::: Edd ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 06:02 PM:

Batroc the Leaper?! I laughed a happy laugh.

I was not surprised to see Fury surviving an apparent death. It's the Marvel Universe. I just keep wanting to see an actual LMD.

And in my head, during that entire final fight between Cap and the Winter Soldier, Steve is talking, reminding Bucky about his background. Instead, we get a stoic, silent CA.

Falcon! Yes, he needs to get with Stark and get a new suit.

#21 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Based on who wound up with Loki's Hockey Stick of Destiny, SHIELD has lousy at keeping track of the various gizmos it takes away from the bad guys.

#22 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 10:09 PM:

If Strucker is in the offing, might Viper be, too?

Viper vs. the Black Widow. I want.

#23 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2014, 10:59 PM:

I was really amused by Batroc, when I probably shouldn't have been. Mostly because of the insistence that "he's ALGERIAN! ALGERIAN!!!!" and then I saw him and it was local boy Georges St-Pierre with local Montreal French. (He's not Algerian in the comics, iirc; it would have been hilarious to have him be Canadian if they were going to swap his nationality.)

I want to see this movie again, though. In Fannishspeak, I have all the feels.

#24 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 12:36 AM:

My favorite thing in the movie was the effortless masterclass in acting by Robert Redford. My least favorite thing was wondering why, if they were just going to have the Helicopters Of DNA Death blow each other up anyway, they didn't just throw timed grenades onto each ship rather than bothering with fiddly computer cards that had to be swapped in a particular slot?

#25 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 04:58 AM:

Serge Broom @ 21: But if SHIELD has been infiltrated by the baddies since the get-go, the problem isn't so much "keeping stuff of problematic origin away from the bad guys" as "knowing which set of bad guys you're keeping the stuff of problematic origin away from TODAY"!.

#26 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 08:40 AM:

Serge Broom@12:The Steven Strange comment really intrigued me. First, it implies they are intending to do more with him and then, it was interesting how the name was thrown out along with Banner like a name that Shield agents should just recognize. Very interesting.

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 08:59 AM:

JaniceG... And you'd expect such a sensitive spot to be deep inside each ship, not under their belly with windows. But, if it had, we would not have been treated to a visually exciting fight.

#28 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 09:03 AM:

Megpie71... Good point. Then again, what does it say about the folks who're supposed to protect us by spying on us that this crap was going on under their nose? Me, I'm glad to see SHIELD gone, considering that it treated every special human as a threat, and would have merrily enforced something like the Mutant Registration Act.

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Steve Halter... And it worries me that SHIELD folks would recognize the name of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme so casually, and probably means they'll screw up how they handle that character, who's one of my favorites. And, if, with him, they also go with the approach that there is no magic, only advanced science, he'll probably wind up with a battery-powered Orb of Agamotto.

#30 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Serge Broom@29:Yeah, a well done Doctor Strange would be awesome (he's also always been a favorite of mine). A poorly done Strange, not so much.
They've been skirting the edge of magic with the Asgardians, saying it is wildly advanced tech. That would work as an "explanation" as long as everything operates the same.

#31 ::: snowcrash ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:10 AM:

"Your work has been a gift to mankind. You shaped the century. And I need you to do it one more time"

That's probably one of the better misleading trailer bits I've seen in a dammmmn long time.

#32 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Steve Halter #26 and Serge Broom #29:

There is a Dr. Strange movie in the plans; it's tentatively scheduled as part of Phase Three.

There's an easy answer for why SHIELD would recognize Stephen Strange (pre-Sorcerer Supreme): SHIELD monitored people at the top of their fields. Bruce Banner wasn't just on SHIELD's radar because he's the Hulk; he's also the world's leading expert on gamma radiation. And I guarantee SHIELD had their eye on Tony Stark, even before his kidnapping. Fury likes to be aware of potential assets, and one of the world's top neurosurgeons could be very useful to a covert agency. Maria Hill, as his second-in-command, would be aware of at least some of these.

My least favorite thing was wondering why, if they were just going to have the Helicopters Of DNA Death blow each other up anyway, they didn't just throw timed grenades onto each ship rather than bothering with fiddly computer cards that had to be swapped in a particular slot?

Because they also needed to disable Zola's targeting algorithm; targeted timed explosives carry the risk of not causing sufficient destruction to the Insight carriers, and they might have gotten some shots off.

Speaking of targets other than Stephen Strange: we saw Misty Knight and Danny Rand--Danny Rand is Iron Fist, and Misty Knight is one of the Heroes for Hire (and Danny's girlfriend). And also Matt Murdock. Callouts to the upcoming Hell's Kitchen series!

Another thing I wanted to praise was the whole Captain America Smithsonian exhibit. It worked into the movie in numerous way (including the final post-credit scene) and it just felt like a real museum exhibit. I wonder if they went to an actual curator and said something like "Imagine the first Captain America movie was real and the events were known history - now make an exhibit".

Not only that, but it was tasteful. I've seen museum exhibits that slid into open hagiography, and it would have been very easy for that to happen with someone so widely idolized as Cap. It was the kind of exhibit I'd have wanted to see, and I'm glad that the Howling Commandos didn't get short shrift.

As for Hawkeye: in my head, he was back in Budapest. The fountain compelled him.

More seriously, he's a SHIELD agent. He was off on a mission of his own, and trying to bring him in 1) would have set off some alerts in SHIELD when he went off-mission, and 2) would have taken time which they didn't have.

dotless ı: I like how you loop back to Alien, the original Bechdel-passing film.

Just for you!

And thank you for your kind words! I agree that it would be nice to see more Bechdel "near misses" actually pass; my biggest concern is that some people consider the Bechdel to be the ultimate test, and it's not (nor was it intended to be). It would be relatively easy to throw a Bechdel-passing scene into a movie that is otherwise a hodgepodge of stereotypes. Which, IMO, doesn't improve the depiction of women in film.

