When it comes to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are two types of people who will be watching over the coming months. Those that are comic book fans and those that are not. This is an important point, because what many believe to be the big reveal is, in fact, not the big reveal for many who will watch it. Either way, that reveal is to me, an avid (rabid?) comic book fan, is about the fourth most important thing you should have picked up from watching this movie. My point being this, when you’re watching keep an eye out for some of the smaller things because in a movie about subterfuge, subtlety is often key.
As I mentioned in Disney Film Project’s 2014 Preview Episode, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a movie drawing on a number of key things. To start with you have to remember that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spy agency, and in modern culture due to certain events, such things aren’t looked at favorably or heroically. So it became necessary for the creators of the film to roll with that in order to create a story that will, I promise, lead to a better, stronger, and more heroic organization then what you’ve already seen. To be more specific would be spoiling this movie and a bit of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Winter Soldier was a character introduced to comics in 2005 by Ed Brubaker as part of what was considered to be another revival of Captain America himself. Pretty much right off fans were excited despite that they knew the “big secret”, because the journey was about Cap discovering it for himself and then working to track down The Winter Soldier and help him to regain his self and sanity by regaining his memories. In comic books, this involves a Cosmic Cube (movie fans will call this the Tesseract), and is going to be the basis for Captain America 3: The Hunt For The Red Skull (okay I made that title up, but that’s what I want it to be). By the time you get up from your seat, you’ll know what related device will be the Chekhov’s Gun for that film when it happens.
Also in 2005, as part of the Ultimate Universe from which much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe derives, came a story called Ultimate Nightmare created by Warren Ellis. In it Nick Fury pulls together a strike team including himself and three superheroes: Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon. Sound familiar? It should, this is the same team that was picked for this movie. This team is one of my absolute favorites to come from the Ultimate Universe, and it made me extremely excited to know they would be at the core of this movie. Seeing them on screen, the buildup of absolute trust that they accrue toward each other throughout, and watching their character growth in this movie is one of the major reasons this movie is enjoyable.
Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falon, is done fantastically in the film. He’s always been a hard character to present well, but also since 2005 he’s really come into his own as a solid character who no longer feels like a tag along / second fiddle. He is after all the second most important Captain America partner (the term “sidekick” doesn’t fit him. Keep in mind too that in comic books he’s not only teamed with Cap, he’s actually put on the uniform and been Captain America, and is actually an Avenger. He also got awesome mechanical wings and guns which make for some of the best action moments in this film.
After you get up from the film you’ll probably want to look up these names as they most likely play into future Captain America movies based on the way things are going (hint: you’ll already have seen 3 of them):
This movie is just extremely solid for the first part of a storyline that took more than 5 years to tell in comic books. It is designed in the same magical way that Marvel has created all their movies from Iron Man forward: appealing to movie fans, and appeasing the comic book fan at the same time. It’s a mix that other movie and comic companies simply haven’t yet, and may never, figure out how to deliver on. Will everyone like this movie? No, overall a lot of Avengers fans didn’t like Captain America: The First Avenger. But plenty will love this movie and it is going to rock a lot of socks, and the box office.
So, I just came home from watching Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, and I wanted to take this opportunity to take a look back at my adventure through the Marvel movies released to date. Just to be clear, this is going to focus primarily on the Marvel Cinematic Universe put out by Marvel Studios, but will also cover other Marvel movies. First off, I have never once in my life picked up a comic book or graphic novel, so everything I am basing my opinions on came from my impressions from films. I’ll try to keep it spoiler free, but there may be some included, so if you haven’t seen any of these films and wish to, you’ve been warned.
I’ve never really been a huge fan of the superhero genre generally speaking, and if asked, I’d probably say my favorite superhero was Batman (of the Adam West variety of course), but that’s DC, however I have seen all those movies. I think my introduction to Marvel films came by way of the first X-Men film. I didn’t see any of the first three in the theater, but own all three after discovering my affinity for the characters through renting the movies. My love of Logan/Wolverine is deep seeded, and probably isn’t hindered by the fact he is played by the gorgeous Hugh Jackman. Having said that, the only X-Men film I had the misfortune to choose to see in the theater was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I rebounded from that catching the far superior First Class on tv, and still haven’t seen what I’ve heard is decent in the new The Wolverine film. I prefer the first film, then the second, then First Class, and I’d forget about Last Stand and Origins. I’ll be interested to see where The Wolverine falls within these.
Between the X-Men films I watched the first two of the Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire. I wasn’t all that into it and haven’t to this day seen the third film or the reboot with Andrew Garfield. Also falling in the category of I really wasn’t impressed with it so I didn’t see the sequel is Daredevil (loosely referring to Elektra as the follow up). I vaguely recollect the highlight of Daredevil for me being the appearance of Colin Farrell as a baddie, Bullseye. Not much else about the movie stuck in my memory. Just this year did I get around to watching the Fantastic Four movie, partially because I heard Chris Evans was in it. Are you sensing a trend here? Hot guys are sometimes enough to get me to watch a movie. There, I said it. Feel free to judge away.
