The Winter Soldiers were a top secret section of Hydra, during its reformation period within S.H.I.E.L.D.. The team was facilitated by Colonel Vasily Karpov who trained the brainwashed soldiers, with the help of the first Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes. These soldiers, however, were a lot less mentally stable than Barnes.
On December 16th 1991, Karpov sent Barnes out on a mission to retrieve a case of the super-soldier serum from Howard Stark. After retrieving the serum, Barnes had to kill Howard and his wife Maria, for there to be no witnesses.
A couple decades later, after Hydra fell at the hands of Captain America and his allies, Karpov went into hiding in a suburban life. One day, a man by the name of Helmut Zemo barged into his home and tied him up, demanding to be told what happened on December 16th 1991. When Karpov wouldn't divulge the secrets, Zemo instead took the book of words used to brainwash the soldiers and studied it. He later infiltrated the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building in Germany, impersonating Dr. Theo Broussard, to get one-on-one time with Barnes, who was being held prisoner there. Zemo activated Barnes' brainwashing using the words he studied, and demanded a mission report of December 16th 1991 and the location of the Hydra base.
Later, when Captain America had Barnes alone and safe, he asked him what Zemo would want from the Hydra base. Barnes revealed the existence of more Winter Soldiers resting in cryogenic sleep, waiting to be given further orders. Captain America assumed that Zemo was looking to utilize these soldiers to inflict further devastation on the world.
Zemo soon arrived in Siberia and found the base. Captain America, Barnes, and Iron Man arrived not long after, looking for Zemo. Zemo revealed himself to them, and also revealed that he didn't intend on freeing the Winter Soldiers for his schemes. To prove this, he released a gas into their respective cryogenic chambers, killing them all. He then played a video of the December 16th 1991 mission, revealing to Iron Man that Barnes was the his parent's killer. This caused Iron Man to attack Captain America and Barnes, long enough for Zemo to escape. Zemo later revealed to Black Panther, who followed Iron Man to Siberia, that he never intended on using the Winter Soldiers for world domination. He only intended to reveal the truth behind the Starks' deaths, so that the Avengers would be forced to tear themselves apart from the inside.
- It is assumed that Arnim Zola had involvement with this Winter Soldier program, given that he started it all with Bucky Barnes and that he knew of all Barnes' missions, but it's never stated within the film they're featured in.
- It is now not known whether the deaths that Natasha Romanoff states Barnes is credited for throughout history are all actually kills done by Barnes himself.
- Jackson Spidell, Yi Long, Heidi Moneymaker, Aaron Toney, and Cale Schultz are credited for portraying the Winter Soldiers in the film Captain America: Civil War. Spidell is credited as "Josef/Super Soldier #1"
- Spidell is the stunt double for Chris Evans, who plays Captain America. Moneymaker is the stunt double for Scarlett Johansson, who plays Black Widow. Toney is the stunt double for Anthony Mackie, who plays the Falcon.
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