Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Easter Eggs, Cameos, Callbacks and Nods

Having seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier over the weekend, I wanted to jump on the really cool bandwagon where I point out all the cool stuff that was included for comic fans, including one you just might have missed.

It goes without saying that these might spoil the film for you if you haven't yet seen it, so please, proceed with caution and if you don't want to be spoiled DO NOT go on past the picture:

1. Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the "Death" of Nick Fury

For those of you who frequent Comic Book Brain Splatter (thank you to all 5 of you!) you knew a while ago that Director Fury was going to fake his death and go underground before coming back with a vengeance. That's because I like to read comics and I like to pick up on clues when they're laid out there. Hell, well some people were debating whether Fury would even "die", I was telling you that his "death" wasn't the spoiler at all: Marvel wanted you to think he was going to die.

Some parts of Captain America: The Winter Soldier were based on late-80's limited run called Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. In that comic, Fury found out that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by HYDRA and decided in order to fight it, he'd have to go underground. During the 6-issue run he had to take out a lot of people, even some of his oldest friends. Sounds familiar huh? While we didn't get a lot of exposition about Fury's friendship with Alexander Pierce, we got enough to know that he and Fury were close, but if you're close with Nick Fury, you're just close enough to get slept.

2.  Nick Fury's Tombstone

While this is not an MCU nod, it is a nod to one of Samuel L. Jackson's most famous (arguably THE most famous) lines of his prodigious acting career. While most of the theater in which I watched the film was not in on this one, I saw it and ended laughing out loud awkwardly. It, of course, is a reference to Jackson's famous diatribe in Pulp Fiction where he quotes the bible passage before blowing away Brad. If you've somehow never seen it, check it out below. This is the entire scene, to get the quote, head to about the 5:30 mark :

3. Sitwell's Rooftop Confessional

Almost all of you caught Stephen Strange's name come out of rat-bastard Agent Jasper Stiwell's mouth while he was interrogated by Cap, Widow and Falcon on a rooftop above D.C. While the Easter Egg was VERY cool and indicates that Strange is a part of the MCU, it's nothing we haven't known for some time now. Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige has LONG advocated for a Doctor Strange film and while he hasn't locked it in for Phase 3 just yet, we know they are in the process of finding the right creative team to make the film successful. In an interview with Crave Online, Feige had the following to say about the name drop by Sitwell:
"Well, we know what it means and where we want to head with it, but we were comfortable with keeping it in there and leaving it in there because there are a few different ways to interpret it. The whole thing, what Sitwell’s saying is, this algorithm is going to predict if you’re going to become a problem for Hydra or not. So you don’t have to just be Tony Stark, actively plotting to save the world. You could be a kid whose SAT scores and whose essays have indicated that you’re going to be a problem one day. So is Stephen Strange the Sorcerer Supreme? Probably not at that point. Is he an unbelievably talented neurosurgeon who’s opinionated and kind of arrogant? Probably. That might put him on the list."
But what about those high SAT scores, maybe that valedictorian from Iowa? I've read a lot of speculative posts about who Sitwell was referencing within that statement. Most people have determined it's a reference to Marvel genius Amadeus Cho, one of the 7 or 8 most intelligent members of the Marvel comic universe. However, Cho has no connection to Iowa and any references to him wouldn't allude to him being a valedictorian so much as they'd allude to him being a super-genius. So, does Marvel have a valedictorian from Iowa? Yup. It's just that most people wouldn't be familiar with HER. She's a newer addition to the comics and one you wouldn't expect to pop up unless you've been reading Jonathan Hickman's Avengers and Avengers World titles, you might not even know her name: Isabel Kane, Marvel's new Smasher.

Izzy, who was introduced in Issue #1 of Avengers Vol. 5, is a young college Astronomy student who is highly intelligent and grew up on a farm in Iowa where she lives with her grandfather. Her grandfather, as it turns out, is an old ally of Captain America's. While Marvel did some maneuvering with the last name and later turned it to Kane, Izzy's original last name, and the last name of her grandfather, was Dare. That would make her grandfather Dan Dare, aka Captain Terror, a masked WWII hero. 

Having said all that, being the Smasher makes her a member of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. If you had asked me a week ago who owned the rights to the Shi'ar, I'd have told you it was Fox, because my puny brain associates the Shi'ar with the X-Men; however, it's becoming apparent that MANY of the film rights (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and the Skrulls) aren't in a black and white category, but a grey area. So, maybe the Shi'ar are in that area and maybe Izzy, because she's a brand new character created in an Avengers comic will be the bridge over that grey area. We'll see.  But I'm guessing you haven't seen her as an option for that Easter Egg yet. I've had a conversation with one other person (my man @FordWithClass) who recognized it as Izzy and he is reading Hickman's Avengers. Just do me a favor: if this is the first time you saw it, share it with your friends and remember where you heard it. I hope it somehow ends up in an interview with Kevin Feige and he has to answer it. That'd be cool!

