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Thursday, April 10th, 2014 07:35 am
Okay, thoughts on "The Winter Soldier".

1) Cap does look worn down by the 21st century. For which I don't blame him. (Meta note: Chris Evans is, I suspect, discovering what a rock around the neck a superhero role can be).

2) Robert Redford does a brilliant job of playing the villain. The scene where Alexander Pierce is interviewing Steve Rogers is a beautiful one (particularly when you consider that had these movies been made in the 1970s, they would certainly have been attempting to get hold of Robert Redford to play Steve Rogers/Captain America) simply for the whole generational clash embodied in it. I find myself wondering whether Redford enjoyed the role after so many years of playing the people who are endeavouring to take down the Alexander Pierces of this world.

3) Finding Zola has been the effective mastermind behind keeping Hydra going throughout the years is an interesting twist. My impression of him in the first Captain America movie was he was a technologist who was mainly going along with Schmidt's plans because a) flashy energy source which allowed him to make things beyond his wildest dreams; and b) it's never a good idea to say "no" to a psychopathic megalomaniac unless you have a bigger and better psychopathic megalomaniac behind you to make it stick. However, from what he said, it turns out he may have been a true believer all along... but one who wasn't overly impressed with the way Schmidt warped things to centre around himself. Certainly he was quite willing to sell out Schmidt to the SSR once he was captured (in "The First Avenger"). I suspect he may have known of Hydra moles high up in the US government even then... after all, what *were* the origins of "Operation Paperclip"?

4) I'm starting to suspect we can find clauses of what Hydra's actual vision statement might be through comparing three movies (so far). One of the pillars is certainly pushing the frontiers of science (or rather, the frontiers of technology - so far we haven't actually seen any Hydra scientists doing pure research; it's all been applied stuff). Another of them, strangely enough, appears to be in concert with Loki's declaration in Stuttgart that humans don't handle freedom well - and thus we need someone to be "top monkey" and keep us all in line. Hydra only disagrees with Loki on this one in as much as they'd rather have one of their own be top monkey, instead of some random Jotun with a grudge. A third prong of it would be something about weapons only being allowable in the hands of certain people - Hydra certainly wouldn't agree with the US second amendment as it currently stands (having the reveal of the Senator who was attempting to gain control of the "Iron Man Weapon" for the US military as a Hydra operative makes a lot of sense). A fourth would be the notion of history being malleable, and able to be directed and edited as necessary to put them in charge (as per "The Sound of Music", tomorrow belongs to them).

5) I'm finding it hard to believe there aren't Hydra operatives scattered through a lot of the infrastructure of the USA by this stage. After all, the aim is to step in and take over once Project Insight goes through, so clearly they can't just have apparatchiks in places like SHIELD. It makes sense they'd have people in the Pentagon, in the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, all the alphabet soup agencies, every single major city police force (not just Washington DC) as well as hospitals, psychiatric facilities (actually, these ones would be crucial for keeping certain people out of sight - declaring your opponents insane has always been a useful political trick; more so when you control the definition of "insanity"), various government departments - everywhere. Plus it wouldn't just be the USA - in order for Hydra to be successful, they'd need highly-placed operatives in the major governments around the world to basically ensure people didn't suddenly develop attacks of bravery when faced with the question of what to do about these airships which effectively have the entire world at gunpoint right now. Particularly in places like Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, Iran, France and the UK - these nations, combined, have a nuclear arsenal which isn't quite equal to the USA, but which could certainly render large chunks of certain parts of the country (such as Washington DC) uncomfortable for anyone other than Bruce Banner.

6) Speaking of which... did they really think they were going to knock out Bruce Banner with bullets? Or bombs? Or even some high-powered kill-o-zap death ray? The Hulk has had all of these dropped on him so far, and all they've done is made him more irritable.

7) That said, my biggest problem with the whole "Hydra as the source of all the conspiracy theorist's nightmares for a century" is the same one I've always had with conspiracy theories as a whole: it depends too much on too many people being doing the right things for the wrong reasons, knowing too much about the wrong things and keeping it to themselves, and nobody anywhere along the way getting greedy and going to the boss or blowing the whistle. Even if you posit "secret cells where nobody knows anyone else"... well, "Winter Soldier" turns that one on its head - Jasper Sitwell is clearly on lunching terms with Senator Stern and the senator says "Heil Hydra" to him as a farewell. And if Jasper Sitwell is a double agent for Fury (which I'm going to go along with at the moment... he's too good a potential character to lose from the whole mess, unless the actor who plays him has decided they want out) then there's your operational security blown out of the water straight up. Conspiracies are good fiction, but lousy reality, because at their hearts, the kinds of people who are attracted to them tend to be scared, greedy little weasels, and they'll rat as soon as they're convinced their precious skin is at risk.

8) Why wasn't Maria Hill promoted when Fury was shot? The implied hierarchy of things in there was Alexander Pierce was Nick Fury's boss, and the government representative. He's referred to as "Secretary" (as in "of State" or "of the Treasury", one presumes). When Nick Fury, Director Fury of SHIELD, is shot by mysterious assassins, the standard operational procedure for any organisation is that the deputy steps into the role. So either Maria Hill had been demoted sometime between Avengers and CA2, or else she's been deliberately kept out of things (something which is so far AGAINST normal government operations there should have been ructions all the way up and down the food chain - Pierce is basically interfering with the whole structure of authority within the agency) and which would have rendered him liable to actions from just about every single agent all the way down the tree from Hill to the newest rookie in the training camps. Maria Hill should not have been able to get out of the Triskellion short of actually murdering Pierce if she was still Deputy Director.

So possibly the shot of her at the end of the story hooked up to something at Stark enterprises is her accounting for a very sudden leave of absence taken on next to no notice...

9) The shot of "the twins" in the after-the-credits sequence gives me an idea for how the whole "Age of Ultron" thing will happen. See, the young lady with the creepy look in her eye there is Wanda Maximoff, better known to comics fans as The Scarlet Witch. Her power set (which is actually a mutation even if the MCU isn't allowed to use the term) is the manipulation of chaos, usually via magic because this is the skill set she learned to understand it as - or in other words, she's quite capable of being a walking embodiment of Murphy's Law. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, usually at the worst possible moment. So if she's in range when JARVIS is remote-handling one of Tony's suits, well... one crazy AI to go, folks.
Saturday, April 12th, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
I found it interesting that it's definitely taking a poke at the current political situation (with regards to exchanging freedom for security) especially in the USA but others are doing similar. And Hydra as you describe it reminds me a lot of the Dominionists in the USA.
Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 05:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've seen people do the "Well, that would never happen in the real world" and I thought "Yeah, but I wonder how many politicians wish it could?"