Posts Tagged ‘SHIELD’

At the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier, it is revealed that Hydra has possession of the scepter that Loki had during Avengers. How Hydra acquired the scepter is the focus of Age of Ultron Prelude: This Scepter’d Isle. It is a digitally exclusive comic that serves as a prelude to the upcoming Age of Ultron film.

According to this story SHIELD initially had the scepter, as they acquired a lot of the alien technology after the Battle of New York in Avengers. They are analyzing it at S.T.A.T.I.O.N. the Scientific Tactical Intelligence Operating Network. SHIELD agents are named, including Mark Smith, Nicholas Cooper, and Mark Basso. I don’t believe that these are pre-existing characters. There’s a certain SHIELD agent who is disgruntled with the agency,and gets recruited by Baron Strucker (who apparently has hair in the MCU) to join Hydra. They steal the scepter and take it to their lab in Sokovia, a fictional politically unstable European country.

There’s a Dr. List character that runs experiments on the scepter (which I suppose the audience knows contains an infinity gem) and they use its energies to experiment on people. Looking for test subjects they turn to the student demonstrators that protest against the Sokovian government. They tell the students that they need power themselves to affect change, the kind of power the Avengers have. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, twin siblings who eventually become Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, are among the demonstrators.

It ends with a recreation of the post credit scene in Winter Soldier, where some of the human volunteers have died from the experiment, but the twins have developed powers.

This Scepter’d Isle is a nice one in done story that fills in some interesting background to the upcoming Age of Ultron film, which is what is set out to do.

The comic can be purchased here on Comixology.

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This two issue series that ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place in the 1980s. The specific year/date is not set, but the story involves Hank Pym crossing the Berlin Wall on a secret mission. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, so at the latest this story takes place in the 1980s.

Hank Pym is a SHIELD scientist, and has apparently discovered what will be the Pym particle, which allows him to shrink his body to be just a few inches tall. Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s/Iron Man’s father and founder of SHIELD wants a covert team to use the Pym Particles to sneak across the Berlin Wall on a mission. Pym doesn’t want to share the secrets of the Pym particle to fall into the wrong hands, and insists that if anyone should use the particle it’s him.

We get a nice surprise appearance from Agent Carter, who is still with SHIELD and obviously drawn to look older. She agrees to prep him for his solo mission and gives a nice use of the “I think it works” line from the first Captain America film. There’s also some Davis character with Pym in the lab but I don’t know who that was.

The first issue ends with a cliffhanger that to some may be reminiscent of Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. The second issue deals mainly with the mission and is filled with action beats. The mission is that some radical group SHIELD was watching got a hold of old Hydra tech and are reverse engineering it. The villains in this book are faceless/not actual characters, but while Peggy states that Hydra was cut down decades ago one of them does say Hail Hydra and they are in Hydra uniforms. The technology in question is a memory wiping device reminiscent of what was used on Winter Soldier. This group apparently kidnapped some poor victim to test it on.

The story ends with Pym realizing there’s important work out there in the field that only the Pym particle can handle, but his experiences reinforced the idea that only he should use the particle. This implies that, as Ant Man, he’ll be an active field agent for SHIELD.

The Ant Man prelude set’s the stage for the Ant Man prelude and establishes Pym as an active field agent. It would be cool to see more comics and maybe a video game about Ant Man missions for SHIELD, but for now the stage is set for the Ant Man movie.

Agent Carter is an 8 episode mid season series that spins out of 2011’s Captain America the First Avenger. Focusing on Peggy Carter, who helped fight Cap fight Hydra in WWII, she now finds herself still working in the SSR but not taken seriously by her male colleagues. Her duties are resigned to getting coffee and filing paperwork.

Set in New York City, Peggy greatly mourns the loss of Captain America, whom she believes to be dead, as does the rest of the world. His loss and the void he leaves behind loom large over the series. The opening scene recaps the end of First Avenger as Peggy is remembering her final moments speaking to Cap. On a humorous note in this world there is now a Captain America radio show and it is ridiculously hilarious. In this show Cap’s girlfriend is completely helpless and is constantly fretting “Help me Captain America! The Nazis tied me up again!!!”

