Being that this is my first time writing on this site I figured I would start my first venture with my favorite Marvel character, since his movie was just released in theaters this past weekend. That's right! You guest it! That good old soul Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Now I should warn you that this review will probably be filled to the brim with SPOILERS. So if you haven't seen the movie yet and would like to view this film without knowing to much about it...please stop reading. Otherwise you have been warned.
Two years and change after the battle of New York we find our hero relocated to our nations capital, Washington D.C. Steve Rogers spends his days training and has seemingly come along in his adjusting to the modern world. While also carrying out missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. in an attempt to create a place for himself in our modern world. It is during/after a mission to liberate a captured S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel that we see shades of discomfort for how our hero feels the organization is run and its inner workings. This brings a resurgences of the mistrust Cap briefly displayed in The Avengers for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Director Fury to new heights. Causing the good Captain to out right question Nick Fury on his moral stance and ethical use of resources. With tensions between his coworkers (namely Black Widow) and his boss (Nick Fury) at an all time high, Rogers starts looking for new faces outside of the organization to relate to. Which ushers in a new character to the mix, Sam Wilson aka Falcon. But it's not until the assassination of Nick Fury by the hands of the formidable and mysterious Winter Soldier that Captain America will truly understand how much of an ally Wilson will play. As well as, where Black Widow's true loyalties are aligned. As she helps Cap unlock the mysteries behind the Winter Soldier. Doing so, while trusting no one in the organization puts them at odds with S.H.I.E.L.D. and on the run. Their search for answers leads them to a pandora's box of secrets that rock S.H.I.E.L.D. to it's core and expose reveals from Cap's past that make things very personal for our hero. With the laying out of a diabolical plan of global domination, Cap and the gang go into action. In the attempts to thwart this scheme of global domination, bring the guilty parties to justice, and lay his past to rest.
I loved this movie and it surpassed my expectations in almost every way. I went into the theater the first time excited and came out even more excited then when I originally went in. Having saw it twice I know I will be seeing it again. So, for me the movie has major re-viewing capability(if that's even the way it should be phrased). Darker in tone then it's predecessor, heavier on the action, and violence but still a kid friendly movie. I counted all of three swears in the entire film. Falcon said "sh*t" twice and Rumlow says a common phrase with the word b*tch in it but they go by quick. Plus during those scene a lot of action and sounds are going on to drown them out. There also might be one or two points you need to explain to the little tikes but they'll get it and enjoy it. To me, it is the strongest solo property that Marvel Studios has put out to date (better than the first Iron Man for me). In fact, I left the theater thinking the same thing that I thought when I left the theater after seeing Iron Man for the first time...that Marvel is serious about making these movies. Mind you, I am thinking this (again) after seeing all the Marvel Studios movies to date. But as I don't think it is better than The Avengers I will say it runs a close second race and I extremely recommend seeing this film. So what specifically makes this movie so good and a must see? I am so glad you asked.
- The Pacing. It takes that first step running and powers on through to the end. I know that alone this isn't all that spectacular. But the fact that it didn't have to slow down or drag on in any parts to give us the important bits of the story. Or convey some heavy emotional content from the characters is what really impressed me about the pacing of this film.
- The Overall Tone. Darker and more grounded, yet still light enough not to leave us in a depressed emo state of mind. While also not being so grounded that we don't lose the superhero aspect in this political thriller.
- The Story. Elaborate, modern, and well thought out. Nice twist and turns. Had I never read a comic in my life it probably would have blown my mind. Plus this is a game changer for the entire MCU.
- The Action. Boy did they go with a double dose of it in this film. Guns, explosions, and fights...oh my, the fights. It was kicked up and in your face with no remorse. It also did a good job of making you feel like you were right in the thick of it.
- The Production. The only thing I can say is this movie was so clean. The production alone (aside from being a work of art) was a work of art. The CGI was amazing. Watching that helicarrier go down into the building (mayhem and death aside) was beautiful.
- A Continuation. I really enjoyed the fact that this film didn't feel like a departure from Captain America: The First Avenger but more so the evolution of it. It did not shy away from the first film but instead embraced it's roots and built upon it's foundation like a good sequel should. Propelling characters in greater growth and depth.
