Captain America Winter Soldier

The trailer for Captain America: Winter Soldier is finally here. The good news is that it looks like it has all the makings of solid espionage fare: Robert Redford? Check. Russian spies? Check. Shady spy agencies? Check.

The bad news? It has all the makings of a blame-America espionage flick.

Robert Redford? Check.

Alexander Pierce: To build a better world sometimes means turning the old one down. And that makes enemies. … Are you ready for the world to see you as you really are? Look out the window — you know how the game works. Disorder. War. All it takes is one step.

Shady American-led spy agencies? Check. Captain America whining about America? Check.

Nick Fury: We’re going to neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.

Captain America: I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.

Nick Fury: Shield takes the world as it is — not as we’d like it to be.

Captain America: This isn’t freedom. This is fear.

Didn’t we just have a super-hero movie that was the anti-American conspiracy theorist must-see film of the summer? I believe it was called Iron Man 3.

Captain America Winter Soldier Trailer

The problem with most Hollywood espionage movies is that the creative teams tend to come at them from the “if only the CIA didn’t exist the world would be a better place” perspective. Writers start their script by operating from a place where America is to blame for the vast majority of “disorder” and “war” in the world.

Mullah nuts in the Middle East who deny the Holocaust and call for pushing the Jews “into the sea”? Eh. Chinese Communist intelligence agencies who have never met a U.S. business or defense contractor they wouldn’t hack? Eh. Nebulous terrorist organizations that don’t fly under the flag, even as they plot and plan to kill military and civilian targets on a massive scale? Eh. CIA attempts to “connect the dots” and “neutralize” threats before thousands of Americans die on their way to work on a Tuesday morning? Now there’s a movie!

Do I want to see a S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier crash into the ocean? Sure. Do I want to see Captain America take down a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier after whining about his own country for two hours? Not really.

Alexander Pierce says to Steve Rogers in the trailer for Captain America: Winter Soldier: “You work has been a gift to mankind. You’ve shaped the century. I need you to do it one more time.” Sounds logical. It would be nice if a character named Captain America ensured that the next century was an American Century. Unfortunately, there’s a high probability that The First Avenger will only do so after a magnificent monologue of American self-flagellation and all other options have been exhausted. I hope I’m wrong. Regardless, I’ll see you there opening night.

Related: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ keeps the Marvel movie train rolling full steam ahead

Related: Check out Carl from Carl’s Comics take.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

51 comments

    1. Sort of. But the thing is, just like the U.N. or NATO, they’re nothing without U.S. funding, technology, and logistical expertise.

      You are right — they could have framed it as Captain America standing up against a corrupt UN-ish organization. But ask yourself: Is that really likely?

    2. Like I said, I have some reservations about the movie, just like you. I’m still up in the air about whether or not I’m going to see it. I don’t think anyone in Hollywood could write something that DOESN’T involve the CIA or some other intelligence agency (even fictional ones like SHIELD) as being evil, nor do I think they’re capable of convincingly doing a superhero movie where the hero fights against Middle Eastern terrorists or communist Chinese super-soldiers or anything like that.

      I also wonder how it’ll affect Agents of SHIELD, the TV series, if because of what happens in this movie, Coulson and his team will go “rogue” or some such nonsense. I hope that Project Centipede, the villains in the show, are connected to villain groups like HYDRA and/or Zodiac and not some evil faction of SHIELD.

      It’s more likely that I’ll check out Thor: the Dark World in a couple of weeks.

    3. I haven’t been able to watch Agents of SHIELD. I keep hearing mixed reviews. I suppose once the first season is on Netflix I’ll check it out. I’m actually rather surprised my wife hasn’t been watching it… It seems like a show she’d be watching out the gate. If she says to check it out, I’m there.

    4. I think it’s a decent show. The past couple of episodes have been good, and I think they’re starting to come into their own. I wish more people from the comics would show up. A few of the episodes have dealt with some liberal politicking (especially the third episode), but overall Whedon has kept it under control.

    5. In the 1960’s, SHIELD seemed to be a US government agency. In Avengers Annual #1 (1967), Col. Fury said that it was “an American combo, not a blamed international police force.” (Which, I know, contradicts its name at the time: Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-enforcement Division. But then, that name didn’t really make a lot of sense, either.) By the 1980’s, political correctness had kicked in. There was a Daredevil issue sometime around 1982-83 where the Black Widow was working for SHIELD, and referred to it as a UN organization. I think there was a Nick Fury mini-series in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s where he wiped out SHIELD (it had become corrupt) and started a new organization from scratch. But with all the retcons and reboots since then, I don’t have a clue what SHIELD is supposed to be now.

