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  • According to Rogers, "Even when [Steve] had nothing, [Steve] had Bucky." In this film, Bucky is the one who has nothing. Not even his identity. Explains why Steve feels so inclined to help him, even after Bucky disappears to piece together his past (and clearly doesn't want to be found).
  • In The Avengers, Tony Stark lampshades how, essentially, Nick Fury has a blind spot due to losing his left eye. Guess which side those "cops" ram him from when they set up a trap for him on the street.
  • In The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a stash of HYDRA's tesseract-powered rifles. It can be easily assumed that, since the SSR could have collected those (and they are indeed shown studying them during The First Avenger), S.H.I.E.L.D. just kept them. However, they take on an entirely new meaning in this movie as, basically, it was HYDRA storing them all along. No wonder "S.H.I.E.L.D." wanted to push toward their development. Essentially, Fury, by indirectly forming the Avengers, not only saved Earth from Loki, but also from HYDRA.
  • Note the changing of Cap's color palette throughout the movie. When he's working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and not quite sure what his purpose is, his uniform and shield have a darker color scheme. But as the movie progresses and he starts fighting for the virtues he believes in, he first starts using the classic red, white, and blue shield before finally donning his stars and stripes-inspired World War II uniform.
  • The Winter Soldier is almost a complete inverse of Captain America (essentially, the villainous version of him -- a super-soldier sent in to finish what an army could not). He wears greasepaint around his eyes and a mask that covers his nose and mouth, but not his hair or forehead. This is the exact opposite of Cap's helmet, which only leaves exposed the area around his eyes and the lower half of his face (note that the Winter Soldier's design was lifted almost completely from the comics).
    • He also fights mainly offensively, with a bionic left arm, and when he has a target, he simply attacks first and has no problem with using lethal force. Captain America's main weapon is his shield, used mostly with his right hand/arm, and more for defense than offense; additionally, he prefers not to take a life if possible.
    • Both men are also considered superhuman, but for different reasons — Rogers is a product of Abraham Erskine's super-soldier serum, which enhanced his physical attributes. The Winter Soldier's abilities come from a crude knockoff administered under torture, and his left arm is bionic. In other words, Bucky's augmentations are a result of non-consensual synthesis with man-made material, whereas Steve's augmentations are biological (albeit artificial) and accepted voluntarily. The super-soldier serum also allows Steve to retain all of his memories, whereas Bucky's memories are frequently erased by HYDRA.
    • The fame of the two also differs. Captain America is a superhero famous all around the world. The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, is a ghost story and hardly anyone believes that he exists.
  • Black Widow mentions working for the KGB, but it's said that she was born in 1984. The KGB disbanded in 1991. In The Avengers, after the little girl has successfully lured Dr. Banner to the house on the edge of town, he sarcastically references the child's tender age. Natasha replies that she started at a similar young age.
  • In The Avengers, it was very convenient for Loki and the mind-controlled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to find such a large amount of freelance scientists and mercs willing to battle S.H.I.E.L.D. for them, wasn't it? But considering that S.H.I.E.L.D. was infiltrated by HYDRA, these highly-trained operatives could have very well been HYDRA agents that joined Loki willingly and brought all their knowledge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its super-science along with them, teaming up with him only to betray him when he was no longer useful.
  • Loki's rhetoric about The Evils of Free Will and the old German man telling him "There are always men like you" becomes even more poignant when Zola explains this to essentially be HYDRA's philosophy.
  • In the center of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s office, an eagle statue is very prominently displayed in a very Roman-esque fashion. This has always been a symbol of America, so it's not too unsettling but this one is ostentatious to the point of being ominous. Then you realize with HYDRA being a part of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Nazi-esque usage of the eagle makes perfect sense. You might also notice Director Fury's standard MCU outfit bears a striking resemblance to that of one Johan "Red Skull" Schmidt. Makes you wonder if he wore it at Secretary Pierce's suggestion...
  • In the tie-in comic to Captain America: The First Avenger, it has a scene where the Red Skull reveals the MCU version isn't a white supremacist. No, he's just a mass-murderer. Pierce's friendship with Nick Fury may be genuinely sincere as they're fanatics obsessed with order but don't necessarily hold any racial supremacist beliefs. It also widens their recruiting pool considerably. The Red Skull's brief rant about a "world without flags" at the end of The First Avenger also gains greater meaning in hindsight, as an indication HYDRA isn't about swastikas or blue eyes blond hair, but simply about power and order.
  • Zola's recruitment of allies to join HYDRA seems like something which wouldn't work. Obviously, people would be watching him. However, he's a computer. If Zola talks about the kind of people they need to recruit and the threats they need to take down, who is going to believe he's a threat? The movie also illustrates the kind of people who believe in The Evils of Free Will are the kind of paranoid types who are attracted to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place. The Security Council played right into HYDRA's hands.
  • If Zola was able to create an algorithm that can accurately predict who would be a likely threat to HYDRA, it's only logical that it would be also able to do the opposite and predict which people would be receptive to joining HYDRA. HYDRA was able to expand its base of agents without risk of exposure because they knew in advance that they were only asking the people who would say "yes".
  • How was Zola sure that his algorithm was perfect and dependable? Simple, by using the above method to recruit HYDRA agents; if it had failed, it would be one or two potential whistleblowers (who could be easily disproven) rather than millions of corpses that would be much harder to explain and rationalize. Given how many members of HYDRA are within S.H.I.E.L.D., Zola may have been perfecting this algorithm for decades.
    • Playing into how Natasha said "S.H.I.E.L.D. would've stopped you", Zola knew that the SSR and then S.H.I.E.L.D. were focused on different threats. He was a good scientist who studied his captors from the inside. By the time his methods had produced a new HYDRA inside S.H.I.E.L.D., it was too late to stop him. After all, he'd been a good S.H.I.E.L.D. employee and by 1972 had contracted cancer. Who would suspect a dying old man of being the force behind HYDRA?
    • Zola says he's Swiss, that would explain his being the first person Bucky sees when his arm is being cut off. As a dual U.S.-Swiss citizen, he could travel all over the world and recruit for HYDRA.
  • The part where Steve speaks French — he could've picked that up from Jacques Dernier, the French member of the Howling Commandos. It might also be in part to his embarrassment over misunderstanding "fondue" in the first film.
    • He might well have also spent some time in France during the War.
  • All of a sudden, Obadiah Stane's business deals with terrorists seem a lot less like war profiteering and a lot more like being a member of HYDRA, which has the expressed goal of creating threats in order to prove the dangers of Free Will. It could have even been him who set up the accident which killed Howard Stark.
  • So, why did Fury decide to take Steve down to see the almost finished Project Insight? Because he was having his doubts and was trying to give Cap a heads up in case things went bad. Maybe acting as a Secret Test of Character too, seeing if Cap would hold tight to his ideals.
  • Fury comments that Pierce turned down a Noble Peace Prize, saying "Peace isn't a prize, it's a responsibility." At first it seems like a moment to illustrate how good Pierce was at hiding his evil, but then you realize that he actually believed that. His goal was always peace, but at the cost of complete control of the world.
  • Now we can guess why Fury valued Coulson so much, even though he was seemingly just a really good high tier agent and people like Sitwell could have easily replaced him in the organization. If someone gives their life for the cause and actively resists being saved from death, then you know they aren't a spy and have no ulterior motives. Compare Sitwell, who was mentioned by Garrett to have never been seriously injured in the line of duty.
