To punctuate the home video release of Captain America: Winter Soldier in my own dorky way, I thought I would use today’s Tracking The Marvel Cinematic Universe to outline what I consider to be one of the best (and more subtle) examples of Marvel’s interweaving narrative: The long con of Agent Jasper Sitwell.
As an added bonus to the blu ray of The Avengers, Marvel Studios continued to expand their universe in a seemingly incremental fashion with Item 47.
Item 47 was just one in an ongoing series of mini-movies affectionately named “Marvel One Shots”. The concept behind these shorts was too simply add more flavor to the MCU by giving audiences the stuff that happened in-between the blockbusters.
It was a cute idea. One that came off fairly inconsequential. Or at least we thought so…
marvel.one.shot.item.47 by matia210
The gist of Item 47 is that two would-be criminals (Jessie Bradford and a pre-Masters of Sex Lizzy Caplan) discover a discarded Chitauri weapon from the climactic battle in Avengers. After a brief pep talk, the two convince each other that they can effortlessly rob the local bank with their alien gun and no one could stop them. Little do they realize that SHIELD’s Agent Sitwell (played by Maximiliano Hernandez) is hot on their trail, doggedly hunting down anything that remains of the alien invasion of New York City (more on that later).
Keep in mind that Item 47 was released almost a year before Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD had hit the small screen. After announcing Marvel Studios’ plan to develop a SHIELD show, fans and online journalists alike incorrectly speculated that the short was a preview of what the TV series was going to shape up to be like in the future. I for one hoped that wasn’t the case. Mainly because the show only reinforced SHIELD’s continuous incompetence when it came to matters of the supernatural (admittedly, they do come off largely ineffectual through most of Phase 1). It also ended with Sitwell — a seemingly by-the-book agent — eagerly recruiting two known felons into SHIELD with little to no red tape. I mean, seriously…why the hell is SHIELD recruiting criminals to join their noble cause? It didn’t make any–
Once again, in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, plot threads of the past take on a new perspective.
With absolute certainty, Sitwell had been working for Hydra since before Item 47. Amusingly, the creative brain-trust at Marvel had taken a background character from the comics and turned him into a throughline that led all the way to the second Captain America film’s biggest plot point.
Backtracking through the MCU, you can find that shifty Sitwell scattered throughout. Sometimes he was just all too conveniently present for major events. Like when the Destroyer appears to level New Mexico in Thor…
Or in Marvel’s The Avengers when he is seen running surveillance on Loki…
He is also seen typing furiously on the Helicarrier while everyone else is scrambling for their lives (couldn’t find an image but, trust me, he is).
Then there are the small acknowledgements of Sitwell’s inevitable allegiance to Hydra. Like when he openly admits that he is great at playing a “patsy” while nudging an immovable Agent Coulson to admit his clearance level in The Consultant.
We also discover through a deleted scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier that he isn’t simply “by-the-books” but really just a prick. Particularly when dealing with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).
Which, of course, brings us to the moment when we find out he is Hydra in that exact same movie…
Which, of course, gets him killed. ‘Cause, y’know…@#$% him, right?
Based on what we’ve seen of Sitwell (and following some admittedly implied logic) you can draw the conclusion that…
A) Sitwell was likely working for Hydra during Item 47.
B) He recruited the two bank robbers from Item 47 under the false pretense that they would be working for SHIELD but, in actuality, they were probably doing Hydra’s dirty work.
C) If Agent Sitwell was pursuing alien artifacts from the battle of New York, then it is very likely that he at least managed to tuck away Loki’s sceptre so Hydra could confiscate it.
D) Which would explain how Hydra’s Baron Von Strucker has it in his possession during the post-credits scene in Winter Soldier…
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that not all of these things lead directly to Sitwell’s inevitable betrayal. However, I’m impressed by the collective effort (across multiple directors and writers) to take passing moments from a bit player in order to reverse engineer a Sitwell subplot. It speaks to Marvel Studios determination to make everything matter.
RIP. Agent Sitwell. Clearly your bottomless appetite was as much for destruction as it was for laughs, you greedy bastard.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen writes about action/adventure for Action A Go Go. He is a comic book writer whose works include BamnComics.com, The Magic Bullet, Dr. Dremo’s Taphouse of Tall Tales, and the Harvey Award nominated District Comics. In addition, Allen has been a contributing writer for ComicBookBin.com, OfNote Magazine, and ForcesOfGeek.com. His work has been featured in the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine, The Examiner, and The Washington Post. Yes, he wrote this bio.