Ok, before you go thinking this is one of my crazy, old school rants, let me assure you. It is NOT. But, instead of me explaining it. Let's hear it from the horses...I mean, Director's mouth!
"[Marvel] said they wanted to make a political thriller," Joe Russo, who directed the film with his brother Anthony, tells Mother Jones. "So we said if you want to make a political thriller, all the great political thrillers have very current issues in them that reflect the anxiety of the audience...That gives it an immediacy, it makes it relevant. So [Anthony] and I just looked at the issues that were causing anxiety for us, because we read a lot and are politically inclined. And a lot of that stuff had to do with civil liberties issues, drone strikes, the president's kill list, preemptive technology"—all themes they worked into the film, working closely with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
In The Winter Soldier, Captain America and the rest of the heroes (played by Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, and so on) confront the government program Project Insight, which involves three Helicarriers (gigantic autonomous killer drones, basically) that are fed large amounts of data and intel. The Helicarriers process the data to identify and preemptively eliminate potential threats to national and global security. And though the film's topical parts were all crafted prior to the NSA revelations, the directors say it's no accident that data mining is a key element of the plot: "It was all leading up to Snowden," Joe says. "It was all in the ether [already], it was all part of the zeitgeist. The Snowden stuff actually happened while we were shooting."
So, there you have it. The Russos used the political climate and even some of our deepest paranoias against us. It is something that is close to surface of our greatest fears and was terribly appropriate subject matter. It also gave THE WINTER SOLDIER legitimacy. Everything about the movie, from the Falcon and PTSD, to the covert government/S.H.I.E.L.D. counter spying to the using all our personal information to draw up profiles on each and every one of us. This movie had it all.
And, in the end, you didn't find yourself asking things like:
"Where was the Red Skull?"
"Why isn't Batroc wearing his ridiculous costume?"
"Why don't we see Arnim Zola walking around in his robot form like the comics?"
"Why isn't Crossbones wearing a skull mask?"
Because any of that would have cheapened the epic that the Russos put together. No, it was precisely as it should have been. It was perfect. And it left this old school fan-boy with a smile on his face.
But still...about those alga-rhythms....