* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation
** Was [[spoiler:Alexander Pierce]] a WellIntentionedExtremist who sincerely wanted to give the world a newer, better, truer, purer form of freedom, or was he just an ego-maniacal control freak trying to justify what was really little more than a thinly veiled take over the world plot?
** [[spoiler:How much free will does Zola have inside the computer?]] In the first movie he was unwilling to sacrifice himself for the cause but in the sequel he gladly kept talking to allow a missile to hit his position. [[spoiler: Was he really being used by Pierce in much the same fashion that Pierce utilizes the Winter Soldier]]? Or had he in fact been playing the role of reluctant henchman as far back as ''The First Avenger'' while hiding his true nature? Or given that [[spoiler:he's now a computer program with access to the Internet]], did he simply make a backup copy of himself so that he didn't really sacrifice himself at all?
** More than a few reviewers pointed out that Cap appears to be borderline ''suicidal'' through the film, making reckless moves like leaping out of the Quinjet without a parachute, unmasking in front of Batroc and throwing away his shield, and [[spoiler:not even making an attempt to save himself from the crashing helicarrier and challenging Bucky to kill him]]. Connect with his hidden angst about all his dead friends from the past and being a FishOutOfTemporalWater, and Steve might be a subconscious DeathSeeker.
** Is Batroc a LeaveNoSurvivors pirate-for-hire? Or is he a BloodKnight that [[spoiler: routinely does BadGuysDoTheDirtyWork jobs for Fury]] and is plagued by a few AxCrazy crew members?
** Sam Wilson has tinges of not being merely a cheery BlackBestFriend but secretly being concerned about Steve's psyche from a therapist perspective. When first meeting, he twice brings up Steve's potential culture shock, then starts looking analytical once Steve responds that the 21st century has its advantages, as though he doesn't believe Steve and thinks he's trying to hide his actual discomfort with the modern day. While Sam doesn't push for that answer, his response of Steve coming to the Veterans Affairs office "to make me look good in front of the girl at the front desk" could then be read as a veiled request that Steve seek out some psychiatric therapy, especially considering no such front desk girl is shown.
** When Cap told Black Widow that their FakeOutMakeOut wasn't his first kiss since 1945, was he telling truth and he has tried dating in the year or since he re-awoke? Or was he lying [[HaveIMentionedIAmSexuallyActiveToday in order to not seem like a closed-off guy]]?
** Is the Winter Soldier [[spoiler:still Bucky inside despite his memory loss? Or is he, post-memory loss, a completely new person now]]? [[http://screenrant.com/captain-america-2-set-visit-sebastian-stan-future/ Sebastian Stan argues for the former]] [[http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/captain-america/238912/the-russo-brothers-interview-the-winter-soldier-captain-america-3-and-agent-carter while the directors bring up the possibility of the latter]].
** Nick Fury and his argument about facing the world as it is and not the way we want it to be or would like it to be - Fury as a {{Strawman}} trying to justify his actions with a black and white morality, or Fury as a teller of harsh truths?
* {{Anvilicious}}: About where you draw the line between security and control, and where freedom falls on either side. The argument [[DebateAndSwitch loses some of its punch]] when [[spoiler:you drop in "And the bad guys are all Nazis"]], but that also raises the question of [[spoiler:when the "peacekeepers" [[HeWhoFightsMonsters become just as bad as their enemies]] to defeat them. After all, Zola was only able to infiltrate so deeply in the first place because he was recruited by Operation Paperclip, and Project Insight only went ahead through Nick Fury's approval.]] The degree to which SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped excuses it is best left for debate.
* AssPull: During the climax, Natasha uses a device that [[spoiler:allows her to perfect replicate the face and voice of a World Security Council member]], something that had never been previously foreshadowed, in spite of its obvious uses. It was initially shown during a previous scene at Fury's bunker, but the scene was cut out.
* AwesomeMusic: The whole OST could count, really. But highlights include:
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHyO8ztfE8k Taking a Stand]] is a particular [[IncrediblyLamePun standout]] as the TriumphantReprise of the film's primary leitmotif.
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVJGh51wR7k The Winter Soldier's theme]], which is creepy yet incredibly badass at the same time.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pm7pN2oKV4M End of the Line]], the TearJerker finale to the climax of the film.
* AuthorsSavingThrow:
** ''The First Avenger'' took some criticism for its idealized depiction of the 1940s, a time during which America was still segregated and committed crimes of its own (which could have something to do with the Howling Commandos also being an integrated unit). This is briefly touched upon for ''The Winter Soldier''.
