Captain America: The Winter Soldier [movie review from arm amputee view]

"Captain America: The Winter soldier" (2014) raises a few - but not many - questions from a more specific viewpoint of the arm amputee movie goer.

I (ir)regularly review movies (that I come across) that feature (possibly faked or real) arm amputees.

Readers of my reviews typically may get this wrong: but I am not reviewing a movie for its overall plausibility, or its overall entertainment aspect, or maybe its overall relation to contemporay culture generally, here. I do review movies (that I come across) that feature (possibly faked or real) arm amputees. Here, I am specifically asking how the movie relates to the view of arm amputees in society and how it may influence such a view. Given that virtually no one nowadays meets an arm amputee in a whole life time, virtually all "knowledge" of arm amputees they possibly have is obtained via media.

Obviously the Winter Soldier is a man who once was badly injured but, in the mean time, repaired, also by means of a prosthetic arm.

From the imagery and actions, his science fiction type prosthetic arm is firmly bolted to the body in the same way a real arm is or probably better.

He can tear up cars and streets, he can throw around people and fight like a professional and actually wiggle his fingers and all. There is no doubt left about his very comprehensive abilities, also, to aim and shoot a rifle.

So in other words: his prosthetic arm commands a degree of fine motor control and strength that would enable him to, easily, perform construction work, vacuum clean floors, help patients get up in hospitals, carry heavy furniture, or lift and install motor blocks. In other words he has a Cyborg type arm of a type no one ever has in real life.

He could easily perform farming, mountain climbing or be an astronaut. In fact, his prosthetic arm is so realistic looking and moving (other than it being shiny) and it is so powerfully anthropomorphic that the most efficient way to have this put on movie screen, the easiest way to film this, was to take an able bodied actor and have that actor wear a bit of glovery and plastics on his left arm. Not having an amputee actor wear a prosthetic arm.

Now, let that sink in.

By all means he is so well equipped he might take up honest and legal regular work such as full employment!

But for some reason, he has not been asked to choose a profession that anyone would regard as "normal".

Maybe a more pressing question would be why this prosthetic arm wearing movie character, the guy that came out of being Bucky Barnes and a good friend of Captain America, is so much trouble.

Doesn't he just tear up all these places. Isn't he always in trouble! Now, his placement on the "evil" side in this movie does not seem to be his fault really. He had been badly injured, and the "bad" people that bolted him up and erased his brain also were responsible for making him do "bad" things - that is, I mean, doesn't he just tear up everything that he gets his fingers on. Doesn't he always fight the "good" ones.

So really, the bad company that the Winter Soldier got himself into was not of his making. It was circumstantial. He cannot free himself, escape, as every time a glimpse of remembering, "good", comes through, his memory gets erased again, and again.

Now this review gets complicated.

His prosthetic arm had been bolted on and crafted to make him "the fist of Hydra". That is what is being said, explicitly, by the "bad" boss, when the Winter Soldier sits down in the nefarious lab to get his damaged arm fixed, after Captain America had rammed his shield into that prosthetic arm. So: the big prosthetic arm's sole mission is to beat up people. Clear and simple.

Stay with me here: the specific Cyborg mandate here was not to lift bricks, to install cable rails or to tow airplanes, to dismantle power plants, to tow trucks, to pull out trees, to deliver pedicure or to cut hair, or to perform other heavy duty or halfways manually sophisticated activities - no, it was to quite simply hit people with the (prosthetic iron) fist.

To bash away - just as shown in the movie.

If anything, electronics and sophisticated mechanics are overrated, if not too heavy and in the way, for this, as the act of delivering blows as such can be performed by far simpler, more durable and thus more reliable designs, such as, say, a hammer.

Or a gun.

Instead the Winter Soldier gets equipped with a far too sophisticated arm, one that is to a very large degree dead weight - given his particular task and assignment.


As no on can be physically fit enough to work with an extra 60 kg arm, the Winter Soldier probably has to spend 8 hours a day, training and keeping fit (none of which is shown in the movie!) on top of expecting to be defeated by guys that train the same but do NOT get burdened by a 60 kg arm burdened with features far, far, far beyond delivering fist blows.

And really, the intricately detailed and sophisticated arm he got attached to himself is far too fragile given the circumstances - as all "bionic" prosthetic arms, in real life, are too fragile and too overloaded, given any circumstances.

No wonder Captain America manages to hack that prosthetic arm to pieces using a simple metal shield.

And so it is surprisingly realistically depicted, that the Winter Soldier ultimately falls back, against Captain America, definitely with regard to overall fitness.

So many movie makers, story writers, fairy tale inventors, narrative maker uppers and many industrial producers, build prosthetic arm parts to fail in the tension field between anthropomorphism and actual requirement: the thing is too heavy, the subject is not fit enough, and most features it has go unused because the world does not call upon these. These arms are almost never actually designed, thought up or built to actually last or match the real task!

Here, we have a biographical one-trick pony of sorts, the Winter Soldier, built to deliver "fist of Hydra" type blows, mentally built (and repeatedly erased) to only memorize that one task (and nothing else) - but instead of attaching a hammer, or maybe just a machine gun, to his limb, as it is so adequately done in other genre movies, here we see a sophisticated "give him a "bionic" arm and a "non bionic task" and let this break and show everyone how fragile the amputee is" rewind-play story. It shows a world that is not ready to give an arm amputee sufficient respect for a differentiated go at life. No prosthetic manufacturer has a respectable development center to innovate body powered design - and with that, also my respect, with due respect, is not too extreme.

A world that regards arm amputees as sub-humans that are OK to deliver fist blows (but not, say, become a podiatrist or brick layer or so) can safely stay away from going all the way to "arm puppet theatre" - which is where current industries take the "bionic" arm business.

Arm amputees's real world problems are not even sufficently solved on any level where routinely, floors are scrubbed, where every day, large furniture or other goods are moved, or where other rough work is done - but for insane prices, industries sell us Potemkin arm simulations that can be used for enactments. For the more applied and manually relevant situations in everyday life, "modern" prosthetic arms are constructed under the "management by banana" paradigm ("product matures, if at all, after purchase"). But, do products mature? Are iLimb controls getting any better? Is there progress?

Really, the prosthetic arm in this Winter Soldier movie is not that much of a feature. It bashes away and then it dies.

The rest of the characters are at least similarly prosthetized. One has this bionic shield that belongs to his body scheme. Another has snap-on wings that he flies with. Yet others have these humongous air craft weapons that they identify themselves with in various ways. So all in all, this Marvel comic does not raise too many new questions from a

So all in all, this Marvel comic does not raise too many new questions from a movie goer perspective. It raises the all-too-well known questions, again - that is what it does. It resides deeply inside a society that by and large does not resolve the actual problems of prosthetic arms well, in any particularly interesting way. It is not good science fiction at least in relation to prosthetized parts - it is a comic book with some science fiction elements, made into a movie. That is all there is to it.

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: - Captain America: The Winter Soldier [movie review from arm amputee view]; published 09/10/2017, 19:20; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1631989623, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{ - Captain America: The Winter Soldier [movie review from arm amputee view]}}, month = {October}, year = {2017}, url = {} }