The darkest times are upon us in an otherwise fun, event-filled, and growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. To celebrate the coming release of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War," where two ideals will come to a head, let's reflect on the "marvellous" films that this studio has put together. I will be going in order from 2008 - 2015, ending with thoughts and predictions for "Captain America: Civil War." These will be minor reviews and more of a re-evaluation of my thoughts on these films, how they hold up now, and how well they connect/impact the films that came after. Here we go.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT!!
Part 9: Captain America - The Winter Soldier (2014)
Let me first start off by saying that this particular review may be slightly biased from my end, due to the fact that I think this is far and away the best Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, which is why the trailers for "Captain America: Civil War" has me doing backflips like Spider-Man and is pretty much the sole reason for starting this twelve part review series in the first place. So here we are, the first time Marvel has ever had the guts to release something outside of the Summer or Winter movie season, coming out at the beginning of April. This had me curious, but seeing as big films are even coming out in January and February now, the entire year is pretty much a dumping ground for the big blockbusters, good or bad. After "Thor: The Dark World" hit theatres, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" definitely just had to be good to impress it's audience. Happily, it did that in spades. Pulling in more box office than it's predecessor, Captain America started to become the second most profitable, just under Iron Man.
"Captain America: The First Avenger," back in 2011, is referenced in this sequel, but it is more of a sequel to "The Avengers," as S.H.I.E.L.D has a huge impact on this particular story. Joe and Anthony Russo direct this film with sleek adversity as they create a political thriller-esque film in the Marvel universe, which was both a huge shock and a must-see factor. This changes the game for this universe in many more ways than one. Being frozen in time just like Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes returns as the titular villain, the Winter Soldier, and while he is not the main focus at the start of the film, his reveal as Rogers' old friend has a bigger impact on the character of Steve Rogers/Captain America than he has ever had to deal with.
Being frozen in time, he begins to see that his friends have grown up and he sees Peggy on her death bed. He now realizes that he is in a world where is only true friend is indeed a villain, so he must find answers. While doing so, Hydra is still around and stronger/sneakier than ever. Planning to take over, S.H.I.E.L.D unleashes their new set of improved Hellicarriers to help save the world. While the climax seems a bit been-there-done-that, they have many other side plots going on, which makes up for anything that could have been tagged as lazy writing. The stakes are very high and the drama is much more intense.
Marvel, up to this point, has been known for their light-hearted tones, and while that is still very present in the one-liners and such, they dive into new territory with an action/thriller vibe, making for one hell of an entertaining film. Calling back moments from the past, placing characters like Nick Fury in the heat of battle, and even bringing back certain characters from the dead in very clever and unexpected ways (even though this idea has been run into the ground by now), "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" stands above the rest as the most mature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It definitely raises the levity a bit when they introduce the Falcon and the Hellicarriers are lifted into the air once again, reminding you that it is a superhero film, but that it totally fine in my book, because it is a Marvel film after all.
This film is complex, emotional, entertaining, and it leaves you with a cliffhanger that you just can't wait to see explored. While the climax is occurring, fans of the comics began to see the rise of Crossbones, which will be further explored in "Captain America: Civil War," which I will talk about more in my speculation article coming soon. The final fight in the Hellicarrier between Captain America and the Winter Solider is really where the heart of the film shines, due to the fact that Bucky begins to show signs of his memory returning, while still needing to face his orders. The film leaves Bucky wandering off after saving Steve Rogers from drowning. What makes this film so great is that just having S.H.I.E.L.D be the backbone here, they are able to tell their own story without having too much of an obligation to keep it connected to the universe.
We then come to the credits. The audience is satisfied with the film overall and are awaiting the cut scenes coming soon. Loki's staff is seen as we are brought into a double celled room, where two superpowered twins are using their powers. Later known in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" Scarlett Witch and Quicksilvers to fans, this was one of their most exciting post credits scenes yet. The second scene revealed was a very simple one that saw Bucky in a museum where he was able to study his own past to remember why he was on the wrong side throughout this entire movie. This film does just about everything perfectly for it's story and as a set-up. To me, this is by far the best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far and I can't wait to see how the set-ups in this film serve the payoff in "Captain America: Civil War." I love every second of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It is pure Marvel entertainment at it's very best!
Review By: KJ Proulx