In Marvel Studios’s third film entry in what is known as Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe following Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier debuted in theaters April 4. Following in a similar pattern to the other entries in Marvel’s growing library of films, the famed Sentinel of Liberty has more menacing challenges to face since the team up in 2012’s The Avengers. Departing from his WWII origins, Steve Rogers is playing catch-up with the 21st Century all while doing his best to protect the world from threats as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In this new world, the obvious threats of war that Captain America faced are no more and his heroics are now limited to covert operations directed by Nick Fury. The switch from being a force on the front lines to covert operations and not knowing the details leaves a bad taste in Steve’s mouth as he doesn’t know who he can trust. This is a main theme throughout the film as espionage is the driving force behind those who are trying to protect the world.
When some trust appears to be given, it has consequences that the Captain, Black Widow, and Nick Fury cannot foresee. As allies are no longer what they seem, the Captain has to choose his allies carefully as new threats with familiar faces are around every corner.
With this in mind, David and Chris will discuss their feelings on the film and how this film will impact current and future titles in the Marvel universe.
David: Well, Chris, I have to say that The Winter Soldier is the best of Phase 2 so far. While I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World, the new Captain America flick had me on the edge of my seat from the start.
Chris: I agree on being the best of Marvel’s Phase 2. Each film with the exception of Iron Man 3 felt like a stronger film than the ones before it. As I Cap fan, I was really pleased with the film’s direction and getting to see Cap being a hero in our time.
David: I’ll just put it out there that I enjoyed the first Captain America film, unlike most of the public, but this one is the superior film. It was more than just a Superhero action star going into battle and defeating the enemy. With The Winter Soldier, Steve faces the same reality that we all face in today’s world: the enemy is harder than ever to identify, and that was a huge plot element in the film.
Chris: That was one of the enjoyable things to watch in the film. The threat isn’t identified until it’s right in front of everyone and sometimes not even then. Seeing Cap face off against classic comic villain Batroc the Leaper and perhaps his greatest threat, the Winter Soldier, are tips of the iceberg in this film when everyone seems to have a knife behind their back.
David: There’s also the conflict that puts Steve against what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for. In Phase 1, S.H.I.E.L.D. is an organization that, on face value, wants to protect human safety. But with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, S.H.I.E.L.D. starts keeping high ranking individuals in the dark about their motives and it runs even deeper in The Winter Soldier.
Chris: Again, that’s what I love about the direction, because this follows the same lines as the comics have. In this way, we see that Cap makes himself any enemy of a powerful organization, and when it’s time to choose we know that Steve Rogers is going to always do what he feels is right. That certainly doesn’t help when said organization has its own “super” soldier, but it certainly leads to some bad ass fight sequences.
David: You mentioned it yourself last night that it could be the seeds leading up to a civil war, most likely setting the stage of Avengers 3 being the adaption of the Civil War storyline. The Winter Soldier really shook the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially leading into Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m not sure how Guardians of the Galaxy is going to fit in or if it shapes the next Avengers film, but this film really affected the future. While Thor: The Dark World did plant some seeds for future plots, Iron Man 3 didn’t contribute much other than Tony Stark quitting the Iron Man gig.
Chris: Yeah, I can see the seeds of Civil War, but I have some doubts on how that may play out with status of Iron Man and Marvel not having the complete rights to some of the characters that would be critical to the story. At best, it’s wishful thinking on my part. After seeing the confrontations between Cap and the Winter Soldier, I’m excited to see the next step, because this film just begins a new arc.
David: It’ll also be interesting to see what’s in store for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. No doubt that Coulson and Company are going to feel the ripple effects of what happened.
Chris: That will be huge. That will be a big point for the series as sides now have to be taken. The movie turned everything S.H.I.E.L.D. into a war zone. No matter who wins, everyone is going to lose. We all just have to hope that Coulson doesn’t get it stuck to him again.
David: In a slight topic change, I’d like to point out that I thought Robert Redford was cast well for this movie. It felt strange that he’d be in a comic book movie, but after seeing his role as Alexander Pierce, I thought he did a fantastic job.
Chris: His part was a perfect fit for the type of film that The Winter Soldier is. You have to think of this story as a spy thriller that happens to have a comic book favorite favorite thrust into the middle. I think that Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, and Scarlett Johansson did a fantastic job reprising their roles in the film. It didn’t feel like a rehash of what we’ve seen before and maintained a strong balance of screen time between the three of them, unlike how I know you’ve felt about other Marvel films.
David: You mean with the strong female lead that can kick ass?
David: They get it right with Black Widow, yet they can’t get it right with Lady Sif. That was my big knock on the latest Thor film with the writers decreasing Jaimie Alexander’s lines and presence in the film. Granted, they gave her more respect with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode she guest starred in but if the Black Widow is going to get her own movie, at least give the same attention to Sif.
Chris: Well, it’s funny that we see that with Thor, but in Cap the presence is notable and even supporting roles from the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Agent 13 (Emily VanKamp) get worthy screen time which was exciting as a guy who loves the Captain America comics. It felt like everything was put together nicely. I won’t say it’s tied up because as I mentioned above the story is just getting started.
David: So in other words, the people writing Thor need to get their act together.
Chris: In regards to the screen time, heck yeah. Otherwise they’re getting better too.
David: I’d like to point out one more thing for the readers: there’s a reference to Samuel L. Jackson in the film as well as other Marvel Easter Eggs. Well, I think I’ve said all I need to say. Any last things you want to add before we give our final grades?
Chris: Definitely look and listen for the Easter Eggs. Other than that, be ready for an awesome ride.
David’s Final Grade: 5 out of 5 (as a single film), 4.5 out of 5 (compared to The Avengers)
Chris’s Final Grade: 5 out of 5.