    6. Thank you! As always, you have the history to really elucidate the issue for me. My brother said that when he was a kid he remembers an issue of Iron Man where SHIELD tried to recruit him and there was more of an American slant to it, but as you say … over time it’s morphed into who knows what. That’s why I think that they have a license to do whatever they want with the movie, and experience tells me that to the extent the organization is blamed for “disorder” and “war,” it will have an American face.

    7. I recently bought a trade paperback of early SHIELD stories by Jim Steranko. Reading those, there’s more of an American vibe to the agency, but then again, that was in some of its earlier appearances. More than likely, it will be depicted as being American if the writers’ intent is to make them untrustworthy and as a UN-like force if their intent is make them good. Today’s script-writers are incapable of acknowledging that foreign terrorists and spies and the such do exist, and would rather blame America for the world’s problems.

  1. Considering how the Agents of SHIELD have been portrayed so far…I hope that HYDRA or Zodiac is portrayed as THE GOOD GUYS fighting against the evil UN stand in/Obama Administration that SHIELD seems to be more of in that series from what I’ve seen.

    1. I doubt HYDRA would be portrayed as good guys. They are, after all, an offshoot of Nazi Germany. Zodiac, too, is a terrorist organization (it was headed by Nick fury’s evil brother after all) and I doubt they’d be portrayed as heroes.

    2. I know, I know. I just wish that SOMEONE would nuke the characters on the show for promoting a one world government and being such leftists! Maybe Ultron…after all, in EMH, he nearly destroyed the world (thanks to SHIELD having codes to seemingly all the world’s nukes).

    3. I wouldn’t say that Coulson, May, Ward and the British twins are leftists. the only one that’s overtly leftist is Skye, since she belongs to that hacktivist group Rising tide. Same with her ex-boyfriend in the most recent episode.

  2. Oh, and Doug, apparently that nonsensical scene about healthcare from The Avengers is going to be included in this movie when Cap meets Peggy Carter once more.

    1. Haha. They couldn’t resist. I wonder if they’ll edit the scene to put a good spin on the Obamacare rollout. Cap can say: “In my day we didn’t even have internet. We didn’t have cell phones. You should just be happy you can sign up for Obamacare. Period.”

    2. LOL! I can see someone like Whedon putting a line like that into the movie, even if it doesn’t make sense and doesn’t add a thing to the film as a whole.

      I should’ve clarified that it was left on the cutting room floor. But thanks to Nate for the clarification!

    3. I know the scene with Carter could have been the best one in The Avengers but they had to put there political spin on irrelevant to the story and it got cut. Now when I go to see a movie about a man called Captain America whose costume is supposed to be an American Flag I don’t want to see this Anti-American nonsense or Nazi apologism I want to see a soldier that stands for “American values” cause lets be honest when you study the UN its impossible not to get the impression that everyone their and possibly those they represent are a bunch of ungrateful parasites who don’t hate this country because of some offense but because The US holds them up to a higher standard then they do each other and are comfortable with. As a film Iron Man 3 was marginally better than 2 but when you consider the context it was a much bigger disappointment. Not only was there the tired we are our worst enemy cliché but in bowing down to China AIM and the 10 Rings were botched more than any movie botching in history. When I first heard about Iron Man 3 AIM, The Mandarin and Extremis I thought it would be hands down the greatest superhero movie so far. I wanted to see Iron Man firing repulsor blast at nerds in beekeeper suits I wanted to see him confront real terrorism and really come full circle I wanted to see a big smackdown with the Mandarin which would be just about the most epic battle in film history and I wanted to see Marvel take a stand against the communist state. In the 80’s and 90’s Marvel was not afraid to take a stand against China and show that the only difference between communism and empire is that the latter is more honest. but they didn’t in favor of the “almighty dollar” This is so typical of China people wonder why they allow trade and capitalist influence its because they can use the greed of the few actual corrupt businessmen to drain our nation dry. This is just another example of such exploitation.

      On another note with Spider-Man Marvel hasn’t caved once to the wishes of their customers since 2001. With viewers resurrecting soap operas thirty-forty years after they start do you have any idea why fans haven’t been able to do anything? At this point I’m feeling that when “voting with our wallets” fans could pool the money they would be spending into outright bribery.

    4. “When I first heard about Iron Man 3 AIM, The Mandarin and Extremis I thought it would be hands down the greatest superhero movie so far…”

      Yeah…because the Iron Man movie franchise, by itself, was a beacon of good and consistent quality. 😛

      I mean, wow! You’re a really smart physics guy and you thought Iron Man 3 was going to be the best superhero film ever? Don’t get me wrong, I expected it to be decent or above average or good (better than it ultimately was), but the best superhero film ever? After 2, I was just hoping it would be better than 2. Glad to see the hype machine didn’t get to you. 😛 /Sarcasm.