#33 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:20 AM:

Throwing in a Dr. Strange reference now might help if they're going to portray him as having a long apprenticeship which leads to him being a seasoned magician in the present. Suggests that he's already on people's radars now.

#34 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:27 AM:

Lila #3:

But most of all, that they've eliminated the Winter Soldier's history as one of the Widow's former trainers/colleagues. That was my favorite part of his story line. I haz a sad.

Not to mention lover. However, I wouldn't bet against it yet. We know Widow doesn't tell people anything she doesn't have to. She especially doesn't tell people anything that could be used against her. And, finally, she ruthlessly compartmentalizes--her history with Winter Soldier didn't impact the mission, therefore there was no 'need to know'. Natasha's like a matryoshka doll; each movie you see a little deeper, but there's still so many layers underneath.

#35 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Jennifer @ #34: Yes, I thought of that. Indeed, it's not out of character for either of them for both that backstory AND the "he shot his target THROUGH ME" story to be true.

#36 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 11:58 AM:

Lila #35:

It's notable that he didn't kill her out-of-hand. Considering what he did to Sitwell, and that he was willing to slaughter civilians to get to Widow and Cap?

#37 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 12:23 PM:

I suppose it's very wrong of me, but the museum exhibit was one of my favourite parts of the movie... largely because one of my favourite Captain America fanfics on AO3 has "events leading up to the opening of the Smithsonian's Captain America exhibit" as the spine of the plot.

("Captain Fraudulent". Heartily recommended.)

#38 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 12:39 PM:

I liked the part of Straczyinsky's retelling of Doctor Strange's origin where the Ancient One expresses a fondness for Simon & Garfunkel. THere are also a few comments about yak butter.

#39 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 01:26 PM:

If something like the attack on Nick Fury happened in the real world, do you think there would have been a police response and if so, what?

I'd be expecting a SWAT team delivered by helicopter.

To what extent could Hydra have prevented a police response, and what would have happened after that, assuming that people have cell phones and can upload video of the attack?

#40 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 01:37 PM:

Lila @ #3 The Widow's necklace!

And this is where my lack of comic book knowledge hamstrings me when watching a comic-to-movie. What is the significance of the Black Widow's necklace?

I noticed she wasn't wearing one in the Avengers, but she is now.

#41 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Victoria #40: It's actually a cinematic universe thing--the necklace has a little stylized arrow on it. Which suggests a thing between Widow and Hawkeye.

#42 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Serge Broom #38:

I liked the part of Straczyinsky's retelling of Doctor Strange's origin where the Ancient One expresses a fondness for Simon & Garfunkel. THere are also a few comments about yak butter.

JMS shares writing credits on Thor; Marvel could do worse than to bring him in to adapt his miniseries for the movie.

#43 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @ 42... Bringing in Straczinksy would indeed be a smart artistic move, but artistic goals may be lower on the requirement scale than pecuniary preoccupations. That being said, I'd love to have Strange's Coat as seen in Straczinksy's version.

#44 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 02:32 PM:

Paul A @ 37: That's a good story, but I have to object on one point: J. Jonah Jameson is a lot of things, but he's not a coward.

#45 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 03:02 PM:

Jennifer Baughman @ 41

I sooooo did not see an arrow on that chain. To me it just looked like a diamond solitaire in a non-standard pendant formation.

#46 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 03:17 PM:

"To me it just looked like a diamond solitaire in a non-standard pendant formation."

(Creates theory about Diamondback being Black Widow's girlfriend.)

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 03:59 PM:

One thing that bugged me was how robust the Death In The Sky Launch Mechanic was.

If there was only one guy whose work was critical to the mission, what were all those other people in the room doing? Surely there are several places where someone can hit a big red button and abort the launch, or fail to do their part and cause an automatic shutdown, or change a password/parameter/timer/plotbunny to a value that causes an abort.

I've done big, complex implementations. The people all sitting around peering at their screens and typing are making sure the thing goes ahead. That's why they're there, instead of off having a coffee or surfing Reddit.

#48 ::: Quixotic James ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 04:16 PM:

Abi @ 47: Perhaps they were all playing Galaga.

#49 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 04:18 PM:

I have been waiting for a Doctor Strange movie since I was about 9 years old. If they screw it up -- and this includes failing to include a drippy interdimensional pathway that passes through a set of giant snake fangs -- I will be Extremely Disappointed.

#50 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Andrew Willett @ 49... A TV movie about Doc Strange was aired in September 1978. Many changes, and no Ditko trippy landscapes, not on a TV budget, but I liked it more than the animated feature of a few years back. Also, it had Jessica Walter as evil Morgan le Fay, and you can't go wrong with Jessica Walter as evil Morgan le Fay.

#51 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 39: As soon as they stood up in the streets and started blasting away, I thought one thing: "These people have no fear whatsoever of being stopped, or caught. Which means that whatever they're planning, it's today." Which turned out to be right. Let's assume that each and every one of them was caught by DHS and/or the DC SWAT team scant minutes after they herded Fury into the killbox. So what? Tomorrow morning, HYDRA (masquerading as SHIELD) will announce that they were covert SHIELD agents protecting the public from rogue supervillain Fury, and they'll be sprung.

#52 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Brad, thanks. I wasn't tracking the timeline that carefully.

My assumption is that a SWAT team would have killed some of them.

Which relates to another implausibility. Why would anyone join HYDRA at a low level? Should I just take it as "this is necessary for a superhero story"?

#53 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 05:39 PM:

Victoria @#45, there's a good close-up on this page. It's definitely an arrow.

#54 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Another random thing I noticed: The recorded interview with 1950s Peggy established that she married one of the Howling Commandos, but unless I missed something they didn't say which one. (Keeping their options open for sequels and/or the rumoured TV series, I suppose.)

If they end up taking their cue from the comics, it could get interesting; as I understand it, the Howling Commando who had the most definite romantic connection to Peggy in the comics was Gabe Jones.

#55 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2014, 10:42 PM:

Have not yet read the rest of the thread, but I wanted to put this out there.