The main story opens with Howard Stark, (who later will be the father of Tony Stark from the Iron Man films) accused of being a traitor. Some of his inventions turn up missing and he is accused of selling them to America’s enemies. On the run from the SSR, he contacts Peggy and asks for her help. This puts her in a position where she almost becomes like a super hero, in that she has a secret life from her co-workers, and has to carry out her investigation in secret.

Assisting her is Howard’s English butler Jarvis, whom Tony Stark later bases his AI assistant of off. They are great on screen together, sharing that British whit. Though Jarvis is not one for combat he is a loyal aid to Carter. Peggy Carter is played as a person first and an action heroine second. Her doubly secret life affects her friendships and living situation as well. She becomes close to a diner waitress, but their friendship is strained by her secrecy. Peggy’s public identity is that of someone that works at the phone company, which is actually the hidden base for SSR. She does have one colleague who takes her seriously, and offers some romantic tension. He is a fellow agent who was hurt in WWII and uses a crutch to get around. They don’t go the full blown romantic route but the possibility is planted. Their relationship is strained as he begins to suspect her doubly secret life.

One thing I like is there is an actual body count to this series, and it’s mostly the good guys. Specific agents and characters we are introduced to die, which adds a real consequence to the actions of the series, something I think honestly is lacking from the MCU movies. Also the series finale offers one particular scene that is more gruesome than anything the movies have offered.

There are reference to other things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but the show is not over burdened with them. Anton Vanko makes one appearance, who is the father of the Iron Man 2 villain. The Roxxon Corporation is around in this time. The Howling Commandos appear in one episode, and share Peggy’s grief over the loss of Steve Rogers. The Red Room, where the Russian Black Widow spies are trained, is introduced. We get one female character that is a foil for Peggy, but the word Black Widow is never said in this series, which was a nice touch of subtlety. There’s another Russian character whose abilities reminded me of Purple Man, but I don’t think it was actually that character.

The final episode ends with a good emotional scene reminiscent of the end of First Avenger, in which we get some good insight into the relationship between Peggy and Howard, as well as how Howard views himself. Peggy is clearly the hero, and does get recognition from her immediate peers, but that moment is soon deflated as she is again ignored by the higher ups. At this point Peggy seems not to be bothered by this anymore, which may come across as sort of anti-climatic. The final ten minutes or so wrap things up for the characters. Peggy takes a step to move on in her grief over Rogers. For Peggy’s fem fa tale there is a scene that honestly reminded me of the end of Halloween, when Dr. Loomis looks over the balcony for the body of Michael Meyers.

Seeds are planted for future stories  which viewers of the MCU, especially the WInter Soldier movie, will be familiar with. Even though we know that both Carter and Stark will survive the events of the series, these 8 episodes provide a tight character driven story that definitely leaves us wanting more. Here’s to many more great seasons of Agent Carter.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is perhaps the perfect example of why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is and will continue to be a successful franchise. It is distinct from other branches of the MCU in that it is a political thriller. It does not simply try to imitate, borrow from, or nod to political thrillers. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is first and foremost a political thriller, a political thriller that just happens to take place in the Marvel Universe/star Captain America.

There’s not a lot I can say without spoilers, but Winter Soldier, being the genre it is, is filled with twists and turns, secrets, vast wide ranging conspiracies, and moments where you generally wonder who to trust. Cap/Steve Roger’s idealism is confronted with harsh modern political realities and current issues of surveillance, privacy, and preemptive strikes. Cap is not naive, acknowledging times in the past where he’s compromised/had his hands dirty, but still sticks to his ideals.

Robert Redford, veteran of the aforementioned films that inspired this piece appears as a SHIELD higher up, and we get some background on this history of SHIELD and Nick Fury.

Black Widow returns, and her relationship with Cap doesn’t go the route you might expect, but they play off each other fantastically, and it was funny to see her constantly suggesting different girls Cap could date.

