Dee Discusses: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Posted: June 6, 2014 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Movies, New Movies, Reviews
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There will be spoilers in here. Obviously.

Back in Ye Olde Days I did a review of Captain America: The First Avenger as part of my preparation for The Avengers. I talked about how I was biased toward the movie because of how much I love Steve Rogers as a character and how I relate strongly to him. At least his health issues part, but I have a lot of affection for him. Since I’m a comic book reader I knew what to expect about the Winter Soldier, and they didn’t exactly try to hide the fact that Sebastian Stan was back as Bucky Barnes. He did all the interviews, he was in the trailer, so it wasn’t supposed to be a surprise. Here’s the truth, I was unhappy that Bucky came back in the comics. Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes were supposed to stay dead, for a long time everyone said they were two characters who would never come back. Their death served a huge purpose for their mentors and altered how they viewed the world. And around the same time the two characters came back. I was displeased. I’ve come around in a reluctant way, because as everyone knows the Winter Soldier plotline ended up being fantastic. He’s utilized great in the Marvel world right now. At the end of the day I think it was acceptable mostly because of how well it was written. Anyway, I’m glad that by now my dislike of the resurrection was past, because I was glad to see Bucky in the movie. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years after The Avengers. If you were hoping for some kind of mention of what happened in Iron Man 3 or Thor 2, you’d probably be disappointed. They just kept on rolling with each character being separated and that’s how it is, get used to it. They’ll be back together for Avengers 2. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) joined SHIELD, partly because he knew Howard and Peggy created it, but he’s losing sight of what his purpose is. He’s going through the motions, but he doesn’t have a personal life, and he is finding it near impossible to settle in to his new life. He meets Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), an army vet who runs therapy groups at the vet center. He’s the first person we see in the movie as he has a meet-cute with Cap while they’re out running. We see Steve painfully reunite with Peggy (Hayley Atwell), only to find out she suffers from Alzheimer’s and forgets he is alive again after a sweet conversation. Ouch. He’s been partnering with Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) regularly, and they start out on a strange mission. Strange only because a group of pirates have taken a SHIELD ship, and Steve’s not too impressed with Fury keeping more and more secrets. He’s a spy, dude, when are you going to get that? We meet Agent Rumlow (Frank Grillo) who has been working regularly with them. Natasha seems determined to set Steve up on a date, making witty banter while they take down various pirates. They win, although Steve gets irritated when he sees Natasha had a plan of her own, to get intel out of the ship. You’re working with spies, Steve! That’s how it goes.

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Frustrated he tells Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) he needs to know information about his missions, he needs to be trusted. Fury takes him to a secure level to show these ginormous helicarriers. The idea is it will be lethal and take out threats before they’re threats. Oh yeah, like that can’t possibly go wrong. Steve rightly points out how paranoid and dangerous this is, but Fury’s all like ends justify the means. Fury meets with Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), an old friend of his who sits on the council that controls SHIELD. He tells him that he wants to pause Project Insight due to new information, because the drive Natasha got from SHIELD isn’t letting him into it. Driving out, he calls Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) and then gets brutally attacked. He only barely manages to escape and sees a shadowy assassin with a metal arm. He shows up at Steve’s place, where he attempts to flirt with a pretty neighbor, and tells him not to trust anyone. SHIELD is compromised. He is suddenly shot by the same assassin and gives Steve the flash drive. The neighbor turns out to be Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Agent 13, and she’s been spying on Steve. While she takes Fury, Steve chases the assassin. He does not recognize him at this point because he has raccoon eyeshadow and something covering his face. He surprises Steve by catching his shield and throwing it back hard enough to hurt him. Hmmm!

