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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a 2014 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Captain America, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger and the ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It's directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and written by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, it stars Chris Evans as Steve "Captain America" Rogers and also has Scarlett Johansson as Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff, Sebastian Stan as James Buchanan Barnes aka Bucky aka the Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie as Sam "Falcon" Wilson, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, etc.

Opening two years after The Avengers, Captain America is still re-adapting himself to the new times he's living in while he works with S.H.I.E.L.D - more exactly with people like Nick Fury, Falcon and Black Widow. The first, however, is suddenly attacked by a mysterious and deadly masked man who's referred to solely by his codename: the Winter Soldier. As it seems that the ones after Fury's head are people from within S.H.I.E.L.D itself, Cap and his companions decide to go as far as possible with their investigation - especially when Steve personally confronts the Soldier and uncovers an extremely disturbing, painful truth surrounding him. . .

The film received a sequel two years later, Captain America: Civil War.

Tropes used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier include:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Winter Soldier's knife.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Several characters, especially Pierce.
  • Actor Allusion: Nick Fury's fake grave has some of Samuel L. Jackson's dialogue from Pulp Fiction inscribed on it.
  • All for Nothing: World War II thanks to Hydra's survival.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Winter Soldier has a metallic arm, coming from Zola's experiments that made poor Bucky into the Soldier.
  • Anti-Villain: The Winter Soldier. He may be a dangerous assassin, but he's really an amnesiac, mindwiped, shattered Bucky Barnes..
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sam, Steve and Natasha are almost executed, but Maria Hill rescues them.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Someone REALLY has it for Nick, and wants him to play this trope straight. He's seemingly assassinated by the Soldier halfway through the story... but it turns out he's actually Faking the Dead.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Winter Soldier qualifies as this, as he's that much of an Empty Shell thanks to Hydra's brainwashing and conditioning.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Winter Soldier is this, since he near exclusively works on the orders given to him and is a borderline Empty Shell otherwise. Confirmed, he's a mutilated and mindwiped Bucky.
  • The Cameo: Cap's old girlfriend and local Action Girl Peggy shows in stock footage and as a dying elderly lady with Alzheimers.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Remember Senator Stern? The man who tried to claim Tony's armor in Iron Man 2. Well turns out he wanted the suits for Hydra.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Soldier will always choose the most effective methods over the showy ones.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Inverted. Agent 13 is largely referred to as such. It's not until the end that her first name is said.
  • Cool Car: Natasha cruises around Washington in a black Corvette C7.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is quite, quite cynical at times.
  • Determinator: Both Steve and the Soldier.
  • The Dreaded: The Winter Soldier, doubling as The Heavy. For reference, the only other person to evoke this reaction from Natasha was the Hulk.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Soldier aka James "Bucky" Barnes is a very creepy-looking (but still handsome) man with black hair and pale skin.
  • Electric Torture: The Soldier's brainwashing includes this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rumlow witnesses the scene described in "Kick the Dog" and seems to be genuinely uncomfortable at it.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The World Security Council may have been willing to nuke New York City to stop the Chitauri but turning the world into a police state designed to prevent The Evils of Free Will is a line too far. Insight was built to protect, not oppress.
  • Evil All Along: Thanks to being infiltrated by Hydra since birth, S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Hydra was legitimately caught off-guard that the world wouldn't just give up their freedom for the sake of security.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Winter Soldier is clearly one to Cap. While Cap is a Fish Out of Temporal Water Living Legend who fights for freedom, the Soldier is a perfectly adapted and Shrouded in Myth while fighting for a regime that seeks to control everything.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Discussed, since the villains (the still active Hydra) want to make the world cruel and dangerous enough for people to submit to them in exchange for being safe from all perils.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Subverted with the Soldier (as already mentioned, he's Brainwashed and Crazy), played straight with Pierce.
  • Fan Disservice: The Soldier is a beautiful man, but seeing him shirtless when he's about to be painfully mindwiped and brainwashed is depressing instead of titillating.
  • He Knows Too Much: Pierce's maid Renata gets this treatment from Pierce himself after she sees him talking to the Winter Soldier.
    • Zola suggests that is why Howard and Maria Stark were killed.
    • Project Insight in a nutshell. Its targets are those people who are smart enough to question and eventually overthrow Hydra.
  • Heroic BSOD: Steve suffers a serious one over finding out that the Winter Soldier is a brainwashed Bucky.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Steve had this with Bucky, now he has it with Sam aka Falcon. It's a plot point in Bucky/the Soldier's case.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: "Come on, Nick, you can't do this to me!"
  • Human Popsicle: Bucky aka The Winter Soldier is usually frozen in a capsule until he's needed to assassinate someone. Then he's re-brainwashed and put to sleep again.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: Discussed with respect to S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve wholeheartedly believes this, given that they were infiltrated by Hydra since their inception but Fury believes that something could have been salvaged. Ultimately there wasn't enough time to even try saving it.
  • Jumped At the Call: Falcon.
  • Kick the Dog: Surprisingly, the Soldier is the kicked puppy. How so? When the Big Bad Pierce slaps him across the face right before having him mindwiped again via Electric Torture.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: As Steve points out, there's no realistic way that Hydra's infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have gone unnoticed for so long. Zola then shows an image of Howard and Maria Stark's fatal car crash noting that accidents happen...
  • The Mole: It seems there are MANY of these in S.H.I.E.L.D. Not only there ARE, but they've have ALWAYS been there. Since its creation. And one of them was none other than Secretary Pierce.
  • Not So Different: Pierce opines to Fury that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra share the same enemies, namely war, disorder, chaos.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Steve and Natasha, Fake-Out Make-Out notwithstanding.
  • Plot Irrelevant Villain: Ironically enough, the Winter Solider himself. While his true nature adds some drama to Steve's character arc, and sets up Civil War, he adds nothing to the main storyline or the threat of Project: Insight.
  • Reality Ensues: As Steve learns, Unstoppable Rage is not a viable combat strategy. After the Winter Soldier appears to kill Nick Fury and Steve later learns that he killed Howard and Maria Stark, Steve's blind fury to avenge his friends leads to him being off-kilter, making sloppy moves and quickly being defeated.
    • He also learns that being ripped is no substitute for body armor, being careful to avoid the Winter Soldier's Absurdly Sharp Blade. And when he dons his WWII outfit, he falls victim to a modern bullet that his S.H.I.E.L.D. outfit would have easily stopped.
    • Natasha may be a Badass Normal but she falls very short against a Strong and Skilled supersoldier like the Winter Soldier. For all her skill, she can't compete with his raw strength.
    • Rumlow stops an agent from killing Cap out in the open. Even if Steve is now a fugitive, publicly executing Captain America, in the middle of Washington, will only make him a martyr, rallying everyone against Hydra.
  • Rousing Speech: Steve gives one to S.H.I.E.L.D., asking them to disband since Hydra has moles everywhere in it.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Inverted. After spending the prior movie hoping around Europe, this film never leaves the Washington D.C. area.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Justified. Given Hydra's reach, Steve and Nat have no idea who to trust and who to turn to leaving them unable to contact the other Avengers.
  • Took a Level In Badass: After their cliché evil depiction in the first film, Hydra is now much smarter and subtler.
  • Wham! Line: ".... Bucky?!" and "... Who are you calling Bucky...?"
  • You Should Know This Already: Winter Soldier's true identity is so damn obvious.