Along with these movies, there are several others that I didn’t even realize were Marvel until I did a little research for this post. Among these include the Ghost Rider series starring Nicolas Cage, Blade series with Wesley Snipes, the Punisher (two movies?), the Man-Thing (never heard of it), and Howard the Duck?!?!?!? I have not seen any of these films, but as I do tend to be a completionist, I may have to go back and watch them along with Elektra, the two Spiderman movies, the second Fantastic Four, and the new Wolverine movie.
Now we come to the beginning of what is referred to as the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the first film to be released in this series was Iron Man. For whatever reason, I must have been living under a rock for a bit, or maybe I still wasn’t sold on this superhero business, I didn’t see Iron Man in the theater. I caught it on dvd through Netflix in the following months and really enjoyed it. I don’t know why, but I didn’t rush out and buy it right away. Much like my feelings for Tony Stark himself, it is a love/hate slow burn to a crescendo kind of feeling. He is a bad boy, an antihero, but like a moth to a flame, you are drawn to him eventually. Part of his charm is his snarkiness, but also his superior intelligence, oh, and being played by Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t hurt either. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist indeed.
I found myself enjoying Iron Man enough to catch the second installation in the theater. Again, I pick the wrong times to catch on to thing (much like computer operating systems) and this was no exception. Although Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury does deliver one of my favorite lines (re: donut), and I like the introduction of the Black Widow, this film was lacking the energy and cohesiveness of the first one. I liked the flashbacks to Howard Stark, but I didn’t connect with this as much as I had the previous movie.
Next up in my Marvel movie adventure came the discovery of Thor. Like Iron Man, I found a lot of humor in this movie, much more than I expected from something directed by Kenneth Branagh. This brought in more of a sci-fi/fantasy element than Iron Man, which was more Earth-based. Sure, Chris Hemsworth is all muscle-y and such. Despite science fiction not being one of my favorite genres of film, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, but not as much as Iron Man.
And then came Cap. Ah, Captain America, Steve Rogers, my favorite Avenger (albeit after some deliberation). I do like bad boys, a habit I think I’ve broken now in my mid 30s, but I can appreciate the chivalry and boy next door charm and gentility of Cap. He is the quintessential good guy, maybe why he’s been given the nickname boy scout? A man displaced in time, who has experienced so much, but is still so innocent. Part of what I love from the film is the WWII era setting. The rest is all about the man and his journey, and Chris Evans. 🙂
After this, I forced myself to watch the Incredible Hulk in preparation for the Avengers. My knowledge of the Hulk came from growing up watching Lou Ferrigno in the early 80s. This was a very different, darker monster than what we had seen on tv previously. I thought Edward Norton did a passable job as Bruce Banner, but I struggled to get through this one.
May 4th, 2012. A day emblazoned in my memory by the fine folks at the Disney Film Project Podcast. It became a mantra. The day arrived. I had to wait since I was working until a couple of days later, but caught a matinee at Downtown Disney by myself and absolutely loved it! I could not wait to see it again. This is the film that brought them all together, with the introduction of Mark Ruffalo now as Dr. Banner/Hulk. Before this movie, I had never paid to see a movie more than once in the theater. This one got my money three weekends in a row. I could not get enough. There was action, adventure, humor, and it was larger than life!
This year introduced us to the second round of Marvel films since Disney acquired the Marvel Studios. Loving Iron Man as I do, I had really high hopes for Iron Man 3, and I wasn’t disappointed. The film falls between 1 and 2 for me, but is definitely closer in quality to the first film than the second. I liked the humor and the action and Tony’s reaction to the events of the Avengers film. It is nice to know the man inside the machine is still human and has feelings.
That brings us to tonight’s viewing, Thor: The Dark World. I didn’t realize there was going to be as much sci-fi/fantasy (I feel there was way more than the first one), but still really liked it. I laughed out loud (literally) at several points in the movie, but, like Captain America and the Avengers, it also made me cry. I saw some things telegraphed before they occurred, others, not so much. As a whole, it was a very enjoyable film, which I will definitely be adding to my collection. Plus, Tom Hiddleston as Loki is hilarious, and there is a cameo that had me clapping and laughing so hard, I was glad the theater was almost empty.
From here, what’s next you ask? The next date to remember is 4/4/14 when Captain America: The Winter Soldier is released and man does it look good. It will be interesting to see more introspection from Cap on the happenings of the Avengers and also being displaced in time. This reminds me I also need to watch the short on the Iron Man 3 Blu Ray of Agent Carter. Speaking of agents, I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful Son of Coul, Agent Phil Coulson (his first name is not Agent despite Tony Stark’s insistence). I am really liking the new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv series on ABC. It is a nice combination of superhero/sci-fi/spy genres.
So, as far as my collection of movies goes at this point in time, I currently own the first three X-Men films, all three Iron Man movies, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers. I will definitely be adding Thor 2 to that list when it comes out ostensibly in the spring. I am already counting down the days til we get the next Captain America film, but in the meantime, make sure you check out the latest trailer.
Have you seen any or all of the Marvel films I mentioned? What are your favorites so far? Who is your favorite character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Who would you like to be? I wouldn’t mind growing up to be a kick ass babe like Sith from Thor, or Agent Romanov aka Black Widow.