  • Remember what Fury called Coulson when mourning his loss in The Avengers? His "one good eye". At first, this sentence wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense, as only one of Fury's eyes is actually damaged, but The Reveal of this film makes it clear what he meant: After discovering that HYDRA had been operating inside S.H.I.E.L.D. right under his nose, Fury didn't trust his own judgment, but he trusts Coulson's judgment without question. That is what makes Coulson his one good eye and that is why Fury went to such incredible lengths to bring him back, despite Coulson's pleas.
  • HYDRA's infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. does have some real world historical parallels:
    • After the second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union really did recruit Nazi scientists. And why didn't people in the American intelligence community notice that the former HYDRA people were still being, well, HYDRA people? Because during the Cold War, American intelligence communities really were supporting authoritarian dictators (who had some similar ideologies to the guy Captain America fought). American intelligence agencies really were highly suspicious of political activists marching for civil rights and against militant foreign policy (F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover smeared Martin Luther King Jr., for example), and you can bet those groups would be high on the Helicarrier kill list.
    • Alternatively, post-World War II cooperation between the West and ex-Nazis and their fellow travelers went even farther. Many Eastern European ultranationalists who were willing to join Nazis to fight communism either became Western intelligence assets or found refuge in the West and took positions of influence themselves. This shows up in other media also (e.g., Alec Trevelyan in the James Bond film GoldenEye) but rarely are they shown to have gained positions of great power as in this movie).
  • When Nick tells Steve the story of his grandfather, it just seems like two old men connecting over the past while killing time going down forty-plus stories in an elevator. It's really Nick's way of explaining why he does things the way he does and how he sees the purpose of Project Insight.
  • Cap's combat style is shown to be much more extensive in this movie. This is to be expected since it's his third outing, but it also has a story reason. In The First Avenger, he was trained to fight as a normal soldier and had to develop his own techniques and find his limits. In The Avengers, he was still fresh out of the ice and was mostly just shaking the sleep off. Now, he has been on several missions and has access to training facilities and techniques that allow him to reach his full potential. In the past, he was just trying to get over that obstacle as fast as possible. Now, he can study parkour experts and learn their philosophies and methodologies.
  • The film's Darker and Edgier slant can also be illustrated through Steve's combat. In the first film, his shield was primarily used for defensive purposes, especially since he carried a M1911 as his primary weapon. Here, his shield is his primary attack option; what was once a symbol that Steve was a defender now could be seen as Steve being an aggressor (although not so much that he would agree with Nick Fury on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s philosophy concerning future threats).
  • Here's an interesting thought: Captain America is on ice for 70 years and finds the world radically changed, feeling confused and missing out on history, now with The Reveal that HYDRA was the Big Bad of Marvel and S.H.I.E.L.D. was compromised all through its history, the rest of the world feels somewhat similar to Steve, they've lived in a bubble and it burst. For Steve, that bubble was being frozen in ice while for the rest of the world, it was the entire post-war period, meaning Steve and Present-Day Marvel are now aligned.
  • Given that in the chaos, no-one could tell who was or wasn't affiliated with HYDRA, S.H.I.E.L.D. is kaput. But what about that flash drive? Zola's algorithm identified 700,000 people HYDRA considered such a threat to its goals that they were willing to kill them in broad daylight. In other words, the perfect replacements for S.H.I.E.L.D.. And given how the algorithm targeted the President, isn't it likely that all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who would have fought the new regime were on the kill list - thus identifying the loyalists? And Coulson is right at the top of that list.
  • Strucker was able to get a hold of Loki's scepter because it was confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D.. Perhaps HYDRA loyalists somehow got to the scepter before Thor could get his hands on it and it was declared destroyed.
    • Explained in Avengers: Endgame. After the Battle of New York, Pierce and a STRIKE team lead by Brock Rumlow, Jack Rollins and Agent Sitwell arrived at Stark Tower to demand that Loki, the Tesseract and the scepter be handed over to them to be studied by S.H.I.E.L.D (HYDRA). However, while they were unable to have Loki and the Tesseract relinquished into their custody they were able to secure the scepter.
  • A lot of people are upset that the Winter Soldier doesn't actually have that much of a speaking part when he's the Antagonist Title. Except... there's not really anyone there to speak. HYDRA hollowed him out so that he's an effectively mindless minion of theirs, a gun with no ability to act by himself. What did Zola call him? A fist of HYDRA, i.e., a hand completely under the control of and useless without the mind. Bucky doesn't speak because he doesn't have his own character any more - he's simply HYDRA's embodiment, their hand. The hand of an antagonist is not the limb you talk to.
  • Some have noted that Steve and Sam seem to form a loyal friendship awfully quickly for men who don't have much in common except being good guys and being ex-military. Then you remember Sam's story in one of their earliest conversations: he was part of a special-ops unit, went on a mission with his wingman, and had to helplessly watch as said wingman fell, literally and metaphorically. Sound familiar?
  • Steve's angry retort to Tony in The Avengers — "I know guys with none of that worth ten of you" in response to Tony's "genius billionaire playboy philanthropist" line — also provides a fridge brilliance insight into his fast friendship with Sam. With Tony, Steve bristles at the idea that money or glamour are any kind of substitute for the reality of being a soldier. Now enter Sam Wilson, who works at the VA counseling traumatized veterans. He's dedicated to caring for a subset of soldiers who are often forgotten or even stigmatized due to their mental health issues, helping them deal with nothing but the reality of being a soldier. There's no particular money or glamour in what Sam's doing, and it shows that even the most "broken", down-and-out soldiers have value to him. That couldn't line up more perfectly with Steve's values if he tried.
  • It may seem that placing the new Captain America exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum is a case of Mishmash Museum, but it's not as bad as it seems. First, NASM does cover everything aeronautical and astronautical — but a decent portion of its exhibit space is devoted to WWI and WWII aeronautics, both the European and Pacific theater (the former of which Cap and the Commandos served in, and presumably would have been mentioned in them). Second, there are usually at least one or two empty galleries in the Air and Space museum that are used for rotating exhibits (it has a very open floor plan and central corridor, and routinely handles the largest crowds on the National Mall). And third (and most important), the National Museum of American History is currently in the middle of a full-building renovation, having started in 2002, with its second phase starting in 2012, way before filming started for Winter Soldier. Assuming that in the MCU, NMAH is also undergoing renovation, clearly they're refitting the space to accommodate a new Captain America/Howling Commandos gallery, and the one in Air and Space is the temporary exhibit.
    • The way Cap saved the day before he was frozen was by piloting away the Valkyrie, an aircraft. Of course the National Air and Space Museum would have his exhibit.
  • Why would S.H.I.E.L.D. need a set of helicarriers with enough weaponry to take down several thousand man-sized targets at once? Well, after the events of The Avengers, they've seen just what an invading alien army looks like: A horde. Not to mention the sizable guns on the deck, pointing at the sky. The Chitauri had a lot of light aircraft, and flying behemoths. Clearly, Fury was a big believer in not getting pinned in the same corner twice.
  • The real-life Winter Soldier Investigation was organized by American veterans returning from the Vietnam War, and its purpose was to publicly expose American war crimes and other abuses committed during the course of the war. Although the title is obviously taken from the comics run, it nevertheless is a depressingly strong parallel with Steve's relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the film.
