I started collecting comic books when I was 12-years-old. The thing that intrigued me most about Marvel Comics was the concept of a shared universe. The TV shows and movies I watched and the books I read all took place in their own little self-contained universes. No matter what happened on the A-Team, they were never going to end up in Hazzard County. So when I realized that the stuff happening in an issue of Uncanny X-Men had a direct impact on what was happening in X-Factor, I got a bit giddy. The idea of telling separate stories that interconnected and built on each other was just a fantastic concept to me. I would read my Marvel Comics and think to myself, “If only they made movies like this….”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the comic book movie I’ve wanted to see since I was twelve years old. If you’ve never seen a Marvel movie and you see this, you’ll want to see the others. If you’ve watched every single piece of Marvel cinema so far, you’ll geek out at the level of detail they’ve thrown into this movie.
While previous Marvel movies have had some loose connective tissue between them, this is the first to fully embrace the continuity and use it to build a better story. The way that The Winter Soldier blends characters from Iron Man 2 and Avengers in with characters from the first Captain America and all new characters is so seamless that you almost have to watch it twice to notice.
It helps that they’ve developed a cast that so fully inhabits their characters that you never doubt for a moment who they are. Chris Evans is Captain America. He plays him with equal parts strength and aw-shucks-boyscout. In one of the opening scenes he takes out about a dozen armed guys all on his own with the just the use of his shield and it just works. And yet for all of his heroics, he maintains that man-out-of-time persona that makes him so an intriguing character.
While Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury has been popping up since the first Iron Man movie, it’s not until The Winter Soldier that we really get to see how much of a bad ass Nick Fury is. There’s a car chase sequence early on where Fury gets to be every bit the hero all of the much more colorful superheroes have been in previous movies.
Similarly, Scarlet Johansen probably gets more screen time in The Winter Soldier than she did in The Avengers and she certainly gets to flesh out her character a bit more. The chemistry between her and Chris Evans’ Cap works perfectly. They’ve got nothing in common except their goals, but their mutual respect helps them build the sort of trust that only soldiers really understand.
Speaking of soldiers, the introduction of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson as the Middle East War vet turned superhero known as Falcon is pitch perfect. The friendship that grows between him and Cap feels authentic from the beginning.
I can’t say too much about the guy who play the title character of the Winter Soldier without getting into spoiler territory, but he’s one of the more inspired villains we’ve seen so far in Marvel’s cinematic universe.
As if this weren’t enough, somehow they managed to get Robert Redford to play Alexander Pierce. In this Pierce plays the control-freak Secretary of State which is a far cry from the fiercely loyal bureaucrat from the comic books, but that’s fine. I’m not someone who feels the movies have to always echo the comic books. Personally, I’m enjoying the differences.
I wasn’t sure about the idea of having Joe & Anthony Russo direct The Winter Soldier. They’re primarily known as sit-com directors and have never done anything like this before, but they pulled it off spectacularly. There’s even a small moment that fans of Community will love. Rumor has it these guys are signing on for Cap 3 and I can only hope that’s true.
Captain America The Winter Soldier is the most confident Marvel Studios movie made yet and definitely the most entertaining. This movie is proof you can do a great Marvel movie without Robert Downey Jr. The most exciting thing for me is how the events in this movie have no choice but to directly tie into the small screen as Agents of SHIELD can’t possibly be the same after the events of The Winter Soldier. The fact that Marvel is so willing to put all of this continuity together just shows exactly how good they’ve become at doing this. Next up for Marvel Studios is their most ambitious film yet; Guardians of the Galaxy. It will be the first movie they’ve done with no big name actors, and no recognizable heroes or villains. But given their track record, I have every intention of seeing it opening weekend.
– Jack Cameron