Thursday, April 3, 2014

Can't wait for what's next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Warning: spoilers on Agents of SHIELD and Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For the past few weeks, I've been going through all the MCU movies to build up to The Winter Soldier. I had fun along the way, but I was mostly pumped by how good TWS ratings are. Even though I've managed to avoid its trailers, I read a few rumors of what The Winter Soldier's storyline might be. And it builds up from the last couple episodes of Agents of SHIELD.

With what's going on on the last few episodes of AoS, I believed that the storyline moving forwards would be how SHIELD is compromised. But I wasn't expecting HYDRA to come back! Basically, HYDRA was never gone. They just planted themselves deep within SHIELD and waited for the right moment to go forward. Scientist Arnim Zola, who Cap presumed dead, had his brain installed in a data center. The part I hated the most was that he served the purpose of the idiot evil genius who tells their entire plan to the hero so he could stop it. Yeah, the more they dragged on that scene, the more disappointed I became. I know that he was just stalling because "SHIELD" had launched a rocket towards the building (which actually meant Zola's death this time), but it was still annoyingly clichéd.

I think the point of the story –– freedom vs. protection –– is very topical and can lead to a long debate that I would rather postpone. Strangely, I'm not quite sure where SHIELD –– or what remains of SHIELD –– stands on that debate. We all know where Cap is; he mentioned it quite sternly. But I think Black Widow and Fury can be swayed either way. Although Black Widow has never really been a favorite of mine (nothing against her, I've just been more interested in other characters), I am now really looking forward to what the future holds for her. Maria Hill working for Stark? Can't wait! Basically, I'm just excited.

With SHIELD in jeopardy, and seemingly almost destroyed, where does this leave the show? Even in their own little group, there's distrust between May and Coulson. A little detour, when they showed that post-credits scene on "Yes Men," my mind was blown. May really was the last person I would have suspected, which I guess is why they made her do it. Now, we're still not sure who May reported to. I'm guessing Fury, since apparently not a lot of people at SHIELD (including the Clairvoyant) knows what had been done to Coulson. I still think that May was reporting to Fury. Is The Clairvoyant part of HYDRA? So many questions!

Speaking of AoS, it seems that no one knows Thor is on Earth. On the Asgardian crossover episode "Yes Men," Coulson didn't mention to Sif that he knew. And Sif seemed to not know either, saying that she would tell Thor that Coulson is alive. I mean, if she knew Thor was on Earth, I'd assume she would tell him and Thor would visit Coulson. I'm also assuming that Loki is still on the throne on Asgard. So was it him who sent Sif to retrieve Lorelei?

Marvel really knows how to keep me invested in their expansive universe. In the mid-credits scene, Baron van Strucker makes an appearance, discussing HYDRA plans and how to handle SHIELD now that the secrets are out. And it shows that they have the twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, as prisoners. They somehow, in the few seconds I saw them. I read that neither of them worked for SHIELD at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so I assume that's when HYDRA "releases" them against the Avengers. Therefore, Age of Ultron would still have HYDRA as the villain (along with Ultron?).

I actually missed the post-credit scene at the theater because my family got up to leave after the mid-credit scene. A quick google says that it was Bucky Barnes visiting the Smithsonian for the Captain America exhibit, and sees himself fighting alongside Steve Rogers. Does that mean that The Winter Soldier is now on SHIELD's side and will appear in Cap 3? I hope so; I like him.

A couple nods I enjoyed: Anthony Stark was one of the targets of the Insight helicarriers, and he was shown to be in the Avengers Tower in New York. It looks quite similar to Stark's Tower that was destroyed in The Avengers, which conveniently had the letters of his name knocked off except for the A. I'm guessing he just had it rebuilt and repurposed. I also want to believe that this is where Maria Hill is stationed.

Also, Agent Sitwell mentioned Stephen Strange as a potential target during his "interrogation." Probably still a while away from actually meeting Dr. Strange, but that was pretty cool.