  • The concept of the "Winter Soldier" also comes from Thomas Paine. His "Winter Soldier" is the one who goes through the whole grueling slog, long after the "Summertime Patriots" have given up the fight. It's a nice metaphor for Cap himself. Additionally, Paine's idea of a "summer soldier" is one who only serves his own country when he wants to. The Winter Soldier, conversely, serves a country other than his own, and does so completely against his will.
  • Combined with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson's resurrection is no longer a S.H.I.E.L.D. secret due to the giant info dump. That's going to make for some interesting reunions.
  • Senator Stern was adamant that Stark hand over Iron Man technology back in Iron Man 2. Now that we see his real allegiances, no wonder he wanted his hands on those goodies.
  • Another one from Iron Man 2 - now we know why Howard Stark chose such an odd way to hide his Tesseract research. If he wanted to hide something from S.H.I.E.L.D., he had to hide it in a way that couldn't simply be cracked/hacked or otherwise collected by spies.
  • There's some serious brilliance in the fight scenes that show attention to even the smallest details when it came to making this movie, including the choreography. During his first fight with the Winter Soldier and his hit squad, Cap loses his shield early on and loses it again later when the Winter Soldier manages to force it away from him. On both occasions, Cap will still raise his arm as though he still had the shield when he's fighting or taking fire, showing how he's conditioned himself to use the shield in battle, even when he's aware that he doesn't have it at the moment. The Winter Soldier's fighting style also shows that incredible attention to detail, showing that the choreographers actually put some thought into the physics and logistics that having one of your arms be cybernetic would have in a close combat situation. The Winter Soldier's left arm isn't just stronger, it behaves subtly differently from his right, flesh and blood, arm. When he uses his knife, he uses it with his right hand because he can use it with greater speed and precision, but when he needs power, he braces the pommel with his left hand and you can actually hear the motors in his left arm winding up, basically kicking it into gear whenever he needs that extra boost of raw force.
  • For all of HYDRA's talk of wanting a world of order, there are several hints that it hasn't really let go of its Nazi origins or World War II. The mere fact that among Project Insight's targets include a good chunk of the U.S. Government and a sizable portion of New York City or that someone blatantly Nazi-esque like Von Strucker could rise up the organization's ranks, one can't help but wonder whether they're still following the Red Skull's shadow.
  • During The Avengers, it was mentioned that the Avengers Initiative had previously been shut down, which seemed kind of short-sighted in a world full of super-villains. Now that we know that HYDRA was secretly running S.H.I.E.L.D., it makes a lot more sense. And it also gives more reasons why Nick Fury basically defied the Council and brought the Avengers together, continuing to try to motivate them to come together as a team even while knowing full well that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner didn't trust S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Fury himself). The Avengers double as Fury's answer to the old question of "who watches the watchmen"; don't forget that in The Avengers, it was S.H.I.E.L.D. that launched a nuke at Manhattan, and the Avengers (alerted by Fury) who stopped S.H.I.E.L.D. from destroying the city. And when S.H.I.E.L.D. goes bad, Captain America and Black Widow - both Avengers - end up destroying the organization, because their loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. is overridden by a greater duty.
  • Captain America and Black Widow were seen crossing a land border into New Jersey on their way to the abandoned Army base. Because New Jersey is a peninsula, the only place such a land border is found is at the northern edge of the state where it touches upstate New York. This might seem to be a mistake seeing as both of them would be coming from the Washington DC area to the south, but instead it makes perfect sense as bridges would be choke points that S.H.I.E.L.D. could more easily monitor. Driving north then east through Pennsylvania on local roads would be more effective at evading S.H.I.E.L.D.'s manhunt.
  • In The Incredible Hulk, Banner when on the run emphasized the importance of not using items like credit cards or cell phones, since his pursuers could track him through those. That trip to New Jersey was pretty far so at some point Cap would have needed to buy gas. So how did he pay for it without his enemies tracking him? Unlike Banner, he had Black Widow with him, who wasn't currently on HYDRA's hunt list. Thus, her using her own credit card (or probably the card of her latest secret identity) wouldn't be an alarm to them; they'd just assume she was on another mission.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D is broken, Fury's faked his death, and their secrets just got uploaded to the Internet. As mentioned above, this includes Coulson. However, if S.H.I.E.L.D rebuilds, they're going to need a new director, one who is experienced, a good team manager, and completely immune to corruption. Phil Coulson would probably be very close to the top of that list. This one has been confirmed. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 finale includes Fury naming Coulson the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • If you go back to the original Captain America: The First Avenger, there's a sudden blaring clue of Foreshadowing. After Steve is given the serum, and the celebration has started, everything goes to hell. Why? Because HYDRA had infiltrated their project. Infiltration was in their tactics literally from the get-go.
  • How did Zola go from being a mousy little guy ready to turn his back on Schmidt to become part of the Big Bad? Well, maybe he was always believed in HYDRA's ideas, but simply didn't like the way Schmidt was leading it. Given the chance to remold it in his own image, he seized it with both hands.
  • All those who chose to oppose the shield must yield! That's what the song says. However, every time Cap throws his shield, the Winter Soldier bats it out of the sky like it's nothing. Why? He's mind controlled. He's not acting on his own will, and therefore cannot choose to do anything, including oppose Cap's shield.
  • "Kate" didn't turn down Cap's offer to use his washing machine because she wasn't interested in getting to know him or because she already had a load running in the basement—she turned him down because she knew there was someone in his apartment and she needed to be prepared to provide backup if needed... as she did a few minutes later, when the Winter Soldier showed up. Or possibly because it would have been dangerous to her cover, not to mention unethical, for her to take him up on it (keeping in mind that the "price" was a cup of coffee together) when she'd been placed there to keep an eye on him.
  • Stephen Strange seems like a weird name for Sitwell to drop under the list of 'potential dangers', if we go with the assumption that he hasn't become Sorcerer Supreme yet - after all, the catalyst for his Origin Story is an accident that mangles his hands. Regardless of how good Zola's machine is, it seems unlikely that it would be able to predict something that random, or even that HYDRA would know enough about the existence and purpose of the Sorcerer Supreme to include it in their variables. Until you remember that Stephen Strange is a talented neurosurgeon, and HYDRA is awfully fond of brainwashing people; anyone with the potential skills to undo their hard work would probably make their hit list just for that. In fact, being a talented neurosurgeon would be an excellent reason for HYDRA to arrange the "accident" that mangles his hands. He can't surgically undo any brainwashing if he can't use his hands. With Project Insight shut down, they can't just blow him away from the comfort of a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier anymore and killing him the up-close and personal way would draw Cap's attention, since Cap knows that Strange is on their threat list. Destroying his hands and dressing it up like an accident would take this threat off the table without alerting Cap. Perhaps we're looking at the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of his Origin Story? There is a Doctor Strange movie set for 2016.
    • It's possible that the algorithm detects that Stephen's personality and mindset is that of a potential superhero. Scary thought.
      • That actually might be the Stark family's fault. Most would think that a jet-setting jerk of a rich guy would be the last person to be a superhero, except that...
      • Howard Stark fought the original Hydra and was a pain in their sides for decades.
      • Tony Stark probably wouldn't have been perceived as a threat either, except he then got lost in a desert once and became a superhero.
