Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Avengers: Infinity War Marvel MCU Marathon
As always, before we start, there will be spoilers.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is considered one of the best Marvel Studios films. It usually makes people's top 5 lists. I know it does mine. The film raised the bar and showed us what a superhero film could be. As I mentioned before, Marvel Studios sought to give it's new films different genres appropriate to the character. In this case, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller. The tone of the film was darker, yet still had Marvel's trademark humor. The stakes were higher and the lines were grayer, but one thing remained constant - Captain America (Chris Evans) was the light in the darkness. He is forever a hero.
Captain America isn't like any other hero in any other action movie or superhero movie. There is a purity to him that just can't be excised. He cannot be swayed, even when surrounded by situations he cannot trust. He is everything Dr. Erskine saw in Steve Rogers to pick him for the super soldier experiment.
One of Captain America's biggest traits is loyalty as well. Actually, where Iron Man 3 was about hubris, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about loyalty. Its about who you can trust in the dark times.
Whereas some people might sort Captain America into Gryffindor defined by bravery, I would sort him into Hufflepuff defined by loyalty. At the end of the movie, Captain America is literally getting his face beaten off by the Winter Soldier, but he will not acquiesce. He knows this is his best friend Bucky Barnes and tells him to finish him because he's with him "to the end of the line." How can you get any more loyal than that?
Another Hufflepuff would be Falcon (Anthony Mackie). I've loved Falcon since I was a child. I even own a copy of Captain America #117 (albeit a bit worse for wear) featuring his first appearance. Everyone always thought Falcon was Captain America's sidekick. But, he is his partner and he has always been loyal to Cap. For the movie version, they make him a veteran to give Steve another level for them to relate and to give Sam Wilson (Falcon's secret identity) the skills to work with him. When Cap needs help, he does not hesitate. He tells him, "When Captain America needs my help, there's no better reason to get back in."
Black Widow, however, is not Hufflepuff (maybe I'd sort her into Ravenclaw...how did I start sorting Marvel superheroes into Hogwarts Houses? LOL!), but she is fiercely loyal to Steve. I love the relationship they build in here. He's so very black and white while she definitely walks a gray line. But, they trust each other. And, that's a trust that's only grown over the course of several movies. I like the fact that their relationship is not romantic in nature. They're more like brother and sister. Yes, she does kiss him. But, Leia also kissed Luke and she turned out to be his sister! LOL.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have very much perfected their characters by now, particularly Scarlett Johansson. She is the Black Widow I know from the comics in this movie. Where she was less confident in the role in Iron Man 2, Black Widow now feels like an old glove to her. She is the super spy we need her to be.
Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce was inspired. He had the gravitas to pull off a role that required him to look like a good guy, but be a bad guy. Redford had always played the all American in movies during his heyday and he's just as wonderful as ever.
Samuel L. Jackson looked like he had a better time in this movie as Nick Fury that most. In this movie, we got to see him be the bad-ass. Probably the same kind of bad-assery that got him the position as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now, the Carters...first, can I just say again how much I love watching the scene where Steve goes to visit the now aged Peggy Carter? Evans's and Hayley Attwell's performances are just superb. I cried watching it again because its so touching. As for Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), aka Agent 13...I still don't know how I feel about her. She seems a little young to me. But, I guess its not so odd considering Evans is only 5 years older than VanCamp. There's just something not Sharon Carter to me. But, I don't hate her either. She's not like Natalie Portman's Jane Foster in the Thor movies.
One of the great things about the fight choreography in the Russo Brothers films is that it feels close up and in your face. It's like you can feel every punch. That scene where the Winter Soldier punches Cap's shield! You can literally feel the Soldier's strength and the amount of resistance Cap needs to hold his shield steady. It's absolutely amazing. And the knife fight is super intense because it is so well choreographed.
The other thing that the Russos do well is give you a bit of political intrigue followed by some great action sequences as to not bog down the experience in wonky talk. It is, at the end of the day, a superhero film after all. I remember when this film first opened. I could feel this movie was going to be distinctly different from the moment Captain America jumps out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier into the ocean and, for the next few minutes, its non-stop action.
And how were they able to take two lame villains in the comics and make them awesome? First, Batroc the Leaper on the Lemurian Star at the beginning of the movie. His fight with Captain America was exciting and I loved how they incorporated the colors of the Leaper's outfit (in the comics, he literally looks like a sterotypical French man in purple and yellow) as well as give him a leaping-type fighting style. And while Arnim Zola was in the first movie, they managed to bring him back and make him look more like his comic book counterpart in a way that was brilliant!
The only thing about this film with Hydra infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. since the beginning leading to the destruction of both, it leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe without one of the Marvel Universe's most central agencies. Yes, we see that S.H.I.E.L.D. is alive and well in the television show, but where is it really now in the movies? I know Nick Fury shows up at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron with a Hellicarrier, but do these heroes still interact with it?
But, other than that, it's a superb film that still holds up. I would definitely place it in my top 5 if not even in my top 3.
Stan Lee Cameo: Smithsonian guard who discovers Cap's uniform missing.
Now we head into space with Guardians of the Galaxy!