As the ongoing narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe rattles on, it’s only natural that the number of open questions about future storylines should increase, rather than decrease. Even so, though, it was particularly notable just how many plot and character threads seemed to be left dangling in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not only did the film set up several possible avenues for the next standalone Cap adventure (a consequence, in part, of cramming just a little too much into its running time), but it could also have had the subtitle Avengers 1.5, considering the way in which it changed the direction of the wider MCU story.
Here, then, are what we’ve identified as the major outstanding plot threads at The Winter Soldier‘s close of play – and where we think they might be leading towards. Spoilers aplenty, obvs.
The Winter Soldier
Well, obviously. Bucky’s story is left so incomplete that it’s a wonder his sobriquet even made it into the movie’s title in the first place. As the film ends, he’s only just on the verge of rediscovering who he is – meaning that we’ve probably got a whole further film in which we’ll see him clawing back his memories and personality in the way that Comics Bucky did (it probably won’t involve a Cosmic Cube this time, but… hell, you can’t rule anything out when you know these films are about to do the Scarlet Witch).
The question is, have we yet seen enough of Bucky to care about this story? I know a good handful of fans who certainly do, but that might just be the certain-kind-of-person-with-a-Tumblr-account who I tend to internet-socialise with. The worry is that without having fully developed him over the course of this film, the story might not be compelling enough to sustain the next one. And that’s even before we speculate over whether or not he might actually end up wielding the shield further down the line…
Has she done enough to get her own film yet, rather than being a supporting character in someone else’s? Has she? If ScarJo is willing, you’d have to assume now that Natasha is by far the best bet – commercially and narratively – for Marvel’s first female-led outing, and the character now seems to have fully completed her arc from “spy with a shady past” to “out and out superhero”. We want to see where she goes next, and a film of her own would seem to be a far better place for it than Cap 3.
Someone who would make an excellent sidekick for Rogers’ next outing, however, is Anthony Mackie, who performed the startling feat of making Sam Wilson an interesting and entertaining character. He’s even expressed an interest in wearing the Falcon’s original red spandex. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see Redwing next time and everything…
While not a huge part of The Winter Soldier‘s plot, Sharon was nevertheless a relatively significant one. The fact that we were given details of her fate after the dismantling of SHIELD suggests that we’ll likely see her again in the next Cap film – perhaps finally giving Steve a replacement love interest for Peggy Carter? This would be hugely welcome, because despite her limited screentime, she was pretty great.
The biggest question, of course, is whether she is actually a Carter or not – the film refused to give her the surname, but given that Peggy presumably stayed in the US to set up SHIELD, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Sharon could be an as-yet-unrevealed descendent.
There can’t have been much more of a reason for showing Brock Rumlow’s charred-but-still-alive form right at the end than to suggest that his eventual alter-ego Crossbones is a potential villain for a future Cap film. In the comics, of course, he was Steve Rogers’ killer – and as rumours that the “Death of Cap” storyline might eventually play out in the films refuse to go away, that would strengthen his claims to a possible future role.
Nick Fury is dead…
… long live Nick Fury. While the world believes him to be buried under that Pulp Fiction-quoting headstone, we know that Nick is alive and well, and heading off to Europe to track down the remaining HYDRA cells. Is Jackson, then, finally going to get his own film as well? Or better yet, might we see him putting together an all-new team – perhaps a Secret Avengers lineup – to carry out these covert ops?
And if he is, and if they’re in Europe anyway, can Captain Britain please be one of them?
Maria Hill: Agent of STARK
Maria’s brief coda scene suggests that we’re possibly not going to see her in the increasingly crowded Age of Ultron – although more shortly on the question of whether being in SHIELD is now in any way indicative of a connection to the Avengers going forwards – but seeing her go for a job interview at Stark Enterprises was a delightful twist. While the chances of seeing her in an Iron Man film presumably depend on there actually being another Iron Man film (which isn’t necessarily a given, as it goes), the idea of her doing so is a mouthwatering prospect.
“Stephen!” “Just coming!”
While Marvel’s “Phase Three” is fast filling up – we don’t know exactly how many films are going to be in it, but it’s likely to be between four and six – you’d have to assume there’s going to be room in it somewhere for the Sorcerer Supreme, thanks to a not-so-offhanded mention of him in Winter Soldier. Everyone’s got an opinion on who should play Doctor Strange, of course – we’re still rooting for Hugh Laurie, but it’ll probably be Johnny Depp or something.
Who Avenges The Avengers?
While the implications of the collapse of SHIELD are playing out over the remainder of the first season of Agents of SHIELD (which might as well now be considered as a TV show that basically launched six months too early), there also remains the question of just who’ll be calling the shots when the gang get back together for Avengers 2. If we assume Fury’s absence, it’s very unlikely that the Avengers will continue as a SHIELD-backed organisation (it’s notable, incidentally, that Cap now carries an “A” symbol on the shoulder of his new costume, rather than a SHIELD insignia) – so it’ll be interesting to see just who brings them back together, where they’re based, and that sort of thing.
(Incidentally, we’re not counting the mid-credits sequence – in which we met Baron Strucker, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch for the first time – as events set up by Winter Soldier itself, as these credits sequences very much stand alone from the movies they’re attached to. But if you want to, then yes, they offer a tantalising hint of what we’ll be seeing in Age of Ultron, without actually revealing very much at all.)
Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Batroc!
Look, it’s crazy enough that we now live in a world where Batroc the Leaper has been in a major Hollywood blockbuster. Is it really much more of a stretch to now hope for another one?
He could easily have escaped custody amid the collapse of SHIELD, leading to a potential reappearance in the next Cap film. Or even in his own film? Or a TV series? A Batroc Saturday morning cartoon? Breakfast cereal? Lunchboxes? Whatever, we want to see it.