    5. “In the 80′s and 90′s Marvel was not afraid to take a stand against China and show that the only difference between communism and empire is that the latter is more honest.”

      Ummm…you do realize that that was in the 60’s and 70’s along with pretty much every publisher, right? Though, if were really honest, it was in the 40’s and 50’s back when Marvel went by one of its many different names (either Timely or Atlas Comics).

    6. I didn’t think it was going to be the best movie the genre would ever see merely the best so far I just believed that a less “grounded” portrayal of the Mandarin with a better costume would have been really cool to see on the big screen a bigger threat than Loki that’s for sure. I knew about the 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s I mentioned the more recent decades 80’s and 90’s deliberately. and yes the hype did get to me.

      I’ve expressed this already Person I’m not here to argue with people.

    7. I’ve said this earlier in the thread, but it seems like Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole no longer have the guts to tackle on subjects like terrorism, communism and the such. Iron Man 3 proved that, what with its Mandarin turning out to be a white American businessman who was a one-shot character in the comics. Plus, he was also a rejected fan of Tony Stark’s who turned evil… a plot line that Disney essentially recycled from its own 2004 movie the Incredibles, where the villain was a psycho former fan of the main character. Except it was done much better in the Incredibles, and didn’t involve trivializing terrorism or making it out to have “been created by America.” Plus apparently Shane Black is a 9-11 Truther.

      I worry that the Winter Soldier will turn out to be more or less the same as Iron Man 3 and like I said, I have many reservations about the movie.

    8. Ha! I like the “Incredibles” take on Iron Man 3. That’s pretty funny.

      If I was a betting man, I’d say that ‘Winter Soldier’ is going to operate from the premise that America is the world’s most destabilizing force. Cap will push America back, however slightly, in the right direction…

      Why should foreign countries churn out anti-American propaganda when Hollywood is usually content to do it for them?

    9. For what it’s worth, the depicted of SHIELD as being untrustworthy started with writers like Ed Brubaker (whose own, mediocre storyline “The Winter Soldier” is the basis for the movie), Jonathan Hickman and Brian Bendis. The latter two were also responsible for some absolutely atrocious retcons where SHIELD is apparently a branch of HYDRA (ugh) and that both organizations date back to ancient Egypt.

    10. LOL, it was the first thing I thought about when I heard that Killian was a rejected fanboy of Stark’s. I thought, “are they stealing this idea from ‘The Incredibles?’ Maybe Brad Bird should sue.” Ha.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if the film operated from that premise, either. In Hollywood, it’s impossible for them to actually depict this country in a positive light.

      “Why should foreign countries churn out anti-American propaganda when Hollywood is usually content to do it for them?”

      Exactly right. Most of the time, anti-war and anti-American films bomb at the box office. Most of the time.

  3. They’re part of SHIELD, brah. On the sliding scale scale of governmental power and encroachment, that organization has proven big enough to be pretty far to the left. Also, I seem to recall Coulson saying something about borders fading because of the alien attack on New York. I also seem to recall one of the hacker twins saying something criticizing that dude in Malta for making his fortune for something like ‘taking from the earth,’ which is funny considering that, without minerals and such things, she wouldn’t be able to use her fancy lab to do SCIENCE (Trade Mark of Dr. Insano) with.

    In fact, it’s the HACKTIVISTS who are on the right, since they’re against Big Government.

    On the note of the right, what do you two think of Anarcho-Capitalism?

    1. Also, I seem to recall Coulson saying something about borders fading because of the alien attack on New York.

      The only part is… isn’t he right? I mean an alien invasion/attack on the entire earth… well that does sort of make all our borders seem a bit petty and low-priority. That’s one of the things I liked about Pacific Rim (among… everything else): it shows the earth uniting to fight a common threat, yet we all still retained our own cultures and identities.

    2. I think in many ways an alien invasion would make things like racism, tribalism, etc. more ridiculous in the eyes of people who would otherwise not realize it. It would be a lot harder to deny our interconnectedness, and in that sense I would be happy.

      The question you get at is an interesting one: Would governments behave as they did in Pacific Rim, or would the reality be something much more grim?

    3. I’m with you Douglas on that and science agrees too.

      Actually I think Pacific Rim is pretty accurate. Humans uniting to face an existential threat, yet there is still signs of our flawed nature here and there (concerns over the budget of tactics, rivalries, black markets). If anything I’m annoyed at things like zombie media because while I’m pretty cynical about humans, I have a hard time believing that we’d still endeavor to be that evil to each other when our existence is on the line. (else humanity would already be extinct from the toba event or we’d see nations & regions wiped out from say… a tsunami hitting?)