-->'''Nick Fury''': You know, I read those old SSR files. "Greatest Generation"? You guys did some nasty stuff.
-->'''Steve Rogers''': Yeah. We compromised, sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so that people could be free. This [Project Insight] isn't freedom, this is fear.
** There was also some ire given at Steve being perceived as not all that powerful or useful during ''The Avengers''. This film thus ups his abilities to make it clear he really is a ''super'' soldier, performing feats such as taking down a Quinjet, smashing through door after door at full speed to catch a target, and literally singlehandedly wiping out a dozen hostile thugs inside a cramped elevator. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IHJYMZL88k One commercial]] even made the debate about his power in-universe.
* BrokenBase:
** Many fans are elated at the inclusion of Natasha as a major character. Others, however, are upset that her involvement seems to be effectively subsuming the role of Agent 13.
** Cap's new uniform for the film has also gotten a mixed reaction, with some declaring it to be an upgrade over his costume in ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', and others lamenting the removal of the red-and-white stripes from said costume. [[spoiler:He ''does'' end up wearing his original WWII getup from the first movie in the climax.]]
** Cap's [[TookALevelInBadass more pronounced badassery in the film]]. While many were happy to see Cap kick some serious ass thanks to his previous depictions, some felt they went ''too'' far. Of course, given how badly Steve was OvershadowedByAwesome in previous films, and was shown before that he's incredibly strong and fast but was just never given a chance to demonstrate it in full, him looking so awesome makes more sense given the fact that now, without Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor around, everyone is Overshadowed by ''his'' Awesome this time.
%%Do NOT add any Complete Monster examples without first getting the clean up thread's okay: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=6vic3f9h1cy5qivsenw8llok&page=1
* CounterpartComparison:
** Some Italian fans compared Winter Soldier to Adam Kadmon.
** Considering the film's numerous parallels to the Series/MetalGear series, it's not surprising that the Winter Soldier has been compared to [[VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance Raiden, Jetstream Sam]], or [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid Gray Fox]] thanks to his mask, SuperReflexes, and cybernetic limbs, among other things.
** It's also easy for ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' fans to draw comparisons between the Winter Soldier and [[VideoGame/{{Mother3}} the Masked Man]]. The same reasoning for both Cap and Lucas refusing to directly attack their counterparts at their climaxes is eerily similar.
* CrackPairing: Winter Soldier[=/=]Rumlow is popular, despite the fact that the two of them share very little screentime and even fewer words.
* CreepyAwesome: [[spoiler: Arnim Zola's computerized self.]]
** The eponymous Winter Soldier himself certainly has this in spades.
* CriticalDissonance:
** Not the film itself (which received acclaim by critics and audiences alike), but rather, the handling of Black Widow; many professional critics dismissed her as stereotypical eye candy for the male audience, but most of the women in the blogosphere were very impressed with how her character was handled, and she spends far less time in the film doing anything overly fanservicey, especially compared to previous films (no LingerieScene or MaleGaze moment this time around). To put it simply, since she's a pretty girl in an action movie, the critics wrote her off as eye candy even though the film never treated her as such.
** Henry Jackman's score drew negative reviews, but the general public loved it.
* DracoInLeatherPants: Despite the fact that he was revealed to be [[spoiler: a HYDRA infiltrator, Sitwell]] still gets plenty of love from fans. It's helped by ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' revealing that [[spoiler:some HYDRA agents were brainwashed, which could well be the case with Sitwell as he's a loyal SHIELD agent in the comics.]]
* EndingFatigue: The climax is split across ''five'' settings and can start to wear thin after a while. The majority of critics and fans alike agree that while this was an awesome movie, it was probably too long.
* EnsembleDarkhorse:
** Georges Batroc, thanks to his performance in the opening act.
** Despite her minimal screentime, Sharon Carter nonetheless made an impression, and helped Creator/EmilyVanCamp gain attention from mainstream audiences.
** Jack Rollins, one of the STRIKE team members, is surprisingly popular for a character with barely any lines, and almost no resemblance to his comic book counterpart. [[spoiler: Some element of EvilIsCool might be involved]].
** Cameron Klein a.k.a. the SHIELD operative who refuses to [[spoiler:launch Project Insight when Steve publically reveals HYDRA's involvement]] even with [[spoiler:Rumlow]] pointing a gun at his head has won more than a few fans. He even make a return appearance in ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' on the bridge of [[spoiler:Fury's private helicarrier]] in the climax, presumably because of his actions in this film. His name is actually listed in the credits of that film too.
