Avengers: Age of Ultron is, by now, well in the books and fans are already looking ahead to next year’s Captain America: Civil War. However, it can be fun to reflect on what could have been in regards to the past entries, in this case, last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Some storyboard-based animatics have surfaced, revealing that the film originally had a different opening sequence in mind.
Artist James Rothwell posted some animatics based on actual storyboards from Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the form of videos on YouTube. They’ve apparently been up for a month, but are just now getting some traction. One of those videos happened to show an alternate opening sequence, going completely different direction than the "on your left" footrace with Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) humiliating his bro-to-be, Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), that made the final cut. Unfortunately, for the public, as well as the potency of this particular article, that video has since been taken down. Thus, a description will have to suffice.
In actuality, there’s not much to the scene. It is essentially a dream sequence that flashes back to World War II, with Cap still running around wrecking Europe with the Howling Commandos. However, it seems that this particular dream was not at all random, but inspired by some actual sadness. Once Cap wakes, we find out that his old buddy in the bowler hat, Dum Dum Dugan (Neil McDonough), has passed away. That is pretty much the extant of the scene. It’s certainly a curiously wistful way to begin what would turn out to be one of the most thrilling, politically intriguing, action-packed films in the MCU. So, would it have worked?
Such a scene could have set the stage for the underlying premise of the film: namely Cap being a man lost in time, observing a world from which he only feels more alienated as he continues to further understand what’s happening. The eventual reemergence of his old pal Bucky Barnes as The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) falls in concert with this concept, which might have made a good case to go with this scene. However, while Cap’s friendship with Falcon ended up becoming one of the highlights of the movie, ultimately, it was only germane to the film’s main concept since the friendship served as one the few things palatable to Cap in this new world.
From a personal standpoint, I’m more than satisfied with the opening that was used. By starting in a low-key way, while still showcasing Cap’s ridiculous speed and stamina, directors Joe and Anthony Russo set a mellow, amusing tone that is the calm before a huge storm. Steve’s character is reflected far better in his interaction with Sam than any flashback and death notice could have done. Besides, with the visit to an aged, memory-fading Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) later on, and the nostalgic museum scenes, the continuing reflection on "the good old days" of The War might have been excessive.
Fans can rest easy knowing that we probably got the best possible opening sequence…and that canonically, Dum Dum Dugan could have, like his comic book counterpart, unnaturally survived all those years to still be alive and kicking somewhere. Regardless, Captain America: Civil War looks to turn a whole new page in the entire MCU when it hits theaters on May 6, 2016.