Why is Julian Assange Featured in Captain America: The Winter Soldier?

The Marvel movies are generally either loved by fans or dismissed as infantile escapism, yet one of these movies manages to utilise its fantastical format to tell a profoundly important story about freedom, mass-surveillance, and the true intentions of governments. A story dedicated to the people paying the high price for freedom.

Edward Marotis
9 min readMay 23, 2022
Steve Rogers (Captain America), portrayed by actor Chris Evans

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) is widely regarded as one of the best Marvel-movies, and rightly so. Its a highly entertaining movie, defined by great acting, a good score, and overall good film-making. Yet, it is not so much the quality of the movie that is of especial interest, but rather its theme.

In the movie, Steve Rogers, or Captain America, is working for S.H.I.E.L.D (Shield), which is a US security/military/intelligence service. Shield is about to launch a series of hili-carriers (airships) capable of eliminating any target, and what is notable about them, is that they choose their targets based on an algorithm that predicts peoples behaviour. Thus, it enables them to eliminate any individual that could potentially pose a risk. As Rogers puts it, they are:

“holding a gun to everyone on earth and calling it protection”

As the movie continues, it becomes clear that Shield has been infiltrated at every level by H.Y.D.R.A (Hydra); a Nazi version of Shield established under Hitler. Rogers is now on the run, and this leads to the most important scene of the movie. In the scene it is revealed by a former Hydra-scientist, that after the second world war, many of the high ranking members were recruited by Hydra, and were thereby able to infiltrate the entirety of the institution.

Watch the scene below, and the most important part is transcribed below the video. (If the video can’t be played directly, a link can be found below it).


Zola: “Hydra was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realise is that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. War taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, Shield was founded, and I was recruited. The new Hydra grew; a beautiful parasite inside Shield. For 70 years Hydra has been secretly feeding crisis, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed. (…) Hydra created a world so chaotic, that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, Hydra’s new world order will arise.”

This is in itself a great, well-written, part of the story. It’s also an almost perfect reflection of the real world.

After the second world war, many high ranking Nazi-officers and scientists were recruited by the US government, thus entirely avoiding prosecution for their crimes. Through efforts such as “Operation Gladio” and “Operation Paperclip”, the US actively recruited Nazi-individuals, even at the highest level of command. The US never really defeated Nazi-ism; rather, it absorbed what remained of it, after 27 million Soviet lives had been sacrificed in defeating it.

This is the most obvious historical parallel, and despite being disturbing in itself, the objective stated by Zola is far more important to reflect upon:

“What we did not realise is that if you try to take that freedom, they resist. War taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly.”

This objective, to have us surrender our freedom willingly, is one that most governments around the world relentlessly aim for. The way that this has been done is exactly what Zola describes; “feeding crisis, reaping war”.

The US has, especially during the last century, been secretly overthrowing governments, invading countries, fueling proxy-wars (wars fought by other parties on its behalf).

Notably, the US has invaded or destroyed Vietnam, Cambodia, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, among others, yet these atrocities only constitute the more obvious warfare, while much of it remains concealed.

In 1953, the CIA and MI6 was used to overthrow democratically elected president of Iran, Mohammed Mosaddegh, notably due to the fact that he was attempting to nationalise the oil-production of the country.

Similarly, the US has orchestrated and funded coups in all of South-america, leading to the torture, abuse, and death of hundreds of thousands of civillians, such as in Chile, Guatamala, and Argentina, just to name a few. The same can generally be said for the African continent, in which US warfare has destabilised many countries, and induced internal violence by extremists groups towards the general population.

In the film, while Zola states that they have been “secretly feeding crisis; reaping war”, an important frame is shown for less than a second, that being footage of former President of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi.

Muammar Gaddafi shown wearing sunglasses and a white uniform.

Under Gadaffi, Libya managed to raise the living standard of the population quite impressively, regarding education, healthcare, housing, and economic safety. Libya also held a strong currency, backed by reserves of gold and silver, which it planned to use to establish a pan-African currency, that would be independent from the dollar. For this reason, the US, along with several NATO-allies, destroyed the country, through a combination of arming of rebels and direct bombings by NATO forces.

A message to the world about what happens when you step out of line with the interest of the US empire.

Yet, an even more important frame is shown seconds later, which is footage of Julian Assange.

Julian Assange speaking outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Julian Assange is a journalist who helped publish a large amount of leaked documentation of US war crimes, mainly relating to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange has now spent more than a decade imprisoned either in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in which he sought political asylum in 2012, or in Belmarsh prison in London, where he has been placed since 2019. At the moment, Assange is very close to being extradited to the US, which would entail him being placed in maximum security prison for the rest of his life; in other words, he would vanish from the face of the earth, not to be heard from again.