      • There's hints that Zola's algorithm also might not actually be targeting based entirely on personalities, but more on who has the potential to become a threat, i.e. has the money, brains, and influence to possibly be a thorn in Hydra's side instead of probably being a problem, hence why "bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, even your damn SAT scores" are so important. Emails, phone calls, and voting patterns make sense for determining whether someone would get on board with Hydra, but bank records, medical histories, and SAT scores are better for determining someone's power, intelligence, fitness, and influence.
    • Actually, we didn't have to wait for Dr. Strange's movie to find out another reason why HYDRA would put him on the list: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. incidentally revealed in "T.A.H.I.T.I." that when Fury had Coulson resurrected in secret, he'd attributed the agent's survival to emergency surgery performed by Strange. Which wasn't true - it was experimental infusions of Kree blood that brought Coulson back to life, not any conventional medical intervention - but that's what S.H.I.E.L.D.'s own files claimed about Phil's miraculous "recovery". In hiding the truth about his "one good eye's" restoration from Coulson with a faked account of his "life-saving surgery", the Director inadvertently made Strange look like a covert S.H.I.E.L.D. medical consultant. So it's Fury who unwittingly put an innocent surgeon on HYDRA's target list!
    • Actually, there's several layers to this. The exact date Strange's accident occurred is up for debate, and he clearly spent quite some time learning the mystic arts, so the events of Winter Soldier could be taking place prior to his accident, or after. The above bits of fridge brilliance make sense as to why Hydra was targeting Strange if it's before, but if it's after his accident its even better. Why? Because Sitwell went with very specific titles of random people to emphasize who Hydra was hunting, the "news anchor in Cairo, the Undersecretary of Defense,a high school valedictorian in Iowa city", then namedropped Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange. The above explained why Stephen was targeted, but not why Sitwell would personally know who he was, and call him by name instead of calling him a neurosurgeon in New York or something. Something had to connect Banner and Strange so that Sitwell remembered them, and it's pretty obvious if you remember when this was. Hydra, and by extension Sitwell were focused on them because both of them were missing.
      • Bruce Banner went missing after Age of Ultron incident and ended up on Sakaar, off world. Hydra was probably having an aneurysm about not being able to find him because the Hulk would be a massive threat to Hydra, and Bruce Banner was an acclaimed scientist of his own which was almost even more of a threat than the Hulk.
      • If this takes place *after* Strange's accident, Strange would likely be in Kahmer Tage by this point, out of the reach of basically any world government, even Hydra. With his supposed connection to Nick Fury, his skills in neuroscience, his personality, and the fact that he dropped off the face of the earth with no trace, Hydra was probably (and if you look at a certain way, justifiably) freaking out over losing him, even if they probably didn't know he was the Sorcerer Supreme. Oh, and one bit of Fridge Brilliance to support him training to be a Sorcerer at the time? Project Insight couldn't find him. Strange lived and worked in New York, but while Insight found Tony Stark exactly where he was supposed to be, in Avenger's Tower, Strange was nowhere on the list of targets in NYC.
  • If Steve is on Sam's left, then Sam is on Steve's right—Sam is Steve's right-hand man.
  • In The Avengers, Bruce and Natasha note that each member of the team is on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "threat watch", but only Cap is named in particular. Knowing that HYDRA has been running everything to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. since its founding back in 1946, it makes sense that The Star Spangled Man is considered a "global threat", as Tony put it.
  • It's not surprising that Steve has already seen WarGames, since in order to understand the repercussions of World War II, the first thing he'd want to do is learn as much about the Cold War as possible.
  • Fury tells Cap that his wife kicked him out when he shows up at his apartment after being attacked by HYDRA. Cap realizes this is a lie, but it's not really. Fury was married to his job, and now S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned on him.
  • When Cap gives his Rousing Speech and reveals to S.H.I.E.L.D. that HYDRA has infiltrated them, it may seem implausible that so many would consider Steve's words; even if he IS Captain America, they might conclude he's just gone crazy and can no longer differentiate past from future. If, say, Earl E. Anderson announced that Nazis had infiltrated Congress, how many would believe him? But remember, this is S.H.I.E.L.D. that's hearing his speech. They've discovered that the Norse gods are real and witnessed an alien army come to Earth through a portal from space. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. demonstrates that it's basically their job to uncover and handle a ton of weirdness every week. HYDRA being active again is possibly nowhere near as crazy for them to believe.
  • Steve taking his WWII suits has at least two themes going for it; one, is a symbolic that the same old Captain America is finally going to fight back against HYDRA again, to save the world, just like what he did before he got frozen. Two, the pragmatic reason, if he got lucky, he could makes The Winter Soldier remember him again, however small chance it got (if you remember, in The First Avenger, Bucky is the one who jokingly suggest him using suits based on his show costume). It can also have connotations that Steve is shedding his loyalty away from the corrupted S.H.I.E.L.D. (which provides him with suits he wore in the beginning) and returning to his old war hero persona.
  • If you think about it, Sam's jetpack power was kinda overkill, since it could support weight both Sam and Steve with almost no trouble, barring Sam's trouble with Steve's weight. However, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Sam's job before he retired are basically Combat Medic for people Trapped Behind Enemy Lines, which can include evacuation. So of course the jetpack should be designed to be able to bring another soldier, most likely injured, and maneuverable enough to evade big guns that can one-shot them.
  • If you look at the targets of Project Insight you realize something: even though it was targeting big names like Banner and Stark, as well as the loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it was also targeting potential threats, otherwise regular people with a certain mental and emotional makeup that proved to be against HYDRA's interests. The brilliance is who they are up against. Remember, Steve was just a skinny kid from Depression-era Brooklyn. He was probably the last person anyone thought would end being a world-saving hero three times over, least of all himself. HYDRA learned from Captain America himself that you can't underestimate the potential of even one human. They were trying to prevent another Steve Rogers.
  • Cap is the perfect person to stop HYDRA-infested S.H.I.E.L.D.. How? He is the only member of S.H.I.E.L.D. to NOT grow up under the cynicism and fear they created through their machinations. If he had, he would probably been just as susceptible to their plans as everyone else. Hell, probably the main reason why Nick Fury revealed Project Insight to Cap was because he knew Cap would be the only person who couldn't justify it, since he never lived through the kind of world where Insight actually sounded like a GOOD idea. This also means that his being frozen for years, while devastating emotionally, was probably the best thing to happen to the world, because he wouldn't be who he was, and did what he did, if it hadn't happened.
  • Fury having both his eyes registered seems like usual Properly Paranoid for him, yes, but it has more practical reason: It allows him to do things he thinks won't be sanctioned (at least legally) by Pierce, also to ensure that if something happened to Pierce, S.H.I.E.L.D. can still function. So yes, Properly Paranoid, but for more benign reasoning.
  • The Avengers:
    • With the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been compromised by HYDRA, the in-universe reason for the lack of army involvement in The Avengers, becomes clear. It's because their intelligence, and entire chain of command had been rigged and compromised from the beginning. The National Guard would be close enough to move in on their own (which HYDRA couldn't prevent without looking extremely suspicious), but it would have been easy to keep the rest of the military from mobilizing in time. Remember, armies can only work with government sanction. And when said government got their intelligence from S.H.I.E.L.D., corrupted by HYDRA... yeah.