- The Characters. Everyone had good screen presence and added value to the frame work of the story. Everyone had substantial and well balanced parts to play. Well, almost everyone had a substantial part to play...I'll explain further below.
O, Captain! My Captain!
Let's start off with the star of this film Chris Evans. I think he did an amazing job and has done an amazing job from the start. The thing that he does well in this role portraying Captain America is capturing the essence of Steve Rogers. In a nut shell he plays the role as a little guy, with big heart, in a big body. Which is the way I view Cap and what makes the character so inspiring to me. The only thing that was lacking for me since the end of The First Avenger was the Authoritative respect Cap commands. But I understand, he had just recently thawed out in The Avengers so I wasn't harping on it to much. But Oh Boy did they deliver in this film. Finely adjusted to the modern world and ready to take charge, he went straight into the role of a leader...with little hesitation. I am very fond of how this film portrayed his updated fighting prowess. His unique hand to hand fighting style that incorporated his shield as if it was just another limb was breath taking. His determination and decisiveness was superb. I keep thinking after he would do some of these stunts ( like jumping out of the elevator window to free fall into the lobby) that this guy was trying to steal daredevil's tag "the man without fear". I enjoyed the brief scene with him and an elderly Peggy Carter. It was very touching to see him with her. I also liked how he continued to do what was right before anything else. I think the film did a great job of highlighting that towards the end of the movie. He fought everyone (specifically) Bucky to beat them and achieve his end goal objective. But once that last chip was put in place all of his focus and energy went to saving his friend. So much so to the point he gave up fighting against him and just put full faith in the bond of friendship they shared. But personally the greatest thing for me was seeing Cap get put through the ringer and damaged badly. For me the best kind of hero is a struggling hero...the greater the struggle, the greater the hero. The danger has to be real as well as the consequence and the Winter Soldier put a hurting on him. He didn't go the way of the Captain in Walt Whitman's poem but he sure came close. Beat up, shot up, nearly blown up, and almost drowned...he didn't die but he was flirting with Thanos's girlfriend pretty heavy.
Nick Fury As Nick Mutha%#@$** Fury!
Sam is the man simply put. But similar to how I wanted to see more from Cap in The Avengers, the same applies with Fury. What I was seeking wasn't necessarily more action but more intensity in his encounters. For me, repelling mind controlled combatants from the helicarrier or shooting an RPG in The Avengers just wasn't enough. But that car chase was Nick Fury worthy and responded to in a true Fury fashion. I enjoyed Sam injecting a little more of himself into the role as well. Nick Fury was the Director, combatant, and strategist I had longed to see. I liked that even though he made some mistakes he was unapologetic about it. A man of action, he goofed a bit so he'll go overseas to clean it up. But he really isn't sorry because he believes he made the right call at the time. I also thought it was funny that I really got to see that his secrets have secrets (good call Mr. Stark). Maybe it was because they were in the cemetery at the end but when Fury faked his death (again) and left to go do some Hydra hunting in europe. All I could think was "there goes Fury the Hydra Slayer". That last scene had such a Buffy/Angel feel to me.
Hell Has No Fury Like A Romanoff Scorned.
Scarlett Johansson in my mind has definitively become the only person I can picture playing this role. Her presence as Widow in this movie was phenomenal and raised the bar in so many ways. Her character was a great offset to Cap and the magic of her performance was in her subtle nuances. Playing her that way showed why she is one of the worlds greatest spies. The quickness in which she gathered and process things so nonchalantly really played to her intellect. I was also blown away by how they displayed her skills as a combatant. She put her self right out there in the thick of the fight and was very resourceful. It was also good for me to see her deal with her damage past in the way she did. She accepted it, owned it, and pushed forward on her own volition. As opposed to doing so because she is lead by the hand through it. But more so then anything I applaud this film, it's makers, and Marvel Studios for two distinctive things.
One, making Black Widow in this film sexy not because of the catsuit or scantly clad attire. But because of her confidence and character. Which is were I believe true sex appeal derives from. Not to say that I don't appreciate her suited up, it's just this film really highlights she doesn't need to be, too be sexy.
Two, that she was made an equal to her male counterparts through the merit of her work, to prove her loyalty and her skill set. It would have been very easy for them to validate her as a love interest in this film. But I am glad they didn't go that route. Because this can also pave the way for more strong female character to shine like Carol Danvers, Jennifer Walters, or maybe even Misty Knight (hey, I can dream right...)