* EvenBetterSequel: ''Winter Soldier'' has been considered an even stronger film than [[Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger its predecessor]], already a fan favorite in the MCU. In fact some critics and fans have been treating it as this to the ''entire'' MCU, declaring it the [[MagnumOpus best of the whole series so far]] (its Tomatometer is the fourth-highest in the MCU behind ''Film/IronMan'', ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', and ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy''). It's also far more successful at the box office than the original.
* FandomBerserkButton: Referring to the Winter Soldier / [[spoiler: Bucky Barnes]] as a villain is a good way to set off some of the more rabid fans.
* FanPreferredCouple:
** Between Steve, Natasha, Sam, and Bucky, any combination of them is a pretty popular ship (Sam/Natasha is the least popular of this though, but even that has fans). Then there's those who'd rather just have [[{{OT3}} all four of them]] stick together and be romantic bros, possibly with Hawkeye thrown in for good measure.
** There's also a number of people who ship Steve with Maria Hill.
** Not as popular as others, but due to the lack of interaction between her and Steve, Sharon is instead paired with [[EnsembleDarkhorse that defiant SHIELD technician]] after she saved his life from Brock Rumlow.
* FriendlyFandoms: Fans of this film are pretty close to the fans of ''{{Disney/Frozen}}'', with Steve and Bucky often being portrayed by Anna and Elsa respectively in crossover art and even cosplay.
* GeniusBonus: The movie makes a great visual metaphor at the end which could be a rebuttal to Harry Lime's famous "Dot" speech in TheThirdMan. Given said film was one of the earliest cynical spy films, this is entirely possible.
* GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff: [[http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/04/11/captain_america_captain_china The Chinese love Captain America]] because its main message is, as one reviewer puts it, "To love one's country isn't the same as loving one's government". The movie appeals to a Chinese audience tiring of government censorship and propagandist heroes.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** In-universe, Nick Fury's memory of how Alexander Pierce turned down a Nobel Peace Prize by saying that "peace isn't a reward, it's a responsibility." The problem is that Pierce's idea of peace is one [[spoiler: enforced by HYDRA]].
** The police ambush on Fury. Fury is a black man and all of the cops we see are white men. He even asks out loud if they "want to see my lease?", thinking that they're committing [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_profiling racial profiling]]. This can make the sequence particularly hard to watch when you know that in the year after the movie was released, several high profile incidents happened wherein a black man was killed by a white police officer and racial profiling was suspected: the July killing of Eric Garner in New York, the August shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the shooting of John Crawford III in Dayton, the shooting of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, the November shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina in April 2015, and the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore in that same month.
** TheReveal of Sitwell and Senator Stern as [[spoiler: HYDRA agents]]. If the first name hasn't been a blow enough, the mere fact that the latter ''wanted'' to confiscate Tony's suit in ''Film/IronMan2'' for the U.S. military is quite a guise for [[spoiler: HYDRA control]]. Making it worse, the U.S. military's immediate action when Colonel Rhodes did acquire Tony's spare suit was to ''weaponize'' it in the name of patriotism.
** Sam mentions that his wingman was shot down by an RPG during a late-night mission. That's pretty tragic, until you see what his flying gear looks like, and then you realize that he had to watch his best friend get shot [[NightmareFuel point-blank with an RPG...]]
** In ''The Avengers'', Tony comments that "In a few hours, I'll know every dirty secret S.H.I.E.L.D has ever tried to hide". [[spoiler:With the reveal that HYDRA was using SHIELD as a front and had been manipulating it, Tony either FailedASpotCheck - ''or'' HYDRA put failsafes in place in case Tony tried such a move.]]
** In the 1998 Nick Fury movie, when [[spoiler:Alexander Pierce]] makes a mistake during a mission, Fury says that he is [[spoiler:either a traitor or an idiot.]] While [[spoiler:Pierce]] from that movie [[spoiler:wasn't a traitor]], the one in this movie is.
** When Steve [[spoiler:wakes in a hospital bed at the end of the film, this is the second time he's found himself in a similar situation after falling into water from a great height expecting to die. The first time this happened, he found the era-appropriate room was a lie and that he had actually been asleep for 67 years. If he hadn't seen Sam there with Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man"--a soundtrack from an era he missed--it wouldn't have been pretty.]]
** In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', SelfDemonstrating/{{Loki}} insulted [[ComicBook/BlackWidow Natasha]] because she works for the service of liars and killers. [[spoiler:It's ambiguous whether he referred to the [[UsefulNotes/MoscowCentre KGB]] (Natasha's previous employer) or SHIELD. If he was referring to SHIELD, then [[VillainHasAPoint he turns out to be right]], since HYDRA-infiltrated SHIELD are indeed trained manipulators and assassins.]]