    • Even the deploying of a nuke against the invasion in New York makes sense now: Hydra likely encouraged the targeting of the city instead of, say, the strategically logical and tempting target of the wormhole, because they would have salivated at the thought of using a nuke against an outside target and getting the entire world to pull an Enemy Mine under HYDRA's control. If the rest of the world buys into the idea that nuking New York was a Necessary Evil, then you might just 1) close off the wormhole, stopping the invasion, 2) eliminate the Avengers and anyone else you don't like in New York, and 3) present the world with a scenario where a hostile alien force is still actively targeting earth and S.H.I.E.L.D. stands guard. The last bit especially mimics the tactics of despots like Stalin.
  • The reason Maria Hill urges Natasha to finish her mourning over Fury's "corpse" isn't because she has places to be and people to answer to, it's because she either has to get him out of there before he wakes up and ruins the cover, and/or there are counter-meds she has to administer within a certain time frame to save him.
    • Or just that Fury's heartbeat and respiration are slowed, not stopped. Natasha stands there long enough, Fury's heart is going to beat or he's going to take a breath, and Natasha is precisely observant enough to notice.
  • You know that "On your left" scenes in the beginning? It nicely shows Steve's Character Development since The Avengers. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve is mostly polite, but honest to the point of bluntness, and only shows his (rather dry) sense of humor with friends and people he's comfortable with. In The Avengers, Steve is still politely honest, but distant and clearly still reeling from finding himself 70 years in the future. He barely smiles, let alone jokes around the way he does with Bucky. In this movie, we not only see Cap being sarcastic without being mean, he also (politely) flaunts his Super Soldier abilities by lapping Sam several times.
  • Sam's comment "I do whatever he does... just slower" is funny enough, but it becomes heartwarming when you realize it fits Steve Rogers' condition pre-serum. Even when he physically outmatched by everyone during his boot camp, he just didn't give up.
  • HYDRA existing within S.H.I.E.L.D. actually makes sense.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA is making weapons using the Tesseract. In The Avengers, Steve finds HYDRA weapons on the hellicarrier, and Tony turns up plans for new Tesseract-powered weapons.
    • In The Avengers, Tony's program that's meant to reveal "every dirty secret S.H.I.E.L.D. has been trying to hide" initially fails, implying greater security than Tony expected and that all files with information about HYDRA have security no one else in S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury tries to access files that have security he doesn't even know about, most likely due to HYDRA-related information on them.
    • In The Avengers, Tony compares Fury's justification for the Tesseract-powered weapons to a "nuclear deterrent". Even before HYDRA is revealed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve says, "This isn't freedom, this is fear," regarding Project Insight. Sounds a bit like a nuclear deterrent...
    • The largest of HYDRA's Tesseract-powered weapons is the Valkyrie, a giant aircraft with heavy weaponry that can cause countless deaths around the world in mere hours (it could wipe out the Eastern Seaboard in an hour, and Schmidt's target is everywhere.) By Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Tesseract is back on Asgard, but S.H.I.E.L.D. has built three giant aircraft with heavy weaponry that can cause countless deaths around the world in mere minutes. The Insight hellicarriers are modern-day Valkyries on massive steroids.
  • During the police ambush, a few things become clear in hindsight:
    • When the first police car pulls up alongside Fury's car, you see both cops are wearing sunglasses. The one driving momentarily emits a small woop on the siren before pulling forward. The cop hit the siren to signal to the other cops to move in.
    • It can seem like a coincidence that Winter Soldier was waiting for him the very same block he managed to turn and escape to. But in fact, that wasn't a coincidence at all, but a Batman Gambit. When Fury tells his car to find him an escape route, the onboard computer responds that the streets ahead are blocked, with one still clear. Fury takes its advice and plows through the crowded street in order to reach the clear one... just as Winter Soldier expected.
  • Look at the S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia on the flight decks of the Insight helicarriers. They're red, like the HYDRA sigil.
  • When Winter Soldier is being prepped by Pierce, Pierce tries to make what they're about to do sound like a good, heroic deed he should be proud of, specifically trying to make it sound like if he doesn't do this, the world will be plunged into chaos. While it doubles as propaganda, there's a deeper meaning. to get him to do what he wants, he had to convince him that it was a heroic deed. In other words, behind the brutal and silent combat style, the scary mask, and the hyper-lethal skillset, at his core, he's still a good man who thinks he's doing the right thing. While he's brainwashed, he's still a moral human being trying to be ultimately a good person, and thus, means that Bucky really is still inside. What's more, in the final fight with Cap, he opts to not finish Steve off once Steve stops fighting, and then saves his life as he starts remembering who Steve is, meaning that even if he's willing to do all those awful things, he's still incapable of killing a man who's surrendered and trying to make peace.
  • It's been conjectured that one of the reasons Steve chose to wear his vintage suit was to jog Bucky's memory of him. It doesn't initially work; the Winter Soldier fights him. It's not until Steve removes his mask, drops his shield, and starts talking to Bucky about their lives together that the Winter Soldier really starts to crack—because Bucky Barnes was the one guy who never saw "Captain America" when he looked at Steve. Bucky wasn't following Captain America, Bucky was following "that little guy from Brooklyn" to the end of the line.
  • It was essential that all of S.H.I.E.L.D. had to be destroyed in order to destroy HYDRA. The HYDRA slogan is "cut off one head, two more take its place". If you can't attack the head, what do you do? Attack the body. HYDRA was a parasite in S.H.I.E.L.D., so it had to be burned to the ground to be saved. Similarly, if you know where a parasite (Hydra) is but can't attack it outright because it's disguised itself as a non-parasitic entity (undercover Hydra agents vs. legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D agents), you can starve it by simply killing its host (S.H.I.E.L.D).
  • When Fury showed up at Cap's apartment, he said that only his friends knew about the attack on him. Pierce, a couple of scenes later, says that Fury was his friend, so he knew about it from the beginning.
  • Remember Steve's list, with Rocky listed alongside "Rocky II?". Why the indecision over the second movie? Well, one common criticism of Rocky II is that it undermined the message of the first movie, that proving to be the Determinator was more important than winning - which ties in nicely to the themes of this movie.
  • During the World Security Council's face-to-face meeting towards the end of the film, Pierce proposes a toast to them. Watch carefully; The lone female member hesitates to lift her glass, stalling until Cap takes over the PA system so she doesn't drink at all... because she's actually Black Widow. She's worried about the drink interfering with her high-tech Latex Perfection-esque disguise!
    • Also, she could be perfectly pulling off an impersonation of a Council Member who's one of Project Insight's more hesitant supporters. Which is exactly the sort of WSC member who'd be most willing to believe Black Widow if she told her what's really going on and asked to take her place at the meeting.
  • At one point during an ambush by the Winter Soldier and his troops, one of the attackers turns a minigun on Cap, who deflects the bullets with his shield. But while Cap is hunched down as much as possible behind his shield, his feet and legs are somewhat exposed, leaving some to wonder why the gunner doesn't target them. But think about the color scheme of the shield; concentric circles with a circle and star at the center. Now imagine the color scheme of a bullseye or a dartboard. Similar concentric circles. The shield's design isn't just about invoking patriotism, it's about taking advantage of conditioned reflexes acquired on the shooting range in order to draw the enemy's aim away from Cap's exposed limbs and to the shield itself.
  • Those quips in The Avengers about Cap being considered a threat to S.H.I.E.L.D. take on a whole new meaning in this movie, once you learn that HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. from day one. Since Steve is HYDRA's number one enemy, they were the ones who put him on that threat list.
