At this stage in the game, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is literally growing bigger and bigger every week. If the comic book movie studio isn’t putting out a new movie, it’s releasing one of its films on Blu-ray and DVD, creating a new short film or airing a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. For those who don’t follow the material religiously it can be a bit tricky keeping up with all of the various changes. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

Just as I do with all new comic book movies, I have put together a helpful guide that will shine a bit of light on some of the important comic book and Marvel Cinematic Universe elements that find their way into Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Who is Bucky Barnes? What is HYDRA? How do they fit into the plot? Read on to find out!

WARNING: This article contains some minor spoilers about Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the very end. While the first seven entries are safe, the last few may affect the surprise element of certain aspects of the film – but not in any kind of devastating way that will destroy the whole movie. It’s all just good-to-know information for those who don’t know anything. We'll give you another warning before you get to those!

Captain America
Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America
Who Is He? Born Steve Rogers, Captain America began life as a sickly young orphan who wanted to do nothing more than fight for his country in World War II. When his incredible heart was recognized by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Abraham Erskine, Rogers was given what’s known as the Super Soldier Serum, which turned him into the perfect human specimen. He used those new powers to fight against the evil organization H.Y.D.R.A. and protect the U.S. from their expanding forces. While trying to save the world back in the 1940s, he wound up crashing a large airship into the Arctic Circle and was frozen alive, only to be brought back when discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D.

How Does He Fit? Following the events in The Avengers, Captain America is still very much trying to figure out the modern world in The First Avenger. He has enlisted with S.H.I.E.L.D. to work as a field agent, though he quickly discovers that his black and white view of morality may not entirely mesh with the world’s most powerful clandestine organization.

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