* HellIsThatNoise: [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B1mHL-Zegg The awful screeching noise that acts as the Winter Soldier's]] {{Leitmotif}}.
* HesJustHiding:
** A common fan reaction to [[spoiler:computerized Arnim Zola's death, on the grounds that BrainUploading equals DeathIsCheap, which is his standard tactic in the comics.]]
** Some fans are hoping this is the case with [[spoiler: Agent Sitwell]], in part due to some ambiguous tweets from his actor, with messages like [[spoiler: Fury Always Has a Plan]].
* HilariousInHindsight:
** In the movie, Pierce wanted Iron Man to appear at his niece's birthday party. In real life, Robert Downey, Jr. invited a bunch of kids to his birthday party to watch this very movie. Metawise, it doubles as an ActorAllusion, since Downey, Jr. actually did a surprise appearance at Jamie Foxx's daughter's fifth birthday party--which was ''Film/IronMan''-themed, to boot.
** In the early 80s, John Byrne drew Cap as [[ComicBookFantasyCasting resembling Robert Redford]], and Redford in his younger days does have a passing resemblance to Chris Evans. 33 years later, the actor appears here, in a major role. Even funnier is that [[spoiler: Redford plays ''the villain'' here]].
** At one point in the movie, Cap and Natasha "borrow" a car, which might be a joke referring back to Cap's less than graceful car thefts in ''Film/CaptainAmerica1990''.
** Despite TheReveal being generally HarsherInHindsight, it makes [[spoiler:Tony Stark's comments of "I have successfully privatized world peace"]] from ''Film/IronMan2'' all the while funnier since [[spoiler:he's basically boasting about accomplishing HYDRA's end goal of "peace through force" without being a HYDRA member and rubbing that detail in HYDRA's faces. No wonder Senator Stern swore "[[PrecisionFStrike Fuck you, Mr. Stark]]!" on live TV. He was infuriated that Tony had done what HYDRA wanted to do themselves.]]
** Scarlett Johansson's breakout role was 1998's ''Film/TheHorseWhisperer'' opposite star/director Robert Redford, where the two had a generational-gap friendship. Now [[spoiler: they face off as enemies]].
** Ng Chin Han, who's had a string of bit parts like Lau in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' before appearing as a WSC member here, got his start in the 90s in a string of TV roles on Singapore television. Imagine the surprise of Singaporean audiences at the sight of ''the mostly-neutral Singapore having a representative on the WSC!''
** Sam tells Fury: "I do what [Steve] does, just slower." In the comics less than a year later, [[spoiler:Sam was given the mantle of Captain America after Steve loses his powers.]]
** In the UK release, ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' is on Steve's To-Do List. Creator/BenedictCumberbatch will portray ComicBook/DoctorStrange. Tony Stark actor Creator/RobertDowneyJr played Film/SherlockHolmes in the Guy Ritchie-directed films; and both Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are [[spoiler:among HYDRA's targets for Project Insight]]. So it looks like [[spoiler:HYDRA]] is so unwilling to let Steve watch Sherlock Holmes.
** In 2002, a book about possible Nazi influence on the US government was released by Glen Yeadon. This book was titled [[spoiler: "The Nazi Hydra in America"]].
* HoYay:
** The sheer amount of HoYay between Steve and Bucky/[[spoiler:The Winter Soldier]] is so huge that Sharon doesn't even seem to be Steve's love interest (and not just because of how OutOfFocus she is during the movie). The fact that Cap spends the entire movie turning down Natasha's offers to set him up on dates, saying he's looking for someone with "similar life experiences", only increases the factor.
** Sam/Steve enjoys widespread popularity. For his part, Steve's the one who gets Sam's attention and seeks him out, either when he's in danger or just because (after the therapy meeting). For ''his'' part, Sam quickly proves he's willing to not only back Steve up against suicidal odds, but stay by his hospital bed in the aftermath. More than a few netizens have commented that Sam takes all of the usual superhero love interest duties: unwavering loyalty, emotional pep talks, waiting by the bedside, etc.