  • In Iron Man 2, Tony didn't believe Fury saying that his father loved him, answering that his happiest day was sending Tony to college. Learning that Howard knew about HYDRA, it actually makes sense: Fury was one of the few people he could be honest to, while his colder attitude to Tony was meant not to make him a target for HYDRA. Of course sending Tony away was his happiest day, it was when he didn't have to worry for his son anymore.
  • Fury says that the last time he trusted someone, he lost an eye. This seems like a pretty strange thing to say, considering that he already had his eyepatch when he trusted the Avengers to save New York... until you remember that Coulson, Fury's "one good eye", died in that movie. Of course, Fury knows that Coulson is still alive, but he's keeping up the ruse with the team.
  • During their fight, Batroc gets Cap to put his shield away by taunting him in French. If he's really just a random pirate who decided to hijack a boat, how does he know that the guy leading the attack against him speaks French? It's not like that's something you would immediately assume about your enemy. He knows it because he's not just a random pirate - he was hired by Fury, who has access to Cap's S.H.I.E.L.D. file. He probably picked up that detail when Fury briefed him on the job. It's also possible that the Captain America legend included "and can speak most major European languages."
  • The Establishing Shot of Washington, D.C. right before Nick Fury is attacked is in itself foreshadowing. Most movies or shows, the establishing shot of an area is blue skies, an idyllic scene. In this, seconds before Nick Fury is betrayed and attacked, it's conspicuously cloudy, showing that things are about to get murky.
  • The title of the song that's playing on Steve's turntable—right before he sees the Winter Soldier for the first time—is "It's Been a Long, Long Time". Just over 69 years, to be precise...
  • Councilwoman Hawley says that her flight to DC was lovely, but "the ride from the airport, less so". Since Natasha must have intercepted and replaced her on that ride, one suspects it's entirely true.
  • Thinking back to The Avengers, Loki's taunting of Natasha was actually revealed to be Nat manipulating him, but later the scene with her and Clint implies that she was more affected than she was letting on at the time. With regards to this movie, one comment of Loki's stands out: "You lie and kill, in the service of liars and killers." Turns out, Loki had no idea how true that was. And it's a safe bet that Natasha was thinking about those words after what she heard at the army base.
  • Pierce's comments to Fury over the necessity of Hydra and doing what was necessary, even if it was wrong, can make a certain amount of sense if you think about it. The world is a chaotic place full of dangerous and evil individuals who would jump at the chance to sow fear and destruction. Including HYDRA. Pierce says he wants to be in control to protect the world, but conveniently forgets that, as Zola says, he's sowing chaos and reaping war.
  • One of Sam's first questions to Steve is "You must miss the good old days, huh?" Given that Steve is a white man from the 1940s, and that those "good old days" weren't particularly great for black Americans, this question also works as a clever, subtle way for Sam to feel out whether Steve still carries any racial prejudices of his time. (The audience knows that Steve recruited a racially mixed group for the Howling Commandos and has no issues taking orders from Fury, at least not any that are related to Fury's race, but Sam may not.) For his part, Steve immediately downplays how good the "good old days" supposedly were, possibly as an indication that he understood what Sam was really asking.
  • How did Bucky catch Cap's shield on the rooftop? HYDRA would avoid showing him any footage of Cap, just in case, and he didn't see Cap in action personally. Well, it could be reflexes...or maybe he just remembered. He knew Cap was chasing with nothing more than a shield, and when Bucky heard Cap hit the rooftop with nothing between them, he figured out what was coming on an entirely subconscious level. Watch closely; You can see him starting to turn around almost before he hears Cap's grunt.
  • Natasha and Sharon not only know each other, they must have met in front of Steve and pretended not to know each other at some point. Nat first tells Steve that "the nurse across the hall" seems nice. At the end of the movie, Nat tells Steve Sharon's real (first) name and that "she's nice."
  • Arnim Zola's death was roughly in 1972 or '73, which is roughly the period that Three Days of the Condor takes place. It's easy to believe that Alexander Pierce is Condor's Joe Turner (C.I.A. codename "Condor"), and that Zola arranged for HYDRA to save and protect Condor from the C.I.A. and had everyone pursuing Condor assassinated. And from then on Condor became a loyal member of HYDRA, and his bitterness at what the C.I.A. and the American government did to him and his friends drove him to become He Who Fights Monsters.

    Fridge Horror 

Fridge Horror:

  • Going across multiple films, shorts and the TV series, Sitwell was a good friend of Coulson's. Simmons flirted with him to try and get into a restricted area for information. And the entire time, he was a HYDRA mole, and no one who knew him suspected. At all. With this revelation, what do you think happened to his new recruits Benny and Claire and the Chitauri weapons that he was reverse-engineering?
  • S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fall:
    • Yay, we took down the corrupt government agency it turned out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was! Happy endings for all! You know, except the hundreds, maybe even thousands of non-HYDRA-affiliated employees who are now not only out of a job, but now have an organisation that turned out to be mostly run by Fascists down as their last place of employment. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson makes it pretty clear that if you want to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D., you have to give up hopes for any real normal life. So there's now a lot of ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who sacrificed almost everything for S.H.I.E.L.D., and might not be able to find work anywhere else. That's a lot of people who could be a little resentful. What's to bet at least one ends up either as a villain or a villain's minion?
    • On the flip side, what happens when you're a morally upright S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who discovers that they unwittingly helped further a plot to kill literally millions of people? You can bet that those people are going to need some serious therapy. Not just the Aircarrier plot - how many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents do you think are going to be looking back on any mission that didn't quite feel right, but that they were convinced was for "the greater good"?
    • Political thrillers always end up being topical whether they intend it or not. Thousands of ordinary working people, who had no part in their superiors' wrongdoing, losing their livelihoods because of the directors' sins certainly seems topical at the moment.
    • Not only that, as shown on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., many of the loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents had no idea who was HYDRA and who was on the up-and-up. How many loyal agents were frightened/tricked into fighting and killing other good agents by HYDRA's machinations?
    • Also, with S.H.I.E.L.D. now labeled a terrorist organization, all remaining agents are being hunted down by world governments whether S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalists or HYDRA sleepers.
    • Hooray, Hydra is gone because we took out S.H.I.E.L.D. Now all we have to worry about are the dozens of super-villains we're Loki now at the mercy of because of it. Now, instead of an entire agency defending the world, we have six people, who, despite their abilities, are still only six people.
    • Six people plus all the non-fictional national and international organizations for security, intelligence and law enforcement. All of whom can also exploit the sudden intelligence windfall of Natasha's whistle-blowing.
    • It is actually worse. It is implied that Black Widow dumped EVERYTHING onto the internet. Possibly including personnel records. Did loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents infiltrate the Ten Rings? The Ten Rings now know about about him. Did a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent kill a Russian mobster on an op out of necessity? The Russian mob knows where he and his family lives.
    • In a slightly more optimistic point, generally law enforcement agencies delete files relating to covert assets when they go undercover. While their past alias' and names will be still recorded, their photos will be erased and the only people who'll know they're undercover would be their handlers. So, undercover agents? Should be safe for now, they just don't have an extraction plan anymore. As for their families, local police, the FBI and US Marshal's service are likely to mobilize faster than criminal organizations, so they'd probably be put into Witness Protection before anyone can get to them.
