Cut off one head… two more shall take its place. Historically the comic book genre has been taken lightly as a genre of film given some of the earlier films released in the said genre. It wasn’t until the release of Iron Man back in 2008 that a seismic shift began to take shape. The Marvel formula was created (just about the same way Captain America was, out of a bottle). But then phase two starts and the Marvel Cinematic Universe shifts again. This time in the form of genre blending. All comic book movies consisted of the same DNA while staying in the parameters of the genre itself.
It never toed the line, never thought to take risks, until now. Equal parts action movie, comic book movie and spy thriller all blended into one seamless film. It’s a game changer, one no one could have predicted it could work but one man – our lord and savior Kevin Feige. His vision of the entire MCU is incredibly unique and it’s his love and care for each of these characters is how this overlapping story line works. Feige is able to pull off the seemingly impossible – taking a one dimensional genre and morphing it to appeal to more than just us comic book nerds.
Then we find out who the directors are – two brothers who have gotten their experience in directing mainly from comedy TV. If you’re skeptical, you’re leaning on the wrong side of the fence. The Russo brothers were the perfect choice to direct this film. You can’t really have an MCU movie without humor can you? Yes, you can but the humor in this movie is absolutely subtle – it works for who Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is as a person. Steve is for the most part, a man out of time – adapted from the comic stretch having his life cut short after defeating Hydra and the Red Skull.
Steve still has his moral code, his ethical compass that with no matter what obstacle is put in front of him, he doesn’t budge an inch or compromise in what he believes in. He puts honor, trust, and friendship at the forefront even when his best friend, his brother Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is found out to be a super assassin trying to kill him. Even with that information, Steve stays calm and collected – it’s hard to picture a different actor playing that role.
The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is bulletproof – it’s hard to find any gaps or plot holes throughout the movie. The cinematography is pretty fantastic offering a couple of shots towards the end that will leave a jaw dropped. Supporting Chris Evans is a stellar cast built around him from the earliest pages of the Captain America comics. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie – let’s be honest, he will always be Papa Doc, always) one of Cap’s long time allies gets a modern day upgrade adding the comedic relief in certain moments when the timing is right. Sam Wilson is so charismatic that Mackie brings that out whenever he is on screen. That’s the beauty of the script, the comedy is placed perfectly not distracting us from the more serious and gritty moments.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) add to that 70’s feeling spy element with how many secrets are either kept or shared depending on who can be trusted. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) brings more depth while still taking the back seat. It would be nice to see her become director of S.H.I.E.L.D. like she did in the comics but maybe one day. Having all this support from past MCU movies confirms that Feige is flexing this giant overlapping story on the world. Sebastian Stan is excellent making his return as Bucky Barnes. His villainous Winter Soldier is one of the better villains the MCU has offered up. Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) is a good distraction for Cap giving us a taste of who he really becomes later on.
The action and choreography is gorgeous giving us the some of the most memorable fight scenes the young MCU has seen so far. This is next level Bruce Lee type fighting. It’s like a dance when Cap and Winter Soldier are fighting on the street – the movements are staggeringly smooth. It’s hard to want either to lose because if the entire movie were an extended version of that fight nobody would complain.
If you’re a reader of the comics or just keep up with movie new in general the return of Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) wouldn’t surprise you at all. We get that Easter egg from “The First Avenger” that has Arnim looking in that reverse mirror hinting at his true villainous self from the comics. There is a ton of foreshadowing in this film – a second more notable one is the cross on Brock’s chest in the third act hints at who his evil persona is. If you don’t think the comic book genre is making an impact on the film community, think again. The talent of Robert Redford only proves that this is not just a niche genre anymore. The pacing of this film is flawless as the plot unfolds between the first and second acts. The first act doesn’t start off slow by any means, but the action quickly picks up as the film shifts gears.
The reveal of the Winter Soldiers identify to Steve couldn’t have been executed better. Thinking his best friend is dead while taking S.H.I.E.L.D. down added that conflict to the mix. If Steve wasn’t conflicted already with the task at hand, this only elevated it only to reiterate that he is a man of conviction protecting the ones he loves over everything.
This movie is in my top three favorite MCU movies. Nine films into this vastly expanding universe and this is top three so far. This film is flawless from the script to the execution of every small detail. The good thing is Marvel is just getting started. Chemistry has been a huge thing for these actors and the addition of Anthony Mackie only improves on the dynamic. I remember being in the theater opening night for this film and watching in awe of how this film plays out. When cap first boards the Lemurian Star and kicks that guy overboard, I think I screamed out in laughter. You don’t get in Cap’s way from completing a mission.
Our ninth Stan ‘The Man’ Lee cameo comes to us in the Smithsonian as he plays a security guard. He has some of the best one-liners especially here discovering when someone steals the vintage Captain America suit. The Winter Soldier offers us no new infinity stones but, in our first post credit scene we do see Loki’s scepter has made its way back to the forefront. A notable Captain America villain from the comics Baron Von Strucker who is a leader of Hydra has been conducting experiments on people and these so called ‘miracles’ (copyright infringement… at the time) are their secret weapon.
The second post credit scene teases the third at the time untitled Captain America film (There was a giant presentation coming up that shocked the world). Bucky, in disguise visits the Captain America memorial at the Smithsonian and confirms everything that Steve told him during the final battle. It’s a quick scene but it sets us up for what is to come. One last thing… the only criticism I truly have with this film is the meaning of a “disguise”. Who in their right mind thinks a hat, glasses and a hoodie is the best disguise to go on the run against one of the biggest technological corporations across the globe? If one small child can recognize Steve Rogers in a busy museum how can a group of highly trained spies not. For a studio that seems to have the smallest of details ironed out they give the worst disguises to their heroes who don’t want to be noticed. If I were to rate Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I’d rate it a 4.85 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is directed by The Russo Brothers (Joe & Anthony) is Rated PG-13 and has an 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released on April 4th, 2014 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 16 minutes. Captain America: The Winter Soldier can be streamed on Disney Plus.
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Captain America will return