    4. I haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, and while I am against a world government (and the UN as well), it’s not a stretch to say that an alien invasion could very well bring people together and unite them against a common enemy. Doug poses an interesting question, whether or it it’ll be like Pacific Rim or if the reality will be more grim.

      Hell, even Ronald Reagan mentioned the possibility in front of the UN in 1988. Can’t find the whole speech, but here it is:

    5. Nate: That’s what also bothers me about zombie media. The constant in-fighting among the characters. I know it makes for good drama, but isn’t getting rid of the zombies your no. 1 priority?

  4. While it’s too early to tell the plot from the trailer, I definitely got a vibe that SHIELD may be headed, perhaps temporarily, down a darker road. Cap is who he is, and I refuse to believe from this trailer they would make him anything but a boy scout. I find it difficult to take that anything but as a pro-conservative argument. The movie Cap has displayed that in every movie he has been in. And they never really mocked him for it. I found that very interesting given the common liberal messaging of Hollywood. I love the new Captain America and his message. If DC conservatives got their cranial-rectal inversion reversed, and embraced Cap’s take on things, maybe they’d see the resurgence of new voters they’ve been hoping for without have to resort to obstructionism and court anti-government sects. I’d follow Cap.

    The world is different, and America does have its issues. I see the benefit of grounding the movie in some form of reality to offset the fantastical nature of, well, superheroes with superpowers. I don’t mind a little enemy-mine intrigue working against Cap (or Stark). While I think the Hollywood evil intelligence agency trope is a bit played out, it is prescient in modern times so it is not surprising to see popular entertainment reflect that trend.

    Movies often touch upon our country’s current military and intelligence apparatuses. Two things stick out to me when I think about it. First, the Nietzsche quote: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” The second is closely related to the first: our monster responds to monsters by growing bigger and stronger, but it has a very hard time contracting after the threat recedes. Sometimes, after their purpose is gone, they then look for new monsters to fight… or invent them.

    P.S. Love Captain America’s new Navy blue alternate uniform.

  5. Hey Doug, I know this is off topic, but I really need help man:

    Can you name me a movie where an ACTUAL cigarette was used to light something on fire and give context to said scene? NOTE: Not a LIGHTER, but an ACTUAL cigarette.

    1. Wow. For a supposed believer in science, you obviously lack reading comprehension Lightbringer. I said…wait…darn! I forgot to add in the GASOLONE part and instead just said, ‘something.’ False Alarm.

      *Aborts jab at Lightbringer by pressing lever*

      Anyways, do you know any instance of a cigar or cigarette being used to light gasoline on fire? NOTE: Not the lighter or a match, but the actual cigarette itself.

    2. Ummm…that Zoolander bit doesn’t count because there’s an open flame which caused the gas station explosion…not the cigarette itself burning.

    3. Goodness, you are picky. Both the lighter and the cigarette were burning.

      The absolute best you are going to find…

    4. No…I’m sorry…but your supposedly scientific mind still isn’t comprehending what I wrote.

      I need a LIT CIGARETTE BY ITSELF being thrown into a puddle of gasoline causing to ignite as an example of bad physics because, as you know, a lit cigarette cannot light a puddle of gasoline (unless there was an extremely precise mixture of gasoline vapor/air that would take a long time to accrue, and even then, it’s shady) alone.

      Well, I WOULD, but thanks to one of your links, I found one for Gangster Squad. Thanks!

    5. …and the nod was not returned.

      What information is after the fact? I think in your excitement to gotcha me after viewing Keaton’s attempt with matches, you failed to watch the whole clip and realize I had indeed given you a prime example of what you were looking for.

      Pai Mei: [in Mandarin] Do you believe you are my match?
      The Bride: No.
      Pai Mei: Are you aware I kill at will?
      The Bride: Yes.
      Pai Mei: Is it your wish to die?
      The Bride: No.
      Pai Mei: Then you must be stupid… so stupid.

    6. But you already gave me the link the vapor trail trope thingy and I took my example from Gangster Squad man!

    1. Ha. Yes, I saw this last night after the Va. election but I just didn’t the energy to write something after work. I’ve been thinking about how to write it. I need to be careful. We’ll see…

  6. I saw the movie on Friday. It doesn’t critique America the country so much as it does some of its policies (like the surveillance thing, as I think you mentioned, and foreign intervention). The directors took inspiration from current events. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/captain-america-winter-soldier-obama-kill-list-politics-drones-nsa

    Besides all of that, it was pretty dang good! Evans and Johansson put on good performances, and I especially liked how they incorporated Mackie as the Falcon…

    (Redford doesn’t give that “I need you to do it one more time” spiel to Steve though… he’s actually talking to Bucky.)

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