Coming to help Rogers out is James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan. He would become The Winter Soldier…later.
‘Bucky‘ Barnes has a fascinating history in the comics. He was Captain America‘s teen sidekick in the 40s, and not a terribly memorable one. Even during the comics boom of the 90s, no one had any real desire to bring back Bucky, one of the least cool elements of Captain America, a character that has cool problems at the best of times. It took Ed Brubaker‘s wonderful run on the Captain America comic in the mid 00s, that finally reframed Bucky, and also brought us The Winter Soldier. All that is ahead of us, but here, he is not Roger’s teen sidekick, but friend and equal.
He first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 as well. Bucky was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.
Sebastian Stan graduated from TV to films like Black Swan and Hot Tub Time Machine in the lead up to this role. He was also in the running to play Captain America at one point. Stan told Screencrave:
I hadn’t looked up one thing about the character at that point. I was still into the whole Steve Rogers thing. So when I heard I didn’t get it, I thought it my job with that was done. I didn’t know what they were going to do, I hadn’t read the script. They just talked to me about it, and my instincts were really fresh. And then I went back and looked it up, and I was interested in what they were doing. As much as he was endearing character in the start of the comic books, it’s hard to have that now. I think people’s perspectives on war have changed. I feel like it’s more relate-able to have people who are conflicted and live a better life than “I’ll go anywhere!”
Bucky has enrolled and is shipping out. Before he goes, he takes Rogers to the World Exposition Of Tomorrow. Note it’s 1943.
The pair walk under the Unisphere, located at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, New York. Although – the real monument was not constructed til 1964. And this isn’t the real structure at all, but another studio set.
This ties into Iron Man 2 (2010) when Tony Stark holds the latest Stark Expo. That event is inspired by expos thrown by his father Howard Stark – like this one.
They meet up with two dates.
Inside the voiceover welcomes people to the Modern Marvels Pavillion. They aren’t quite doing it here, but in the world of Marvel comics, superheroes are called ‘Marvels’ (or at least they are in some cases, most famously the 1994 Marvels mini-series).
Which ties in with one of the more obvious easter eggs in the MCU, the appearance of the original Human Torch.
The original Human Torch was an android, created by Professor Phineas Horton. We can see Horton’s name on the sign above the Human Torch. He had, as his name suggests, the ability to become fire, and used that power to be a hero. He was one of the key characters for Timely Comics in the 40s (along with Captain America). This whole scene, with what looks like a vacuum tube, is a nod to his origin, when he burst into flames when exposed to oxygen after being released from a similar container. He’s had minor roles in the modern Marvel universe, and his body was used to create the Vision.
He first appeared in Marvel Comics #1. He was created by Carl Burgos.
We get a better look now at their dates – Bonnie and Connie.
Bonnie is played by Sophie Colquhuon. She appeared in films like The In-Betweeners Movie.
Connie is played by Jenna Coleman. She would propel into fame the next year when she takes the role of companion in Doctor Who.
And then the presentation begins, hosted by Howard Stark. Played here by Dominic Cooper.
This is the third actor to take the role of Howard Stark in the MCU. Gerard Sanders portrayed Howard Stark in photos in Iron Man (2008). John Slattery played an older Howard Stark (from the 1970s) in Iron Man 2 (2010).
Dominic Cooper found fame onstage in London, in the production of The History Boys. He would appear in films like Starter For 10 and An Education. He would star in lots of American genre stuff, as well as reprise this role many times.
He’s standing in front of a 1941 Cadillac Series 62. His flies, though.
After his presentation, we hear a bit of Make Way For Tomorrow Today. It is the Stark Expo theme, and first heard in Iron Man 2 (2010).
Rogers tries recruitment again, and argues with Bucky. They are overheard by Dr Abraham Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci.
Like the role he plays here, Abraham Erskine in the comics is the scientist who creates Captain America, and invents the Super Soldier Serum. He was also known as Dr Reinstein (possibly a nod to Einstein), but that was retconned as being an alias to keep him safe from his Nazi pursuers.
He also first appeared in Captain America Comics #1. He was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.
The name of one of Erkine’s aliases, Dr Reinstein, is written on a canister of Super Soldier Serum found by Thunderbolt Ross in The Incredible Hulk (2008).
Stanley Tucci is one of the great character actors. He’s had many dozens of memorable roles, from The Devil Wears Prada to Deconstructing Harry to Hunger Games and more.
Tucci apparently took the role so he could do the German accent, something he had not done before.
