Well, it sure took me long enough but I finally cleared another movie from my DVR. I enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger. It was a war story but with a superhero. That’s pretty much how the Marvel Cinematic Universe works best: X kind of story but with a superhero. Guardians Of The Galaxy, which I still have to see, didn’t have a superhero but it’s still science fiction tied to a comic book universe so that’s fine. It’s a formula that has brought Marvel Studios success and you can’t argue with the results.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the second movie featuring ol’ Cap, only this time they jumped right to the Winter Soldier. I guess they really wanted to get him into the MCU since he’s a more recent invention, and a darkened recreation of a classic character. Bucky Barnes was Cap’s teen sidekick during World War II, but this was changed in the first movie since sidekicks seem to be on the decline. I blame Rob Schneider for ruining sidekicks…nah, just kidding. I blame grown-ups who hate kid characters or anything remotely resembling them outside of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. And even then they have to ruin that…but I’m getting off-topic. So how well did the movie work?
RELEASE DATE: 2014
RELEASED BY: Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures
RUNTIME: 2 hours. 16 minutes
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Shaw, and Anthony Mackie
SCREENWRITERS: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
DIRECTORS: Anthony and Joe Russo
GROSS REVENUE: $714,766,572 ($259,766,572 domestic) from an estimated budget of $170,000,000
The Plot: Set after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers is still getting use to life in the 21st century but is adjusting as best he can, with a little help from the internet. During a run he meets Sam Wilson (Mackie), a war veteran who now helps other vets reclaim their lives. (My cousin does that too.) And he’s going to need that new friend’s help along with Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow (Johansson) when a new SHIELD project leads to the apparent assassination of Nick Fury (Jackson), and the return of Steve’s old friend (Shaw) when he should be long dead. Instead he’s an assassin known as the Winter Soldier, and Captain America is on his hit list! Before this is over everything you knew about SHIELD will be wrong.
Why Did I Want To See it?: The first Captain America movie (of the MCU anyway) was really good, wiping away the TV movies of a failed series and the anti-nuke movie of the 90s. I haven’t seen the original serials but I hear they changed almost everything, which is odd given the time period and the reason the character was created. At any rate I wanted to see what the second movie had to offer, and since I’m ignoring Civil War on general principle (I really hate the storyline it’s based on that much, and you won’t convince me to give it a chance…I stopped watching Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when I saw that and Secret Invasion both being possibly adapted…if Iron Man had been developing Extremis it would have been the only thing worse in my eyes) it’s the only one I can bring myself to watch.
What Did I Think?: I thought I wasn’t doing Tom Clancy type stories until next week, when Chapter By Chapter begins Op-Center. And yet that’s what The Winter Soldier is, a Tom Clancy story (say it with me now) with a superhero. Or two actually. The Falcon makes his debut except the name is now a special flying rig rather than a superhero identity. Secret identities are only allowed for Spider-Man in the MCU apparently and more and more in the regular Marvel Universe now that I think of it. I still liked the rig and Mackie makes a good Sam/Falcon. I do like the altered backstory but I’ve long given up them getting that stuff right. I think the Hulk is still using the TV origin.
I do admit, and this is all personal taste mind you and not a critique, I was a bit disappointed personally. The whole intrigue involving SHIELD and Hydra (which hurts more after…you know) may be good storytelling but not exactly what I had in mind. I thought this would be about Captain America dealing with the Winter Solider. It’s right there in the name. However, while I wouldn’t call him an afterthought, Winter Bucky barely has a presence in the story. Most of the focus is on SHIELD, Hydra, and Steve and Natasha on the run. I will say that Robert Redford made a good villain and I only saw his heel turn coming because I’ve seen enough of these stories to be more surprised if the twist DIDN’T happen. Being objective, however, it really is a good story. It has the right amount of suspense, the “don’t trust anybody” angle, and while there were a few preaching moments they were minor and made sense in the course of the story, as Steve questions whether we really need the project at the center of events.
Evans still does a good job as Captain America and both Johansson and Jackson continue to shine. Shaw is still a recurring character in the movie rather than a major presence but I thought he pulled off his internal struggles when he starts to remember who he is well enough. It’s a subtle reaction outside of the torture but I do believe his character.
We also got the MCU version of Batroc The Leaper and while the fight with Cap itself was impressive, this lacked Batroc’s charm as a comic character.
Was It Worth The Wait: I feel bad saying no because it is a good story. It’s just not the story I was expecting considering the Winter Soldier wasn’t the central threat and I didn’t come in expecting political intrigue. I still think it’s very good and would recommend it to others but while I overall enjoyed it this wasn’t the movie I came for and I’m way behind on the MCU. Next time I think it’s the second Avengers movie, which is teased at the end of this one but it’s not the next movie on my Finally Watched list.