Thursday, 27 March 2014

How many Jack Kirby characters in Captain America : The Winter Soldier?

Jack Kirby presents Captain America The Winter Soldier

Captain America was created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby way back in the 1940s, but the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier contains much more Kirby content than just Cap, it is absolutely chock full to the gills of Jack Kirby ideas, concepts and characters. It positively reeks of Kirby. Here’s a breakdown…..

Early on the character who leads the pirates is a French mercenary called Batroc. In the comics he’s known as Batroc the Leaper, a French mercenary created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the sixties, master of French kick boxing. Kirby very kindly storyboarded the sequence for the movie decades before it was filmed.


Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury gets a lot of screen time in Winter Soldier. In the comics, the original Nick Fury character started as Sgt Fury in World War II, only becoming an Agent of Shield in his later years. The Samuel L. Jackson version of Fury owes more to the Marvel Ultimate Universe Nick Fury, and Jim Sterenko was responsible for moulding many of the aspects of the Shield Nick Fury character, but still, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee first created the character in the sixties, the name, the story, the eyepatch.

When Steve Rogers visits the museum in the movie,  the tour guide mentions the Howling Commandos, and there’s a large backdrop showing characters from the first film that Cap helped save from the Red Skull – all these characters – “Dum Dum” Dougan, “Izzy” Cohen, “Pinky” Pinkerton and the others, all created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Remember the nurse who lived across the hall and turned out to be a Shield agent? This was Sharon Carter, Agent 13, in the comics she went on to become Steve Rogers girlfriend, among other things, she originally appeared in 1966, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

When Cap visits the army base he was first trained at and finds the underground SHIELD complex where Arnim Zola’s brain pattern has been downloaded onto magnetic tape and he speaks to Cap via an indistinct green face on a  monitor? The movie only hints at it, but in the comics Arnim Zola is a face on a screen that is embedded on the stomach of a character who has a CCTV camera for a head, a classic Kirby creation. Arnim Zola - created by Jack Kirby.

The old lady Cap visits, his love interest form the first film, Peggy Carter (in the comics she was related to Sharon, originally her sister, then her aunt, comic families are complicated),she is not surprisingly, a character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Remember the bald guy they rescue from the ship? He says “Shield don’t negotiate” and then later on turns out to be working for Hyrda. That’s Jasper Stilwell, another Kirby/Lee creation.

The bad guys in this movie? It’s HYDRA again, an evil organisation that infiltrates SHIELD. HYDRA – created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. SHIELD? Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

In the first end credits sequence we see a man with a monocle, almost certainly Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, another Kirby/Lee character, and the big reveal is the  twins in the prison cells, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, both Kirby characters.

If all these aren’t enough to show that the whole movie is Kirby character driven - last of all, the character in the title of the movie – The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who to be fair isn’t actually in the movie that much, is I hope you know by now, Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s best friend in the first movie Captain America:The First Avenger and his teenage sidekick in the comics. Bucky Barnes was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in Captain America #1.

Joe Simon & Stan Lee played their part of course, and Steve Epting and Ed Brubaker gave us a lot of the story that is Winter Soldier, but Kirby first created all these characters, their personalities, their costumes, their stories, their abilities, so many of these in the movie are straight from Jack Kirby’s head. Without Jack Kirby Captain America:The Winter Soldier would not exist.

Captain America, Nick Fury, Bucky Barnes, Agent 13, Batroc, the Howling Commandos, HYDRA, SHIELD, Baron Strucker, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Arnim Zola, Peggy Carter, despite all of these, Jack Kirby’s name is hidden away in the middle of the end credits.....

“based on the comic by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby”

In a slightly smaller font than anyone else. Such a shame Marvel/Disney can’t give proper recognition to the creative powerhouse whose ideas are the foundation on which the “House of Ideas” is built.

Jack Kirby

If you want to know more about upcoming movies featuring Jack Kirby characters, look up Jack Kirby on IMDB, currently 68 movies listed, many of them (Ant-Man, Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Fantastic Four) still on their way. The box office belongs to Kirby, makes you wonder why he isn’t given more recognition……

Did I miss any significant Kirby characters in Winter Soldier? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Don't know about The Winter Soldier film (super hero films don't do it for me for some reason) but it's telling that creators at Marvel (and DC) now seem reluctant to create any original characters, possibly add a result of seeing how Kirby and others have been treated. The result is that most of the stuff in the actual comics now is hugely based on characters and concepts brought in by Kirby in the sixties, and developed through to the eighties (we can safely ignore most of the big guns, big chest, early Image nineties stuff).

  2. It needs to seem cool enough that we want to watch it despite its obvious silliness, and viewed through that prism of canny analysis, the craftsmanship of “Winter Soldier” is first rate.

  3. The Winter Soldier is probably in the upper tier of Marvel pictures in terms of quality, but ultimately proves too muddled and frantic to match the heights of "The Avengers."