Thursday night the Hubster and I went for an impromptu cinema trip and watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This isn’t a review because I didn’t have my notebook with me and so did not watch with the eye of a reviewer. So although I am unable to post a review, I still wanted to note some observations.
Although I enjoyed the first Captain America movie, I do find the Cap as a character to be quite basic and boring. The first movie was carried partly on the story itself, and Cap was arguably the least interesting character in Avengers Assemble (or The Avengers to US folk). As such, I wasn’t surprised to find that The Winter Soldier feels a lot like an ensemble movie – with primary characters Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Falcon and Agent Hill. And it works, in fact its pretty damn good.
Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, is a really great character who is nicely introduced and stands up well – especially in what could have turned out to be a pretty cheesy costume if done poorly. What I particularly like about him was that he was introduced as a person first, hero later – and he and Rogers could connect on a shared experience level in terms of being in the services. You feel that he’s someone that could genuinely be a friend to our out of time hero.
It’s nice to have Fury and Hill (return performances from Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders) in bigger roles, but on the downside it removes some of Fury’s mystery and edge. Even so, neither character feels wasted and they are important in tying the action to the future of SHIELD.
I keep Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, separate here as I have a few things to say. First of all the meatier role that she has in this movie doesn’t quite live up to the hints made at 2013’s NYCC, nor the fact that she hasn’t yet had her own movie, but it’s nice all the same! In this movie we get a more fleshed out Nat, who again like Fury might be slightly less aloof for it – I loved her as completely cold and calculating, but I can live with it.
What is refreshing is that we keep having this character back on our screens. A strong, kick ass woman who can match skills with any of those guys (most of whom have already had the advantage of their own standalone movie(s)). She is a really awesome thread that weaves through the Marvel universe, and the movies are always better for having her in them.
I was concerned that there might be a romantic note to this movie with Nat and Rogers, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Although they do share a kiss, their ongoing banter and her trying to set him up on dates shines through and in some ways makes it a buddy movie between the two of them. This is something we rarely see and I can’t tell you how much I wanted to give Marvel a big sloppy kiss for this!
As with a lot of the Marvel films there is a lot going on in terms of who the bad guy is! This is rarely a bad thing and, as is the case here, adds layers that make it all the more believable. The main baddy here again is Hydra, but this time fronted by Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, with pretty much everyone and anyone a possible agent of evil. DUN DUN DUUUUUUHHHH!!
But the show is completely stolen by Pierce’s secret weapon – The Winter Soldier aka a revived, rebuilt and reprogrammed Bucky Barnes, a great return performance from Sebastian Stan. He doesn’t say a lot, unless you count all the talking he does with his fists! (and feet/legs, bullets, etc). But when that moment of revelation happens and Rogers knows who he is when he doesn’t himself?!?!?! Well, all I’m saying is my heart dropped into my stomach. And the credit here has to go to Stan who, in strangely more of a stretch if less of a speaking part than the previous movie, does the most amazing acting with his eyes! Seriously, the depth of pain and confusion in those eyes will make you weep! It’s been a while since I last watched Captain America: The First Avenger, and yet it felt like only yesterday for both me and Cap that Bucky was falling from that moving train. The pathos around both the fresh sting of that loss and the thought of what had been happening to Bucky as an instrument of evil in those intervening years is well played, and a little heart breaking.
I have to admit I fell in love with him a little.
What does this mean for SHIELD?
By the end of the movie we have learned things are not well in SHIELD which has to leave us thinking where does this leave the TV spin off Agents of SHIELD? I can’t really comment on it myself having only managed to get to about episode three before tuning out as I found it un-watchable. However, this has made me think it might be worth grabbing the box-set once its out and see what else is going on in the world of SHIELD!
Gender and Race
Despite the fact that I have recently swapped my allegiance from DC to Marvel comics due to the very different portrayals of women within, I was still amazingly surprised at the representation of gender and race in this movie. It is the best of all the Marvel movies so far, if not for pretty much any movie out in the last year at least! Especially in the action/sci-fi/superhero genre(s).
Beyond the main character of Captain Rogers, we have two African-Americans and two women all in prominent roles. Beyond that there are also background characters that continue this with awesome turn ins from Agent 13 and the astounding Jenny Agutter as Councillor Hawley.
I have noted before my love of Nick Fury being recast as non-white so it’s always great to have him back on the screen! But adding Falcon to the mix pretty much blew my mind. A few months ago I stopped reading my usual websites and magazines quite so much, coupled with my terribly poor memory, I often have no idea what is going on in the movies I am about to watch (yay for no spoilers!). I was pretty gleeful when he pulled out those wings!
As mentioned above regarding Black Widow, the women were well represented too, and although I could have done without that one shot of Nat’s ass at the beginning of the movie (really guys?! *sadface*), both she and Hill were great. The one scene I wasn’t that keen on (ass shot aside) was the presumed death of Fury and how both women were quite choked up in comparison to the guys. Not saying this wouldn’t be the case and maybe it’s not quite a gender thing, but I just felt Nat would be a little more cold on the exterior about it – but y’know, girls gotta cry right?
Over all though, massive points to Marvel for the well rounded and diverse casting!! Keep up the good work!
And Finally –
Winner of most adorable cameo from Stan Lee
Watch out for Fury’s gravestone inscription *guffaw*
Be aware that you cannot take Jenny Agutter in a fight.
Saw the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer for the first time whilst at this movie. Had little to no interest in it before… now I cannot wait!!