Fly Falcon, Fly!
Anthony Mackie just flew into this film on a gust of fresh air that was so welcomed. With a majority of the cast already known and most of them being S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, it became nice to have someone who wasn't so marred by the events of the film. He had a lighthearted "guy's we got this" type of attitude about the events unfolding and seemed genuinely excited about doing some good on a broader level again. Him being a counselor working at the V.A. and a vet himself made him the perfect person for Cap to bond with outside of work. As well as trust when it hit the fan. He really came off as the true wing man he is. A man willing to back Cap up because he knows Cap is always going to choose right over wrong. But is also not afraid to step in and say what needs to be said (in a encouraging way) to make sure the right things gets done. I also liked that he was capable but still rough around the edges. Although amazing in the air, Cap will have to give him some further hand to hand combat training. Because Rumlow was putting the fist to him pretty good until the helicarrier saved him (I bet you that's something he never thought he would have to thank God for). But him not being as skilled this time around only means that in his next outing he'll be soaring to even higher heights and I hope it's in Age of Ultron.
Alexander Pierce is The Red...ford.
I know, like some of us I thought he would be revealed as the Red Skull. Even after Fury shot him I was waiting for Nick to peal back that face and reveal Herr Shmidt's red ugly mug. But that's not what happened and that's ok. Because it means the Red Skull will probably resurface someplace else, stronger and angrier than before. Now back to Mr. Pierce, a seasoned actor makes for movie gold. Marvel Studios has it down to a science now. So Robert Redford is a no brainer and I really enjoyed his take on villainy. He made it unique to him and made me believe that he could easily recruit people to follow him. Heck, had he went to the counsel initial and not tricked them for so many years. I could see them going over to Hydra too (never liked the counsel anyway). He was just that cool, like James Bond gone evil or a smooth Emperor Palpatine. I could hear the pitch "hey guys, forget about all that evil we did in the fifties, that was Hydra then...but let me tell you about Hydra Now." Priceless! Aside from that he had scope, vision, and was extremely relaxed about everything. Winter Soldier getting out hand...calmly slap him and return to things as normal. Housekeeper sees you drinking milk with a menacing darker figure...calmly shoot her as you explain that she should have knocked. This guy was to cool for school.
Winter is Coming!
Sebastian Stan, the most menacing man I have seen on film in a long time. When the Winter Soldier entered the mix I saw shades of the Terminator in him. Unyielding, unrelenting, and constantly mission orientated. This dude was a juggernaut of controlled chaos and came to kill. That dog with a bone mentality worked so well with him in this movie. Especially, when Pierce stepped in to be the controlling master with the leash. I also liked how it seemingly portrayed that only Pierce was controlling him. Meaning the rest of Hydra had no real ties to him, so you either worked with him or got out of his way. Which also freed him up to roam by the end of this movie because he had no more master. Action wise he was superb, giving Cap that hefty challenging push to excel more. I like how as layers of his outfit came off throughout the film more of Bucky would be exposed emotionally. Slowly turning the dog into a man and re-solidifying the bond between Steve/Bucky. I enjoyed the way they delved deeper into there relationship with the flashback scene and showed how close the two really are. Which made the fact that when the end of the film came, the two not willing to let the other die was made that much more potent for me. I'm also glad Bucky didn't kill Cap because I'm not ready to see Cap die. I don't mind him dying but I would rather see it in a Marvel Studios retrofitted Civil War arch (personal preference).
- Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow aka Crossbone
- Hayley Atwell as (Old) Peggy Carter
- Georges St-Pierre as Batroc
- Steven Strange name drop or maybe it will become more...?
- Strike Team...they were so Bad@$$
- D.C. Pierson as The Apple Employee (major laughs for me)
There aren't going to be many here.
- No Hawkeye. Come on...I couldn't even get at least a mention of where he is in all this uprising. He's a high level agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. That is unless he gave in his letter of resignation before all of this upheaval. Plus look how chummy and cool they all look together. These three were holding down the initial ground assault in New York. Not to mention the history between Widow and The Hawk. Barton would have definitely been there to have their backs but whatever...