Nick Fury's always been something of an asshole, but in this one, he was an idiot as well. I mean, even leaving aside the point Steve raised about justice - which Nick wouldn't much care about anyway (see: asshole) - and the little incident with Hydra, how could someone as professionally paranoid as Nick Fury possibly think that was a good idea?

#56 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 02:38 AM:

Chris, which "that" in particular are you thinking of?

#57 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:26 AM:

After the first Captain America movie, I really thought they were going to make Peggy into Mrs. Howard Stark.

#58 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 10:45 AM:

Paul A: The whole "set up an automated system to kill everyone who the algorithm says is a threat" plan.

#59 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 10:47 AM:

Carrie S. @ 53
Thanks.

#60 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 10:52 AM:

Chris @ 58

I took Fury's plan as one of threat deterrent. (Although how they would deal with resupply and general maintenance on a forever flying helicarrier did make me go "huh?") It was the Hydra guy who came up with the algorithm and snuck it into the programming.

#61 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 10:54 AM:

(I just watched the episode of "Agents of SHIELD" set at SHIELD Academy, that being the one that's aired most recently here. With the benefit of hindsight, it has a lot of moments designed to remind the audience of stuff that will come up again in "The Winter Soldier".)

#62 ::: Quixotic James ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 12:12 PM:

Chris @ 58

I took the "threat assessment algorithm" to have originally been approved in the wake of Manhattan being invaded by aliens. Exactly the sort of existential threat that makes people lose their minds and approve anything that makes them feel like they're in control.

In this case, the threats would be Chitauri or assorted super villains. That Hydra could simply swap out the algorithm to perform a coup d'état shows the basic flaw of living in a high INT, low WIS, super-science world.

Serge Broom @ 17

Arc reactors. Safe enough to store in a body cavity; strong enough to power office towers, suits of armour, or jump start a cosmic cube.

#63 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 12:35 PM:

Quixotic James @ 62... That brings up a major inconsistency in a project to tie many movies together.

Stark made it clear he does *not* like SHIELD, and also made it clear that Stark Enterprises would not make weapons anymore, and yet he proceeds to let SHIELD use his own tech for use on flying fortresses.

#64 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 01:01 PM:

Chris #55:

I don't think Fury's an asshole. He acts like one on a number of occasions, sure, but a better read is that he is ruthlessly, obsessively focused, professionally and personally, on the security and safety of the innocent people of the world. And he's been betrayed a number of times in his past; he's got as many trust issues as Black Widow. (I mean, really, if you can't trust Captain America, you're in sad shape.)

Nicholas Fury and Alexander Pierce are on the same spectrum of belief. Fury's willing to go after threats pro-actively; Pierce just takes it further. (The idea of peace through complete control is one of the seductive lures of fascism.) So Project: Insight makes a fair amount of sense from Fury's perspective, as a pro-active force wielded by someone he trusted to judge what threats were appropriate (which is to say, himself).

I think there's also a case to be made that Fury's threat assessments are off, and have been off for pretty much ever, because all his intel is filtered through HYDRA. Even up to and including the Council--consider that at least one member of the Council during the Chitauri invasion must have been HYDRA--that's how they got people to launch the nuke against Fury's direct orders.

Nancy Lebovitz #52:

Why would anyone join HYDRA at a low level?

Some people would join out of naivete. Some would join out of the desire to be the ones wielding the stick. Some would join SHIELD and become slowly corrupted. Some would join after a personal crisis and a loss of faith in an orderly world. And some would join because their buddies did. Same reasons people joined the SS, and the Nazi Party, and terrorist organizations ad nauseam.

#65 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 01:33 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@52: Why would anyone join HYDRA at a low level?

HYDRA tells everyone that they'll be a head of the organization (and save the rest of the motto for later).

#66 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 01:52 PM:

abi@47: That's comic book technology for you: no one ever puts in a big red button, because by the laws of that technology any such mechanism would be bound to fail when needed—possibly accompanied by a newly sentient machine saying "You puny fools!" All those people monitoring things only think they could derail the launch.

#67 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 02:27 PM:

I remember an episode of "Get Smart" where Max infiltrates the inner council of evil organization KAOS, only to find that each and every one of the other inner-council members also were spies working for other spook outfits.

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 02:43 PM:

There was a whole rework of The Man From UNCLE proposed by Dave McDaniel where THRUSH was actually the group controlling UNCLE, and the whole thing was designed to keep testing the agents to build their abilities by having really good opponents at each level. This was not actually the focus of THE FINAL AFFAIR (for a while I thought it was, but then I got one of the copies of TFA that float around and actually read it). It's definitely a comic-book-level plot complication!

#69 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:09 PM:

I don't have the heart to tell this joke in my own words today (though I do love to tell it), but I have it sufficiently together to hunt down a copy. Here, in someone else's words, is one of my very favorite jokes ever:

[Gavel rapping.] All right. This meeting of Cell Number 129 of the American Communist Party will now come to order. We will begin with the roll call.

Comrade Ryan?
Here.
Comrade Mulligan?
Here.
Comrade Rosenstein?
Here.
Comrade Vaughn?
Here.
Comrade Williams?
Here.
Comrade Warzofsky?
Here.
Comrade Stevens?
[Silence.]
Comrade Stevens?
He's not here.
What, again? ... Okay, Mulligan, you get out the deck of cards and pass out the cigarettes, I'll call Headquarters.

[Phone dials]

Hello, J. Edgar? ... We had to cancel the surveillance operation again.... Well, what could I do about it? Our Communist didn't show up again!

[End.]

#70 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:20 PM:

And that not having the heart thing reminds me of what I intended to say in the first place: Does anyone else feel just a little (or maybe more than a little) inadequate to the troubles of the world after watching Steve Rogers pull Nick Frickin Fury's fat out of the fire?

