Well, The Winter Soldier finally came out on Bluray so it’s time to take a look at the film. To be honest, I’d heard a lot of really good things about it and a lot of not-so-good things so I really didn’t know what to expect. What I was looking forward to most was putting the events on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in context. Having watched a large portion of the first season that was based on events in this film, without having seen the film, built up a lot of expectations. So let’s see if those expectations were warranted as I take a look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
I’m not really going to go into the plot. As with all of these belated reviews, anyone who wants to see these movies already has and the people who haven’t, aren’t really that interested and won’t be reading my review.
To be honest, after all the hype on the TV show, I just expected more from the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. than we got in this movie. I expected an epic struggle, not two guys taking down three advanced helicarriers by switching out memory cards. Besides, how did that “take down S.H.I.E.L.D.”? It was really built up into something that it wasn’t.
I’ll also say that I wasn’t impressed with the Winter Soldier. Sure, having Bucky come back could have been great but since he had amnesia the whole time, it really didn’t matter who it was, seeing Cap never triggered his memories or anything else. It was, at best, a set-up for a later movie and that was a waste. They could have just had a generic baddie and not bothered bringing back Bucky at all.
Style-wise, it was a little darker but not absurdly so, I can understand that Cap is a bit disillusioned with the modern world and with the direction of S.H.I.E.L.D., after all, it’s starting to look a little bit like S.W.O.R.D., a counterpart organization in the Marvel Universe that is much more aggressive and offensive. S.H.I.E.L.D. is supposed to defend, not attack and I really don’t buy Nick Fury promoting such a direction.
But let’s talk about Nick Fury and his death for a moment. There was no build-up, all of a sudden, Hydra wanted him dead but they’re really pretty bad at it. If Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. at all levels, they ought to have access to some pretty basic information, including the fact that Fury is driving an armed and armored vehicle. They probably ought to also have the override codes for the computer. The running battle through Cleveland, while visually interesting, really made no sense and then having Fury take a shotgun volley to the chest and “die” made no sense either. Body armor anyone? Seriously? And again, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made a big deal about Nick Fury being dead, like his reappearance in the show was a real shocker that he wasn’t really dead. It wasn’t. In fact, Nick’s “death” lasted maybe 30 minutes in the movie. Sorry, not impressed.
Now all of this might sound like I didn’t like the movie and that’s wrong, I really did enjoy it, I was just expecting a lot more than I actually got. The fight scenes were great, the characters were wonderful, I really, really liked Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, I want to see more of him. I’d also like to see Frank Grillo become Crossbones, they made him the character, without the costume, let’s see it go all the way. As a straight action/adventure piece, Captain America: The Winter Solder did a fine job. I just think it could have done without the Winter Soldier. The movie suffered from “sequel-itis”. Not only did they have to find a way to explain the backstory, which I hate, that’s all supposed to be done and over with in the first movie, they had to throw in a lot of extraneous nonsense to make it more “exciting”. Just tell a good story! You don’t need extra characters! I even question whether having Falcon and Black Widow in the movie were necessary. At least they didn’t have multiple costumed bad guys like most movies do. One is enough. Focus your story and do it well. Being clumsy is the downfall of so many sequels and while I don’t think this one was as bad, it was certainly headed in that direction.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was good. It was very good. It just didn’t approach greatness and for all the build-up, I really didn’t have my socks blown off by what ended up on screen. I even watched it twice, back-to-back, once with commentary and once without, just to see what the Russos said about the making of the film. Granted, Captain America is far from my favorite Marvel hero, but if he can’t carry a movie with his own name in the title, maybe they shouldn’t be making Captain America movies. Or Thor movies. Or Hulk Movies. Or anything else. You don’t have to keep upping the ante every film, you just have to make good movies.
I wish Marvel did more of that.