Monday, April 21, 2014

Movies – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

*Slight Spoilers*
Marvel Comics, patriotism and love of America are things that do not necessarily go together. For years, Marvel has struggled with how to portray the hero that embodies the United States, Captain America. They seem not to understand why or how people love this country, and thus cannot imbue patriotism in a character who wears a flag. I was worried about how Cap would be portrayed in his new flick, The Winter Soldier. Cap was treated respectfully in his first movie (although the producers seemed to forget America fought Nazis in WWII) and very well in the Avengers. But now that Cap was in the modern day, it would be easy for Marvel to make him a conservative-hating secular humanist like the rest of their modern heroes. I’m happy to say I had nothing to worry about in The Winter Soldier. It was incredible.

I have read that Marvel executives told the movie’s producers that they wanted a political thriller. They certainly delivered. The storyline is loosely based on comic writer Ed Brubaker’s story of the same name, with Cap’s WWII sidekick Bucky returning as the titular character. The movie has some of the most dynamic and realistic action sequences I have ever seen on the big screen. Whoever the stunt coordinator was for the film should do the stunts for every movie ever made from now on, forever. At least all Marvel movies. The plot kept the action going, was understandable, and never slowed things down. And Cap’s patented comfort in using his shield as the all-around perfect weapon was fully on display. The shield becomes a beautiful ballet of balance and action; an ideal extension of his fighting flair.

Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie
Chris Evans was born to play Captain America. Anthony Mackie was wonderful as Sam Wilson, the Falcon. I’ve never cared much for Scarlett Johanssen as the Black Widow or Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, but both characters are finally given something to do, along with some back-story (finally) and are starting to grow on me. Black-hearted Robert Redford is perfect as the black-hearted villain pulling the strings from behind the scenes. The Stan Lee cameo was perfect, one of the best so far. The only criticism I would have of the movie are the costumes. Cap is not really Captain America without the 3D wings on his head, as he has had in the comics for over 70 years. Otherwise it’s just a guy in a vaguely Cap-inspired uniform. I’ve lost this battle, as Marvel has done away with them. That is a mistake, they’re an iconic feature. Falcon has too much black in his uniform, just like EVERY SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER. I know yellow spandex doesn’t translate well to the screen, but can someone wear something other than black ninja crap for a change? Hopefully the Falcon will be back in future films and have a bit of red in his wings and costume.

Those are minor nitpicks. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is pure entertainment and probably the best Marvel movie since Avengers. I loved it.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

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