Review: Captain America: the Winter Soldier
The summer blockbuster season can’t start until a Marvel movie has been released. With that said, the blockbuster season is off to a splendid start with Captain America: the Winter Soldier. If you don’t want to be spoiled, I give Captain America: the Winter Soldier a 4.5/5. MAKE SURE TO STAY FOR THE CREDITS. There are two after credit scenes.
Mild spoilers to the Winter Soldier comic storyline and movie. Nothing major.
Captain America: the Winter Soldier is a political thriller at heart. It focuses less on the politics of America and more on the ethics of preventative police work. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the writers) forgo any long monologues about the ways of the world and why Cap needs to get with the times or how they are wrong, etc. Instead they cut to the core of the argument and condense it into a few sentences, but infuse character’s backgrounds into the argument. This adds a fresh take on arguments that we have heard in movies before. The Winter Soldiers’ pacing is quite brisk given the complex nature of world politics. Scenes don’t overstay their welcome and the audience feels like they are close to another pivotal scene. This is a rare blockbuster film where I don’t feel like any scene could have been cut to keep the momentum up. Each scene feels necessary to the plot and character development.
Captain America: the Winter Soldier is the kind of modern day Cap movie that I’ve hoped for as a fan. It cuts to the core of Captain America as a character and why he is still a relevant in pop culture and in the Marvel U. As the name suggests, most of the plot borrows heavily from Ed Brubaker’s acclaimed Winter Soldier Saga. The Winter Soldier is a legendary assassin and is on a rampage and Captain America has to decide how to stop him without killing his friend. What surprised me though was the cherry picking that Markus and McFeely of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors run. The two storylines blend surprisingly well with story beats complimenting each other in a way that feels organic. HYDRA is the real villain of this movie, and this makes a lot of sense in terms of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Arnim Zola, one of the kookier Cap villains, gets a great new origin story that works in the more grounded Marvel Cinematic Universe. It stays to his routes but tweaks a couple of things to for a mass audience to accept more. Batroc the Leaper, a joke in the comics, is a complete badass. Markus and McFeely deserve a raise for that alone.
Captain America never preaches in The Winter Soldier. The nature of the character can give way to this during monologues or big confessions, but instead of it comes off as just a man’s opinion against yours here. It gives more weight to his thoughts and why Cap inspires characters the way he does in the comics and movies. Captain America truly feels like a symbol by the end of the movie.
The only flaw in an otherwise fantastic movie is the direction of Joe and Anthony Russo. The Community alums direct a good movie as long as characters are talking or standing still. They have a great sense of depth and where everyone is in the room, but the action gets frantic and it becomes hard to figure out what is going on. The choreography is the best we’ve seen in a Marvel movie, I would have liked the camera to be steadier so I could admire the fighting more. Considering this is their first major movie, they did a great job. The Russo brothers have a promising career in action movies and I’m glad Marvel has signed them on for Captain America 3.
Chris Evans has completely become Captain America. He was great in the The First Avenger and The Avengers, but he really steps into the role of Steve Rogers in The Winter Soldier. The humor in the script gives Evans material to make Cap more human and achievable here. In The First Avenger, Evans wasn’t as humorous and thus not as personable (but still good. In this outing he has that personable aspect that makes Cap so beloved. Sebastian Stan is good as the Bucky/the Winter Soldier, but isn’t given enough to chew on. The stand out star of The Winter Soldier is Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/the Falcon. His chemistry with Chris Evans oozes off the screen, and the audience can tell the two are enjoying playing off each other. I’d like to see Mackie make an appearance in the Netflix Defenders series that are coming up. Scarlet Johansson is good as Natasha/Black Widow, but she doesn’t bring Black Widow to a new level. We see some growth at the end of the movie, which foreshadows Kevin Feige’s comments that she will play a big part in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sam Jackson (Nick Fury) and Colbie Smulders (Maria Hill) don’t exactly have a lot of chew on and are more background characters. Robert Redford is great as Alexander Pearce. By the way, those rumors about him being the Red Skull were false. Emily VanCamp (Sharon/Agent 13) is barely in Captain America: the Winter Soldier. Her character is being set up for the sequel, but she is inconsequential to this movie.
What follows next is pure spoiler territory. If you want to read it, highlight it with your mouse to read it.
Fans will love that Marvel has effectively confirmed a Phase 3 movie in Captain America: the Winter Soldier. Stephen Strange (Doctor Strange) is mentioned as being watched by HYDRA. It’s the first hint that the guy even exists in this universe.
The first after credits scene involves Baron Von Strucker and his new weapon against the Avengers……Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
The second after credits scene involves Bucky walking into a Captain America exhibit and seeing himself hailed as a hero. Big hint that Bucky will eventually become Captain America.
While this is purely speculation, Callan Mulvey looks to become Nuke in the next movie. His body is almost destroyed in a blast, and he was shown being taken away. It’s easy enough for SH.I.E.L.D. to get and turn him into Nuke.
Spoilers are done.
Captain America: the Winter Soldier gets 4.5/5.
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