* ItWasHisSled:
** TheReveal of the Winter Soldier's identity as [[spoiler: Bucky Barnes]] was an 8-year-old spoiler for comics readers by the time the ''Winter Soldier'' film came out, a 2-year-old spoiler for viewers of ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'', and a 7-year-old spoiler for anyone who happened to play ''VideoGame/MarvelUltimateAlliance''. The anticipation of the film is a result of this, wherein the drama surrounding this is the main reason why fans want to see the film. By the final month before release, even Marvel gave up trying to hide it, even saying that the tension of the Winter Soldier's identity doesn't come from the audience not knowing, [[InternalReveal but from Cap not knowing.]] Previews from both the ''Thor: The Dark World'' Blu-Ray and an MCU TV special go ahead and spill exactly who the Winter Soldier is. The ''Winter Soldier'' Blu-Ray case even has a big picture of him without his mask on the back cover.
** To a lesser extent, SHIELD agent [[spoiler:Brock Rumlow working for HYDRA]], for anyone familiar with his identity in the comics.
** The twist that [[spoiler:HYDRA]] is still around has also gained a fair amount of notoriety.
* JustHereForGodzilla: For many comic book fans, the primary reason to watch the movie was the conflict between Cap and the Winter Soldier -- or more specifically, the revelation of the Winter Soldier's identity and Cap's reaction to it. Marvel was not blind to this, and took advantage of it by having most of the promotion of the movie focused on Cap and the Winter Soldier. [[spoiler:It also did a great job of hiding the mid-plot twist and true conflict of the movie -- that HYDRA had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. at its very creation, and therefore the organization is too corrupt to continue on and must be dissolved permanently.]]
* LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt: The movie has us believe many characters are dead/will die throughout the film, but many fans are savvy enough to figure out it wasn't going to happen. [[spoiler:Nick Fury]] is the biggest example, though it was a close run thing. On the other hand, they really ''did'' go through with [[spoiler:the complete dismantling of SHIELD.]]
* MagnificentBastard: Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce. It's very clear why these two are in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D.
** Pierce [[spoiler:arranges Fury's assassination and takes control of S.H.I.E.L.D., sets up Captain America to look like TheMole and turns S.H.I.E.L.D. against him, hijacks the plan to use Helicarriers to defend against enemies to world peace and instead has them target enemies of HYDRA, and as he watches it occur he sets up the World Security Council to die with the tap of a smartphone icon.]]
** As for Fury, [[spoiler:he [[OutGambitted Out Gambits]] Pierce by ''faking'' his death because he knows S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised and he can trust no one, goes underground with Maria Hill to find out what's going on, finds out what Pierce is planning, and sets up a plan to stop him complete with Fury revealing himself to Pierce to help Natasha expose him to the world. Since he knew that Pierce would delete his security overrides after his "death", Fury secretly created a hidden override using the retinal scan of his ''blind'' eye.]]
* MagnumOpus: For Joe and Anthony Russo. Many fans consider the film to be this for the MCU, even moreso than ''The Avengers''. Case in point, it currently leads the [[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/crowner.php/BestEpisode/MarvelCinematicUniverse Best Episode Crowner for the franchise]]
* MemeticMutation:
** In an odd form of BorrowedCatchphrase, [[Series/GameOfThrones "Winter is Coming"]] has been adopted as an unofficial tagline by the fandom.
** "Who the hell is Bucky?"
** "The Helicarrier's becoming the [[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]," in a reference to how the thing keeps seeming to die whenever we see it.
** It's become a meme to take an image of someone whispering in someone else's ear and caption it as "[[spoiler:Hail HYDRA]]".
** "On your left!"
** Cap's elevator fight was invoked by a viral tweet describing Solange Knowles's elevator scuffle with Jay-Z.
** Tumblr has made a very popular meme of inserting the Marvel and DC logos over Steve and Sam's heads during the running scene to show, in a nutshell, what everyone thinks of the MCU/DCCU rivalry.
** Crossing over with ''Film/TeamAmericaWorldPolice'', the first chase scene between Steve and the Winter Soldier is replaced with "America! Fuck Yeah!" as Steve charges through a building - then it abruptly cuts to the "Bummer Remix" when Steve loses track of him.
** "Captain Dorito", referring to how Cap's torso matches a Dorito chip. Has since become an AscendedMeme, as "Dorito" is the nickname Creator/RobertDowneyJr has given to Creator/ChrisEvans.
** "Sad Trash Hobo" for [[spoiler: Bucky Barnes']] status after TheStinger, as well as a general descriptor for when he dips into PuppyDogEyes territory.
