Well, the ninth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is upon us, and I will tell you one thing: We have never seen anything like this before. Crossing a 1970’s style spy thriller with superhero characters and an action film, Marvel gives us a momentous game changer that will be felt for years to come in film and television.
I do not use “game changer” lightly. Unlike in ‘Iron Man 3’ where it appears that Tony Stark has taken away the ability to be Iron Man, the repercussions from ‘Winter Soldier’ feel very real, impacting all of the surviving characters in one shape or another, while also forcing us to ask questions about what we are going to end up with in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ next year, or even ‘Agents of SHIELD’ for the rest of it’s first season and if there will even be a second season.
Without giving anything away, Cap 2 is a tremendous combination film that tells a great story through it’s action, dialogue and character development for the entire duration. Even the quiet moments do much to propel the combined universe forward in ways we really should not have expected from mere comic book films.
Chris Evans is at his best as Steve Rogers/Captain America, and unlike his turn in ‘The Avengers’, we really see what he can do in an ensemble film as the lead and a leader. Swimming amongst a sea of conspiracy, facing questions of who to trust at every turn. As a result of this, Evans’ Rogers finally shines as the character hits full stride.
You can clearly see that Marvel is in fact serious about the Black Widow character in the future, and possibly even a stand-alone film, as Scarlett Johansson is featured heavily in ‘Winter Soldier’ and has some of the best moments. The continuos building of Johansson’s character can only lead to better things in the future for Widow.
Another of the prominent things that we are seeing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the fact that known actors and actresses, who would not necessarily expect to see in these films, are being cast now, and Robert Redford fits that mould perfectly. Redford is the straw that stirs the drink in ‘Winter Soldier’ and, without an actor of his caliber, the Alexander Pierce character really could have floundered.
Unlike in the ‘Iron Man’ franchise, the introduction of a partner/sidekick character in ‘Winter Soldier’ actually managed to showcase The Falcon as a legitimate hero instead of one constantly being used as a hostage or throwaway, much like War Machine/Iron Patriot ended up being in ‘Iron Man 2′ and Iron Man 3’. Anthony Mackie delivers enough of a back story to make you care about Sam Wilson, and I fully expect that character to take a major step forward in ‘Captain America 3’.
Finally, we hit on Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier. Stan could end up having one of the best character arcs in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this was just another step along that path, but one that missed just a little bit at times it feels. The inevitable Captain America/Winter Soldier team-up that we will get in Cap 3 will be fun to see though, and Bucky’s taking up of the mantle that will happen down the road will be huge for Marvel to pull off.
Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders have good moments as Nick Fury and Maria Hill as well, further setting up the game changing elements of ‘Winter Soldier’ and it will be interesting to see if Smulders becomes an integral part of the second season of ‘Agents of SHIELD’.
As has become the norm in Marvel films, the comedic tones were present in ‘Winter Soldier’, even in some situations that you may not have expected them. The use of comedy to temporarily relieve stress during the films is fast becoming a hallmark for Marvel. That being said though, the true hits for this film were just that, the hits and the action.
‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ takes the action to places that it has never been before in the previous eight films. Featuring strong one-on-one sequences along with stealth attack scenes, this film at times seemed like an unlikely hybrid between Die Hard and the Bourne films, and one that worked all the better for it.
Chase scenes, static action, grande damage, all of that was present in a film that I would say rivals the original ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The Avengers’ as the best we have yet seen from Marvel, and one that builds to a new and uncertain world for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. When they claim that this is a game changer, it is actually quite possible that they are under selling the film.
Simply put, if you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ fits in as one of the best films yet and shakes it to the very core. If you have a passing interest in the films, this is the one that could change that for you. Espionage, chils, twists and turns, action and comedy. It is only April and it will be tough for a film to be better than this in 2014.
As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.