4. The Mid-Credits' Scene

No huge shocker here. We've heard this rumor for months and that's because it wasn't a rumor. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, show up in the mid-credits' scene. They look to be just learning how to use their powers, which I talked about here. They're being held prisoner by this guy:

That's HYDRA baddie Baron von Strucker, played by Thomas Kretschmann. Strucker will appear as a minor heavy in Avengers: Age of Ultron and is likely to continue to show up and be a thorn in the side of Captain America, Nick Fury and the Avengers. 

So, how does a guy like Strucker control a super-powered pair of twins like the Maximoffs? It's pretty easy when you can control their minds with this thing:

That's a shot of Loki's scepter from The Avengers. That same scepter makes an appearance in the mid-credits' scene and it is now possessed by HYDRA and Baron von Strucker. It's pretty clear that the Maximoffs have had their genetics tampered with a bit and that's the source of their powers. It's also clear that Strucker intends to use them as weapons against Fury, Cap and the Avengers, something we're likely to see in Act One of Avengers: Age of Ultron

5. Avengers Tower

During the targeting scene in the climax of the film, the targeting screen went through SEVERAL different options. The one that stuck out the most (not that when I get the film I won't comb through them a million more times) was the clear shot of the newly remodled Stark Tower which, as we know from the end of The Avengers, will serve as a home base for the Avengers. We also got a shot of Tony Stark during that same scene. Obviously ALL of the Avengers would be on HYDRA's list of targets.

6. Brock Rumlow/Crossbones

Brock Rumlow was a pretty big pain in the behind of Cap and his allies during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He was throwing the Falcon a pretty good beating before the Triskelion was destroyed. During the destruction, Rumlow was caught up and suffered some pretty heavy damage, including some bad burns. It's an almost 100% guarantee that next time we see Rumlow, he'll be in the process of becoming Crossbones, which means we'll see the mask. If you notice in the screencap, Rumlow does already have the "cross" part down as part of his tactical gear so he's on the way. Next time we see Frank Grillo as Crossbones, it probably won't go well for Steve Rogers. 

7. Agent 13

She was barely more than a glorified cameo, but Steve Rogers longtime love interest and future assassin, Sharon Rogers did make an appearance in the film, portrayed by Emily VanCamp. Agent 13 was set up as protection for Rogers, but there were two distinct references to her and Steve dating during the film and you can be sure she'll be brought back and play a MUCH larger role in the future. 

8. Ed Brubaker

This was a pretty cool inclusion by Joe and Anthony Russo, the film's co-directors, and/or Kevin Feige. Ed Brubaker, author and creator of the Winter Soldier character, made an ever-so-brief cameo during Bucky's reprogramming scene. Brubaker has done a lot of other great work both independently and for Marvel and I'm hopeful that the success of this adaptation gets a few more of his stories brought to the screen.

9. Dr. Zola

Toby Jones was wonderfully weird as Dr. Arnim Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger. The last time we saw him, he was turning down a piece of cow from Tommy Lee Jones' Col. Phillips while in custody. Turns out he went to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and was instrumental in HYDRA subversive takeover and the brains behind the algorithm used for Project: Insight. It was a very cool nod to Zola's comic character (above) which wouldn't translate well to the big screen. I'm also wondering if Zola's A.I. won't have some ties to Ultron.

10. Name Drops of the Science Bros

Alexander Pierce tells Nick Fury that he ows him and that it's going to cost an appearance by Iron Man at his niece's birthday. Fury talks about a serum, developed by Banner, to help slow down the heart rate. Though it wasn't successful for Banner, it did a nice job of making Fury play dead.

11. Foreshadowing

Besides the Rumlow and Agent 13 nods, there continue to be the almost glaringly obvious references to the future of Bucky Barnes as Captain America. Started in the first film when Bucky picked up Cap's shield on the train, it continues here on several occasions with Bucky both wielding the shield as protection and as a weapon. It is my continued belief that Sebastian Stan's Bucky will eventually take up the shield and moniker of Captain America in place of his dead friend Steve Rogers. 

12. Other Stuff

Yep, Stan Lee was in there again. Batroc the Leaper became Batroc the badass in the opening sequence. President Ellis' name showed up. Black Widow has a cute arrow necklace. Captain America's list of things to catch up on was different in different countries. It was hardly something you'd miss, but Steve shared a great scene with the love of his life, Peggy Carter, one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the star of one of Marvel's upcoming TV series. There were also numerous other famous to semi-famous people appearing in the film with ties to either the Russo brothers or Marvel. All in all, there was a lot to see for those who wanted to see it and I've only seen it one time. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess I missed a thing or two :)