One of the coolest aspects of the MCU is that each movie is a different genre with a superhero twist. A war movie, a fugitive story, a corporate espionage story, etc. And now we have a political thriller.
Wow do we ever.
We have a political thriller, completely with twisty conspiracies, and double crosses and oh my God the car chases. There are so many car chases in Captain America: The Winter Soldier I’m surprised they didn’t sneak Lola in there.
Aside from being promoted as the MCU’s answer to All The President’s Men, complete with Robert Redford, it’s being promoted as a game changer. And once again, boy howdy is it ever.
From here on out, we’re going into spoilers, so many spoilers.
The movie opens with Steve running laps around The Washington Mall, and in turn around Sam Wilson. The two men bond shortly after, talking about the life of a veteran. Then Natasha shows up and she and Steve head out on a mission. The mission winds up being two fold. Nick Fury sent Steve in to rescue some hostages and Natasha in to steal some intel. This pisses Steve off to no end, and after he and Fury argue about what exactly the point of all of this S.H.I.E.L.D. business is, he goes to The Smithsonian to check out the exhibit about himself, and then to visit Peggy.
Then things start to get weird, Fury is attacked by a mysterious assassin, and Steve comes home to find Nick bleeding in his living room. The two speak in code, then the assassin shows up, and kills Fury.
I could take you through every plot point, but frankly, I wouldn’t do them justice. There’s a good chunk of the movie where Captain America and Black Widow think that Fury is dead and are on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D., it turns out that Fury isn’t dead, and Dr. Zola’s consciousness was saved into a computer and that at some point Bucky got a robotic arm, his memory wiped and was cryogenically frozen only to be brought out as an assassin whenever someone distinctly badass needed to be killed, oh also, since it’s founding, S.H.I.E.L.D has been infested by Hydra, so it turns out that THE AVENGERS AND NICK FURY WERE WORKING FOR HYDRA! (Also Agent Coulson.)
Aside from how batshit insane (and awesome) a twist that was, the movie also has a lot of heart (Steve’s scenes with Bucky and Peggy are going to get you) and as it an important element of a Marvel movie is pretty funny. Most of the humor comes from Black Widow and Falcon. Scarlett Johanson owns her role this time around and I was very impressed, I can’t wait to see how the now announced Black Widow movie develops, her story ended on a good note to spin off.
And I called it last night, Falcon is the new Loki! (In that in two movies no one’s going to care about anyone else.) Wow, was Anthony Mackie ten kinds of spectacular in this part. Funny, sharp, and game for the action, Sam Wilson aka Falcon has proved a worthy newbie. Good job Mackie.
A couple of other things:
- RIP Agent Jasper Sitwell. Well I found out that you were Hydra I was very upset. You were Coulson’s friend! His partner! You sat in that diner and you talked about Tony Stark and The Abomination! I am very very upset. But it was immensely satisfying when Bucky threw you under a bus.
- Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce was pretty amazing, but then again, he’s Robert Redford. (Also, I’m currently watching The Sting, because it happens to be on.)
- Maria Hill was enough of a bad ass here that I’m no longer mad at Cobie Smulders. Yeah, this movie was so good that it got me over the How I Met Your Mother finale. THAT GOOD!
- They brought out Cap’s “to do” list, all of the pop culture that people mention he should check out. Uncrossed off at the beginning, “Nirvana,” “Rocky (Rocky II?”) and then at the behest of Falcon he adds Marvin Gaye’s The Troubled Man soundtrack.
- Danny Pudi has a cameo and it’s great. Abed makes everything better.
- Stan Lee pops up as a security guard at the Smithsonian, it’s the best Stan cameo in a few movies, and his joke hits perfectly.
- While on the run Steve puts on a pair of Clark Kent type glasses. Since Clark and Steve are basically the same guy, I loved this.
- Also while on the run, Steve and Natasha steal a blue Chevy Silverado. Yes, Captain America drives around in a blue Chevy truck with a hot red head. This is basically a John Mellancamp song come to life and it’s beautiful.
- I couldn’t have been the only person who expected him to sigh and say, “Wasn’t life so much easier when you were a nanny and I ran a hedge fund?”
Of course I was with Aless, so at the end we had some fangirly questions that needed dealing with. Steve and Natasha do not bone. I was disappointed, Aless was just happy that they were allowing her to be faithful to Hawkeye. (Nat was wearing an arrow necklace the whole movie. It was a nice subtle touch.) And clears the way for Steve and Sharon. Yes, there was so much awesome in this movie that Emily VanCamp’s stellar performance as Agent 13 is an after thought. Although the scene where she’s holding a gun to a Hydra agents head was pretty awesome, even if I was thinking, “She has no use for this guy and he’s in her way. Emily Thorne would have blown his brains out by now…”
It’s a Marvel Movie, and they as always, delivered on the fun and the hunk factor. I’m sorry, but really, anyone who asks for more than Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan is being greedy. (And should probably just watch The Avengers. There’s got to be something you like there.) But, Captain America remains The Avenger that I Am Most Likely To Have Fictional Sex With, and our final analysis came to wondering if Steve is a virgin. He and Natasha have a long conversation about kissing, but sex is not brought up. It’s a passing thought for other people, but as fangirls we had a five minute long conversation about it.
Anyway? So why is The Winter Soldier a game changer? While Iron Man 3 served a sort of coda to The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World got the Asgardian brothers to status quos that serve the future well, dismantling S.H.I.E.L.D. creates a reverb that’s impossible to ignore. Yes, we’re heading out into space for Guardians of The Galaxy, so any immediate changes will only be felt on the small screen. I seriously, seriously cannot wait to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday to see how the developments of this movie are handled by the team. (Also if it turns out that May is Hydra I might stop watching…although probably not.) Also, Nick Fury is presumed dead and S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it is destroyed, could Director Coulson be far away?
And finally let’s talk our Post Credit Scenes. As usual, stay until the very end, because we’ve got two this time around. First, we see a secret Hydra Lab, where Baron Von Strucker is talking to another agent, we get a glimpse of Loki’s staff from The Avengers, which Aless and I feel could lead to good One Shot, Loki retrieving it. They discuss how the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t matter, as the world has changed. The other agent asks Strucker what they’ll do if the Avengers find out about them, and Strucker says, “The twins.” Then we get our first glimpse of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, being kept in tiny see through cells. Pietro is banging against the wall over and over again. (It’s a furiously terrifying image) and then in the creepiest moment ever in the MCU, we get a close up of Wanda moving blocks, her eyes red with focus. It’s terrifying, it’s amazing, and Age of Ultron guys, Age of Ultron.
The movie proper ended with Steve and Sam deciding to go looking for Bucky, which means that Cap 3 is going to probably be about that. So that the final image is of The Winter Soldier at The Smithsonian exhibit reading Bucky’s plaque, is pretty substantial. Getting his memories back is probably going to be rough, but it’s going to be worth it.
I’ve said before that Marvel is playing a long game here, but unlike the two movies preceding it, The Winter Soldier, is a big part of that game, not a smaller piece. A lot of things fall into place here and if you weren’t excited about Age of Ultron before, you probably will be now.
One more quick note: This movie does not pass the Bechdel Test, but it’s the kind of thing where the test might be a little bit faulty. Mostly because Agent 13 and Maria Hill can’t possibly be considered main characters, but all three of the female characters are strong, none of them are reduced to damsels in distress or “the girlfriend” and when they do interact, they’re talking about the mission, not Steve. This is a step in the right direction. It should also be noted that Hill gets about as much screen time as Falcon, again, hardly enough to make her a “main character” but it’s again, a step in the right direction.