I've been trying to put my finger on why I've felt so bummed out the last few days. I'm beginning to suspect this is it: I am genuinely and deeply disappointed in myself for not living up to Captain America. Ridiculous, right? But I think that might be what it is.

Does this make any sense? Okay, wrong question. Does anyone else ever get this sort of feeling? After adolescence, that is.

(Oh, look. Second childhood, early, so I can enjoy it.)

#71 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:31 PM:

I feel inadequate watching Natasha kick ass, does that count?

Hey, wait, what did they do with Councilor Hawley so that Natasha could take her place?

#72 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:49 PM:

Carrie S... I was very disappointed to find it wasn't really Jenny Agutter's character doing the kicking. On the other hand, she tried to nuke New York in "Avengers" so i'm not that disappointed.

#73 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 03:57 PM:

Carrie S. @ 71: I feel inadequate watching Agent Simmons kick ass (which she can't) on Agents of SHIELD. That's not it.

It's more that he, unlike other superhero types on screen lately, represents something unambiguously good and worthwhile (I know, I know) which spans his entire identity. That's what I feel inadequate to just now. Well, that, and the guy who wouldn't push the button.

#74 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 04:04 PM:

John, it's just occurred to me that my answer probably sounded flip, and it wasn't meant to be.

I want to be Nat, is the thing. She's gorgeous and if a jerk grabs her ass in the subway she can make him regret it and she can put her emotions aside when she needs to. I feel inadequate for not having been trained as an assassin since early childhood, or something.

Which is not nearly as noble, certainly, but I know how you feel. If I'd been Computer Guy, I'd have launched. :P

#75 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 05:13 PM:

Carrie S. @ 74: It did sound a little flip, and appropriately so. As you could see--I hope!--it cheered me and I rose with my own wisecrack. I'm just a little blue today. I'd like to shut down my machine (Computer Guy, indeed--as Grace Slick says, "He's an American boy and he loves his machine") and drive away and go somewhere. I'm more than a little sick of my life right now and nothing seems better than getting away from it. Which I suppose explains why gafiate's an AIRLU (Acronym In Real-Life Use).

Enough of this. Back to the freeway, which is already in progress!

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 05:21 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @75:

Sympathy. I went through a heartsick-and-weary phase a month or more ago. I hope whatever makes things better for you occurs in abundance in your life very soon.

#77 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 06:02 PM:

John A @ #70, I'm deeply disapointed in myself for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with Captain America, but a lot to do with a combination of crappy tax software (refuses to e-file until I download & install update, then refuses to e-file even after I do because it apparently doesn't believe me) and attempting to provide physical therapy to a belligerent, demented patient who continuously berated and swore at me while insisting he had never consented to rehab (which may or may not be true, see severely demented).

Frankly, I feel like shit. If Steve Rogers were around, I would totally cry on his lovely broad sympathetic shoulder. As it is, I'll just have to deal and try not to throw up/stay up all night because I have to go right back to it tomorrow and the next day. (Minus the taxes, which I gave up and am filing by mail.)

#78 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 06:16 PM:

Thanks for the sympathies. I think I'm fortified for another day now.

#79 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Hang in there, man. FWIW, I enjoyed meeting you and wish you well with this rough patch.

#80 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 12:20 AM:

My wife and I loved the movie, but I would have liked to see a scene where they explain why the other Avengers couldn't be there.

"Well, where's Stark?"
"Vacation with Pepper."

"Hawkeye?
"Threw out his back."

"Banner?"
"Unusually calm these days. Must be in Colorado or Washington."

"Well, how about the Asgardian with the blond locks?"
"Honeymoon."

#81 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 02:57 AM:

Re: Cap's notebook.

I wonder how many variants of the page exist. The one we saw had "Tim Tams" about halfway down the page, by which I assume we got the Australian variant.

#83 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 03:44 AM:

Speaking as an Australian, and as someone whose friends have got several Americans hooked on Tim Tims, I find it totally plausible that they might appear on Steve's list.

I can also kind of believe AC/DC being on an American's list of major cultural touchstones if I squint hard enough.

I'm considerably more dubious about Skippy and Steve Irwin.

#84 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 03:47 AM:

...I do know how to spell "Tim Tams", honestly.

(Note to self: Not getting enough sleep does actually make a difference.)

#85 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 05:11 AM:

No-one has mentioned Chesterton's 100+ year old The Man Who Was Thursday yet (or the recent Swedish Mafia episode of Deadbeat; that trope just keeps going).

#86 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 06:28 AM:

So how come Latin America gets Shakira on their list but Brazil doesn't get Tropicalismo?

#87 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 09:45 AM:

#83 ::: Paul A @ 83

Three cheers for skimming without context!

I had to go back and click on the link and read the regional variants because I read your post and thought "Skippy? The peanut butter brand?"

I watched my Avengers DVD after seeing Winter Soldier. I think I'll now view that "I know what the flying monkey reference means!" scene with less cringing now.

#88 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 10:31 AM:

Steve C.@80: My wife and I loved the movie, but I would have liked to see a scene where they explain why the other Avengers couldn't be there.

We had a similar discussion on the way out of the film, and the only Avenger we really missed a mention of was Hawkeye. For some reason we were happy to mentally fill in the excuses for the rest. On the one hand, as Jennifer Baughman said @32, he's an active SHIELD agent and probably on a mission elsewhere; on the other hand, he has close ties to Natasha and knows SHIELD from the inside, so we missed having the one-line explanation. (I have seen mentions of such a line being written but later cut.)

Actually, there's one other place we both missed an excuse/explanation: when Steve and Natasha are on the run with a USB stick with advanced compression, we did kind of wonder why they didn't at least mention asking Stark for help, rather than, say, going to an Apple store.

#89 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:14 AM:

If the real world had a car chase and massive shooting like the one that Fury went thru in the middle of Washington DC, wouldn't there be *some* mention of it somewhere in the news? The movie's real-world folks don't really exist except as a backdrop to the real actors of the world.

