Dumb things in Captain America: The Winter Soldier everyone just ignored

The second Captain America sequel was a game-changer for the franchise and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large. It saw the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., which at that point had been the linchpin connecting all these disparate films, and put Nick Fury on the run.

The film premiered to pretty much universal critical acclaim, and for good reason—it was pretty great. But that doesn't mean it was perfect. Here are all the dumb things people just ignored about Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

​Wait, how did Nick Fury's magic lightsaber cut a tunnel through the Earth?

Nick Fury's downtown chase while nefarious forces and the Winter Soldier look to take him out is one of the most thrilling scenes not just in the movie, but the MCU at large. It's tense, claustrophobic, and well-paced—but it ends with one heck of a head-scratcher. Fury's car gets flipped by the Winter Soldier's (umm) magic, car-flipping gun. But as he walks up to finish him off, Fury pulls out a tiny lightsaber device that somehow cuts through the car's roof and asphalt underneath, carving out an escape tunnel.

Which doesn't really make all that much sense, right? If Fury just happened to land on top of a manhole and dropped into a sewer tunnel, that'd be mildly believable. But at least judging by the hole he cut, it looks like Fury literally sliced a hole through solid asphalt and the Earth underneath, escaping into (umm) the subway tunnels … or something … underneath there? And he does it all in a matter of about five seconds.

But that's not the worst of it. The Winter Soldier knows Fury is injured. He sees the escape hole, then just pretty much shrugs and walks away. Why not follow him through there? Heck, at least toss in a grenade or two. He's already caused this massive downtown spectacle, so hitting a handy-dandy escape hole would actually be the most obvious escape strategy for the Winter Soldier to disappear, too, right?

Where the heck was Iron Man?

Not to make it sound like a refrain in pretty much every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but when you create a shared universe, it's one you need to address. And Marvel just doesn't do that here. Tony Stark is mentioned several times throughout this film. There are jokes about getting Iron Man to come to a kid's birthday party, and Fury even mentions that Stark consulted on the design of the new-look helicarriers. He's obviously a fairly big part of this world, so why doesn't he show up (or at least get a call) when all hell breaks loose? Sure, Fury told Cap not to trust anyone, but he knows Stark isn't in the S.H.I.E.L.D. system—they both distrusted S.H.I.E.L.D. (and turned out to be right) in The Avengers. With Cap up against the wall, why not call his old pal Tony? And when the helicarriers start going rogue and Hydra makes its move, how does Iron Man not pop over from Manhattan to lend a hand?

The obvious, and correct, answer is that Marvel didn't want to back another truck full of money up to Robert Downey Jr.'s house to have him make a supporting appearance in the film. Which is fine—the movie works without Iron Man. But at least find a way to explain away his absence. Give him a trip to Antarctica or something.

​Could Hydra really have ruled the world with just a few helicarriers?

Hydra has waited for decades to make its move, and it all came down to these super helicarriers. Hydra felt this new helicarrier network was the piece of tech that could push it over the top in the world-domination department, so the organization blew decades of cover and made its existence public. But could Hydra really rule the world with just a handful of (admittedly powerful) helicarriers? Sure, we're told they can knock out pretty much any potential threat from the sky. But this is a world where the Avengers exist! Couldn't Thor just lightning bolt these things out of the sky? Couldn't Iron Man find a way to hack them? Couldn't the Hulk just punch them out of the air?

​It's too afraid to tell the story it wants to tell

Marvel has made it a priority to show it can explore a whole lot of different genres within the framework of a comic book movie, and with The Winter Soldier, Marvel went all-in on the political thriller concept. For the most part, it nailed it. The narrative was built around a dirty secret hidden deep within the government, and it found Captain America grappling with the fact that this world is very different than the one he went to sleep in. Steve Rogers was born into a world where good isn't compromised and the government is something to be trusted. He followed orders because they were (usually) the right thing to do. But in Winter Soldier, Cap comes face to face with the fact that blind loyalty could easily turn him into one of the bad guys he's supposed to be fighting. That is a story loaded with potential, and for most of the film, it seemed to be the story Winter Soldier wanted to tell.

Then it turned out that all the moral ambiguity was because there were literal Nazis hiding in the government in the form of Hydra. They were the bad element, and America is still fundamentally good and means well. It felt like a cop-out, especially for the way this story began, with Cap asking tough questions about what it means to be a patriot.

​There's no way they could keep Hydra a secret this long, right?

So Hydra spent decades and decades hiding out within S.H.I.E.L.D. and managed to infiltrate pretty much every level of government, from world leaders to top politicians? All while literally nesting within the top-secret spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. along the way? That's … absurdly hard to believe, right? Look, it's not insane to think there could be a secret society of Hydra out there, doing nefarious things and plotting world domination. It's a core piece of the Marvel universe and has been for decades. That makes sense. But, the idea that Hydra could do all that—for decades—while functioning in double-super secret within an intelligence agency? No way, dude! Someone would have caught wind of this thing at some point. Heck, what about in The Avengers when Tony Stark hacked the servers and stole literally all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s files? Did no Hydra secrets pop up during his perusal of all that intel?

S.H.I.E.L.D. should already have Tesseract super-weapons

In The Avengers, we learn Nick Fury is using the Tesseract to try to make his very own energy weapons—just like the ones the Red Skull's forces used in Captain America: The First Avenger. We know these weapons are possible because we saw them during World War II, and there's probably a few of them literally left over after the war. So this tech is possible—and apparently it's not all that hard, if the Skull could figure it out in World War II.

But the timeline gets a little hinky in Winter Soldier. It's revealed Armin Zola worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. after World War II until the 1970s, where he planted the seeds of Hydra within the spy agency and eventually downloaded his consciousness into a computer for perpetuity. So if Zola worked for the U.S. for decades, why the heck doesn't S.H.I.E.L.D. already have a boatload of Tesseract weaponry by the time The Avengers rolls around? There's no denying it: the reveal that Zola actually worked for the U.S. for decades really throws a kink or two in the timeline.

​Hydra still took down S.H.I.E.L.D.

The big, climactic moment in Winter Soldier comes when Cap and his ragtag team manage to infiltrate the rogue helicarriers and bring them down over the city—essentially destroying the dangerous and cutting-edge tech Hydra planned to hijack. It's spun in a sense of "Yay! They beat Hydra!" But if anything, Hydra still came out on top. Just think about it. The film ended with S.H.I.E.L.D. disgraced and disbanded, and as fans of the tie-in series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are well aware, Hydra survived the end of Winter Soldier and persisted for a while. S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, was pretty much Coulson and his small team working in the shadows as a rogue operation. Sure, the good guys eventually managed to bring Hydra down, but they practically came out on top when compared to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fallout at the time.

It might not have all happened in the movie, but it's all one universe, so it all counts. Hey, Marvel? You can't brag about building a shared universe if you're just going to ignore all the challenges it presents once you've built it.