This movie needs no introduction. Nor does it need another review. The results are in. This is a GOOD movie. A great movie. Possibly the best Marvel’s produced to date. The ninth in their cinematic universe, The Winter Soldier promises not only to shake things up, but also to shatter the face of Marvel as we know it. And it turns out we hardly knew it at all. And yes, SPOILERS galore.
The excellent strategy that Marvel’s proposed over the years in their movies is that each film and each character would be its own take on the superhero genre, breaking the mold of said genre, so to speak. Incredible Hulk gave us a monster flick, Thor gave us a fantasy epic, and Captain America: The First Avenger gave us a period drama. But The Winter Soldier is different – this is a true to grit political thriller filled with secret societies (within secret societies), assassination attempts, espionage, some serious bureaucratic mysteries, and of course, a lot of action. Each fight sequence felt unique and new, and more stylized than the last, slowly building to the showdown of all showdowns.
The title of the film is interesting, because it showcases two characters: both the protagonist and the antagonist. Although this was Captain America’s movie, every scene The Winter Soldier was in was a scene stolen. He was a compelling, relentless villain – one far closer to Steve Rogers heart than should be legal. After supposedly dying in Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky Barnes (best friend of Steve Rogers) is found by HYDRA and turned into the perfect fighting soldier, the “Winter Soldier”. Although his mind was wiped, his meeting Cap’ jarred up some past memories, and we start to feel the anguish burning deep inside him as he is forced to fight his friend. The character is so well developed, he might actually be as relatable and powerful of a villain as Loki is. Sebastian Stan, who plays Bucky, is signed on for a whopping seven films. Here’s hoping they make good use of his character.
The character dynamic between Captain America and the Black Widow is both sibling-like and like being really close yet new friends all in one. They’ve fought in the battle for New York together in The Avengers. Alongside them is newcomer Falcon, who refreshingly doesn’t have a lot of baggage on his back, just a pair of wings (lol). Together their trio is well utilized and surprisingly great fun. But don’t mistake “great fun” with lightheartedness. This film is dark. Others have compared it to The Dark Knight Rises in theme and tone. And I have to agree to a certain degree.
The backbone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been the mysterious organization pulling the strings in the background, S.H.I.E.L.D., an acronym that stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. Brewing in its midst for over 70 years, the Nazi extremist party HYDRA is slowly plaguing S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside out, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. we knew is no longer in charge. Instead of protecting freedom, they try to remove it by instilling fear and decimating the population. Cap’, Agent Nick Fury, and others are forced out of “the grid”, and the only way to stop HYDRA is to cut its source, S.H.I.E.L.D. In a daring and radical change of pace, The Winter Soldier film singlehandedly cripples the organization responsible for bringing the Avengers together. I’m terribly excited to see where this takes us in the universe, if this will have any effect on Marvel’s next film Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course what the ramifications will be on their ABC TV series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Surely we’ll find out next week. (I’ll let you know dear reader, have no fear).
Oh, and there are plenty of cameos and one liners, just as you’d expect from Marvel. If you catch it, Agent Sitwell mentions that Stephen Strange is a threat. Comic fans will no doubt recognize the name as none other than Doctor Strange. Stan Lee makes an appearance, surprising nobody (but he always shows up when you least expect him to, so I guess it also surprises everybody at the same time). You want to stay for at least the mid-credits scene for your first look at the twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who’ll be joining the Avengers team in Age of Ultron.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a gorgeous film, with excellent characters, plot elements, martial art sequences, and heart. If there is anything I didn’t feel obliged to applaud, I’d say the plot was overly intricate at times, and more than once it gets a bit confusing keeping up. But it’s a very minor gripe on my end. The film deserves a little higher than a 9, but my reviewing scale doesn’t include decimals (yet) so I’ll round to the nearest whole number. Although I’m not huge on political thrillers in the vein of Bourne Identity, this is a film I can look forward to watching again and again over the years, and I certainly plan to.
Hey guys, just a quick note. I want to thank my followers profusely for all the love shown my way. I love to hear your opinions as well. Let me know what you think about the site, the reviews, the news, the grammar etc. As much as I love to write and research about all things geeky, this blog wouldn’t be around still if it weren’t for you guys. If and when I reach 500 followers, I plan to do a special thank you post as a guide to the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in timeline order, starting from the 40s in Captain America: The First Avenger all the way up to the films that are currently in the pipeline (Captain America 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, etc.). I’ll also include Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series and any One-Shot short films released on the DVDs. Thanks again guys. Happy blogging.