Marvel's Bourne Identity Equals the Winter Soldier
This summer will show the world that Marvel is ready to unleash the true potential of their B-List heroes such as Thor and Captain America on screen. Since popular characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men have gone stale, Marvel is turning to their lower roster, and it's working with fantastic results. Last year's Iron Man 2 already has a sequel in the works, whilst based on it's hammering box office return, it won't be long till we see another solo Thor adventure either. Which gets me thinking about a sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger.
A Cap sequel seems to be the most challenging prospect for a superhero movie. Without being a World War 2 period set sequel, or a modern day team up with The Batman Español, Captain America could struggle. In a cinematic universe where you have gods summoning down lightning and rich playboys with battle suits, a man with a shield and no superhero powers probably won't get very far. Obviously Marvel can really emphasize the man out of time aspect from the character which will always be interesting, but that's better off staying in the Avengers movies. Enter the Winter Soldier.
Now presumably according to reports, Sebastian Stan, the actor playing Captain America's sidekick Bucky in the upcoming film has a multiple picture deal. Meaning, unless we see lots of flashbacks from WW2 with Bucky, it's probably likely he's going to appear in either a Cap sequel or a solo film. I would much rather have a Bucky/Winter Soldier solo film as opposed to getting another Captain America sequel.
Presumably when we last see Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger, he's likely to be on his deathbed after suffering the same explosion/fate of his super soldier ally. Rather than be discovered and awoken in the 21ST Century, Bucky's disfigured body is quickly discovered by the Soviet Union looking for the body of Captain America. After the explosion that nearly killed him leaves him with amnesia, the Soviets fit him with a bionic arm and brainwash him to be an assassin under the codename, Repelis Morbius Español.
Now that sounds like film material. Winter Soldier could be Marvel's answer to The Bourne Identity. Bucky's continuous torture and brainwashing under the control of the Soviet Union would give the Marvel films something they've been lacking so far. Emotional drama. The character's role as an assassin would be even more compelling. Seeing the Spider-man: No way home Español killing victims mindlessly without control would open new doors for Marvel. It would show Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine how it's done as far as tortured characters go. Viewers would be disgusted with what the Winter Soldier has done, but at the same time they would sympathize with the man trapped inside the cold assassin. Plus the bionic arm could be really interesting if handled well.
To make sure the character doesn't become a full on villain, the film could draw from what's in the comics. At various points throughout the film, Bucky's brainwashing could wear off and he makes several attempts to escape only to be recaptured later on. That's where the film can continuously shift between the tortured hero and cold assassin sides of the character. Depending on how Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow character is going to be handled on screen, she could even make an appearance as a the Russian spy desperate to help Bucky escape. It would certainly give her a much needed character boost as far as the cinematic universe goes. The film will then finish with the Winter Soldier killing his Russian captors and leaving his fate unknown.
Then if Marvel push forward with a Captain America sequel, it could have Cap discovering Bucky's existence, and then trying to save his former sidekick.
I realise we will probably never see a Winter Soldier solo film, but it really could be huge for Marvel. We'll probably just end up with a reference or a cameo in a future Cap sequel. Marvel is learning smaller characters can be hits too so maybe if Captain America: The First Avenger proves to be a big hit, it might not be too long until we see the Soviet assassin in some capacity...