- No Need For Agent 13. Even though I would have preferred Kaley Cuoco to play Sharon Carter, Emily VanCamp is still fine for the role...but is the role needed in this movie? In my opinion, no. I feel she was just there so we had a recognizable name and face to be aligned with Cap when he revealed Hydra. Any nameless agent could have played his next door "surveillance" neighbor and the more substantial things she did could have been reworked for Maria Hill. They didn't even make the clear connection that she is Peggy Carter's niece. But I'm sure when Peggy passes on Steve will figure this out at the funeral, in the next film and things will pick up from there. So whatever...
- Bye Bye Zola. I just didn't see the value in killing Arnim Zola and I really wanted him to be the clairvoyant. I'm hoping that he really hasn't been killed...or deleted...or terminated...or whatever...
Things To Think About
Just a few things to give thought to about the future of the MCU.
Stark Raving Mad. With all of S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra's dirty secrets exposed to the world. Tony will now find out that Hydra attempted to kill him/millions (in CA:WS), Hydra has involvement in his Father's death, and that the Winter Soldier might have been the physical means to do it. Which would make me pour my billions into funding there eradication.
Wing Head vs Shell Head. If the Winter Soldier did indeed kill Tony's papa then I can see Stark suiting up for revenge. I can also see Cap stepping in to defend his once brainwashed friend Bucky, sometime down the line. Meaning a huge clash might ensue. It could even one day divide the Avengers right down the middle if they started to pick and choose sides. Dare I even say a civil war or maybe not...food for thought.
Zola is the Mommy and Stark is the Daddy. The algorithm that Arnim Zola created to detect Hydra threats (in CA:WS) is the digital egg that Stark's genius and anger fertilizes to birth Ultron. Yep, digital conception. Now we know the algorithm can rewrite it's self when being threatened(basically upgrade it's self), access loads of data to analyze future threats, and was created by a (technically) sentient computer life form (Zola). Seems like the ground work for Ultron to me. Then we bring in Stark who wants to hunt down Hydra and thinks it would be a great FU to turn the algorithm back on Hydra. Of course after beefing it up and putting his own flare on it. Which inadvertently creates our fully sentient Ultron (at least mama would be proud). I'm sure Loki's scepter will get in the mix as well. Can you see it?
Hydra. Though they are beaten, they survive and have yet to be defeated. They will try to reassemble and organize but they are a shell of what they once were. But this doesn't make them less dangerous. If anything the stakes have been turned up higher and with S.H.I.E.L.D. gone I think the fight falls to a select few former agents. But mostly to the Avengers.
Baron Von Strucker Doesn't Care. S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone and Hydra is of little value to him. A distraction to keep enemies off his scent and cannon fodder to throw at adversaries. All to keep his plans in motion and what he knows in house.
- Baron Von Strucker Knows. Knows what? That Loki's scepter was really housing and infinity gem. Or at least the true power that it holds and can be used for. I at first was thinking the soul gem but after more thought I'm going to go with the reality gem. Because I feel a little twist in reality would be enough to change someones perception of loyalty or help find a way to make two twins manifest abilities. Or any other number of people cause they did mention volunteers in that end credit scene. So that leaves the question of Iron Man and why the scepter didn't really work on him? My answer IM2, the element that Howard Stark started and Tony Stark finished. It was inspired by and closely related in composition to a infinity gem (the tesseract). Which is why I think it nullified the effects of Loki's staff. Which, I think now will have a different effect on Stark because it was removed at the end of Iron Man 3.
- The Age of Miracles. I suspect that leading up to and after the Age of Ultron we are going to see a influx of super powered beings coming out of the wood works. Not the centipede kind but the "genetically mutated" kind. Where there powers derive from the individual. Maybe even continuing the gene on and having mutated offspring (like mutants). Which would allow for a rampant surge of these individuals into the world. Plus, without a government policing force like S.H.I.E.L.D. to help reign that in there will be no regulating them. Or their use of powers without some kind of new law or act passed....
Thank you ladies and gents for taking the time to read my review. This ran on a bit longer then I planned but I hope you enjoyed it. I promise to try and make brevity my friend next time around. Please leave your comments below and give me your thoughts on my review. Should I do more in the future? What are your thoughts on my future MCU thoughts? What are your own ideas on the future of the MCU? Please share and come again.