Note: Spoilers and speculation below — read at your own risk.
If you saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend, you likely spotted a handful of references, intimations and allusions to other characters within and outside the Marvel universe — which makes sense, given how the many characters are forming an intricate web with stories that could take several decades to tell completely.
But those Easter eggs also raise a lot of questions: here are some of the most important ones.
What’s next for the Winter Soldier?
If it struck you curious that the Winter Soldier, played by Stan Sebastian, caught and at one point even wielded Captain America’s shield, you should get used to it, because Chris Evans’ Captain America is most likely going to die and be replaced by the Winter Soldier. In the comics, Captain America does in fact die due to a plot by the Red Skull, and it is Bucky/Winter Soldier who dons his uniform to continue his legacy.
Further supporting this theory is the fact that Stan Sebastian is signed up for nine movies with Marvel, while Chris Evans only has a six-movie contract. Four of Evans’ movies have already been made, the two Avengers and two Captain America movies, while the last two in his contract are presumed to be being Avengers 3 and Captain America 3. This leaves the door wide open for Sebastian to assume the mantle as the next Captain America.
Sharon Carter/Agent 13
Just as Captain America lets himself take interest in his neighbor, a seemingly friendly nurse, he finds out that she’s actually an undercover SHIELD operative, codenamed Agent 13, who was ordered to monitor him. Her actual non-numerical name is Sharon Carter, who shares the same last name as Captain America’s former love interest Peggy Carter. It remains to be seen how Marvel Studios will define the two Carters’ relationship, as the comics have her pegged as either a sister or niece of Peggy, but it is safe to assume that she will be the Captain’s main squeeze in the modern day.
Who is Stephen Strange?
When Sitwell is interrogated by Black Widow and Captain America about HYDRA’s plot, he mentions Vola’s algorithm, a complex program that targets people for elimination by the Insight helicarriers based on their threat to HYDRA’s sense of order. While listing off obvious suspects, like Tony Stark, he also name-drops a Stephen Strange. For those unfamiliar with the comics, Stephen Strange is the alter-ego of Doctor Strange, a brilliant neurosurgeon turned master of magic. A stand-alone Doctor Strange movie is speculated to be part of Marvel’s Phase Three — their next set of movies that will come following the second Avengers movie.
Shall we play a game?
In the scene where the Black Widow boots up SHIELD’s supercomputer from a bygone era, she asks Captain America, “Shall we play a game?”, with Captain America replying, “Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?” This is a reference to a line from WarGames, a 1983 Cold War sci-fi film.
Near the end of the movie, rogue SHIELD operative Brock Rumlow’s body is shown being excavated from the rubble of SHIELD’s destroyed headquarters. It is widely speculated that he will return in a future Marvel movie as Crossbones, a mercenary and henchman of the Red Skull. He’s even shown sporting crossed straps, one of Crossbones’ signature looks, when he’s being recovered.
Nick Fury’s Grave
Adding to the list of pop culture references that the movie makes, Nick Fury’s grave bears the epitaph “The path of the righteous man. Ezekiel 25:17.” This is a nod to a famous line in Pulp Fiction by Jules Winnfield, who was also played by Samuel L. Jackson.
In the post-credit sequence that Marvel uses to tease future films, viewers were treated to a sneak peek at a pair of twins with supernatural powers. The two characters are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, respectively. The former possesses superhuman speed, while the latter has telekinetic abilities and the ability to alter probability. Both will make their official debut in the Marvel movie universe in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.