Warning!: Spoilers Aplenty Await Herein.
A fun little trivia question to ask your friends is: How many villains were there in Captain America Two? I’m not talking about the armies of minions running around shooting up the place, I’m talking about the number of actual named villains who have an actual history in the Marvel Universe. Unless you’re a somewhat knowledgeable fan of Captain America and his comic history, it’s more than you think.
Now normally I’m not a fan of stuffing a movie full of villains. Whenever you do this, somebody gets shortchanged. Bane in Batman and Robin or Rhino in Amazing Spiderman Two are two prime examples. They’re obviously put in there just so movie executives can feel they’ve made the movie more “Awesome” by cramming in more “Badassery”. Their motivations are paper thin at best so they’re not very interesting and they usually detract valuable movie time from the main villain and the hero himself.
Here’s where Captain America Two sets its own record. It has six named villains show up, each with their own unique and interesting twist that I feel actually added to the movie instead of detracting from it. And no, I’m not counting the Robert Redford character, at least not on his own account, as his character never existed in the comics. I am counting HYDRA the organization, however. So there’s a freebie for you for the next part of the trivia question. And I bet you can guess what it is.
Who are the six?
One: HYDRA. The HYDRA organization has long bedeviled the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Using a cell structure where every branch of the organization acts independently of all the others they have proven indestructible despite hundreds of schemes and bases being blown apart by nearly every member of the Marvel Universe you can think of at one time or another.
Two: The Winter Solider. Given this is the name of the movie, this one is also pretty easy. I won’t go into too much detail of this character here, as his origin and backstory was pretty well covered in the movie. It differs little from the comic version save in the comics he was resurrected by the Russians and used as their secret weapon, during which time he had a love affair with the Black Widow, for all you Avengers fans out there, (though I doubt that will be popping up in the movies).
Three: Batroc the Leaper. This character is the head terrorist in the phony hijacking situation Nick Fury sets up in the beginning of the movie. In the comics this mercenary has been duking it out with Captain America since the sixties. Historically, (comistorically?), he’s been a bit more the dashing rascal than the cold hearted merc he’s portrayed as being here, but he stands his own against Cap. I also like the fact that he isn’t an actual Hydra agent, setting his arc up to possibly fill a more “frenemy” role in future Cap movies like he has in the comics.
Four: Arnim Zola. The Red Skull’s side kick in the first movie and a computer program in the second, but a full-blown mad scientist type villain in the comics. Well known for creating genetic monsters and for transferring human minds into robot bodies, he has been bedeviling Captain America since WWII, (although technically he didn’t’ show up in the comics until the seventies). Normally he walks around in a robot body with an antenna for a head and a video screen for a chest where his human face was projected. I can see where this might have been a bit too weird for the serious movie Captain America was trying to be, and I appreciate the more “realistic” touch of his brain being wired into a seventies computer network.
Five: Crossbones: The most esoteric of the villains in the movie, (as his codename was never used), this cold-blooded killer was Captain America’s sort-of sidekick character in the beginning of the film. The somewhat charming bearded man who kept popping up, first as a Shield agent on Cap’s team, than as the primary HYDRA field agent on the field, (the Winter Soldier was more of a weapon than an agent, in my opinion) until his final fight with Sam Wilson at the end of the movie. In the Comics, Crossbones is a very skilled assassin in the employ of the Red Skull. Crossbones actually killed Captain America at one point in the comics, though of course death is never permanent in the comic universe and Cap quickly returned from the dead.
Six: Baron Von Strucker: I supposed this could be called more of a cameo than a full on villain appearance, as his scene is in the post credits tease one gets in the Marvel Universe movies, but he’s in the movie, so he’s going on the list. This monocled villain could be considered Captain America’s number two villain after the Red Skull. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that Robert Redford’s character didn’t turn out to be him in some strange disguised/cloning way. Like the Red Skull, (in the comics not the movies), and Arnim Zola, Strucker is a strangely persevered Nazi. His character is the one that actually creates Hydra in the first place, (in the comics), and acts as its leader for much of the time. What his origin story will be in the movies, no one can tell, though given the similarity of his comic origin to the Red Skull, they just might have him be the Red Skull, via cloning, a clever disguise, or perhaps by his being the original Red Skull’s son. Who knows?
And if you really want to push the envelope, you can pull out two more villains, though their appearances are so brief and without dialogue that I didn’t count them myself. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are the two people in the last shots of the movie, one displaying super speed and the other practicing telekinesis. While for much of their comic lives they’ve been on the side of the angels, (save for a notable bout of insanity on the Scarlet Witch’s part late in her career), they started out as villains, albeit conflicted ones in service of papa Magneto’s mad schemes for mutant domination, (Magneto’s more sympathetic back story didn’t come into play until many years after his initial appearance in the comics). Of course they’re going to be Avengers in the new movie, but I suspect given their current incarceration by the Baron that they’re going to play a part in his villainous schemes for at least a short time before the join the ranks of the Avengers.