The music as Rogers and Bucky says goodbye is Farewell Bucky.
Erskine offers Rogers his chance.
We cut to snowy mountains, and a secret base. The music here is called Hydra Lab.
Schmidt is with Dr Arnim Zola. He’s played by Toby Jones.
In the comics, Zola is usually portrayed as a face on an android body. Like here, he was a Nazi scientist, and he managed to transfer himself into his own creations. The first shot of Zola, essentially projected on a screen, is a nod to his comics form (and his later fate).
He first appeared in Captain America #208, April 1977. He was created by Jack Kirby.
Toby Jones is another fantastic character actor, with dozens of memorable roles, from the Harry Potter films, the Hunger Games films, and plenty of acclaimed indie dramas as well.
Schmidt looks at various old artwork that seems to be inspired by the Tesseract. It’s also great that he has some ready made, highly advanced Tesseract Tongs.
Zola and Schmidt do their experiment, and has managed to harness some of it’s power.
We are now at Camp Lehigh, training camp for new recruits. It’s really Black Park, Black Park Rd, Slough SL3 6DS. It conveniently backs onto Pinewood Studios.
The recruits are greeted by Agent Peggy Carter. She is played by Hayley Carter.
In the comics, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Carter was a long time ally of Captain America in the comics, and occasional romantic interest. After Captain America disappears, she would be instrumental in forming SHIELD. These characteristics carry over into the films, and if anything Carter here is more headstrong and authoritative. And she’s also English.
She was first named in Captain America #162, June 1973, and created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Hayley Atwell got her big break with Cassandra’s Dream. She had a lot of TV credits before playing this role, which seems to have took up most of her time since! Atwell told ScreenCrave:
I think that’s great because there’s a kindred spirit between her and Steve, there’s an equality about them and I love that. I think of women in the forties like Bette Davis or Katherine Hepburn, or my grandmother and I think “wow, they knew their power as women, so beautifully.” And Peggy in the script had that too, and I love that about her.
Gemma Arterton, Emily Blunt, Alexa Davalos, Alice Eve, Keira Knightley, Rosamind Pike were all considered for the role at various points.
The mouthy soldier, Gilmore Hodge, is played by Lex Shrapnel.
Hodge appeared in the comics, or one comic. He’s with Captain America in his very first appearance in Captain America Comics #1.
Then comes Colonel Chester Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones.
Phillips, in the comics and here, is a high ranking military official associated with Captain America. He was created in the 60s, but his story in the comics dates back to him playing a part in Cap’s origins and early lore.
He first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #63, from March 1965. He was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Tommy Lee Jones has had an acclaimed and varied film career dating back to the 70s. He gave famously grizzled performances in The Fugitive, Men In Black and much more.
Phillips quotes General George S Patton, the leader of the US army into World War II.
We then go to a montage. The music is Training The Supersoldier.
The Strategic Scientific Reserve is a fictional department, made up for the film.
Rogers manages to grab a flag in a scene showing his intelligence. This scene was a reshoot, done in the US, filmed at Santa Clarita, north of LA.
Rogers tries to prove himself as Phillips and Erskine discuss his appropriateness. They mention Senator Brandt, who we will meet later.
Rogers proves his courage with a dummy grenade.
Erskine tells Rogers about his life and meeting Hitler, and Johann Schmidt. We discover that Schmidt has already started experimenting on himself.
The music here is called Schmidt’s Story.
It is worth noting that Nazi Germany did look into Eugenics, the idea and science behind making a more physically capable human through genetic intervention. It sparked the minds of many science fiction writers, and one of the inspirations for Captain America, and here. So Erskine’s story has strands of truth.
In the comics however, The Red Skull just started off as a dude with a mask. His origin was not tied to the Super Soldier Serum.
The look of this flashback/story is interesting – very comic book-y.
Back at the Hydra base. Music blaring, and it’s Götterdämmerung by German composer Richard Wagner. Hitler was a big fan of Wagner’s.
Zola walks in, and finds Schmidt, looking slightly different.
Someone is painting his portrait. He is played by David McKail.
And they’ve found Erskine.
Then we’re in Brooklyn. But we’re not – we’re in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, on Dale Street, looking towards Newton Street (which has been replaced by a CGI Brooklyn Bridge). The alley where Rogers says he was beaten up is actually walkway between two buildings, and not for cars.
Carter and Rogers are driving down the street is a 1939 Buick Special.
Playing in the car is the song I’ll Remember April, by Woody Herman and His Orchestra, a hit in 1942.