Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014
This year is reminding myself of how much different the superhero movie schedule is compared to last year when there were about a dozen movies packed between the end of May and the middle of August, while this year has the movies much more spread out closer to one every month with Captain America kicking off the more traditional superhero fare as early as April (as opposed to the few comic book movies like 300 & I, Frankenstein and the few movies with a less direct superhero connection like Robocop and the Lego Movie) and yet this is also more of a far cry from a traditional superhero plot and instead feels much more like a conspiracy thriller along the lines of a dozen or so great movies whose names I can’t recall at the moment. There’s also a bit more of Captain America adjusting to life in the 21st century which I have been wanting to see ever since the first movie. In short, I loved every minute of it. Also, as a warning, I don’t always tread lightly around spoilers, though most of the spoilers I already knew or assumed before seeing the movie.
I don’t usually read too many reviews of a movie before I write my own but one thing I did read was how most reviews completely discount Black Widow’s role in the movie, instead merely giving her a line or two generally about her looks, but she is really the second major role in this movie. She definitely gets more screentime than Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and great chemistry with Chris Evans’ Cap. She has some great moments with Captain America and I enjoy where their relationship ends up, there’s definitely some playful chemistry in there, but at the end of the day, they come out as being good friends. The other strong female role I wasn’t quite as fond of in the nurse/S.H.I.E.L.D. agent neighbor of Steve Rogers played by Emily VanCamp. She has a couple nice moments, but I never really thought she felt like she fit in with the rest of the movie.
What really shines in this movie is the political thriller aspect of the plot. The way it weaves the conspiracy theories, double agents, and mysteries with the action scenes and superheroics is masterful. There is a corrupt element working withing S.H.I.E.L.D. that is first realized by Nick Fury who, battered and bloody, takes the information to the only person he feels he can trust, Captain America. Now Steve Rogers is faced with the task of not going headlong into battle against a clear enemy like Hydra of the past, but instead has to investigate and infiltrate the organization that he has become a part of. And I loved the way the infiltration scenes were handled, it reminded me very much of The Incredibles when Mr. Incredible was infiltrating the volcano lair.
There are a few things that Captain America is known for, and this movie really helps utilize those elements to their full effect. Something that I’ve been missing ever since the first Captain America movie is the “man out of time” element which this film finally delivers. I loved the notebook he carries of things from the past forty years that he needs to check out, I loved that he had a scene with the elderly Peggy Carter, his love from the past, and I also loved the scene where it almost bridges the gap when they discover that the Hydra scientist has created this rudimentary AI using a giant room filled with old tape drive computers and monochrome monitors. The other element of Captain America which gets a lot of use in this movie is his shield which he uses quite a bit in his many different fights, it’s no longer just a prop but an extremely useful tool and weapon which is amazingly done without looking completely silly.
There’s so much in this movie I haven’t even gotten to yet, there’s plenty of more minor characters, and I really enjoyed the roles they had in the plot. I loved the look of Bucky as the Winter Soldier, considered a spoiler by no one who even has passing familiarity with the original comic storyline like myself. I thought the way the brainwashing reversal was done worked well without being over-done. I also loved Nick Fury’s role in the movie and his great scene in the SUV where he gets a chance to show off some of his own skills which he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to do. And finally Falcon was set up as a great character, he meshed very well with Steve Rogers’ personality and his flight suit looked and worked great, and like Cap’s shield was not overly silly like it easily could have been. Robert Redford’s Agent Pierce was another strong character that fit right into the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as being a great villain which was something that most people assumed as soon as his casting was announced. I think the weakest part of the movie as far as characters go were the SWAT team made up of basically goons with very little personality or motivation, just some decent fighting skills.
Finally, I do want to mention the tie-in with the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which I have been covering through the entire season. Last week’s episode was a nice lead up to Captain America without needing to see both to get the gist of it, but when you do see both it makes the entire story a little bit clearer. Agent Sitwell is the biggest link between the two stories, but the big question is how the events of Captain America will affect the rest of the season and beyond for the TV show, as S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the process of being dismantled as an organization, though of course there is still the smaller group of operatives who are still loyal to the cause and will likely be working with Nick Fury and the Avengers in some capacity. If anything, based on my limited knowledge of the comics universe I could guess that this will turn into the creation of S.W.O.R.D. which lends credence to the theory I saw a while back that thinks Skye will end up becoming Spider-Woman who is a major figure within S.W.O.R.D. Time will tell, and as always I’ll be there to see it when it comes out. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.