Warning: This is the kind of spoiler that, once seen, cannot be unseen.
I’ll give you another warning before unleashing the spoiler.
I’m torn when it comes to spoilers. I like knowing things that other people don’t know and, through this blog, sharing them with readers.
This is a lifelong condition for me. Back in the spring of 1980, I sat down at the curb outside a bookstore and scanned through the paperback novelization of “The Empire Strikes Back,” which had come out a few weeks before the movie. I remember being startled by the revelations in the print version. I couldn’t blog about it, of course. Pity.
Just like novelizations of movies can vary, to greater or lesser extent, so can merchandising tie-ins.
That brings us to the spoilers for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
As you know, the movie – which comes out in April – pits Cap, now an integral part of spy organization SHIELD, against the title character, a Russian assassin with a bionic arm. This struggle plays out against the bigger backdrop of Cap’s disillusionment with SHIELD, particularly as represented by D.C. insider Alexander Pierce, played by Robert Redford.
Still not in ultimate spoiler territory, so hang in there.
If you’re familiar with the Winter Soldier concept from the comics, you know the character is really Bucky Barnes, Cap’s World War II partner, who seemingly fell to his death in the comics (and the first Cap movie).
And if you’ve seen trailers for the movie, you’ve gotten a pretty good idea that the movie makes Cap and other characters, including Black Widow and Falcon, rebels within the SHIELD organization.
Okay. So here’s where we get into spoilers, maybe. Keep in mind I haven’t seen the movie and don’t have any inside knowledge. I’m reading conjecture online and putting two and two together.
Okay. Spoilers in
If the movie follows the storyline of the Marvel Comics “Winter Soldier” book, the Red Skull – Cap’s nemesis from the comics – will play a role in the modern-day.
As played by Hugo Weaving, the Skull seemed to disappear – whooshed away to another dimension or another of the Nine Realms – at the end of the movie. It sure looked that way to me.
And if you’re a comic reader, you know that the Skull has popped up, in person and in various disguises, for much of the past half-century. So it’s safe to say that the Skull could return without too much surprise.
Which makes the Red Skull action figure, released to tie into the movie, make sense.
Again, he might not be in the movie. He might just be part of the action figure merchandising from the movie.
Then we remember this quote, from early 2013, in which Redford – who could have played Cap in a 1960s or 1970s big-screen version – talked about why he wanted to appear in the movie.
“I think a career requires a certain amount of reinvention. If you get caught in one track I think that can be dangerous. Success has a dark side to it. you want to be careful if you’ve had success at something, that you not try and follow it by just duplicating it. That’s why I’m doing this Captain America thing. I like the idea of playing a villain…I did that just because it’s a different thing for me to do.”
So is Redford playing the Red Skull in disguise?
What better to re-introduce the character and interject a huge note of suspicion and distrust in how Cap and other heroes feel about SHIELD.
Remember, if you will, that Cap and Tony Stark discovered in “The Avengers” that SHIELD was making new Hydra weapons. The Red Skull channeled the power of the Tesseract, or Cosmic Cube, for those weapons.
Who’s to say the Skull, under the guise of the leader of SHIELD, hasn’t been using SHIELD’s resources to re-arm Hydra?
Speculation online and in interviews with Marvel officials has centered on how thoroughly the Marvel cinematic universe will change based on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The movie is supposed to be something of a game-changer in the year leading up to when “Avengers: The Age of Ultron” comes out in 2015.
What better way to change the game than by taking the organization that’s been a part of every Marvel movie since Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows of Tony Stark’s living room in “Iron Man” in 2008 … and deconstructing it.
And what better way to do that than by revealing that the man ultimately in charge of SHIELD, Nick Fury’s own boss, has been the Marvel universe’s most enduring villain, maybe for decades?
We’ll see in April if any of this is even remotely correct.