How Was The 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Ending Conceived?

If you leave a movie theater talking and thinking about a film, it was probably a good one. That certainly happened this weekend with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In addition to all the crazy happenings early in the film, it leaves its characters in a jaw-dropping spot. A spot that not only has ramifications on Avengers: Age of Ultron and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but on ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.

Which raises the question, where did the idea for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier ending come from? Whose wild idea was it to pull the plug on something so major? Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told us the whole story, and you can read it below. Major spoilers, obviously.

Major spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier below.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we learn that HYDRA has been part of S.H.I.E.L.D from its earliest conception. Their more subtle plan for world domination culminates in Project Insight, which will allow them to kill anyone in the blink of an eye, and even predict heroes before they arise. To defeat HYDRA, Cap and his friends have to totally destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. You know, the organization that has been the focus of the MCU since the first Iron Man. The organization that polices the world. The subject of Marvel's only TV show. It's gone. Bye bye.

It's a huge step, so I asked Kevin Feige where the idea came from. Here's the answer from Feige himself.

Well it was sort of a notion I had in the back of my head during Captain America 1 when we were sort of plotting the timelines for Cap and Avengers. The S.S.R. and Howard Stark's involvement and, you know, people always ask, do you have master timelines of all the different movies? And we don't really, but we do have timelines of the details of some of the movies, like the Stark family and things like that. And we were putting that together. And I started to get excited again, just sort of in the back of my own head about the idea that the S.S.R. help defeat the Nazis obviously, but also HYDRA. And that would make sense that the United States truly did bring in some of those HYDRA scientists and experts in technology to incorporate it and that much of what became S.H.I.E.L.D. signature items were a part of the HYDRA Corps brand. And what if you took that to another level and said "Oh, they've been in there the whole time, they've been growing in there the whole time." And at some point reveal that much of the work S.H.I.E.L.D. had done was all for this, for the purpose of eventually bringing back HYDRA.And I think the first person I actually sort of verbalized it to was Chris Evans. On the last day of shooting we were in Central Park on Avengers and he goes "So what are we doing for the next one?" I said, "Well, you know, we love Brubaker's Winter Soldier, we think there could be something there. And have Sebastian [Stan] become a totally different version of himself. We also have this notion about SHIELD." He was like "Holy crap, what the...?" And just based on his reaction it was like, "Oh maybe this is good."And we worked on a few other things. A few other ideas for the early versions of Cap 2. And then I sat down with Chris Markus and Steve McFeely and our co-producer Nate Moore and said, "Here's what I'm thinking." We knew we wanted to have Cap in the modern world, we knew we wanted to do sort of a paranoid global thriller, pit Cap against authority and who can he trust. And it was sort of that notion of "Hey, the first movie's a World War II movie grafted with a superhero movie. Let's do a political thriller grafted with a superhero movie." And that's when I went "Well I have this thought." And everybody loved it.And also the notion of changing the game leading into Avengers: Age of Ultron. That not having the safety net of necessarily of a giant government organization. You have it be just them was interesting and intriguing. All of this was in motion before the TV show existed. So when they told me, "Hey, we wanna do this TV show" and Joss called me and said, "Hey, you know, I'm gonna get involved in this show, I think we can do some cool stuff," I went 'Hey, that sounds really cool, good luck, but this is what we're doing in Cap 2 and I don't wanna change it for this." And you don't have to change it, we'll figure it out. So stay tuned for that change.

That change might happen this Tuesday on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or at least in the next few weeks. How do you think the show and movies are going to co-exist now that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't exist? Nick Fury and Black Widow are hiding in Europe, Maria Hill is working at Stark Industries and Cap is looking for the Winter Soldier. Where does that leave Agent Coulson and his team? More importantly, who is protecting the world alongside the Avengers?