I realize at this point they’ve become as overdone as zombies and vampires, but I freaking love superhero movies. When one is on its way to theaters, I inevitably round up a group of nerdy friends and make a midnight trek to see it—because God forbid we wait until the day it comes out. We simply must see it before the rest of the world. Plus, midnight superhero movie premieres make for excellent people-watching. At this premiere, I got to see an overweight couple dressed as Captain America and Black Widow. And in case you were wondering, yes—people did take pictures with them. God bless nerds. God bless (Captain) America.
Anyway, I was pretty excited for this film—a vastly different attitude from when I went to see the first Captain America. For whatever reason, I was convinced the hero wouldn’t make a smooth transition to film. Seemed too cheesy. But you know what? They pulled it off quite well. And my fondness for Cap only grew when I saw The Avengers. So where does that leave The Winter Soldier? Well, between this and Thor: The Dark World, I’d say Marvel is on quite a roll.
Synopsis: “Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: What I found most interesting about this film was though it’s a superhero film, it doesn’t necessarily feel like one. That may not sound like a good thing, but I actually found it to be a breath of fresh air. The Winter Soldier could pass as a superhero film, yes, but it could also pass as a thriller or even an espionage film. Personally, I think it’s a smart route to go for a 21st-century Captain America. Speaking of good ol’ Steve Rogers, I have absolutely no qualms with Chris Evans in the role. The character could easily come off as corny or a little stiff, but Evans imbues him with a genuine goodness that you can’t help admiring. Plus, he has a sense of humor and he’s pretty. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I would date Captain America. But that’s a little off topic. We get to see some familiar faces from the Marvel world in this installment, including kickass super spy Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and intense S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). It’s great to see more from these characters—particularly Natasha, as she’s developed a nice rapport with Cap. Then there are the new kids on the block. Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) quickly becomes Steve’s new best bud, and I must admit that they make a wonderful duo. Plus, with his fancy flying exoskeleton, Falcon is a very cool hero in his own right. And the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is just awesome. Rocking a metal arm, a mysterious past, and some seriously emo hair, the Winter Solider meets Cap blow for blow, making their fight scenes some of the most exciting moments of the film. But there’s more to this villain than you might think, and I think his story is pretty interesting. Throw in Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, a S.H.I.E.L.D. bigwig, and things get crazy. Seriously, this film is going to directly affect next year’s Avengers film as well as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show (which, fun fact, has gotten pretty good). It’ll get you excited for what’s to come.
Favorite scene: A certain character very unexpectedly kicks butt. At first it’s hilarious, and then something happens to make it a super cool moment. I wish I could be less vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. If you’ve seen the film, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
The Bad: There is a tiny thing that has begun to bug me as I see more of these Marvel movies: where are all those other Marvel folks? It’s the one bad thing about bringing the heroes together in The Avengers. As buildings crumbles and planes explode and people are shot, part of me is like, “Why can’t they call up their bro Tony Stark for some backup? Where the heck did Hawkeye run off to? Shouldn’t someone send for Agent Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team?” I realize that’s asking a little much, but I just can’t help wondering why the other heroes don’t come running as the world crumbles. Also…let me try to say this without ruining anything: there is a secret, villainous organization up to mischief in this film, but the way this organization is worked in…well, I didn’t totally buy it. It’s kind of a cool, clever tie-in, but I feel like it needs a bit more explanation. Again, if you’ve seen the film, you probably understand what I’m trying to say. Ugh. I wish I could say more! But I am very anti-spoilers. Other than that, I will say this: some people have proclaimed this film “bland.” Though I disagree, I could see how someone going in and expecting a full-blown superhero movie might be disappointed. Of the Marvel films I’ve seen, this is probably the least superhero-y (though, ultimately, I don’t think that turns out to be a bad thing).
Least favorite scene: That villainous organization I mentioned? A sleazy senator (whom you may recognize from Iron Man 2) is secretly part of it, and just so the audience realizes this, there is a moment where he leans in and whispers words that confirm his unsavory allegiance. It’s a little thing, I know, but the way it’s done is fairly corny.
To Sum It Up: The Winter Soldier is a worthy addition to the Marvel world. It builds brilliantly off the first Captain America film as well as The Avengers, giving us an admirable hero, an intense bad guy, fun and interesting supporting characters, and a story that superhero and thriller fans alike can appreciate. Because the story shakes things up so much, I’d say it’s a must-see for Marvel fans; because it’s enjoyable, I’d recommend it for just about any action lover.
My Grade: A-