Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Captain America: Civil War.
In your Thursday night (or later if you”re reading this later) hardcore fan-packed screening of Captain America: Civil War, there was probably a moment when the whole theater inhaled in a collective gasp.
Or it might have not been so collective – some fans figured out earlier, whether earlier in the movie or two years ago, that the Winter Soldier (Bucky!!) killed Tony Stark”s parents.
Civil War“s big heart-shattering reveal was actually right there in 2014″s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
If you missed it, here”s where it happens: In Winter Soldier, Cap and Black Widow, on the run from a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to kill them, discover a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker in New Jersey. In that mysterious bunker is a supercomputer that houses the preserved consciousness of the supposedly-long-dead Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).
Zola monologues at them, revealing Hydra is alive and well. “The new Hydra grew,” he says, “a beautiful parasite inside S.H.I.E.L.D. For 70 years Hydra has been secretly feeding crisis, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate” – at this point images of the Winter Soldier flash across Zola”s screen – “history was changed.”
The very next image we see on Zola”s screen is a newspaper clipping reporting, “Howard and Maria Stark Die in Car Accident.”
The implication seemed to be that Hydra was responsible for the Starks” death. Some fans also picked up on the truth of who specifically was behind the kill, way back in 2014.
Even if you weren”t certain that the Winter Soldier killed Tony”s parents, if you went into Civil War with that December 17, 1991 date from the newspaper in your head, your suspicions were pretty much confirmed as soon as Daniel Brühl”s Zemo commanded of Bucky, “Mission report: December 16, 1991.”
Civil War co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely (who also wrote The Winter Soldier) had this to say about fan speculation regarding Bucky”s connection to the Starks” death, in a CinemaBlend post from a couple months ago:
“It is in play that Hydra killed Howard Stark. I think we can say that. I think that”s all we know for sure, and Bucky killed a lot of people. I mean, that”s perhaps more important, is like, when Bucky wakes up, or gets some semblance of his humanity back – if he were to get some semblance of his humanity back – how does he feel about the long list of kills on his record, you know?”
Whether Kevin Feige et al. intended it to be obvious to viewers of Winter Soldier that there”s Stark blood on Bucky”s hands is unknown. But it”s clear Marvel laid the groundwork very well for the moment the Cap-vs.-Iron Man fight gets serious.