Major Papers


Textual Analysis, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Surveillance, Post-9/11, Snowden Revelations


This paper employs textual analysis to critically examine how the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) represents post-9/11 surveillance technologies and techniques in light of the Edward Snowden revelations regarding data collection and analytics, the role of digital technologies in surveillance, and the sacrifice of democratic rights. It does this by employing David Lyon’s book Surveillance After Snowden (2015) to highlight core narrative points and scenic elements of the film that depict how surveillance is framed exclusively in terms of governmental surveillance practices, specifically drawing connections between the NSA and S.H.I.E.L.D. Focusing on narrative aspects of the film such as character motivations, and technical aspects such as pre-emptive analytics, data doubles and digital technologies, this project examines how Captain America: The Winter Soldier frames surveillance in terms such as freedom versus fear, the suspension of the presumption of innocence, set against the development of a ubiquitous and ambient digital surveillance infrastructure. This paper examines how the film mispresents the accuracy of pre-emptive analytics, excludes the role of corporate social media, and glosses over the dangers of digital surveillance to a democratic society by framing the central concern of digital surveillance as who is controlling “the switch.”

Primary Advisor

Vincent Manzerolle

Program Reader

Valerie Scatamburlo-D'Annibale

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Communication, Media and Film

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year