#90 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:23 AM:

Carrie S. @71: Hey, wait, what did they do with Councilor Hawley so that Natasha could take her place?

She had complained about the traffic from the airport — that doesn't answer what they did with her, but suggests where they made the switch. Possibly with her assistance — a brief discussion with Nick Fury may have convinced her Pierce was not to be trusted.

#91 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:34 AM:

dotless ı #88:

Actually, there's one other place we both missed an excuse/explanation: when Steve and Natasha are on the run with a USB stick with advanced compression, we did kind of wonder why they didn't at least mention asking Stark for help, rather than, say, going to an Apple store.

My thought is that HYDRA would have expected them to run to Stark for help; the Apple store has the benefit of being in public, usually pretty crowded, and anonymous. And even if HYDRA wasn't staking out Stark, Nat and Cap wouldn't want to expose them to unnecessary danger.

Actually, the reason Tony wasn't available is that he may very well be either working on the Extremis cure for Pepper, or recovering from heart surgery, per the end of IM3...

#92 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:35 AM:

Serge: How do we know it wasn't on the news? It's not like Steve and Nat spend a lot of time in venues where they'd be getting random news for the rest of the film.

#93 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:39 AM:

Carrie S @ 92... True, but, if it was in the news, especially when reports started pouring in about helicarriers crashing down, it makes one wonder about Stark's absence.

#94 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 11:48 AM:

By the time it got into the news that the Helicarriers were going down, what was Tony gonna do? Even the suit couldn't have gotten him from New York to DC in time to be of any help; he'd have needed teleportation for that.

"The unidentified fugitive was taken into custody after crashing his car. Homeland Security would not comment except to say that his injuries were extensive." Nothing in there to set off Jarvis's web-trawling algorhythyms, and both SHIELD and its Hydra subsidiary would have made sure the news reports were as bland as "spectacular car chase" could be.

#95 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 01:28 PM:

dotless i@88, Jennifer Baughman@91

I'd suspect that if Stark Tower was in the DC area (rather than NYC), Nat and Cap would at least have seriously considered going there.

As it is, he's in NYC, they're in DC, they're going to consider something local first.

#96 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 02:34 PM:

dotless ı @ 88
Actually, there's one other place we both missed an excuse/explanation: when Steve and Natasha are on the run with a USB stick with advanced compression, we did kind of wonder why they didn't at least mention asking Stark for help, rather than, say, going to an Apple store.

Watsonian explanation: 1)they didn't have the time to hunt down Stark and hand him the hardware. They had a limited amount of time from discovery to stop the bad guys. (it was stated during the dialog at one point 16 hours) If Stark was on the west coast...
2) they were on the run and the bad guys knew who Steve and Natasha's go-to-tech-guy was, so running to Stark in NYC if he was there, would be walking into a trap.
3) the Apple store was the closest, fastest and least obvious way to access the files.

Doylistic explanation: Apple paid for product placement.

#97 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 04:41 PM:

Victoria@96: Those are all good explanations, and it's not that we couldn't come up with any. It's more that Hawkeye's absence and the bit with the encryption are the cases where we missed having the explanation in the film. It's a purely idiosyncratic response: we were happy to come up with our own explanations for the absence of Thor, Banner, and (with that one exception) Stark.

Realistically, I know that even at its current size the MCU is heading into the superhero French farce problem, where they have to work harder and harder to keep characters and teams out of each other's way; and there are only so many quick remarks they can or should put into a film to explain why something didn't happen.

#98 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2014, 08:54 PM:

I'm wondering why Captain America's Smithsonian exhibit was in the Air & Space Museum. It seems to me that American History would have been a much better fit.

(Doylist: viewers are more likely to recognize Air & Space as "the Smithsonian", while they'd just see American History as "some museum". I'm more interested in a Watsonian reason.)

#99 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 02:16 AM:

Re #70: Steve Rogers has an advantage the rest of us don't have, and I don't mean the huge bump in CHArisma that he got from the super-soldier serum.

The impression I get of the MCU Captain America is that all those newsreal clips we saw go by were the Roosevelt-era propaganda machine (the best the free world has ever seen) using our one super soldier (what good is one soldier, when soldiers fight in squads?) as the European front's version of the Doolittle Raid: "Don't worry about the fact that we're not making any visible progress in Europe. You can feel confident about the European part of the war because CAPTAIN AMERICA is over there doing the right thing!" Until he went out and got himself some Howling Commandos, and found his own mission, they were using him solely as the symbol of The American Way of War. Worse luck for them, in the waning days of the war, he died Tragically Young, which makes him an even bigger perma-celebrity.

So when Captain freaking America stands up and says "America has become evil, because we compromised our principles, and if you'll fight along side of me, we'll stop that!" people listen in a way they don't listen to J. Random Internetliberal, or even Occasionally Seen TVPerson, or even their own friends.

It's even lampshaded in the movie, when Agent 13 cribs the best line from Marvel Civil War: how are we supposed to believe that we're the good guys when you've got us hunting Captain America? When you have that much celebrity and respect, then you can hold yourself accountable for how much you get done with it.

(Except, you'll notice, that even he feels like he's not accomplishing enough, and even he beats up on himself over it, as in the scene with Peggy.)

#100 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 03:45 AM:

Serge Broom @27: I had the same thought about why an organization like SHIELD would have an HQ building with exposed glass elevators on the outside of the building

#101 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 09:51 AM:

Chris @ 98

Possible Watsonian Reasons:
1) Because "Air and Space" mean "Technology Advancements" and "The Future" to more people.
2) Because the Captain "died" in a plane crash
3) It was in association with another, related, exhibit on WWII machines.
4) Someone asked Steve Rogers "Where would you like a retrospective on your life to be housed?"

#102 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 11:43 AM:

Has anyone come across a list, however partial, of the names on the screen in the Project Insight targeting sequence? The only one that jumped out at me was "Anthony Stark".