** "Winter Sol-nyaa".[[note]]A pun on his Japanese spelling ウィンター・ソルジャー (''Uintaa Sorujyaa'') and ニャー (''nyaa''/"meow").[[/note]] It's popular in East Asian fandoms to interpret the Winter Soldier as a particularly surly [[AnimalMotifs cat]] or CatBoy due to a combination of traits such as the character's vaguely [[CatSmile feline]] appearance and [[GuyLiner resemblance]] to Grumpy Cat, and a host of amusing cat stereotypes such as [[spoiler: Alexander Pierce]] offering him [[ArtisticLicenseAnimalCare milk]] and his ThreePointLanding on the highway resembling a cat clawing the ground.
* MoralEventHorizon:
** [[spoiler:Arnim Zola]] is revealed to have crossed the line years ago by torturing [[spoiler:several members of Bucky's division, including Bucky himself]]. If that particular line crossing isn't bad enough, [[spoiler:he helped rebuild HYDRA as SHIELD and created an algorithm to target any and all potential enemies, which would have killed at least twenty million people, according to his calculations]].
** [[spoiler:Alexander Pierce]] crosses it by casually murdering [[spoiler:his cleaner when she stumbles across the Winter Soldier sitting in his house]].
* {{Narm}}:
** The cut to [[EndingFatigue Falcon and Rumlow still fighting after the rest of the climax has been resolved.]]
** Steve at his old army base and seeing the ghost of his former skinny self who looks at him in amazement.
** During the fight with Batroc, Cap dramatically removing his mask looks somewhat comedic thanks to the helmet hair.
** After an entire movie of proving [[spoiler:HYDRA has evolved from ThoseWackyNazis into a realistically terrifying sleeper cell inside S.H.I.E.L.D., TheStinger reveals Thomas Kretchsmann hamming it up as Baron von Strucker. His passing resemblance to [[Series/HogansHeroes Colonel Klink]] makes the dissonance greater.]]
** The amount of times somebody gets mule kicked either into or off of something practically becomes a RunningGag.
* NarmCharm: [[Film/IronMan2 Senator Stern]]'s cameo, where he hugs Jasper Sitwell and [[spoiler:whispers "Hail HYDRA" to him.]] It's sorta silly in how [[CardCarryingVillain obviously villainous]] it is, and causes FridgeLogic about if [[spoiler:HYDRA's members]] do this all the time, but at the same time it's unexpected, creepy, and can also raise fear in [[spoiler:realizing just how far HYDRA has spread]]. [[http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/hail-hydra Even the parodies of it]] manage to be both funny and creepy.
* NarrowedItDownToTheGuyIRecognize: [[spoiler:Creator/RobertRedford as Alexander Pierce is the BigBad]].
* OneSceneWonder
** [[spoiler:Arnim Zola's computerized self]] appears for no more than ten minutes, yet in that time he manages to establish himself as highly creepy and a surprisingly capable [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] who's managed to [[spoiler:resurrect [=HYDRA=] from within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself]].
** Batroc, the pirate who managed to hold his own against Captain America early in the movie.
* OneTrueThreesome: One True ''Four''some - Steve/Sam/Natasha/Bucky hit the ground running.
* ParanoiaFuel:
** [[spoiler: HYDRA's been hiding in SHIELD since its very creation]], influencing world events under the justification of protecting people. They had a hand in the death of Howard Stark and his wife. [[spoiler:The non HYDRA members of SHIELD]] had no idea at all. Not even Coulson realized his close friend was a mole.
** It's implied that [[spoiler:HYDRA]] had a hand in making an entire generation live in fear of nuclear attack, and the entire ''next'' generation live in fear of terrorism, just so humanity as a whole would be willing to give up their freedom for more safety and security. It's like "My whole life is a lie!" but for the ''entire planet''.
** Much of this movie's plot was [[RippedFromTheHeadlines taken from real-life government controversies]] such as drone strikes and NSA spying, and plays up people's real-life fears about them to their (il)logical conclusion, [[spoiler: namely that the information being collected will ultimately be used to assassinate millions of people, the vast majority of whom have no links to terrorist organizations whatsoever.]]
** After TheReveal, viewers of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' started to ask themselves [[spoiler: if any of the SHIELD agents they'd come to know and love over the course of the first season were actually HYDRA agents.]] The paranoia there turned out to be justified, as [[spoiler: Grant Ward was revealed as TheMole in the following episode.]]
