Captain America: The Winter Soldier  (2014)



In the bank vault scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when we first see Bucky, he’s being bombarded with fragments of memories of Steve and his own “death.” When I was watching it recently, I noticed that one of the things he doesn’t do much of at first is blink. When Pierce enters the vault, Bucky’s not even blinking at all, simply staring straight ahead, completely lost in his memories and confusion, and trying to piece things together. But if you look at the gif above, you’ll notice that right after Pierce backhands him across the face, Bucky’s staring off toward the right, unblinking, until he begins to say, “The man on the bridge…”

In the dim recesses of my minor in speech communication brain, I remembered some information about cognitive function and blinking, so I looked up what might be going on in this scene, and it’s really fascinating. Blinking (aside from its physical requirement of keeping the eye moist) is related to certain cognitive processes; most people punctuate their speech with blinking between phrases and at the ends of sentences. People also time blinking so as not to interfere with receiving new cognitive input (less blinking while they’re solving a problem, for instance, and then blinking more when they’re done).

A 1933 study showed that the rate of blinking was low during tasks requiring concentration and intense mental activity. However, “unfocused or rapidly changing internal states such as disorientation, emotional excitement, frustration, and anxiety seem to be associated with high rates of blinking.”

In the above gif, you can see that Bucky doesn’t blink at all while he’s more focused on the memories that are assaulting him, but then as his internal state starts to change and he wants to talk, he blinks repeatedly when he says, “The man on the bridge.” He keeps blinking in quick succession as he remembers Steve saying, “Bucky?” and continues, turning his gaze up to Pierce: “I knew him.” The blinking has slowed at that point.

Once Pierce lies and then starts in on his little carrot speech, Bucky goes back to blinking only when his eyes change focus or he moves his gaze. Sometimes it’s not even a full blink, just a small movement of his eyelids, like below.


An example of these processes the researchers mentioned was: “While searching one’s memory for a name, one tends not to blink; then, when the name is located, blinking occurs.” Bucky basically, throughout Pierce’s bloviating, is continuing to process his internal emotions and retrieve information, so he doesn’t blink much at all. The researchers believed blinking is inhibited when activities are not dependent upon visual input – and here, all Bucky really does is half listen to Pierce yammering, not entirely focused on him, only glancing at him occasionally. And even more interestingly in terms of this scene, the lower blinking rate extends to visual memory as well, not just receiving new input. All those thoughts and feelings roiling in his mind are Bucky’s primary focus, not Pierce’s empty rhetoric. Until…

Bucky says something about Steve, and his memories, again. Then he blinks multiple times in rapid succession.


Here you can see him blink slowly once, turn his attention to Pierce’s face, and then say, blinking rapidly, “But I knew him.” He’s accessed those visual memories, he knows he knows something, and he doesn’t care about the new input from Pierce, so the higher blink rate is indicative of his emotional turmoil every bit as much as that little grimace is.

“The rapid changes in visual input level resulting from the closing and opening of the lids may cause massive interference in visual processing areas.” I mean, all I can do here is make flaily hands while I sit in a bathtub filled with the crystalline tears I’ve cried for Bucky.

When Pierce gives up on the carrot and goes for the stick, Bucky goes back to not blinking much at all. Even when they shove him back in the chair, he doesn’t blink.


I don’t know if Sebastian Stan or the directors knew any of this, or if Sebastian did this blinking thing deliberately as part of his acting process, but damn. He just deserves all the awards for such a subtle, amazing performance here. This incredible fucking movie: 16 months later and we can still find stuff to talk about. It’s agonizing and heartbreaking and I don’t think I’ll ever be over this scene.



While I was originally intending to (finally) get around to doing meta on Alexander Pierce and the way they use lighting and framing, I was taking screenshots, and noticed something about this scene that I had never noticed before.

This whole scene is a masterclass in mirroring. Usually, this is when one person subconsciously mimics another person’s gestures, expressions, and movements. It’s often so natural, a picking up of non-verbal cues, that both the person mirroring and the subject don’t even notice. Psychologically speaking, it gives the impression of closeness and similarity, and encourages a stronger connection between two people.

In this case, Alexander Pierce is doing it deliberately. This whole scene is about him trying to gauge whether Steve trusts him. And quite frankly, I find it fascinating because not only does Pierce have a similar look to Steve, but he’s closer to his age than anyone else Steve has worked with.

But anyway, back to the scene. From the very first moment of their interaction, Pierce is testing him:

“It’s an honour.”
“The honour’s mine, Captain. My father served with the hundred and first.”

He’s verbally laying down the ground work to suggest they are similar, equals, coming from the same background. This is a foundation he needs to build a strong case against Fury. If he can ensure Steve is on his side, then it will make things a lot easier.

He starts on what seems like a friendly note, telling Steve old, little-known stories about Fury to gain his trust. This is where he starts the physical mirroring, matching Steve’s position on the seat: we’re friends here. Look at us, talking like friends.

And this is the point where he thinks he is gaining Steve’s confidence, so he moves onto stage two: planting seeds of doubt about Fury. First, he talks about the bugging, then about Batroc, and the source of the funding for Batroc’s mission. All the while, he keeps casually imitating Steve’s body language: turning when Steve does, folding his hands in front of him, resting his arms on his knees. It’s casually done, but very deliberate.

