It was like the end scene straight out of Terminator 3.
Captain America and Black Widow find a secret base within Cap’s old army boot camp. They find a secret room with an elevator that leads down to an old bunker-looking basement that seemingly has been abandoned for decades.
In T-3, John Connor comes to the unsettling realization he is there in a similar bunker not to fight the machines, but simply to survive the machines’ initial attack.
In Marvel’s new “Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier” film, Cap and Black Widow encounter Zola—a hybrid computer robot (more on him later)—who reveals to them that Hydra not only has survived since the first Captain America movie, but is on the brink of a colossal takeover from an organizational and militaristic level; it’s almost like Marvel’s version of “Order 66” in Star Wars: Episode III.
The scene was a little rushed as far as the delivery of the information was concerned. That hurt the impact of the reveal ever so slightly, which wouldn’t be a big deal in most cases had it not been for the sheer scope of Hydra’s scheme. But make no mistake; this was a well-thought reveal that changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe in big ways. Those scenes in “The Avengers” when Cap is questioning why S.H.I.E.L.D. had Hydra weapons? Now there is even more validity to those.
From then on, it was a frantic, fast-paced thriller of a movie that saw allegiances crumble and strongholds destroyed. Captain America has to do what is best and force Hydra’s hand.
I’ll never understand why people think Cap is a boring character. Maybe from a superhero standpoint, he’s not as varied—a la Superman, who, surprise, can do anything and never can be stopped unless there is kryptonite—but he still has deeper dimensions to his character that bring out the best in him as a superhero. Captain America wore many different hats in this film. He was the physically gifted soldier. He was the respectful challenger of authority (no easy feat). He is the seeker of truth in an age when it makes more sense to take the easy way out.
Oh, and Cap emerges as the leader he already has started becoming to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. Nick Fury and Cap have an argument about how to handle situations, and Fury realizes he needs to defer to Cap’s reasoning and decision making.
Then the true identity of the Winter Soldier being Cap’s friend Bucky comes into effect. Talk about a difficult situation. The writers didn’t set it up as well as they could have, and Chris Evans could’ve done a little better job conveying the conflict he felt, but Captain America’s emotional challenge of fighting his friend perfectly set up the contrasting themes of the film. The weight of knowing he had to do what would help the most people at the expense of personal connection was a price Captain America didn’t want to pay, but knew he had to.
Scarlett Johansson brought more dimension to the Black Widow character than any of her previous films. In a clever bit of irony, it was Black Widow who discovered the feeling of despair when she realized she couldn’t trust anyone as well as the fact she might be fighting for the wrong side. Johansson and Evans play a well-acted scene when their characters are on the run, then find refuge at their last known ally’s home (The Falcon) as they sit back and take in the scope of everything that has transpired. Black Widow questions what to do next, but Captain America knows the tough answer.
As for the rest of the film, there is great, well-shot action and funny quips and one-liners that do not feel forced at all. Cap fights several villainess characters from the Marvel universe, including Crossbones (the bad guy Rumlow who was seen near the end of the film to have been nearly destroyed, but still alive) and Batroc the Leaper (the acrobatic fighter on the boat scene early on; he is sort of a joke of a character in the comic universe).
Getting back to Zola, he was the evil scientist who was captured in the first Captain America movie. He ingeniously turned into a sentient computer robot that could talk back to Captain America and Black Widow. In the movie, his head appeared on screen, and he had a motion camera for his eyes; this is a deceptively clever nod to how the character robot looks in the comics.
Other Marvel goodies include Agent 13, Sharon. She was Cap’s neighbor who secretly was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent sent to help protect him. In the comics, she becomes a love interest of Captain America’s.
During the first end-credit scene, Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, two characters with a lot of X-Men/Avenger history, are scene being held captive. They will be in “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron” in 2015.
A more obscure reference was during a scene when Hydra is scanning the population to eliminate potential threats—a big part of its main plot in the movie. Names are shown on-screen, one of which has a last name of Strange. Could this be Doctor Strange’s introduction to the MCU? Hopefully.
One final note: The way Hydra determines potential threats is using an algorithm that basically has all available Intel and uses it to try to predict the future. In the Marvel TV show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the main villain is the Clairvoyant One, who likely is one and the same. So there is major crossover potential.
While everyone hails Hydra, we, the audience, have no choice but to hail Marvel for its brilliant planning…Hm, maybe this was Marvel’s plan all along?