Thursday, May 5, 2016

'Winter Soldier' film is one of Marvel Studios' greatest (retro-review)

In case you haven't noticed, this Caphead has gone Cap-crazy here at Cary's Comics Craze!

But can you blame me? After all, Captain America is celebrating his 75th anniversary this year. And come Friday, Cap will make his fifth film appearance in a little something called "Captain America: Civil War." Woohoo!

Now, having reposted three (that's right; three!) reviews of "Captain America: The First Avenger," its sequel "The Winter Soldier" get its due. I still have to say it's one of my two favorite Marvel Studios movies. (And with "Civil War" out Friday and Marvel Studios' Phase III well under way, I definitely may have to take another look at ranking Marvel's films. Here's part 1 [ranking Nos. 11 through 6 and] and in part 2, I rank my top five Marvel flicks.)

See why I say in this review that “'Winter Soldier' establishes Captain America as our most important, fascinating and favorite member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" ...!


“On your left.” — Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson 


“Don’t trust anyone.” — Nick Fury to Rogers 

April 8, 2014 -- Capheads, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is definitely your film.

Whether you’re a cinematic Cap fan or a comic-book one, the latest installment in the massive Marvel Studios film saga is nothing less than a thrill-ride and one of the first must-see films of 2014.

And like any great movie, “Winter Soldier” features fantastic character interactions propelled by equally great cast chemistry.

That chemistry literally starts and ends with Chris Evans (Steve Rogers aka Captain America) and Anthony Mackie as military veteran Sam Wilson.

This brilliant GIF appears courtesy of rebloggy,com.
The first sequence and conversation between Rogers and Wilson feel quite natural. So when Cap and Black Widow (the perpetually appealing Scarlett Johansson) face an overwhelming quandary of not knowing who is their friend or foe, they naturally go to Wilson, a man who treats Rogers not just as a national icon (as the public perceives him), but understands Rogers’ challenges in transitioning to a new life.

Courtesy of comicbook.com
Each scene with Wilson, a former paratrooper, as Falcon is more than fun; those scenes inspired this lifelong Caphead to smile and pump his fist.

Cap and Falcon’s partnership and friendship were integral to the CAPTAIN AMERICA comics in the 1970s — so much so the title changed its name to CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON for about 7 1/2 years.

Writer Ed Brubaker made Falcon equally important to Cap’s supporting cast when he took over the writing duties in the early 2000s. (EDITOR'S ADDENDUM: And to give credit where credit is due, in the 1970s, writer Steve Englehart was the first comics scribe to intentionally make Falcon, in his words, "a more viable member of the team'' -- what we'd call Team Cap these days. Read the CCC Cap-centric interview with Englehart here.)

By the very last scene in “Winter Soldier” (aptly book-ended with Rogers and Wilson), it’s nearly impossible not to want to see Evans and Mackie together onscreen as soon as possible.

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow is as dangerous and plucky as ever in
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier." ScarJo's longtime friendship with
Chris Evans pays massive dividends in Black Widow's relationship with Cap.
(That being said, I hope we’re treated to more Falcon in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in May 2015 and won’t have to wait for the recently announced third “Captain America” film.)

The main title of “Winter Soldier” could just as easily be “Captain America and Falcon” as it could be “Captain America and Black Widow.”

Longtime offscreen pals Evans and “ScarJo” make their friendship pay onscreen. Sure, there’s a bit of sexual tension between Rogers and Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff), but it’s just as much fun to have Romanoff trying to find a date for Rogers before and during missions.

With the shady government upheaval the pair discovers, it’s fanboy utopia seeing Cap and Black Widow collaborating — yet another nod to Brubaker’s lengthy and influential comic-book run.

Why does Marvel’s “First Avenger” need The Avengers when he has Falcon and Black Widow on his side — not to mention SHIELD’s top-two agents, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)?
The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) shows off some fancy knife-fighting moves against Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).
GIF courtesy of giphy.com
The questions and challenges of trust, friendship and betrayal are at the core of “Winter Soldier,” which is more of a political thriller than it is a superhero action flick.

But don’t worry, Cap has some sweet fighting moves.

Batroc takes on Captain America in the opening sequence of "The Winter Soldier."
In Cap’s first two films, I wanted to see more shield-slinging and why the Living Legend is Marvel’s greatest fighter. Each of those minor gripes completely go away in the first action sequence; Cap more than lives up to his Living Legend nickname. One word: Wow!

Comic fans used to reading the Star-Spangled Avenger’s motivating speeches about American liberty will be pleased to hear Evans earnestly deliver a doozie of a monologue to SHIELD headquarters just before the mind-blowing climax, one which changes the scope of the Marvel cinematic universe.

Wilson/Falcon even wonders if Rogers wrote it down beforehand.

It’s no overtsatement to call “Winter Soldier” one of the best films from Marvel.

The story advances everything Rogers faces in “The First Avenger” and to a lesser extent, “The Avengers,” and significantly ups the ante and consequences. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man might have started out as fans’ most fascinating Avenger, but “Winter Soldier” establishes Captain America as our most important, fascinating and favorite member of Earth’s Mightiest
Heroes.

Caution: Seeing “Winter Soldier” could become addictive.

Trust this Caphead who saw it twice in four days.

Grade: A

Want to read more of CCC's coverage of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"?! ... Well, duh, of course you do!

  • Read this 2014 interview with real-life veteran Alison Smith, who has a cameo with about five seconds of screen time in (and just after) the veterans' counseling session that Sam Wilson leads. Who wouldn't want to "stand in the doorway for several hours with Chris Evans"?!
  • Find out why Teri Sizemore earned the nickname "the Cookie Lady" on the Cleveland sets of "The Avengers" and "Winter Soldier" in this CCC/NORWALK REFLECTOR feature. And check it out -- read why this Norwalk, Ohio resident "saw an awful lot of explosions" during the exciting Nicky Fury car chase!

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