I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible until a point when I will give you fair warning to click away. This is more on how the actors and characters play out rather than plot so I don’t ruin it in case you didn’t get out opening weekend. Okay? Okay. Here we go.
The comment was made in Marvel’s hour-long special that took the place of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. about a month ago that every movie in the universe is a different genre while still being a comic book movie.
Take away the shield and the outfit of Captain America and The Winter Soldier is an action movie mixed with a political thriller, the high-stakes and intense action abundant. I could barely blink any time there was an action sequence–and there are quite a few of them. The choreography in hand-to-hand combat is phenomenal. By far, one of the best sequences is the “elevator scene” everyone hung on when the trailer came out. “Before we get started…” Cap says, completely surrounded. “Does anybody want to get out?”
Chris Evans’ Captain America is fantastic. He plays with the inner turmoil wonderfully; being teamed up with the polar opposite of him–Natasha Romanoff–works on so many levels. They’re both struggling with their past, albeit in two completely different ways, and getting a closer look at the Black Widow is always a treat.
Of course, Cap is still a straitlaced guy from the Golden Age. There’s a scene in a mall with the pair trying to avoid the people chasing them. They’re on an escalator going down with one of their adversaries going up. Black Widow turns to Cap and tells him to kiss her. He stares at her until she says, “Public displays of affection make people uncomfortable.” Not understanding where she’s going with it, Cap says, in his best “kids-these-days” voice, “Yes! They do!” Before she kisses him and they blend in with the crowd. Just his delivery of the line had me cracking up. They play off each other so well.
Robert Redford is wonderful as Alexander Pierce. I have a fondness for the man, so I may be a little jaded, but he plays the role incredibly well, oozing finesse and calm control. He plays intimidating perfectly. I will admit that every time he made a comment about a past event in Bogota with Nick Fury, I wanted him to say Bolivia so I could have my Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid moment.
Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate how well Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury in this. Aside from The Avengers, this is definitely one of Fury’s bigger roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Samuel L. Jackson goes completely bad ass in TWS. He is constantly two steps ahead of everyone else, and he has good reason to be.
The humor doesn’t come only from Cap’s out-of-touchness (though his list of pop culture things he’s missed in the past seventy years is a great touch), but also from the Falcon, aka Sam Wilson. He’s in the opening scene with Cap as they’re both taking their morning runs. His one-liners got me every time. When he’s talking to Cap about potentially quitting the service, Cap asks what he should do instead. “Ultimate Fighter? Just for starters…” Sam replies with a laugh.
If there’s one thing the movie is lacking is more use of the Winter Soldier. He’s in it quite a bit (don’t get me wrong), but there was one point halfway through a long action sequence where Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon are fighting adversaries, dodging bullets and missiles and cars, and the Winter Soldier shows up and I said out loud, “Oh yeah! Right! Him!” It wasn’t that there was too much going on, more that his part just seemed very underplayed for how much they claim he’s done in the past fifty years.
Sebastian Stan does very well playing the brainwashed Winter Soldier, especially when his identity is finally revealed to Captain America. But he doesn’t get a moment to shine. He’s a mindless drone following orders and when he starts to question things, they wipe his mind clean and start over.
Before I jump into the spoilers, might I add that I wish my superpower was to keep people sitting in their seats once the credits start to roll? Dear world, we’re nine movies into this; you should know there are scenes in the credits. Sit your butts back down and wait another five minutes before you leave. Or I will laugh at you loudly and in public. Surprisingly, my showing had about 80% of the people still in their seats when the end-credits scene finished. I’m proud of you! It only took seven years!
It’s definitely worth it to stay for both the mid-credits scene (directed by Joss Whedon, so you know it’s important) and the end-credits scene. The end-credits scene is actually pretty important and not a throwaway scene like the shawarma one (which was hilarious and not really “throwaway…”).
CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
Ready for spoilers? (They probably won’t be that epic, but more of comments on particular things within the movie.)
Do you remember back during the early days of Marvel movies (i.e. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk) when Easter Eggs were along the lines of billboards in the background put there for comic book nerds’ sakes? Things have gotten so intricate now.
There’s a scene toward the end of the movie when HYDRA’s weapons are targeting all of the threats in the general area of several hundred miles. The screen flashes with eights faces for half a second before expanding to forty-some then to over a hundred, then starting over again. The only face I managed to take in was Tony Stark. Someone needs to get their hands on screen shots because I’m certain we’re missing a bunch of fun clues.
Now, let’s skip to the credits scenes.
The mid-credits scene gives us the first look at Baron Von Strucker, one of the big baddies for Avengers: Age of Ultron, when he finds out that the Washington DC HYDRA headquarters has been destroyed. We find out he’s been using Loki’s staff from The Avengers to create super-humans. We get the reveal that the only major success has come in the form of the “twins” who sit in their separate cells.
Therein is our first official look at Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch. He’s flitting around his cell at super speed and she is levitating a bunch of objects, which she decimates with a clap of her hands before we cut to black. The possibilities with these two are extremely epic and let’s leave it at that because I keep getting into discussions about the Marvel Civil Wars with my fiancee.
It’s natural to assume that the blue stone in Loki’s spear is one of the Infinity Gems for the Infinity Gauntlet. I’m assuming that S.H.I.E.L.D. had the scepter locked up and one of the HYDRA people smuggled it over to Von Strucker to help aid their cause; the last time you see it in Avengers is when Black Widow is holding it when they have Loki cornered in Stark Tower. With S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer the “glue” that holds this universe together, let’s all take an educated guess and say it’s going to become the Infinity Gems that tie everything up in a neat little package.
The end-credits scene might have worked better as the ending to the movie itself. We get another look at the Captain America exhibit in the Air and Space Smithsonian Institute, focusing on the display of Bucky Barnes’ biography. The camera pans around and we see Bucky himself, dressed inconspicuously in a hoodie, just staring.
- I laughed so hard when Danny Pudi was working in the Triskillion. Because you know that’s a dream come true for Abed Nadir.
- Throwaway comment by Agent Sitwell when discussing all of HYDRA’s threats when he mentions Stephen Strange. Will we get an Ant-Man comment in Guardians of the Galaxy?
- Okay…pretty sure Agent Sitwell is dead, right? Turns out he was on HYDRA’s side all along. And then the Winter Soldier throws him out of a car and…I’m fairly certain he got hit by a truck in his tumble.
- Peggy Carter is in the movie for one quick scene at the beginning. And it had me in tears. It’s revealed that she has Alzheimer’s/dementia when in the middle of her and Cap’s conversation, she begins to cry because she can’t believe Steve is alive after all these years. It’s a drastic change from their conversation seconds earlier. Her tears of happiness mixed with the pain so evident in Cap’s eyes is heartbreaking. Especially if you’ve dealt with the disease in person.
- Agent 13! Sharon Carter! The movie doesn’t do much with her, so I take this as a generic introduction and maybe we’ll see more of her down the road, especially since it ended with her seeming to join the CIA.
- Every single preview I saw before this movie is something I want to see. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy…
- I incorrectly guessed the big band and swing song Nick Fury was playing in Cap’s apartment. I guessed Les Brown and His Orchestra. Alas, it was Harry James… I only know the version of “It’s Been A Long, Long Time” by Doris Day, which has Les Brown as the orchestra…
- Why wasn’t that Captain America exhibit at the Air and Space Smithsonian when I was there?! I’d be all about that!
- And what will this movie do to affect Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Because that’s a lot to change. There is no more S.H.I.E.L.D. and the TV show has it in its title. We’ll see on Tuesday!