ByJohn Betancourt, writer at
John Betancourt

I think it is safe to say we all expected Marvel's Phase 2 of motion pictures to be well...pretty damn dark. But in my humble opinion, they have been more melancholy to date than say dark and challenging. I'm sure there are plenty who will disagree with this assessment, and that's fine. I used the phrase to date because something spectacular happened this weekend, something that needed to happen in Marvel films for some time, they finally upped the ante and gave us one hell of a show with

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

and in doing so, this is a franchise of films that just set a new standard for itself and grew into adulthood in the process.I say that because while Marvel films are full of fun, they have missed a few things to me. What has always made comic books so attractive are the incredible struggles these heroes not only have to go through internally but externally. To date, I would say Marvel has mastered the internal struggle just fine. Tony Stark has been through plenty and Steve Rogers' story has always been fascinating. I mean here's a kid who just wanted to do "his part" and help the world and well...he got his wish and then some. But the greatest stories to me are the ones where the hero must sacrifice so much and battle against incredible odds and while we have seen some impressive Marvel films when it comes to action I personally have never felt nervous or terrified that these guys might or might not save the day. I knew the Chitauri would fall to

The Avengers

, it was a matter of how. That all changed when I sat down to enjoy

The Winter Soldier

I must say it started out in standard Marvel style and don't get me wrong I was enjoying myself, but once it was revealed that Hydra had returned and was in control of so many people and S.H.I.E.L.D., well...needless to say I was blown away. Now the stakes were extremely high and this is the first time in a Marvel flick I wasn't sure the good guys would win. You didn't feel safe watching this film, because it was hard initially to know who to trust. It was also the first time in a Marvel film that I've truly seen a main character fail completely. Granted it's not Cap's fault that Hydra came mere seconds from taking over the world. But holy crap, he sacrificed so much to take down the Red Skull and Hydra and a way it was all for nothing. That's heartbreaking and made me love the character even more because he got that precious second chance. But man, all in all this upped the ante like no other. This is truly the best Marvel film to date and the next set will have to maintain this brand new standard. But it was refreshing to truly see the world on the line, bad guys that were everymen in many ways and well hidden and a hero that truly sacrificed it all to make the world a better place.


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