It’s only when Steve shows his faith in Fury that Pierce withdraws to regroup. And here’s the interesting thing: this is the one moment when Steve mimics Pierce by getting up, which shows that he is responding to Pierce’s cues and words, by keeping them on the same level (physically, at least).

I also love the fact that Pierce very deliberately goes and places himself by the window, framing himself in light. The lighting in this moment (and really, in any scene when Pierce is still acting as a benevolent force) could not be more apt. He’s casting himself as the illuminated leader.

He has also returned to the point of Nick being an ally, a similar person to him. He has realised that Steve will not accept Nick as a traitor, so now he intends to play the loyal-friend card and try and get information out of Steve that way. And his stance by the window, leaning against the glass, the world-weary expression, the “I know what it’s like” – it’s all carefully targeted. He’s making a point that he and Nick are similar in mentality and outlook, encouraging Steve to believe that Nick would want him to know everything.

When he turns back to Steve and sees Steve in his military stance, he mirrors him once more, hands to his waist. This remains the case for the rest of their confrontation, until Steve turns to leave. I’d never noticed this before, but the fact he matches Steve’s stance when he’s talking about being angry about losing someone important to him? Jebus on a cupcake, he is pretty much hitting Steve’s big red NOPE button.

He knows about Bucky (of course he does. He keeps him in a fridge downtown) and no doubt knows about all Steve’s other dead friends. He’s trying to make Steve empathise with him and see the similarities between them by bringing up a lost friend, and he does it all while imitating Steve’s body language like the creepy bastard he is. I am like you, Captain. We are the same. We have both suffered a loss and we are both angry about it. We can help each other.

And this is the trouble with Pierce: he sees the Captain America everyone else sees, the Cap from the museum exhibit. Steve might not have the capacity to be a spy, but he’s not stupid, and he can tell when he’s being played, especially the way Pierce has flip-flopped how he’s describing Nick.

That was Pierce’s mistake the whole time – he  didn’t see that Steve Rogers was the kind of man who would disobey orders and storm a HYDRA base in the same way Nick Fury would disobey orders and rescue a group of hostages in Bogota.

Steve’s “he told me not to trust anyone” is the biggest “f*ck you and all you stand for” possible in the circumstances.

I am forever in awe of the nuance and complexity in the winter soldier, and stand by the conviction that is not a superhero film, it’s an espionage thriller that just so happens to have superheros in it



I really, REALLY love the winter soldier highway fight scene because I don’t remember jack shit from that movie I don’t know who the hell Bucky is yet I can feel the mood drop when he first gets shown on screen and I know he is TERRIFYING. the music with a slow drum beat as he slowly walks towards that car is so god damn tense I don’t even know who he’s looking for but I’m praying for them. and every shot he has is completely focused except a few that shake a little which really lets you know this dude is strict and ready to fuck shit up but he’s also kinda unhinged. idk if it was intentional but its good.

and when Steve tries to stop him and he punches the shield and it makes that cool gong sound and LEAVES A MARK ON THE GOD DAMN SHIELD!!! 
consider my nut officially busted and my wig snatched.

the little hand to hand combat bit with steve is so neat as well because all these other heroes don’t really…. look like they’re fighting…. like black widow u look cool and I’m gay for u but what kind of fairy bullshit are you doing….babe…
but Bucky genuinely fights like a soldier while Steve doest like spin kicks that don’t do shit and I’m so grateful for it

then the moment that mask falls off. BITCH thats all I have to say.
i don’t remember that being a thing but I gasped out loud cuz the way that moment was done is probably the best piece of exposition if I’ve ever seen you know these 2 are connected you KNOW Steve knows him and you feel sad when he goes “who’s Bucky?” even tho I too don’t know who Bucky is besides a hot long haired dude who’s very pissed off and has a lot of eyeliner.

TLDR: this is me @ the highway fight scene from winter soldier:

Op you’re right you should say it





okay so i had been spoilered all to hell already about captain america


i had assumed it was like other marvel stuff, where falcon is a shield agent, and that “on your left” came out of some kind of shield exercise thing





is steve rogers just fucking with people constantly bill murray style

does he steal french fries from strangers and tell them no one will ever believe them

does he lift cars when only small children are looking

did steve realize that captain america had a bizarrely wholesome reputation and use it as a way to prank people blamelessly

Yes. Obviously.

Right at the beginning of Winter Soldier he was at the exhibit and only the little kid saw him and it blew that little kid’s mind! You know he does that all the time just to freak out little kids.

I bet he has little shield buttons or badges or something, he keeps a dozen in his pockets and just hands them out to little kids who recognize him and deputizes them as agents. He does it when he needs to escape somewhere without being recognized by the grownups, he’ll bring the kids in on a “mission” to distract the adults while he makes his escape.

“Thanks pal, great work, couldn’t have done this mission without you”

This kid’s like: *utterly serious* *salute*

In Civil War when Cap’s a “traitor” or “public enemy #1” or whatever that kid is still loyal as fuck and telling everyone they know that Cap is the best and they can eat some tiny fists 👊


Are you kidding me?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


Are you kidding me?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


In heroes we trust.

I’ve watched CA: The Winter Soldier a while ago and it’s easily my favorite Marvel stand-alone. Decided to sketch my faves (i.e. all of them).