The Best of Marvel's Standalone Hero Movies
A good movie will have you captivated the entire time you are watching it, and for hours or days after you have seen it. You will walk away with plenty of material to ponder, not out of confusion (er..Prometheus), but out of excitement out of what you just witnessed, and anticipation of what's to come. If you are as heavily vested into the Marvel cinematic universe as I am, you will be excited to talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier for days or weeks to come.
The first question people will want to know about this movie is, how does it rank amongst other movies in it's genre. Without hesitation, I will say that this is the best solo superhero movie to date. Like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, this movie takes place after the events of Avengers, or what is being referred to as Phase 2 in the Marvel cinematic universe. Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) is a full-functioning S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, who spends what little free time he has trying to adjust to life in the 21st century. He also finds himself trying to adjust to the new world philosophy and methodology of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has become infiltrated by corrupt forces (tying into the events of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series).
Early on in the movie, he meets and forms an immediate friendship with his eventual sidekick, fellow military veteran, Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The onscreen chemistry between these two is immediately evident. There is more to Falcon than the average sidekick, that often provides a few scenes of action or comic relief then fades into the background. Falcon has a great amount of depth and personality, and this was well-portrayed onscreen. Actually, all of the characters, from Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), have a level of depth, complexity, emotion, and relatability not often seen from the supporting cast in superhero movies. Kudos to co-directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, for perfectly framing these characters, and kudos to all of the actors for providing very strong performances.
It is evident from the opening action scene in this movie, that this would be a little different than Marvel's previous efforts. This is not the usual mindless, superpower, special effects showcase that you are probably expecting. There is a thoughtful, dark, and mysterious nature surrounding the mission, which is very reminiscent of the scenes from political thrillers and spy movies like James Bond and the Bourne (Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum, & Legacy) series. The movie introduces the ethical dilemma posed by the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, whose covert methods and goals appear to be in direct conflict with the concepts of privacy, freedom, justice, and the American way that Captain America dedicates his life to preserving. The true villain(s) in this movie is not as easily discernible, as he/she is in other superhero movies. You will be thrown a few curveballs early on, and at the end of the day, the takeaway question may be whether the villain is an actual person or an ideology.
While the movie is more grounded in reality than it's prequel, this movie's version of Captain America appears to be a more authentic representation of the comic book original. From the opening jogging scene, to the end fight sequence, Captain America's super-soldier serum-enhanced speed, strength and agility are on full display. He also used his shield in very creative offensive and defensive ways, during each battle. The shield really felt more like an appendage, or a part of the character (like Spiderman’s web shooters, Wolverine's claws, or Thor's hammer) this time around.
The action scenes in this movie are top-notch. The opening fight scenes between Captain America and Georges Batroc (Georges St Pierre) are as good as the end fight scenes of most action movies, and the car chase scene involving Nick Fury, is one of the best car chase scenes you will see in any movie. The fights were fast, furious, and well-choreographed. You could feel the weight of each punch, as Captain America battles the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Speaking of the Winter Soldier, he is one of the deadliest and most frightful villains I have seen in a Marvel movie. He is able to counter Captain America's moves step-for-step, probably due to their past affiliation. I risk going into spoiler territory for those not familiar with the comic book storyline, so I will not go into further detail surrounding the character.
I give this movie my highest recommendation, so be sure to run to the theater and see it. There are quite a few great Easter Eggs and unexpected character cameos in this movie. When the movie is over, be sure to stay in your seats. In the usual Marvel movie fashion, there are mid-credit and post-credit scenes after the movie, which foreshadow events for the upcoming theatrical events.
+ Great, thought-provoking plot! Great action sequences! Good character development/relatable characters. Really good acting. Plenty of Easter Eggs and character cameos.
- Check back for a negative, because I really can't think of one...