#103 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Chris @98:

Smithsonian's "American History" museum does not have a lot of display space, and had a very "1890s turn of the century" vibe to me. It was closed for remodeling the last time I was in DC, so I don't know if this is one of the things that changed.

I think Captain America and Air & Space IS a better fit.

#104 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 02:10 PM:

I got a laugh out of the museum's night watchman.

#105 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Serge Broom@104: I got a laugh out of the museum's night watchman.

Yes, I'm starting to really look forward to his cameos in those movies.

#106 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2014, 05:11 PM:

Protips for fighting Captain America:
1. If you find yourself holding his shield, do not toss it back to him. You may think you're throwing it at him, but that's what you're doing in practice. Either keep it, or, preferably, throw it as far away from the both of you as you possibly can.

2. When he's charging at you and using the shield to deflect all of your bullets, aim for the legs.

#107 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Jeff R. @106
At least once during the fight with the Winter Soldier on the helicarrier, the Soldier did fire towards Cap's legs. And Cap had anticipated it and blocked it with his shield.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2014, 09:50 PM:

Saw CAWS this morning and enjoyed it a lot. Sounds strange, but a cracking good adventure film makes me feel physically spry. Adrenalin?

I missed the Doctor Strange reference. Was Steven Strange on the list of people to be snuffed out by Insight?

I read that one of the people on the was Michael Lyndon, Sony Pictures CEO, who is working on another set of Marvel-universe films.

Well, I have last Tuesday's episode of Agents of SHIELD to catch up on. I assume there will be lots of blow-back.

#109 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2014, 11:35 PM:

I remember Stephen Strange was mentioned in dialogue, part of a list of people SHIELD considered potential threats—maybe Jasper Sitwell in the car? (BTW, Dr. Strange is definitely a Stephen-with-a-P-H, not a -with-a-V.)

#110 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2014, 12:52 AM:

#108, 109:

Jasper Sitwell on the roof, before they get in the car.

#111 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2014, 12:03 PM:

I understand why Jenny Agutter's character was maybe not going to wind up being Jenny Agutter's character, but as a woman of a certain age, I have to admit that the first minute or two I roared with joy in seeing her take out the henchguys with such élan.

Also: I did love Cap's little notebook where he listed the Things To Catch Up On.

#112 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2014, 11:12 PM:

re 98: Because at the moment American History is closed, and they're showing a very few exhibits over in the Arts and Industry building.

I have to say one thing, though: whoever designed that set has the A&S exhibit style stone cold.

Well, one other thing: when the car announces that the climate control system is 100% functional, every Washingtonian knew that was the most important thing.

#113 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2014, 05:18 PM:

I did like the part where Cap punched the computer in the face... and it just went to another face. Nice to see someone address that.

(I was a little worried that Dr. Zola was backed up on the actual SHIELD thumbdrive. He may still be. Very HYDRA thing to do. )

#114 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2014, 09:43 AM:

Sandy B. @#113: (I was a little worried that Dr. Zola was backed up on the actual SHIELD thumbdrive. He may still be. Very HYDRA thing to do. )

I'm not worried about it. In fact, I'll be a bit disappointed if Zola was *not* backed up in some way, shape or form. Seems to me Zola the 50's computer was down in that bunker for a very long time, and then Hydra decided to interface his tech with a modern hub of some sort that accepted Shield thumbdrives - and contained a link to broadcast/transmit/call/other that algorithm to the launch ship - so I think Zola would at least try to get out and explore. It would also make sense for Hydra to copy/port him to more modern hardware. However, I've read at least one other scifi emergent AI scenario where the consciousness evolved (Is Zola-the-50's-computer conscious? Or just an expert system?) was basically dependent on the flaws, etc. in the obsolete hardware it first emerged upon, and would not run in emulation on anything else. (Doctorow?, Stross? I can't find it, I think it is short story length - protagonist has to zheqre gur NV ol gnxvat n sver-nk gb gur HCF nsgre vg cebirf gung vg pna cresrpgyl fvzhyngr cebgntbavfg'f ibvpr naq pbairefngvba cnggreaf bire n cubar yvax.)

#115 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2014, 06:24 PM:

That sort of AI is the McGuffin of Ngbzvp Ebob naq gur Tubfg bs Fgngvba K, although you don't find out what the McGuffin is until the end of the story, which is why I'm treating the title as a spoiler. Fun story.

#116 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2014, 09:47 PM:

Having just watched it again, I have only one thing to say: none of these people should have any shoulder joints left.

#117 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2014, 10:38 PM:

I did just want to take a moment to thank CA:TWS for the scene on the ship in which francophone people are actually speaking french. After a lifetime of hearing Americans be "French" by emulating Pepé Le Pew, it was so nice to hear (I really didn't care that Batroc had a Québécois accent).

BTW, in case anyone wondered: Chris Evans' accent in his three word line, "On va voir"?* Not really terrible.

*I think I'm remembering it right

#118 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2014, 10:43 PM:

Cheryl... Butbutbut... Batroc *should* have sounded like Pepe le Pew! :-)

#119 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 03:56 AM:

Winter Soldier lacked the heart of the first film. I didn't expect much of the first one: Captain America has always been too much about the fantasy of America as a virtuous nation for me. I just can't get into it. Yet--the first film worked. It really worked: because while in the film Captain America is absolutely that guy--Freedom! Democracy! Doing the Right Thing!--the world isn't that world. This world is knee-deep in a gritty, village-by-village kind of a war, and doesn't have time for childish illusions about heroism.

Yet there he is. Rogers' bizarre, baseless, but unshakeable faith in doing the right thing is like a snowball in hell, stubbornly unmelted. The scene, before the serum, when Tommy Lee Jones throws the dummy grenade and every one runs away but Rogers jumps on it--that's it, right there. He's a unicorn. He shouldn't exist, it's the wrong narrative, but he does.