  • HYDRA weapons:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D.'s collection and continued work on HYDRA weapons in The Avengers both makes more sense and seems a lot more ominous now, doesn't it?
    • Further than that: since HYDRA never lost control of the Tesseract (until The Avengers, anyway,) who's to say they hadn't spent seventy years trying to bring their old leader back from the depths of space? Maybe that's what Project Pegasus was really created for, what with the convenient landing pad and all...
    • And on top of that: not only was S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Phase 2 in the hands of HYDRA the whole time... but so was the Destroyer's Asgardian technology. And if the DVD shorts mean anything, Chitauri tech as well. And Stark's repulsor tech (which might have even included Arc Reactors). Really, HYDRA can potentially have control over every advanced tech ever seen in an MCU film.
    • What's more, by the end of the movie, every last scrap of that information, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s and Hydra's, is now online for literally anybody at all to use.
  • Most elements of the Winter Soldier's character in general. Imagine having gone through such horrific ordeals and experiments, forced to act as a pawn for people who you would normally call enemies, unable to do anything about it. Essentially, Bucky was subjected to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • The electroshock scene in the bank vault is a minefield of horrific implications:
    • During the scene right before the electroshock treatment, Bucky looks mildly concussed and only barely lucid, and this doesn't seem to be too out of the ordinary considering Pierce's treatment of him. It arguably looks less like active brainwashing and more like HYDRA was taking advantage of a man they intentionally brain damaged.
    • He opens his mouth to accept his mouth guard (so that he doesn't get injured when he bites down from the shocks) so passively, as if it were something he does on a routine basis. A number of people have pointed out that he starts to hyperventilate before the headpiece of the electroshock device is in place. HYDRA may constantly wipe his memories, but on some level he knows what's coming.
    • It's not just that they've reduced the man to an Empty Shell; what's really terrible is that, since he heals the damage, they have to keep doing it... and they do.
    • The way Pierce acts to him, first hitting him in the face when he doesn't respond, then talking to him quietly and comfortingly about what a help he's being to HYDRA. Bucky is quietly mumbling to himself about how 'he knew [Steve]', as though the memory damage has made him almost childlike.
    • Pierce walking away from Bucky's screams with no reaction — Bucky really is no more than an "asset" to him.
    • Check out a picture of young Robert Redford sometime and compare him to Chris Evans now. HYDRA picked Pierce to handle the Winter Soldier because Pierce looked like Steve and they knew Bucky would respond to that.
  • Related to the above; when Pierce sees the Project Insight helicarriers start to go down in flames, he doesn't have a Villainous Breakdown, he just sighs belatedly and says, "What a waste." It was S.H.I.E.L.D.'s version of the Fall of the Bastille. For every nation in the world, it was 9/11 meets "HYDRAgate". For HYDRA, it was their first setback in seventy years - the equivalent of a very successful corporation being forced to mass-recall a product. The Avengers are going to have their work cut out for them.
  • Captain America's distaste for the machines becomes a clever bit of satire when he is not offended by the Drone-Hellicarriers because he's afraid of some sort of Skynet-esque uprising. No, he's upset with the fact that if S.H.I.E.L.D. starts "proactively" hunting down targets then it crosses the line to murder. The thing is, due to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s research, it is INCREDIBLY EASY to compile a list of names of people needing to die and if it hadn't been in America—they probably wouldn't have cared. Perhaps the scariest bit is the fact that of the 700,000 they wanted to eliminate—it's implied everyone else would have capitulated. Worse, this is backed up by hard data.
  • Another bit of Fridge Horror isn't that Zola rebuilt HYDRA inside S.H.I.E.L.D.. It's that Zola found enough sympathetic ears to rebuild a Nazi-esque organization out for world domination in the heart of the world's intelligence arm. Possible sub-Fridge Brilliance there. Zola is smart enough to write an algorithm that can calculate anyone who will be some sort of threat to HYDRA. Who's to say he couldn't also write a similar one to find people most susceptible to HYDRA's way of thinking?
  • Bruce Banner:
    • Assume Cap had failed, or at least had failed to shut down the helicarriers before they were fully operational for about thirty seconds. Even setting aside all the people who died, presumably the highest-threat targets would be hit first—Tony, Rhodey, any other superhumans. One of those targets would have to be Bruce Banner. But it's implied in The Avengers that even if Banner sustains lethal injuries, the Other Guy will appear, completely unharmed and out for blood. Now plug that in—odds are Bruce might have been with Tony, working on some project or another, and then suddenly he's grievously injured and his closest friend is dead. How angry would the giant green rage monster be?
    • Even better, from HYDRA's point of view it's a win-win: either they kill Bruce, (since, unlike his suicide attempt discussed in The Avengers, he doesn't know the shot's coming), or the Hulk comes out and, lacking any visible foes, just starts smashing whatever is handy... which would cause chaos and fear, which they could take advantage of.
  • We find out that Howard Stark was murdered by HYDRA apparently because he figured out that they were infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. If he knew he was being targeted, he may have deliberately sent Tony off to boarding school/kept his distance in order to keep Tony safe. If he knew of HYDRA's terrifyingly deep level of infiltration, that would explain why he had to hide the details of his newfound elements in such a contrived manner, in order to protect it from falling in the wrong hands. He knew that only his son would be not just smart enough, but also a lateral thinker and would notice it sooner or later.
  • Zola's algorithm itself is an interesting meta example. It uses all the digital information found by what is essentially the whole planet's CIA to estimate who is going to grow up to be exceptional. This would include the pedestrian stuff like scientists, politicians, civil and military leaders etc. But we see heroes tagged in there as well. Zola's algorithm, in that case, could act as an Origin Story predictor.
  • Natasha releases all of S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA's information without anything being removed or censored. How many genuinely good agents who, like Natasha and Fury, believed they were working to protect people were murdered as a result of their operations and locations being put on the internet? Especially deep cover agents or ones in hiding? As Coulson points on in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there's also a legitimate reason as to why certain bits of information are kept classified, like otherworldly artifacts, alien technologies or generally anything that would be bad news for the world if it fell into the wrong hands.
  • While Fury's story about his grandfather the elevator operator is pretty awesome because he's able to intimidate tons of thugs into backing off by showing them he's packing, keep in mind that that was life in America before the Civil Rights movements, where if he hadn't been packing he might have gotten the bullet or even worse, lynched. Similarly, when the fake police give Fury the stinkeye right before the attack, he thinks it's just routine cops-harassing-black-man crap. Here's Nick Fury, professional paranoid and head of one of the most powerful organizations on the planet, and he's so used to cops being jerks to him for being black that he misses an oncoming attack.
  • HYDRA's absolute faith in Zola's 'future-predicting' machine is horrifying in itself. Considering how many variables exist in life, and how impossible it would be to account for every potential change and how it would precisely effect every single person at every point in their lives in the whole entire world regardless of how detailed your information on their past is, it's very likely that, even if you take HYDRA's Well-Intentioned Extremist tendencies in the most sympathetic light possible, they are still putting their faith in a system that is very unlikely to accomplish anything like 'peace', and killing millions of people for nothing.