Fury dies on the table with Hill, Steve, and Natasha in attendance. He hides the flash drive at the hospital when he’s called back to SHIELD, and Pierce confronts him about keeping secrets. While trying to leave, he’s attacked by SHIELD, including Agent Rumlow. He manages to escape after fighting off several guards in the elevator, and then jumping out of the glass elevator to the ground below. Pretty damn impressive. He is now on the run, and Natasha soon joins him, having found the flash drive herself. She finally names the assassin as the Winter Soldier, who once shot her and he is considered a ghost. They go undercover, and you would’ve thought that SHIELD taught Steve how to do that better, since he seems nervous the whole time. They find out that the flash drive can’t be encrypted, but the source is to the place that Steve was trained before becoming a Super Soldier. Coincide? NOPE. Armin Zola (Toby Jones) shows up, because while he was dying he made himself part of the computer program. He reveals Hydra has infiltrated SHIELD all this time and Hydra is actually in control. WHOOPS. Steve is actually sort of relieved to hear that; he knows how to fight Hydra at least. They are nearly killed while there, and they hide out with Sam. Alexander Pierce is proven to be the mind behind all of it, a Hydra leader who has the Winter Soldier under his command.

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Sam shows that he used to fly with these special army wings, thus introducing the Falcon to MCU. Yay! They kidnap Agent Sitwell who they recognize as Hydra now. He reveals that Project Insight is targeting all the people who are threats to SHIELD, like Cap and Natasha, and there’s an easter egg with a reference to Doctor Strange here. Oooo. On the way to SHIELD, the Winter Soldier attacks, and Steve finally sees that he is his old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Brainwashed by Hydra all these years and given a metal arm since he lost his in the fall from the train. While people point out he might not be able to be saved, Steve refuses to give up on him. We get a very sweet flashback of the two, reminding us how close they were. Hill saves them after they are captured by SHIELD and they find out Fury was alive. He agrees reluctantly with Steve that they have to destroy SHIELD too; it’s been too far compromised. The team go on a mission to stop the helicarriers from completing their mission, while Steve also has to deal with the Winter Soldier and decide if he’s able to save his best friend or not. The end sequence is fantastic and highly recommended to see for yourself. Basically the end result is they save the day, but SHIELD is done. Natasha sets loose all the information they had, including her own checkered past, and it’s a brand new day. Where they go from here? We’ll have to see.

There are two end credits, although I feel like they should’ve been swapped. The last one isn’t all that interesting, although the middle one nicely sets up Avengers 2. Cap 2 has been widely acclaimed and both critics and audiences loved it. It’s a spy thriller, very tightly plotted out, and with excellent character arcs for everyone in it. Steve, Natasha, Sam, even Fury and Hill. The latter two showed up on Agents of SHIELD for more aftermath from the movie. I think this movie was excellent in every possible way. Story, character, dialogue, action sequences, the continuation of the Marvel Universe, and it’s a personal film. It’s a journey for Steve, and it was very bold to destroy SHIELD. It’s been such a strong presence for decades, and reliable in the world itself, so to find out it’s all been a sham and rock the world as we know it, that takes gumption. I love that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has such a clear plan. It’s incredible to see a company like that seeing so far in the future, mapping everything out for a greater story arc. This movie was especially satisfying for me because of my deep love for Steve Rogers. I like how much we see him struggle, because as a man out of time, he doesn’t know who he is really. He’s lost everything he cares about. He can’t even really believe in the mission, until Hydra comes into it. I think the inclusion of Sam Wilson as a character was A+++ because he’s such a good stable force in the film. Plus hilarious. Natasha’s journey was great too,  now she’s public! What does that mean for her? I loved her friendship with Steve. The movie managed to give all of them very nice moments together, on top of being full of action. The sequence with Fury’s car might’ve been my favorite, I’ll be honest. It was incredibly tense. I feel like Robert Redford joined the cast because of the script. He’s notoriously picky and he wouldn’t put his name on top of a movie he didn’t think was excellent and interesting.

All in all, this ranks up high on my MCU list. I think it is only just under The Avengers. I can’t see how anything will top that movie for me, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier came very close. It is smart, intense, occasionally funny, emotional, and it impacts the entire universe it inhabits. We’re going to see the ripple effects of this story through all the other films, and I love that element. I honestly have no bad things to say about it. Everything in this movie worked for me. I look forward to the next film Guardians of the Galaxy, which should be a hilarious space romp.

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