That is what the movie is about: the tense relationship between the gritty and the heroic, how they each need, and cannot stand, the other. Soldiers can't pretend they're noble and still do what they have to do--but if they can't be noble, then what the hell are they fighting for? It's an unresolvable contradiction. Let us remember that Captain America, the comic, was in fact an invention of the real Second World War. The fantasy and the reality are always intertwined, bolstering and undercutting each other--how satisfying to imagine punching Hitler in the face. How naive. How necessary. How childish. How wise.

Something vital to comic books, to stories of heroes in general, lives in there, and the first film was tapping into it.

The second movie opens up with a theme of similar potential: Fury wants to set up his Insight program to detect threats before they happen, but here is Captain America, the literal embodiment of Freedom, having none of it. Aren't we sacrificing the very thing we say we're fighting to protect? Now this is a great tension, I thought: realism versus idealism, Fury versus Cap. This is an example of good versus good. I was excited to see it play out.

But we don't get that movie. The sympathetic advocate of realism is replaced with an obviously villainous one, the "good" agency is transformed by authorial fiat into secret Nazis, and Captain America and we, the audience, get to relax because the bad guys are clear cut and the heroes equally so. We don't ever have to ask, "Wait a minute now, Fury: if your plan and Hydra's plan are exactly the same but for the particular target list, then how are we any better?" Instead, punching.

There were a lot of things I loved about this movie. Romanov was great, particularly her friendship with Rogers. Acting, fight scenes, narrative structure; overall it was very well done, but I kept feeling this void at the center. Maybe I'm just holding it to too high a standard after being blown away by the first one. Maybe I'm just wishing we'd gotten the movie it could have been.

#120 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 08:24 AM:

Serge @ #118, thank you SO MUCH for that mental image of Batroc the Leaper boinging across the deck like Pepé. Following an appalled and drenched Black Widow.

In a perfect world, that would actually have happened and would be on the blooper reel.

#121 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 11:13 AM:

Serge Broom @ 89

I actually got to thinking, and I realised Hydra had to have agents in more places than just SHIELD. There had to be agents in the DC Police, there had to be agents in most of the other alphabet soup agencies, as well as in the Pentagon, we KNOW they have agents in the Senate (so presumably there's at least one Hydra congresscreature as well), so I presume they also have a lot of low-level members in places like hospitals, psych wards (particularly useful - after all, having your opponents declared insane is one of the oldest political tricks in the book... Steve better watch his back, or he might find himself in a strait-jacket and a locked ward one of these days)... and the media.

The media members would probably be at the "editorial" end of things, as well as probably a couple of trollumnists and so on. But really, the easiest and quickest way of getting the media onside is to suborn a useful tycoon who happens to be a media magnate. Yes, my MCU head-canon is that Rupert Murdoch (or his MCU equivalent) is a member of Hydra, and an extremely useful one! After all, if you have the big boss telling people what does or doesn't merit media coverage, he can set one hell of a lot of agendas. (Anyone who doesn't believe this is welcome to look for mainsteam media coverage of the "March in March" protests here in Australia, and tell me whether or not there was a march here in Western Australia).

There would also need to be Hydra agents in just about every government world-wide - after all, while the first twenty minutes after the helicarriers start gunning down the opponents of Hydra would be full of shocked silences, the next twenty minutes after that would be full of some rather frantic activity. Particularly once certain heads of various governments figured out how fast the helicarriers could move, and where they might be heading next. So Hydra almost certainly has highly placed members in the governments of the UK, France, Russia, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, India, and China, since all of those places have a nuclear capability which would almost certainly be capable of reducing DC at the very least to the kind of territory only comfortably handled by someone like Bruce Banner.

Incidentally: I tend to take Jasper Sitwell naming "Bruce Banner" as one of their targets as evidence he was actually a mole for Fury in Hydra, while Hydra thinks he's a mole for them in SHIELD. Because, let's face it, anyone with even half the connections to the Avengers initative that Sitwell has (and the implication of the two movies he showed up in before this one - Thor and Avengers - is he's pretty much Coulson's effective 2IC) would know full well the effect bullets have on Bruce Banner. As well as the effects of bombs, various gases, and whatever the latest fancy variety of Hammertech kill-o-zap Death Ray is. Basically, they all make Bruce a tad green around the gills. And the pecs. And the abs. And everywhere else, too. Then Dr Banner's alter-ego gets to come out and make a point to all and sundry about the inadvisability of ticking off the good doctor, and once the debris has settled and the dust has cleared, Bruce moves on to whichever location is nearest.

#122 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Megpie71 @ 121... The problem then is that, if Hydra has infiltrated so many areas of Society, right under the nose Fury and his bunch, it makes those to whom we've given up our civil liberties in exchange for protection look like a bunch of incompetent yahoos.

#123 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 12:22 PM:

heresiarch @ 119... That's pretty much how I felt about both movies. Sure, Steve is an anomaly, an ideal, but we need ideals to strive for. I liked "Winter Soldier", but I didn't love it. I kept wondering why, and came up with some explanations, but I finally realized that I felt *cheated*. The ads told us that it'd be about America struggling with its soul's dark shadows, but it took that struggle away and gave my country a free pass. It said "It's not that America has a dark soul, it's that it was seduced by foul deceivers."

#124 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Megpie71 @ 121: Yes, my MCU head-canon is that Rupert Murdoch (or his MCU equivalent) is a member of Hydra, and an extremely useful one!

You know what would scratch my itch? Seeing Jolly Jonah Jameson expose him. Jameson is a basically great guy with one humongous fault. I'd like to see him get some props.

Come on, folks! If you can get away with Roxxon, surely you can get away with CorpNews. Or something like that.

And I'd love you to be right about Sitwell. I identified with him at his first appearance, decades ago.

Serge Broom @ 123: The ads told us that it'd be about America struggling with its soul's dark shadows, but it took that struggle away and gave my country a free pass.

Yeah, that occurred to me, too, later. I still like it, just not as much. I picked up a cheap used copy of The First Avenger yesterday and am anxious to watch it. I suspect I'll like it better.

