hydra.trace.1I’m going to go ahead and warn you right now that there are details within this piece that, if my assumptions are correct, could spoil things about Captain America: The Winter Soldier for any reader.  This does not involve a story leak or any production rumors.  It is simply speculation on my part based on the information at hand involving what we already know of the production, the existing films in the Marvel Movieverse, and the source material.  If you wish to remain completely surprised by any possible revelation that may occur in the film upon its April release next year, then stop reading right now.

We know that our Iron Man 3 villains are The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), Savin (James Badge Dale), Firepower (Ashley Hamilton), and to a certain extent, AIM.  We know that the big bads in Thor: The Dark World are Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston), Algrim the Strong/Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and (probably) Loki.  Hell, we even have strong evidence suggesting that the adversaries in Guardians of the Galaxy are Thanos and The Controller.  But what of Captain America: The Winter Soldier?  Let’s have a look at that recently confirmed cast list…

  • Chris Evans as “Steve Rogers/Captain America”
  • Scarlett Johansson as “Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow”
  • Sebastian Stan as “Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier”
  • Emily VanCamp as “Agent 13″ (aka Sharon Carter)
  • Anthony Mackie as “Sam Wilson/Falcon”
  • Robert Redford as “Alexander Pierce”
  • Samuel L. Jackson as “Nick Fury”
  • Cobie Smulders as “Agent Maria Hill”
  • Maximiliano Hernandez as “Agent Jasper Sitwell”
  • Frank Grillo as “Brock Rumlow” (aka Crossbones)
  • Georges St. Pierre as “Georges Batroc” (aka Batroc the Leaper)
  • Toby Jones as “Dr. Arnim Zola”
  • Hayley Atwill as “Peggy Carter”
Crossbones

Crossbones

Before we get into the nemesis side of this particular equation, let’s backtrack and talk about what we know of the plot.  Marvel has described it as such: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will pick-up where “Marvel’s The Avengers” left off, as Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, D.C.  Between that and Marvel grand poohbah Kevin Feige referring to it as a Clancy-esque political thriller, I think we have a decently clear picture of where this is headed.  Assassinations, espionage, lies, deceit, corruption…the works.  It also gives Marvel a nice way of covering why the heroes aren’t banding together to tackle every world problem.  Thor will be off dealing with Asgardian issues and Iron Man will be fighting terror abroad; leaving Cap and SHIELD to deal with a dangerous domestic threat.

Now let’s take a look at our confirmed villainous line-up:  Winter Soldier, Crossbones, Batroc the Leaper, and Zola.  None of these shady punks are ever really their own boss.  Hell, the first three are mercenaries.  Now, given that Russia has yet to be mentioned anywhere in connection with this film, I’m guessing that particular aspect of the source material has been tossed out.  This makes a lot of sense, as it will help streamline things and get the story rolling a whole lot easier.  We already know that this film will feature some flashback sequences to Cap’s WW2 days; something that the presence of a returning Atwell and Jones only further cements.  Does this mean Arnim Zola will remain confined to past memories*?  Not necessarily, but for now let’s assume that the bulk of Toby’s scenes will involve the past.  Given that he was obviously experimenting on Bucky when Cap busted the troops out of HYDRA’s facility, the streamlining of our Winter Soldier tale had already begun in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Batroc ze Leaper

Batroc ze Leaper

So how do Crossbones and Batroc fit in?  I’m guessing that our three mercenaries form a small hush-hush Black Ops team that not only works for our government, but for an adversary that is undercover within it.  A sleeper cell, if you will, that decides to seize the opportunity that the chaos of the events of Loki’s New York invasion have caused the country.  Three of our four confirmed bad guys have ties to one particular major Marvel villain and he is one that Captain America is all too familiar with:  Red Skull**.  The bread crumbs are all there.  The mysterious machine that Bucky was hooked up to in the previous Cap adventure.  Zola being forced to defect.  The confiscated HYDRA weaponry that appeared in The Avengers.  The fact that Red Skull was merely transported somewhere by the Cosmic Cube, as opposed to dying as Cap thought at the time.  I believe that HYDRA will be reborn in the Movieverse’s modern age and it will have a disguised Red Skull sitting at the head of its table.

The final piece of the puzzle to this round of speculation is the character of Alexander Pierce.  Pierce, a close friend of Nick Fury’s, entered the comics in a storyline that saw SHIELD taken over by HYDRA with Deltites, which is another name Life Model Decoys.  What is a Life Model Decoy?  It is merely an exact robotic duplicate of a person and something that Marvel has used to write-off characters deaths countless times in the comics.  Anyway, Agent Pierce joins with Fury to take back the organization and kick HYDRA’s ass.  Pierce is also shown to be Fury’s personal aide/bodyguard.  Now I don’t know about you, but I really can’t see Robert Redford playing the role as written.  More than likely he will be a cohort of Fury’s with equal power or even his superior, at least professionally.

The inclusion of Pierce is a massive red flag.  You don’t just hire someone like Redford to play some random supporting SHIELD character.  If you hire him, it’s for a very important part, no matter the screentime.  Also why would choose this particular SHIELD character if you don’t intend to pull other aspects from the storyline in which he first appeared?  The answer is that you wouldn’t.  Are we finally going to see LMDs appear in the Movieverse?  I think we are.  It just makes sense given the upcoming SHIELD show and ESPECIALLY in reference to the fact that we already know Agent “His Name Was Phil” Coulson (Clark Gregg) will mysteriously return to life in the near future.  Not only does the use of this aspect of Pierce’s introductory tale sit will with the plot at hand, but it continues to lay groundwork for future Marvel projects to build on.  That my Chewers, is something that Marvel is absolutely fond of doing with these films.

Enough pontificating though.  If I am wrong, so be it!  My gut tells me that I’m at least partially correct.  HYDRA is alive and well in the present day.  And it is alive and well within SHIELD.  It may or may not have controlled LMDs infecting every area of the agency.  It may even have Zola stowed away pulling their strings.  It absolutely has a wetwork team comprised of Winter Soldier, Batroc the Leaper, and Crossbones.  It has a leader who has yet to officially be revealed to us.  That leader is Alexander Pierce.  Yep, I’m calling it right now.  Robert Redford is the goddamn Red Skull.

Robert Redskull?

Robert Redskull?

Source | My own fanboy lunacy

* – I hope not.  With Marvel going increasingly cosmic with the likes of Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers 2, etc., I think there is PLENTY of room in the Movieverse for a giant robot that has a Toby Jones-face viewscreen in its tummy.  Besides, it brings us on step closer to seeing MODOK realized on the silver screen.

** – I know many are hoping for the inclusion of Baron Zemo at some point.  Chris Evans signed a 6-film contract, which effectively gets us a Captain America trilogy and an Avengers trilogy out of him at the very least.  There is plenty of room for Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil to take up residence in the inevitable Captain America 3 and/or the upcoming SHIELD series.