There is no doubt that Captain America is the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have actually cried during both films now. Steve Rogers is not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist or a Norse god; he’s just a kid from Brooklyn who happens to be super strong. He follows the rules. He loves his country. He doesn’t get the girl. He doesn’t even really get to celebrate his victory over the bad guy in the first film because he’s too busy getting himself frozen so he can save the world at a later date. That is why it is so nice to see Steve/Cap in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (TWS), he is changing to fit our time and in doing so provides a mirror for us to view our society through.
TWS, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is deep for your typical superhero film. It is part of what Marvel Studios likes to call their “Phase 2” and what I like to call “Superheroes Having Existential Crises.” Since the events of The Avengers (2012) all of our heroes are trying to find their places in the world post the battle for NY. For Tony that meant panic attacks and un-inventing himself, for Thor it meant dealing with some family issues, and for Cap it means deciding what the price of freedom is worth. Cap is from an era where honesty and bravery are respected and a war was only fought because there was a real and imminent danger. He is having trouble adjusting to this new world where the policy is “strike before the bad guys strike you.” Everything is coated in grey, including who to trust in the giant S.H.I.E.L.D apparatus itself.
Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury and proving once again that he is the baddest dude around. That trench coat, that eye patch, the typical Jackson swagger; we’ve seen this character through so many films, but what do we really know about him? Can he be trusted? This film takes Steve’s paranoia and turns it into our own. The deeper it goes and the more we learn, the less we trust. Every time a shot lingered on a character for a second too long I started to wonder about their motives. This film was half spy thriller, half superhero film, and all action.
I think it’s important to note the action scenes because TWS has some of the best choreographed fight scenes in recent memory. I would like to thank everyone on twitter who told me not to see this film in 3D. I am in your debt because I would have lost so much of this stunning action. The hand to hand combat was especially notable for the way the characters moved seamlessly together, especially Cap and the Winter Soldier himself. The camera work was fast, but never blurry or confusing; it always kept pace with the action. Props to all the stuntmen and women who made these incredible moments happen.
Another person who deserves props, especially from me? Chris Evans. I can’t tell you how many bad things I said about him when he was first cast. Back then I only knew him as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch and thought he was completely wrong for the part. Boy was I wrong. Evans brings a believable honesty to Captain America that would be lost with a lesser actor. He can be play the good guy, but he also has to make tough decisions and he’s willing to get his hands dirty. That’s one thing I noticed about TWS: lots of bloodshed without the blink of an eye. If we all gave Superman flack for messing up Metropolis in Man of Steel (2013) I think it is safe to say that there is a fair amount of damage all over D.C. because of this film. Just saying.
Since Cap is the boy scout of the Avengers it makes for an interesting dynamic between him and Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow. I like that they didn’t force a Cap and BW love story in this film and that they could just work together as Avengers/friends should. (Plus, I’m a Black Widow/Hawkeye fan anyway.) ScarJo kicks some major ass in the film as she should, but I wish her voice wasn’t so monotone. I know that BW is Russian and reserved, but sometimes the way she said her lines just makes her sound bored. Maybe it’s just because she had SO MUCH vocal inflection and depth in Her it’s hard to get used to this flatter performance. The other team member, Anthony Mackie, who I remember best as the guy with the awesome hat in The Adjustment Bureau, is a welcome addition. He has great chemistry with Evans, he’s funny, and you can believe his character with the brief amount of back-story we get. I know we will see more of him in the future and I am glad for that.
Does talking about Sebastian Stan in this post count as a spoiler? Technically his name alone should be if you know the cast of the first film and nothing else. So spoilers in this next paragraph if you don’t want to know what character he plays….? Stan plays the villain you want to root for, mostly because you know there is something underneath all the brainwashing and torture. The relationship between Cap and Bucky was one of the things that made the first film so great and what makes his reveal as the Winter Soldier so crushing to Steve. Bucky is the last connection Steve has to his past life. Also, he was frozen all those years too there’s probably a lot Steve would like to compare notes on such as his feelings on rap music and Thai food. (*End of mini, maybe spoilers.*)
TWS makes a stunning point about the things our society is willing to do for safety about midway through with a chilling shot of satellites orbiting the earth. Is our safety worth our privacy? What does privacy even mean in our world of constant connectivity where you can google someone without ever knowing them? Can we trust those in power to protect us? Would Cap think of Edward Snowden as a hero or villain? These are just some of the questions the film brings to mind. That being said, you can also just watch it as a fun action film. Either way you’ll enjoy it.
Every Marvel film functions not only as a piece of the story, but also as one giant trailer/promotion for the next film. After every Marvel movie I have walked out thinking, “WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE?” because they really are doing a great job tying all the films together and using those great little post credit Easter Eggs. It makes it more exciting for fans who actually read the comics (or who learn about comics through osmosis like me) and builds anticipation for those who don’t have a clue. I don’t know what I am going to from now until summer 2015 when Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out. Maybe I’ll actually start reading comic books. (Funnily enough I like Marvel more, but I’ve read more D.C. comics. Go figure.) Either that or try watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D again. Regardless, all I know is, I can’t wait for the next one and this is one hell of a film to kick off the summer season.
- My Marvel Studio films order: Iron Man > Captain America: The Winter Soldier >The Avengers > Thor 2: The Dark World> Captain America > Iron Man 2 > Thor >Iron Man 3
- I think this may have been my favorite Stan Lee cameos
- I wasn’t crazy about Emily VanCamp until the last scene
- Note to self: THE Falcon is different from Captain Falcon
- I really have to watch these Marvel One Shot films so I can get to know more about this Jasper Sitwell character
- I wonder what’s going to happen with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D now
- I want to see the scene with the helicarriers targeting subjects again because I bet there were SO MANY Easter Eggs I missed
- THE SCENE IN THE MUSEUM/THAT SCENE WITH PEGGY
- Was that guy pulled from the wreckage of the helicarrier covered in burns Brock? And if so is that scene significant?…Never mind I looked it up
- I know why they can’t do it, but it’s really hard to forget the Avengers exist. Cap doesn’t know who he can trust so why doesn’t he turn to them? And none of them show up when Fury is killed? Hard to believe.
- Nick Fury’s tombstone reads “The path of the righteous man”