  • The Winter Soldier is supposed to be the stealthiest, deadliest and most efficient assassin in the world. So why the hell does HYDRA have him attacking his targets in broad daylight, carrying guns with heavy firepower and being as unstealthy as possible even before his climactic battle with Captain America aboard the third Helicarrier? Because they never intended for him to survive his final mission. After all, what would be the need for an assassin if the world was going to be at peace? At best, they expected Bucky to go down in a hail of bullets or be decapitated with a well-aimed Cap Shield, or die in the Helicarrier crash. At worst, they were going to kill him once he returned back to headquarters. Or even worse, put him on ice indefinitely. Either that, or they wanted a very public couple of incidents right before they kick off their final plan, in order to cause more panic. This also explains why, once unmasked initially, HYDRA doesn't even bother to conceal Bucky's face for the rest of the film. He no longer needs to hide who he is or avoid being recognized, as he is now expendable.
    • Becomes even worse with the midpoint reveal in Civil War, that there are five other Winter Soldiers. Bucky says they're worse than he was, since they were originally enlisted HYDRA agents chosen for the project because of their already-massive kill counts. Was Bucky the one chosen for Project Insight because he was the most disposable? Did they just think they could cut costs on the preventive maintenance involved in using a fundamentally good man?
  • Strucker now has his hands on Loki's scepter, a mind-controlling weapon, Reality Warper Wanda Maximoff, and her could-kill-you-in-the-blink-of-an-eye brother Pietro. Put 2 and 2 together...
  • Black Widow and Fury released S.H.I.E.L.D.'s/Hydra's entire secret archive to the public BEFORE Captain America and Falcon were able to destroy the helicarriers and stop Project Insight. Assuming that the helicarriers select targets for elimination using Zola's algorithm in real-time, then that move would have resulted in greatly increasing the amount of deaths since many more people who would have otherwise submitted to Hydra's rule will resist instead after learning about all the atrocities that they have committed in the past and how they have been manipulating historical events for the past 70 years.
    • So basically, the leaked S.H.I.E.L.D. intelligence would be the MCU version of Roko's basilisk?
  • A lot of people may have missed it, but when Peggy has her memory lapse, it almost certainly isn't the first time Steve's seen her forget.
  • HYDRA is out there. And as we have seen, they aim to create a world so panicked and paranoid that it would just submit for safety. Their plan no matter how it goes guarantees a victory. If Project Insight had taken off and completed its task, boom that's it. Had the targets not been struck, just the sheer act of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech being used offensively would have sent people into panic and worry. And with the Revelation that Hydra is still out there the paranoia only grows. Hydra's plan to run the world only continues.
  • What exactly did HYDRA do to Bucky? The scene where Pierce backhands him brings up some serious implications, along with being, arguably, the most disturbing moment in the film. Bucky's passive reaction to the abuse brings two theories to the table:
    • One, that HYDRA has fried his brain so much that they have to "kick it into gear" so to speak nowadays just to get him to respond, or two, somewhere along the line they subjected him to literally tortuous physical and psychological abuse. Both are terrifying, but the second is significantly more so, and, unfortunately, the more likely. The difference between declarative and procedural memory accounts for them not having to retrain him every time he's wiped, but it's pretty clear that on some level he knows that, for example, the chair is going to be agonizing—yet he doesn't fight once Pierce shows up. That kind of obedience takes some serious (and seriously evil) effort to instill.
    • Also, it can be assumed that Bucky is a pretty righteous man just by nature, so it would probably take more than erasing his memories of his past to get him to agree to brutally murder people. While Pierce does attempt to sway him into obeying by trying to explain that The Winter Soldier's actions have been a "gift to mankind," he does so after slapping him, so it obviously wasn't his first plan. Also, while Bucky doesn't appear to have any scars aside from around where his left arm got amputated, his status as a super-soldier kind of rules out the possibility that he in any way has the recovery rate of a normal human, so for all we know HYDRA could have subjected him to brutal torture along with the pretty clear psychological reconditioning. In a broader scope, if this is the case, it becomes so much more horrifying when realize that, if HYDRA was torturing him, they did so for the better half of a century. Whether it was decades of abuse or constant cognitive tampering, the film made it pretty clear that, however Bucky appears in upcoming sequels, he's gonna be pretty fucked up.
  • Considering there are toxins that can induce dementia-like symptoms, who knows if Peggy Carter, the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., wasn't poisoned as a more "merciful" way of tying loose ends.
  • The fake cops attacking Fury proceed to shoot through civilian vehicles, completely careless of "collateral damage". The emergency rooms must be overflowing with injured and dead.
  • The sheer scope of HYDRA's manipulations: seventy years of War for Fun and Profit. Two generations that grew up in fear of the atomic bomb, and a third that has grown up in fear of terrorism. All to make people scared enough to buy their rhetoric of The Evils of Free Will. It's like one of those "My entire life is a lie!" stories for the entire planet.
  • The fact that from the start, S.H.I.E.L.D. was a puppet of HYDRA. Moreover, their targets included the President and Tony Stark, who they were milliseconds away from killing.
    • HYDRA's plan of making sure the world is desperate enough to sacrifice freedom for safety. And they were succeeding.
    • Seeing the algorithm uploading and targeting people. Hundreds of thousands of people. The number just keeps going up and up, and there are multiple satellite photos of entire city blocks covered with targeting symbols. One of which was Stark Tower.
    • Pierce says that 20 million people are set up for execution, while trying to convince Fury to let the massacre happen. The calm way he says the figure is eerie.
    • And they said they reached "target saturation," not that they had locked on all targets. And, this was just in New York and Washington DC
    • He's talking fast, so it's easy to miss, but when Sitwell is naming all the kinds of people that the algorithm will kill, he says "high-schoolers." That's right, HYDRA is targeting "potential threats" as young as high school students. Then again, the guy who took down HYDRA in World War II started off as a 95 pound asthmatic from Brooklyn that the U.S. Army had rejected four times, so they weren't taking any chances.
  • After Steve finds out the true identity of the Winter Soldier, he slips into a Heroic BSoD and the HYDRA mooks put him in a set of almost hilariously oversized manacles and leg restraints. The thing is, how do you think they developed those restraints? Had to be on another super-soldier. Like, say, Bucky. And Steve is smart enough to figure that out. No wonder he's so pissed towards the end.
  • In The Avengers (2012), Coulson's remark about having watched Steve Rogers sleeping was a comically-awkward moment on first viewing. Post-Winter Soldier, it becomes tinged with Fridge Horror: it's entirely possible that Coulson's obsessive vigil over Cap's unconscious body was the only thing that kept HYDRA's agents within S.H.I.E.L.D. from murdering Rogers in his sleep before he could be revived. Suddenly that fanboy tendency looks a lot less silly.
  • The Stinger very strongly implies that one of HYDRA's continuing projects that located or produced Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch is to acquire more of their own superhuman "miracles". From its very beginnings under Schmidt, the super-soldier formula was of sufficient interest to them to infiltrate the U.S.'s research in that area. Consider that, and then consider how Fury's superiors had initially wanted to include the Abomination in the Avengers. What if it wasn't Blonsky's own fighting abilities they wanted to acquire, but rather samples of his blood, on which to base a whole legion of HYDRA miracle-monsters? Thank God Almighty that Stark annoyed Ross enough to shut that down, before it got any further...
  • The death of Sam's friend Riley sounds terrible enough if you assume (as Steve does) that they were both flying helicopters or airplanes. Then you see what Sam's flying gear really looks like and you realize Riley was wearing, at most, a flak jacket when he took a rocket-propelled grenade to the face. There undoubtedly wasn't even enough of a body to bother trying to retrieve.

    Fridge Logic 


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