Publicist Caro here! When our fearless publicity leader Pam told me she was going to see CIVIL WAR this weekend, I burbled excitedly, because the MCU is serious business. But then she told me that she hadn’t seen WINTER SOLDIER, and wouldn’t have time, and did I know of any good summaries. WELL THEN. My natural enthusiasm for all things spandex-y/Chris Evans-y/Comics-y took firm hold of me, and in a trance-like state, I wrote this. For anyone who needs a refresher course on WINTER SOLDIER before seeing CIVIL WAR…this is for you. And if you need someone to share some Cap/Peggy, or Cap/Bucky/Falcon feels with, I am your girl. But I digress…please note, this is an exhaustive summary, so obviously there are WINTER SOLDIER spoilers. Also, there’s some language, because my enthusiasm cannot be contained. Enjoy!
Okay, so WINTER SOLIDER opens up with our boy Steve Rogers aka Captain America aka Captain Looks-Good-In-Spandex, going for a run around D.C. He is literally doing laps around a former soldier, Sam Wilson. As it turns out, Sam knows all about Steve Rogers’ alter-ego as Cap (because it is super-duper public), and they have a conversation about all of the stuff that he’s missed while spending some time being cryogenically frozen. Steve has a list of things to look up on the internet, which is adorable, and also…how did people live without the internet? Makes you think. Anyhow, Sam suggests that he listen to Trouble Man by James Brown. It’s really all he needs. Steve adds it to his mega list, and the two become tentative bros. THIS IS A MOVIE ABOUT BROMANCE AND I LOVE IT!
Natasha/ Black Widow interrupts the budding bromance by driving up in a slick car and asking them where she can find a fossil for the Smithsonian (haha, Steve Rogers is 80). Steve gets in the car, and it’s off to their mission: a bunch of hostages are being held on a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel by George Batroc (aka this guy from comics, aka the most ridiculous villain ever—his thing is that he is French, and jumps a lot, like a frog. Yay, slurs!). Cap literally jumps out of a helicopter with no parachute, because that’s how he rolls, while Natasha and the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents make their way down to the boat at a more stately pace. By the time they get there, Cap has pretty much dispatched of everyone except one dude, which some badass named Agent Rumlow takes out. Cap gets busy trying to free the hostages, but it seems that Natasha has a second mission: she’s sneakily acquiring data from the ship for big papa Nick Fury. Cap is majorly P.O.’d that she does this, but that’s because he’s a soldier, not a spy. This is like…a major “THING” in the movie.
Anyhow, hostages are freed, everything is dandy, and everyone heads back stateside. Steve is still harboring some anger about Black Widow’s secondary mission, so he goes to confront Fury about it. Fury then lets Cap in on a big S.H.I.E.L.D. secret that’s about to be put into play: Project Insight. Basically, this is every sci-fi novel you’ve ever read, mashed into a Marvel movie: Project Insight is a bunch of drones who are ruled by an algorithm that allows them analyze people’s data—bank records, test scores, anything—in order to determine if they’re going to commit crimes. They stop the crimes before they happen…by taking them out. Cap is WAY against this, moralistically, but Nick thinks that to make an omelet, you’ve gotta break many moral eggs.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Nick cannot access the information Natasha snatched off of the ship’s computers, even with his super-high levels of clearance and menacing tone. He gets hella suspicious, and worries about how this might affect Project Insight (presumably, his talk with actual golden retriever puppy/ Steve Rogers has made him consider the bad juju that could come of Project Insight). Nick goes to ask his old buddy, Alexander Pierce, senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official, to delay the project. On his way back, Nick Fury gets ambushed…BY THE WINTER SOLDIER!!! DUN DUN DUN!!! He’s in his mega-awesome talking, armored SUV when BAM!—he gets shot at from left and right, and some dude with a sweet metal arm, a facemask, and some ridiculously enormous guns start attacking him. As well all know because of the end of Captain America #1, this is The Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers original best bro in the whole world. WHAT A TWIST. Nick narrowly escapes by using a blow-torchy looking device to cut a hole into the sewers and disappear, and he calls Maria Hill (aka Robyn Sherbatsky of HIMYM), his S.H.I.E.L.D. deputy, and tells her to get her ass to D.C. in 3 hours.
Cut back to Cap—he’s just getting home, and he has some awkward flirting with his super cute neighbor, a blonde nurse. It’s okay, though, she seems into it (duh, who wouldn’t be?). She warns him that he left his radio on, and goes inside. Cap is on high alert. He would never leave his radio on—I mean really! Sure enough, Nick Fury, battered, bruised, and badass, is in his house, using the music to mess up any ears that might be listening. He hands Cap the USB of un-decryptable info from the ship, tells him to trust no one, and is unable to give him any more info before THE WINTER SOLDIER shows up again. He’s wearing a mask, and is far away, and it’s nighttime, so Cap can’t tell that it’s Bucky. Also, Bucky straight up uses a bazooka rocket launcher situation to DEMOLISH EVERYTHING. Cute Nursey Neighbor rushes in, and it’s revealed that she’s actually an undercover agent, ordered to watch over him by Big Papa Fury. Cap understandably has other things on his mind…like the fact that Fury is in critical condition following the big boom-town explosion. He rushes him to the hospital, but Nick dies on the operating table. Oh, and Bucky escapes, natch.