#125 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 05:08 PM:

And let me chime in with a useful suggestion for that Black Widow movie that really needs to be coming out, like, last year. This song would be perfect for the soundtrack at the time the comics were written, and it'd do now, too.

#126 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2014, 05:13 PM:

As much as I'd love to see a Black Widow movie, I wonder who they would pick for the Big Bad. The key thing about action-adventure movies is the villain. If the bad guy (or woman) isn't that compelling, the movie just sort of lies there.

#127 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 01:18 AM:

Via:

I just saw Captain America : The Winter Soldier and I just realized….

Peggy Carter helped found SHIELD after Steve “died”.

It was founded at the camp that Steve trained at.

On marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Agent Ward says “Someone really wanted our initials to spell SHIELD”

Guys.

Peggy created and named the entire spy organization after STEVE’S SHIELD.

OH MY FREAKING GOD.

Source.

#128 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:12 AM:

megpie71@121

Some thoughts prompted by your post.

1) The new helicarriers are initially very well positioned to support a Hydra coup in the U.S. They aren't initially well positioned to support action anywhere else.

2) A Hydra takeover of the U.S. and SHIELD means they control the ONLY two powers capable of global military action. At least global military action of the non-suicidal variety.

3) Hydra doesn't really NEED agents in place in any of the other world governments. They presumably HAVE them but they don't need them. None of the other governments are going to intervene in the Hydra coup. Most of them can't actually do anything to affect events. Russia could (possibly also China, England, and France), but only by lobbing nuclear missiles which would be suicidal.

None of them is likely to try to do anything substantial after the coup either. Although there will be much interest in what the new Hydra government is going to do next.

4) Assuming Hydra is thinking strategically their next move after the coups would likely be to recruit the current U.S. allies to become junior partners in the new Hydra empire. This will make it much easier to actually keep control of their world empire.

Note that if there is even ONE other country in the world where Hydra has highly-placed operatives it's going to be Germany.

(As far as Banner is concerned, it seems to me that the likeliest explanation is that whoever made up the list assumed that the helicarrier's guns would actually kill Banner. As you mentioned, this is nearly certain to be a very bad assumption.)

#129 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 11:55 AM:

Shooting Bruce Banner from the sky isn't all that bad an idea. Even if it doesn't kill him, you've replaced the smart guy who can figure out a way to stop you with a rampaging engine of destruction who has no idea what just hit him and is nowhere near his enemies. And we don't know how durable movie-Hulk is; at one point during the Chitauri invasion, it seemed like he was hurt by concentrated fire, so it's possible a sustained artillery attack from above might actually wear him down.

#130 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 08:26 PM:

I didn't see many previews for Winter Soldier, which might be why I liked it so much.*

Instead, the fanverse that I inhabit really wanted the movie to be about friendship... and boy howdy, did it deliver.

We got a movie where a number of men and women are friends and these friendships are based on trust, compassion, and never giving up on each other. We got a movie where a man and a woman can consider each other sexually attractive and still remain friends, without that friendship being seen as "tainted" by their attraction, without that friendship being seen as the result of a "failure" to "work it out."

We got a movie where friendship and earned trust are the prime motivators for almost all the good decisions that anyone makes.

After we saw it, my friend looked up the directors. Their most distinctive credits to date were episodes of Community and Arrested Development. "Oh, so that's what that is." I said.

While I can understand the appeal of "Captain America vs. Nick Fury IN Freedom vs. Security," I wasn't expecting that, so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't get it... and I'm not sure if that hypothetical movie could have done all the complex friendship-and-trust work that I liked so much in this one. The movie's message wasn't bad either, even if it was simplistic - trading freedom for safety goes against America's basic principles, and any apparatus we construct to that end will eventually be used by evil. Right before the climax, Nick Fury actually suggests that it was the program's corruption by Hydra that made it bad, but that the idea is still salvageable - and Steve shoots that down pretty quickly. Not the knock-down, drag-out fight that some wanted, but it was still there.

So yeah, this may be my favorite Marvel movie so far. The interpersonal relationships, the action, the themes, they all came together in a way I found inescapably compelling.

*Well, that and poor Bucky. If there's ever been a character precisely calculated to break the heart of the eighteen-year-old version of me, it's the Winter Soldier. His actor has said he considers Bucky to be a victim of violence, and tries to capture that in his performance. I think it's amazingly effective.

#131 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 09:50 AM:

I'm not sure the twists absolve America of all wrong, or even absolve ANYTHING; Nick Fury's SHIELD wasn't poisoned from without. It was poisoned from the start by the 'do whatever it takes' recruitment of Nazis.

Recruiting Nazis to keep us safe stands right there with launching those three helicarriers; whatever it takes, to hell with the consequences, never mind the ideology of those you're bringing closest to yourself.

The poison is in what Fury made himself. Bone-deep.

Also, on the question of where the other Avengers were: Thor is obviously in the middle of a pandimensional adventure with Jane Foster, because that's what those two do. They aren't getting any news right now.

But Tony Stark?

"Honey, have you seen my super-suit?"

"You blew them all up!"

"...help me build a new one using spare parts?"

"This is our anniversary!"

"It's for the greater good!"

"I am the greatest good you will ever know!"

...

Okay, it doesn't quite ring true. Needs a little workshopping.

Bruce, obviously, is still terrified to let the other guy out. Even after New York, where he's managed to channel the rage and be mostly productive, he broke... y'know, everything.

And as for Hawkeye... Welp. He just did a couple rounds of mind control. SHIELD has a policy about that, obviously, and he's been sent to their special psych ward to make sure Loki can't subvert him again.

And his SHIELD handlers are all HYDRA agents. They briefly consider trying to send him after Steve and Natasha, but that's a stupid idea, his personal loyalties will get in the way; so they keep him in the dark.

#132 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Pointed my buddy Brian at this thread. His response:

"These MLers are brilliantly funny. I wish more television was created by people like these."

#133 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2014, 04:21 PM:

Howard Bannister @ 131 : You win.

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