After all the months and years of speculation, the movie we thought we'd never see is at last here. Needless to say, there are MAJOR SPOILERS below. If you read them after this warning and complain about how your experience is diminished, then you absolutely deserved to be hauled away by nasty MP officers and thrown into a stockade.== TEASER ==
Well, the AVENGERS movie is basically a direct sequel to this flick, and I expect the arc of Cap’s adjustment to modern times will be covered there. However, Marvel’s already got screenplays for more solo movies being written and I don’t suspect they’re going to be “gaidens” that’ll fill the gaps of Cap’s wartime adventures. The playing field is thus almost totally open in respect to what villains could appear.
Might we see a revived HYDRA led by the Fenris twins, Viper, the Serpent Society or perhaps a highly-revised version of Baron von Strucker? THE FIRST AVENGER drops Cap into a more generalized fantasy scenario, so I can’t really see him facing any threats like the Hate-Monger, Dr. Faustus, Crossbones or Baron Zemo who're specifically meant to be Neo-Nazis. I suspect that the Skull will return at some point because that energy trail in his apparent death scene bore a more-than-passing resembling to the wormhole that transported Asgardians to and fro in THOR.
The notion of there being other Captain Americas who served while Steve was on ice is actually a fairly big part of the character’s mythos, so maybe we’ll see him confronting embittered successors like the USAgent or Nuke (to borrow a cue from ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA?) Unless he were changed over as much as Arnim Zola was, I can’t see M.O.D.O.K. (or AIM for that matter) fitting into this more realistic milieu. I could see heavily-retooled versions of international villains like Flag Smasher and Batroc coming in to harp on the messier state of global politics today in comparison to what seemed so much simpler during World War II. However, the most likely antagonist has already been introduced…
THE WINTER SOLDIER?
Bucky falls, but we don’t see him land. We don’t see the body. He disappears in enemy territory and Cap doesn’t ever get much time to really mourn his best pal.
Those are some strong clues, there.
One of the more eyebrow-raising details of all of this movie's casting announcements concerned the one for Sebastian Stan getting locked as Bucky. The report said that he’d signed on for five or six movies. Considering how Joe Johnston's already voiced his interest, it’s clear that Mr. Barnes is going to come back. He might not be called the Winter Soldier and he not have a lot of time logged in Soviet Russia (and I doubt he’ll have anything close to a relationship with the movies' Black Widow,) but I’d put money down to say that he’ll return as a semi-immortal, brainwashed antagonist who’ll force Steve to fight his best friend.
THE HOWLING COMMANDOS?
Why do I feel like these guys will be back? For one, Neil McDonough’s a fairly big actor for such a small part. It’s somewhat akin to Sam Jackson’s brief appearances as Mace Windu in THE PHANTOM MENACE. You just know his appearance is there just to square business for more. Also, Variety reported that Derek Luke is scheduled to reprise his role in THE AVENEGRS, so I could see these guys becoming the founding members of SHIELD and then staying young for decades thanks to the Infinity Formula. Maybe the idea seems maybe too “comic-booky” at first, but it might be something that could just as easily be played down to seem at least somewhat more realistic.
PEGGY & SHARON CARTER?
Back during the screen tests, I recall this part being described as something that would also entail a multi-picture deal. Maybe that was misinformation, but if it wasn’t, I don’t think Hayley Atwell would be returning for flashback cameos alone. My guess is that they might follow the conceit of having Sharon Carter be the spitting image of her aunt Peggy, and the actress would play a different-yet-still-the-same role. However, that kind of coincidence might be too hokey (or creepy, if you think too hard about the family connection) for this cinematic universe. The ending of THE FIRST AVENGER eludes to it somewhat by having Cap greeted by a SHIELD agent who resembles Peggy, so maybe the plan is just to hire another actress who looks like her. Or, considering how she’s part of a prototype of SHIELD, maybe she’ll also be staying young with the aforementioned Infinity Formula over all the decades and years.