<<INSERT PROLONGED CRYING BREAK HERE>>
Natasha, Steve, and Maria Hill all watch through the window as Nick’s body is wheeled away. It is ROUGH. These are all super spies and soldiers who don’t know how to feel, and they are having ALL THE FEELINGS! Anyhow, Alexander Pierce summons Cap to find out why his BFF Nick Fury was murdered, but Cap—mindful of Fury’s “Trust no one” advisory—doesn’t say sh*t. Alexander dubs him a traitor as soon as he leaves his office, which results in a) Steve getting ambushed by a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the elevator, led by Agent Rumlow, and b) one of the coolest fight scenes ever. Cap is obviously victorious (DUH!), and narrowly escapes the S.H.I.E.L.D. offices on his motorbike, looking like some kind of James Dean fantasy, but this rebel has so much cause!
He and Natasha meetup, and through some talking, decide that yes, they can in fact trust each other. Which is good, because Steve knows about as much about computers and decryption as I do about geography. So he and Natasha head to an Apple store, use the computer there to trace the source of the information decryption before the gov’t can find them, and they hightail it to New Jersey, which is where the info trail leads. Ugh, I know, gross, Jersey (jk, we love you, New Jersey!). It turns out that the signal leads them to an abandoned Army training facility—the very one that Steve was trained at, in fact. Steve notices that there’s a strange bunker that shouldn’t be there, though, so he and Natasha investigate. It was one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s original HQs, and there are pics of Agent Carter and Howard Stark on the walls. Sweet.
But wait—there’s a secret bunker INSIDE the first secret bunker. Bunker inception! Bunker-ception! They go there and discover a bunch of computers, which house the consciousness of Hydra scientist Armin Zola. He was the one who came up with the algorithm for Project Insight, and reveals that it’s actually a secret plot from Hydra: because so many people will be killed off for future crime by Project Insight, this will shake everyone’s faith in humanity, thereby causing them to *willingly* handover their freedom to a higher power (that higher power being Hydra, and organization once led by the Red Skull (aka, Mean Elrond), and staffed by a badjillion Nazis, from Captain America #1). Project Insight is set to launch really soon, so this could be CATASTROPHIC—and moreover, Steve and Natasha realize that Alexander Pierce is Hydra’s secret leader in S.H.I.E.L.D., so…no bueno. Because High Stakes are par for the course in comic book movies.
Steve and Natasha, who are now also very firmly bros (THIS IS A MOVIE ABOUT BEING A GOOD BRO!!!), go to find Steve’s new Bro-Buddy, Sam Wilson. He helps them lay low, and once they recover his sweet-ass mechanical falcon wing jetpack from a high security facility, he helps them find a Hydra mole, who sheds some light on the whole Project Insight sitch. In the middle of this, The Winter Soldier attacks them, and Cap recognizes him as his Best Bro Ever, Bucky Barnes. His beautiful face crumbles, and it really tugs at the heartstrings, so I’m gonna need you to take a moment and imagine a very sad Chris Evans for a minute, if you can handle it.
Anyhow, things are not going great for the gang—they get captured by some fake S.H.I.E.L.D./ actually Hydra agents—when Maria Hill shows up, rescues them, and is generally the bomb. She takes them to a safe house where it is revealed that…are you ready for this?…NICK FURY IS ALIVE!!! #PRAISE #BLESSED. Nick Fury felt that faking his own death was the best way the weed out corruption in S.H.I.E.L.D., and he was not wrong. Also, faking your own death is SUPER COOL (basically, that’s espionage 101). Fury and Hill clue the gang in to some plans to destroy the Project Insight hellicarriers by replacing their controller chips.
This plan is kicked off with Cap broadcasting Hydra’s nefarious plot to everyone at the HQ. Romanoff pulls some serious spy stuff and disguises herself as one of Alexander Pierce’s cronies; she uses that to disarms Alexander Pierce and force him to unlock S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database, so that all of their secrets can be revealed to the world, thereby foiling Hydras plan. Fury kills Pierce, because his betrayal is not to be tolerated. There’s a lot of fighting and Cap and Sam Wilson aka Falcon do a lot of fighting with rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and whatnot. Bucky is the boss battle, obviously, and even though he can, Steve refuses to kill him. HE’S HIS BEST BRO!!! Bucky, who’s memory is all fecocta, does not remember Steve really well, but has trouble getting himself to kill him. So Steve, ever the valiant knight, orders Maria Hill to destroy the last hellicarrier. He and Bucky don’t die, because they are both genetically modified super models—I mean soldiers. But they do land in a river—the Potomac? See! I know some geography!—and when Steve comes to, Bucky is gone. Steve is in the hospital, and his new BFF, Sam Wilson, is there. Trouble Man is playing, and it is a beautiful bromantic moment.
Nick Fury vows to weed out all the traitors in S.H.I.E.L.D. and get back to doing his badass spymaster stuff. He offers Steve and Sam places with him, which they decline; Steve, because he is bound and determined to find Bucky (you don’t leave your bro behind), and Sam because he is a good friend, and the best sidekick ever. Natasha goes off and does her own thing, which really makes you hope that Black Widow will someday have her own movie, even though chances of that seem slim in sexist Hollywood. YAY!
Anyhow, THAT’S ALL FOLKS…………………………………………….JK, this is a Marvel Movie; there’s always a post credits scene! And this one is fun: some Hydra scientists are talking about how we’re in an Age of Miracles now. The camera pans to two observation cells. In the first, there’s a guy running around. He’s going so fast he’s blurry. In the other cell, there’s a redheaded woman making some cubes float around in the air, and frankly, she doesn’t look 100% sane. These are the mutant twins (unofficially, they are X-Men): Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. They show up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and SPOILER ALERT: Scarlet Witch is THE BEST.