The case of Assange is, despite the many smears, a simple demonstration of what happens when a person challenges the interests of the US military industrial complex. What Assange did was exactly what any respectable journalist should do; hold those in power accountable to the public for the atrocities they commit in our name.

Zola states that “when history did not cooperate, history was changed”, as the film shows an image of the “Winter Soldier” aiming a sniper-rifle; a potential call-back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who notably challenged the military industrial complex in several ways. Kennedy was eventually shot, and this was clearly not done by the alleged shooter, but rather it was likely an effort of the military industrial complex, the “deep state”, as demonstrated in Oliver Stone’s new documentary.

This leads to the last part of Zola’s speech, which is perhaps the most important for us to understand:

Hydra created a world so chaotic, that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, Hydra’s new world order will arise.”

Our lives have, especially since the attack on the World Trade Center of 9/11–2001, been dominated by an increasing sense of fear and conflict, which without fail always leads to more authoritarian measures that are presented as the solution to our fears.

The war on terror was used as an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the establishment of prisons like that in Guantanamo bay, in which hundreds of people have been tortured for years without any due process.

It also became the excuse for establishing unprecedented levels of mass-surveillance on all of us, which we only know of because Edward Snowden risked everything to spread the knowledge with the world, leading to him being forced into exile in Russia.

More recently, this dynamic has reached new heights with the pandemic starting in 2020, leading to a normalisation of mass-lockdowns, mask-wearing, and mandating v@ççination. This has led to increasing rates of poverty, substance-abuse, developmental and social challenges for children and youth, all the while breaching our fundamental bodily sovereignty. Notably, even this virus, which would otherwise be a natural occurrence, has now been shown to have been created in a US-funded lab.

With the war in Ukraine, we quickly transitioned into a new conflict; one that allowed Western governments to blame the disastrous economic situation caused by the pandemic-policies on Russia’s escalation of the war in Ukraine, while also removing the focus of the public away from the numerous studies demonstrating the failure of the policies. This has been enabled by the mainstream media’s decidedly pro-Uranian bias, which fails entirely to explain the true reason behind the war, which I explore in a separate essay.

The point here is not to make an argument that absolves or redeems Russia’s actions, nor does it dismiss the possibility of the Russian government acting with similar intent to that of the US, but rather to demonstrate that this is another conflict “fed” by the US, that ultimately serves to coerce us into even deeper levels of control.

All of this is taking place while inflation rises rapidly, as poverty-rates increase, as the natural ecosystems of the world are being decimated, all of which worsens the living-conditions of people everywhere. Interestingly, the US chose recently to spend $40 billion on weaponry for Ukraine, rather than to assist its own citizens.

Now, we are potentially seeing the surge of a new pandemic in the form of the monkey-pox, which will almost certainly be used as a ‘second round’ for the efforts of permanently establishing the pandemic-policies.

This is enabled by the mainstream media, which shifts its catastrophising lens from one conflict after another, keeping us in a state of constant fear. Thus, the deep-state has created “a world so chaotic, that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.

At a later point of the film, Steve Rogers speaks to the staff at Shield, informing them of what he has uncovered:


“They almost have what they want; absolute control. (…). Unless we stop them. I know I’m asking a lot, but the price of freedom is high, it always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one then so be it. But I’m willing to bet that I’m not.

Julian Assange is living the principle advocated for in this speech. He is paying the high price for freedom, and has done so for more than a decade; a period defined by being held in solitary confinement, being smeared by mainstream ‘journalists’, and potentially facing the prospect of being thrown in a black hole for the rest of his life.

It’s hard to say how much the movie truly wants to credit Assange; after all, he is featured for less than a second. Yet, this is and was one of the biggest movies of the time, and the inclusion of Assange should not be dismissed due only to its brevity, especially not considering how he is literally embodying the principle that Steve Rogers is fighting for in the movie.

Ultimately, this movie manages to tell a profoundly important story about our actual current reality, while calling for us all to embrace the responsibility of ensuring our own freedom.

It is a call for us all to support people like Julian Assange, as it is only through our will and effort that he can ever be freed. If we fail Assange, we will have conceded defeat; we will have demonstrated that we are not willing to stand for our own freedom, and thus we’ll doom ourselves to the dystopia warned of in this movie, along with most of the sci-fi-movies in existence.

We must stand for Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Daniel Hale, and the many other individuals who are paying the high price for freedom.

Our own freedom depends on it.



Edward Marotis

Studying Master’s Commercial and Environmental Law in Copenhagen. Vegan.