Posts Tagged ‘Nick Fury’

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is perhaps the perfect example of why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is and will continue to be a successful franchise. It is distinct from other branches of the MCU in that it is a political thriller. It does not simply try to imitate, borrow from, or nod to political thrillers. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is first and foremost a political thriller, a political thriller that just happens to take place in the Marvel Universe/star Captain America.

There’s not a lot I can say without spoilers, but Winter Soldier, being the genre it is, is filled with twists and turns, secrets, vast wide ranging conspiracies, and moments where you generally wonder who to trust. Cap/Steve Roger’s idealism is confronted with harsh modern political realities and current issues of surveillance, privacy, and preemptive strikes. Cap is not naive, acknowledging times in the past where he’s compromised/had his hands dirty, but still sticks to his ideals.

Robert Redford, veteran of the aforementioned films that inspired this piece appears as a SHIELD higher up, and we get some background on this history of SHIELD and Nick Fury.

Black Widow returns, and her relationship with Cap doesn’t go the route you might expect, but they play off each other fantastically, and it was funny to see her constantly suggesting different girls Cap could date.

The opening scene has Steve meeting Sam Wilson/the Falcon by chance, which felt very organic as opposed to him being assigned to Cap or something like that. There’s a neat scene where Sam suggests some music for Steve to listen to. Rogers pulls out a notebook and adds the suggestion to a list. I couldn’t catch anything on the list but it had a bunch of stuff like the band Nirvana, and much to my amusement, Rocky, followed by Rocky II with a question mark. Star Wars was also on the list, which you could argue eliminates the possibility of a Star Wars/MCU crossover, as Star Wars is now established as fiction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But either way if Disney wants to cross those properties over someday they will.

Not forgetting that this is a sequel, characters and locations from the first movie appear, some of which I never expected, one of which was truly amazing. There’s a Smithsonian exhibit on Captain America in which we see pictures of characters from the last movie, and the Howling Commandos are named specifically. (In the first movie they never said the words Howling Commandos but they were in there.) The exhibit later has a role in the plot, and also leads to a good Stan Lee Cameo.

A vast far reaching and decades long conspiracy is revealed (which also related to a certain Marvel characters parents) which has some shock value. It would have been more shocking had this been revealed a few films deeper into the MCU. However that’s probably not a fair complaint, as this is just what we have to work with and it’s effective anyway.

SHIELD main headquarters, the Triskelion, is revealed to be this huge building in Washington DC, which I guess means that the existence of SHIELD is public knowledge in the MCU. I’d often wondered about that previously. Logistically I wonder where it fits as the CIA is also known to exist in this world. However members of the SHIELD security council are revealed to be from various countries, so I presume it’s an international intelligence agency. Still I’d like a little clarity on how SHIELD differs from the CIA, MI-6, etc.

The fight scenes are fantastic, the opening action scene resembling the Captain America video game. Rogers has perfect command of his shield, always knowing where to throw it/when to catch it etc. UFC fighter George Saint Pierre plays a villain who fights Cap in this sequence. It was great watching one of the greatest fighters in real life face off against one of the greatest fighters in fiction. If anything disappointed me about this film it’s that GSP’s part was only minor. However there really wasn’t much room for him anyway, so here’s to sequels.

CGI is only used when needed. The shot of the boat in the beginning and some of the building shots were obviously CGI that I think won’t age well over time, but the rest of it looked good. There’s a few things you can nitpick toward the end. At one point the villain does something to gain the upper hand but you wonder why that action wasn’t taken sooner, but events turn again so the point becomes moot. Also, obviously I know what kind of movies these are, but honestly it is a little unbelievable that Cap doesn’t die in the end.

Like Thor: The Dark World, there is a mid credit scene hinting at what’s ahead that reveals new characters, and an end credit scene that relates to this specific film. It seems Phase Two of the MCU has a new formula for post credit scene.

In closing, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: is in fact the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.