The opening scene has Steve meeting Sam Wilson/the Falcon by chance, which felt very organic as opposed to him being assigned to Cap or something like that. There’s a neat scene where Sam suggests some music for Steve to listen to. Rogers pulls out a notebook and adds the suggestion to a list. I couldn’t catch anything on the list but it had a bunch of stuff like the band Nirvana, and much to my amusement, Rocky, followed by Rocky II with a question mark. Star Wars was also on the list, which you could argue eliminates the possibility of a Star Wars/MCU crossover, as Star Wars is now established as fiction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But either way if Disney wants to cross those properties over someday they will.

Not forgetting that this is a sequel, characters and locations from the first movie appear, some of which I never expected, one of which was truly amazing. There’s a Smithsonian exhibit on Captain America in which we see pictures of characters from the last movie, and the Howling Commandos are named specifically. (In the first movie they never said the words Howling Commandos but they were in there.) The exhibit later has a role in the plot, and also leads to a good Stan Lee Cameo.

A vast far reaching and decades long conspiracy is revealed (which also related to a certain Marvel characters parents) which has some shock value. It would have been more shocking had this been revealed a few films deeper into the MCU. However that’s probably not a fair complaint, as this is just what we have to work with and it’s effective anyway.

SHIELD main headquarters, the Triskelion, is revealed to be this huge building in Washington DC, which I guess means that the existence of SHIELD is public knowledge in the MCU. I’d often wondered about that previously. Logistically I wonder where it fits as the CIA is also known to exist in this world. However members of the SHIELD security council are revealed to be from various countries, so I presume it’s an international intelligence agency. Still I’d like a little clarity on how SHIELD differs from the CIA, MI-6, etc.

The fight scenes are fantastic, the opening action scene resembling the Captain America video game. Rogers has perfect command of his shield, always knowing where to throw it/when to catch it etc. UFC fighter George Saint Pierre plays a villain who fights Cap in this sequence. It was great watching one of the greatest fighters in real life face off against one of the greatest fighters in fiction. If anything disappointed me about this film it’s that GSP’s part was only minor. However there really wasn’t much room for him anyway, so here’s to sequels.

CGI is only used when needed. The shot of the boat in the beginning and some of the building shots were obviously CGI that I think won’t age well over time, but the rest of it looked good. There’s a few things you can nitpick toward the end. At one point the villain does something to gain the upper hand but you wonder why that action wasn’t taken sooner, but events turn again so the point becomes moot. Also, obviously I know what kind of movies these are, but honestly it is a little unbelievable that Cap doesn’t die in the end.

Like Thor: The Dark World, there is a mid credit scene hinting at what’s ahead that reveals new characters, and an end credit scene that relates to this specific film. It seems Phase Two of the MCU has a new formula for post credit scene.

In closing, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: is in fact the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.

The Winter Soldier is a short digital comic released on Marvel’s website that takes place between the events of Avengers and the forthcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier film. It’s a quick action story taking place in a skyscraper. Terrorist entered this building and stole something from SHIELD called the Zodiac (which was featured in the Marvel One Shot Peggy Carter on the Iron Man 3 DVD). Captain America, Black Widow, and another Shield Agent arrive to stop it.

I don’t know the proper terminology for this but since it’s a digital comic it lays out with one panel at a time coming on the page/screen. Clicking the mouse or hitting the arrow key brings another panel onto the page or turns the page. This leads to the highlight of the book during an action scene where Cap punches somebody out. You see the windup, then with a click of the mouse you get a full panel of the punch coming right at the screen. You’ll want to go back and forth a few times at this spot to enjoy the near animation effect.

The villains aren’t identified except the leaders name is Baker. I don’t know if that is a character or not. However the aforementioned SHIELD agent gets his name dropped. I looked him up and he is a specific character. Unfortunately knowing this most likely spoiled a plot point for the upcoming film. Speaking of the film, Cap’s seeds of doubt toward SHIELD are planted, as he remarks that previously SHIELD denied having the Zodiac,

Anyway it’s a quick fun read with good action I’d recommend, especially if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The book can be purchased here.