** Who can say that there's not such an organization like [[spoiler: HYDRA]] with similar goals and methods in RealLife?
* RewatchBonus: [[spoiler: TheReveal that HYDRA has been infiltrating SHIELD since its inception causes ''loads'' of past scenes and events involving the organization to take on a new meaning throughout the whole of the MCU. For instance, knowing that Senator Stern is a HYDRA member causes his insistence on Tony Stark giving up the Iron Man armor back in ''Film/IronMan2'' to come off less as JerkassHasAPoint and more as him trying to give HYDRA some Iron Man suits to Curb Stomp their enemies with. In another example, the revelation that HYDRA engineered the death of Tony Stark's father makes you wonder if there's a remote chance Obadiah Stane in ''Film/IronMan1'' was working for HYDRA.]]
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap: Black Widow, who was always somewhat of a BaseBreaker in ''Film/IronMan2'' and ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}''. She became much more well-received due to being [[{{Deuteragonist}} much more involved in the plot]], downplaying her MsFanservice aspect (which was criticized in her previous appearances), and ''not'' being surrounded with superhuman characters who cause her to become OvershadowedByAwesome. Although this opinion isn't shared by professional critics (see Critical Dissonance). Really, it's her appearance in this movie that led to the InternetBackdraft with the announcement that there isn't any Black Widow solo movie planned.
* RomanticPlotTumor: Refreshingly subverted. One common point of praise from critics and fans was the film's lack of any romantic subplots, and for the portrayal of Steve and Natasha as a strong but ultimately platonic friendship despite the teasing and being set up in a easy position to fall into this trope (FanPreferredCouple notwithstanding). Especially since ''Film/ThorTheDarkWorld'' was frequently criticized on this point.
* RonTheDeathEater:
** Those who ship Steve with Tony or Bucky have a nasty tendency to accuse Sam of [[spoiler:being a HYDRA mole]], or depict him as one, despite the fact that Sam was a retired war vet who was never a part of S.H.I.E.L.D., and as such [[spoiler:there's no logical way he ''could'' have been HYDRA.]]
** [[spoiler: Bucky Barnes]] gets some of this from some of the more rabid fans of rival Steve and Natasha ships, who seem to conveniently forget that his FaceHeelTurn was [[BrainwashedAndCrazy not exactly voluntary]] and that he was a relatively NiceGuy beforehand, so the idea that he would be a BastardBoyfriend is extremely out of character.
* ShipToShipCombat:
** Ever since the movie premiered, there have been... kerfluffles involving every ship associated with [[FandomBicycle Steve Rogers]].
** Months before the film was even released, some rather rabid shippers were ''already'' voicing opposition that Winter Soldier would become a potential love interest for Natasha (Black Widow), thus [[ShipSinking sinking]] their hopes for a Clint (Hawkeye) and Natasha relationship. This assumption wasn't without some merit, due to him and Natasha having been an OfficialCouple in the comics, but it became moot after the film revealed MCU Widow and Winter Soldier only met twice in the course of their lives, both times in which he was trying to kill her.
** There were even a few who hoped Steve and Natasha might hook up, even though a running gag throughout the film is Nat encouraging Steve to get a girlfriend. Granted there are a few scenes where Natasha seems to be flirting with Steve, trying to get a feel for who he is and if he's her "type". [[spoiler:They end up just being friends, which is a bit of a shame given that there is genuine chemistry between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.]]
** Due to the massive amounts of HoYay between Steve and Bucky, the pairing has somewhat begun to unseat the popularity of the widespread post-Avengers Steve/Tony ship, to some Tumblr discontent.
** Another one is brewing between the Steve/Tony shippers and the Sam/Steve shippers: the former were not happy that Steve went to Sam for help despite knowing him for such a short time instead of Tony, and the implication that Sam [[spoiler:could've have been HYDRA]] rankled the latter immensely. Of course, given he had a limited time window and Sam was already in Washington DC, there's the matter of practicality that helps with this case.
* SpecialEffectsFailure:
** A picture-only example. The promotional image for ComicBook/BlackWidow is [[http://25.media.tumblr.com/10034b9fc4574aa9d592aa334d18192e/tumblr_n08kf1Rxyn1r5vp4eo1_r1_500.gif unnaturally slim]], to the point of it being relatively obviously photoshopped. A rather strange instance considering ScarlettJohansson has what's largely considered a [[MsFanservice very nice figure]].
** Likewise, Falcon's poster gives him a massive chest with disproportionately tiny legs. Comparisons are drawn to the work of Rob Liefield.
** In the scene where Cap meets with Peggy, the effects used to age Hayley Atwell make her mouth slide around and change size unnaturally.
** The scene where Cap is getting onto the elevator (an outside shot, as we see him from a distance through a window) before he's mobbed by bad guys is obviously CGI'd, as is the scene where he lands on the rooftop after chasing the Winter Soldier.