Advertisements

I was going to do before, but changed my mind for some reason, but then decided to just go ahead. This is my personal ranking of the films from Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let me say upfront that I did enjoy all of the movies; there aren’t any of them that I disliked. Here goes.

6 Iron Man 2.

The least critically acclaimed of the 6, but amusingly enough the second most successful behind Avengers. While some complained it was just an advertisement for the Avengers, I thought Black Widow fit in just fine, and the meeting about the Avengers Initiative was the last scene/happened after the main narrative anyway.

To me the weakness of this movie was its climax. Iron Man and War Machine spend a lot of film time fighting mindless drones, but the main villain Whiplash is defeated quickly (after almost beating them for a few seconds at least). Also I didn’t like Pepper Potts stepping down as the CEO of Stark Industries. Putting her there was a gutsy move and would have fit for the narrative of Avengers, but instead things went back to the status quo, which is itself a common criticism of the comic book world.

Still Mickey Rourke made a fantastic villain and it was still a fun movie overall.

5 Hulk

Not much to say about Hulk. Good chase scene movie. Gutsy move to not really focus on origin, although that could be partly because this was sort of a reboot. Nice cameo from Tony Stark to cement that this is a shared universe, along with the vague Captain America references. Can’t quite put my finger on why this doesn’t rank higher, it should.

4 Avengers

“OH MY GOD AVENGERS WAS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER!!!!” Well…no. Avengers was an incredible achievement in filmmaking, and it did have a lot on its plate. All the other movies did a great job of explaining who everyone was and things seemed to make sense. During the first 20 minutes of this I actually thought “Uh oh this might not be a good movie,” but it was. Still I wondered at one point how Thor knew what he did. No one wondered why Loki didn’t run away while Iron Man fought Thor. The helicarrier scene had a lot going on and I felt at first they kind of forgot about the bad soldiers that were, you know, invading the helicarrier. Plus during that sequence it was really hard to believe that Iron Man didn’t die or at least pass out from what he did.

Still this movie was spot on with character beats. It definitely captured that sense of overwhelming odds in the third act, and the falling action/denouement is one of the best on film.

3 Captain America

Great period piece action and great introduction to Steve Rogers in the first act before he becomes the Super Solider. It also captures the tragedy of the man lost out of time. However I must confess I was one of those people that didn’t like the downplaying of the Nazis. I don’t object to the presence of Hydra, that was a nice touch actually. It was just too much for me to believe that Hitler would have allowed the Red Skull to do his own thing. Dictatorships don’t work like that. You either fall in with the party line or you’re dead. They tried in one scene to justify/explain this but I still didn’t buy it. Otherwise this was a great movie that I might have put at #2.

2 Thor

Although much more predictable than Captain America, it’s done well enough that you don’t mind. Out of all the movies, it is Thor that goes though the strongest transformation during the course of his arc. Plus Asgard and the Destroyer look amazing, it has good action and humor beats. (Thor in the pet store is classic) You can pretty much guess everything that’s going to happen but with all these elements it works.

1 Iron Man

Phase One peaks out at its first movie with a perfect introduction to the new film universe and the man that is Tony Stark. Second only to Thor in the strength of its character arc, (Though in Tony’s defense his arc continues through IM2 and Avengers) we get the rotten scoundrel that is Tony Stark transformed during a near fatal incident, and alone tries to right his past wrongs. The humor, action, and character beats are pitch perfect. That and “Just call us SHIELD made me giddy.

Not to mention it has the best Phase One post title sequence, admittedly partly because it had the luxury of being first/you didn’t know to expect it. Think back to early 2008. There were rumors/hopes that an Avengers movie would come someday, but nothing definite.

Then all of a sudden, if you happen to stay after the credits for some reason, there’s this extra scene. Tony comes home, and Samuel L. Jackson is in his house! Who the hell is he, Nick Fury! “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative” is one of the most shocking moments in nerd history. It’s this generations “I am your Father.”

So there we have it. Now on to Phase Two!