Welcome to McKoo’s Movie Club! For more info on how it works, click here. The movie that we are discussing this week is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead, so please return after you’ve watched it if you haven’t yet.
Two years later, and I still think that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of Marvel’s best movies. While I enjoyed The First Avenger, as well as Cap’s scenes in Avengers, this was the movie that really cemented the cinematic success of the character in my eyes (as well as in the eyes of many other moviegoers and critics). While those previous two films portrayed him as a morally upright character, this movie puts those aspects to the test when his opponents aren’t Nazis or alien invaders, they are his own countrymen working for his government. Winter Soldier takes him beyond his “boy scout” role portrayed before and makes him more like Edward Snowden meets Jason Bourne. In doing so, Marvel also began a trend that continued with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man: mixing the superhero genre with other film genres (such as space opera and heist film) to diversify their movie offerings. Here, Winter Soldier combines a superhero movie with a political thriller.
The fact that this is a compelling action movie that stands up with some of the best action films becomes even more impressive when you consider that this is the first action movie and the first big-budget film directed by the brother duo Joe and Anthony Russo, who were previously known primarily for their work on TV comedies. Many people were skeptical when they were handed the keys to this movie, but after this success, they’ve also been hired to direct Civil War (which comes out today), as well as both parts of the upcoming Avenger: Infinity War.
The film also contains great acting all-around. As mentioned before, Captain America becomes an indispensable part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this film, and that is largely due to Chris Evans’ portrayal of the character. Once again, I thought he did well in First Avenger and Avengers, but I thought he gave a fairly replaceable performance (in other words, just about any good actor could have played the role, and I would have been fine with it). It’s in this movie that he seems to start finally making the role his own. Additionally, Samuel L. Jackson also delivers the best Nick Fury scenes to date. While he was relegated to the role of a talking head for most of his other scenes in previous Marvel films, the car chase scene involving Nick Fury toward the beginning of the film is arguably one of the best films in the movie. Also, for all of those who have been clamoring for a Black Widow solo film, this is the closest we’ve gotten so far, and what makes the character successful is once again the acting. Much like with Cap, I enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Widow in Iron Man 2 and Avengers, but I didn’t start to believe that she was a vital part of the character until this movie.
Being a fan of the comics, I loved the story of the film as it simultaneously took some cues from one of my favorite comic book storylines of all time (Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America) by bringing in characters like the Winter Soldier, but it also managed to keep me guessing. I loved the fact that this movie was able to successfully bring back Hydra, one of the best and most formidable terrorist cells in Marvel comics, and that it was able to do so while also providing social commentary on current events such as NSA surveillance. One of the most relevant lines from the film is delivered by Arnim Zola (whose presence in a computer was another great Easter Egg for comics fans) when he says “humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”
Lastly, as mentioned before, the action scenes in this movie are what makes it really shine. In my opinion, this is one of the best “one person awesomely beats up everyone he encounters” movie since The Bourne Ultimatum. Whether it’s the scene on the freighter, Lemurian Star, that starts the movie off, the scene on the causeway of Winter Soldier and Hydra versus Cap and company, or the final heart wrenching fight on the helicarriers, this movie is packed with amazing action.
So what are your thoughts on this movie? Please add to the discussion in the comments section below! And be sure to come back next week!