* SpiritualLicensee:
** Fans have come to call this movie the closest they have to a ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' film adaptation.
** It's also as much a Creator/TomClancy movie as ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit''.
** It's a closer adaptation of Creator/IanFleming's ''Literature/{{Moonraker}}'' than [[Film/{{Moonraker}} the official adaptation]] was.
* {{Squick}}: When Nick Fury goes to the retina scan... with the eye under the patch.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter:
** Some fans believe that while still a central part of the plot, the titular Winter Soldier is very much OutOfFocus for most of the story. In the source material, the Winter Soldier's identity and background are subject to more scrutiny and tied more heavily into the plot. Almost all of it, including his ties to Black Widow, make no appearance in the film (though due to the MCU's time compression--Widow is ''much'' older in the comics--there might not even be a connection at all). The acting and design are dead on, but not much is done with the character in order to focus on [[spoiler:Alexander Pierce]]. Still, the film does a good job of setting up possible appearances for future installments, along with the possibility of exploring his past and character in more detail in the sequel. This would mirror the comic story, where [[spoiler: Bucky only has his memories restored via Cosmic Cube in the twelfth, final issue of the opening Winter Soldier epic, much like Bucky only realises who he is in the primary stinger of the film. Brubaker then spent the better part of his run with Bucky tentatively on the sidelines before the death of a certain character]]..
** Sharon, a huge figure in the source mythos, also receives far too little focus. Though, like the Winter Soldier, it's likely she will feature in future films.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot: Many fans have argued that the story would have been far more interesting if it had followed through on its initial premise, involving SHIELD taking morally dubious actions in the name of national security, rather than just revealing that [[spoiler: HYDRA was really behind everything]]. In a movie that spends so much time talking up the moral ambiguity of the 21st century, [[spoiler:positioning HYDRA in an unambiguous villain role]] was seen by many as a copout.
* ToughActToFollow: Was set to serve as this to the next MCU movie, ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy''. Amazingly, that movie turned out almost as good as this one, if not better. Now it, ''Guardians'', and ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'' set the bar for what ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'' has to live up to.
* VisualEffectsOfAwesome: The climactic Helicarrier [[spoiler: explosion]] at the end, with [[spoiler: Steve]] falling in slow motion. This and other visually impressive scenes earned ''The Winter Soldier'' an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, marking the first time a ''Captain America''-based movie received an Oscar nom.
* WhatAnIdiot: Steve [[spoiler:hides the flash drive containing SHIELD secrets of the highest priority in a vending machine, and apparently just counts on two people not wanting to buy gum. Or even just not noticing a silver flash drive among the pink gum packets.]]
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotPolitical:
** Although the directors admit to drawing some inspiration from real life political controversies from TheNewTens such as drone strikes and UsefulNotes/BarackObama enacting preemptive strikes against potential threats to the US, they maintain that [[spoiler:the link between S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secrets being leaked on the internet and Edward Snowden's NSA leaks is an accidental one, as the film's story had already been solidified before that came onto the scene]]. Ed Brubaker has said the screenplay was inspired by [=WikiLeaks=], and the film winks at this, by showing Julian Assange as [[spoiler:either a member or (more likely) a pawn of HYDRA.]]
** S.H.I.E.L.D. (and by extension [[spoiler:HYDRA]]) keeping track of everybody in the world by keeping their electronic records under surveillance on everything from bank accounts to social media to voting records and more, which mirrors the revelations of the lengths the NSA has gone to electronically spy on American citizens.
** The initial plot ([[spoiler:before the reveal of HYDRA]]) could easily be described as [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything "something catastrophic happened in New York, so people in government start arguing that we should give up some freedoms in exchange for safety and stability."]]
** Some reviewers have taken Steve's "On your left" comment as being a specific indication of left-wing liberalism. Other right-wing reviewers have retorted that it's about a big-government initiative to take away people's rights in exchange for security, which both the right and the left would might find politically distasteful, albeit for different reasons.
** Several libertarian parties have taken the events of the plot (particularly, the defiance and rebellion against a powerful government body) as proof that it (and Cap himself) are iconic libertarian masterpieces.
* WinBackTheCrowd: While both ''Iron Man 3'' and ''Thor: The Dark World'' were box office hits, with the former grossing a billions dollars worldwide, they received mixed reviews from both critics and fans alike, leaving some people to wonder if the MCU had lost a step or two. Then ''Winter Soldier'' came along and renewed their faith.
* TheWoobie: Steve Rogers and the Winter Soldier.
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