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Marvel Cinematic Universe: Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Ant-Man

Marter | 15 Jul 2015 08:00
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Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Produced by Kevin Feige. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Release date: April 4, 2014.


Another Marvel movie. Captain America: The Winter Soldier brings back a villainous force from the previous Captain America film, Hydra, and also begins something rather crucial - the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. The films continue to feel like they're just continuing to set up future ones, but at least this one comes across as really important.

The Characters:

Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans): Our leading character. A biological weakling who was given a serum that makes him a super soldier. Was frozen and woke up 70 years in the future.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson): Hired to be Tony Stark's personal assistant in Iron Man 2, she turned out to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. spy. An Avengers member paired with Captain America for S.H.I.E.L.D. missions.

Sergeant "Bucky" Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan): One of the film's villains. Steve Rogers' former best friend. Falls from a train and is presumed dead. Turned into The Winter Soldier after being experimented on and brainwashed.

Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie): A pararescueman who is given a wing pack to allow him to fly and become Captain America's sidekick.

Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford): A senior S.H.I.E.L.D. leader who turns into a villain by virtue of his politics.

Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell): Steve Rogers' former love interest. Has a cameo in this film.

Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp): Appears in a brief role to establish her existence in the universe.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson): Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fakes his own death and sees his organization begin to be dismantled.

Arnim Zola (Toby Jones): A biochemist who worked for Red Skull. His consciousness was suspended within a computer system after World War II.

The Plot:

A couple of years after The Avengers, Captain America and Black Widow are working in an anti-terrorism unit for S.H.I.E.L.D. S.H.I.E.L.D. is thinking about creating a program which will spy on people and preemptively be able to eliminate things deemed to be a threat - a more violent Big Brother. Nick Fury asks S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Alexander Pierce to delay the project so that more thought can be put into it.

Fury winds up ambushed by an assassin named the Winter Soldier. He initially escapes, but soon enough is gunned down and presumably killed. Captain America and Black Widow use information Fury gave them to find an old computer system which held the consciousness of Arnim Zola. Zola informs them that S.H.I.E.L.D. has always had Hydra operatives working within it, and at this point, Hydra practically runs the organization. As it turns out, Pierce is part of Hydra - the terrorist organization from the first Captain America - and will use this new program for evil.

Teaming up with Sam Wilson, Captain America and Black Widow use their powers to take down both the Winter Soldier - who is revealed to be a brainwashed Bucky Barnes - and Pierce, destroying the planned program in the process. Nick Fury had faked his death, it turns out, but S.H.I.E.L.D. has to be disbanded, as most of its members can now no longer be trusted. The Winter Soldier escapes, leaving Captain America and Wilson to search for him. Fury heads to Europe to hunt down more of Hydra.

The mid-credits scene sees two prisoners, held in a Hydra camp, who have superpowers. They are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, two characters who will reappear in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Is It Any Good?

It's a political thriller dressed up as a Marvel movie. It's got some political and intellectual ideas at play, which makes it the "smartest" Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to-date, which is something. The villain is kind of lame, simply appearing whenever it's convenient and being underutilized in general, and it wastes a lot of time on weak supporting characters. But it's still a good movie - as most of these are.

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