Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Why is he the winter soldier it isn't winter.
"In heroes we trust."

Hello everyone, welcome back to The Tagline! Today at last I have a movie for you that I actually got to see in a real life movie theater. That's right, today we're talking about the latest addition to the Marvel movie canon: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Featuring prominently in this film we of course have the incomparable Chris Evans as the Cap himself, and also Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill. Joining the main cast is Anthony Mackie as Falcon, who in this incarnation is a soldier trained to be an expert with a winged jet propulsion system  and two machine pistols, which is undeniably badass. Winter Soldier starts with Captain America struggling to find his place in the present day, as an operative working for the S.T.R.I.K.E. team which is nominally a rapid response arm of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's really rapid with Cap sprinting around beating the ever loving crap out of every bad guy he comes across. One thing that was immediately apparent while I was watching the movie was that the director choreographed some seriously intense, no bullshit hand to hand. A lot of the people being beaten down are just regular folks, maybe they have military backgrounds, but they look pretty pathetic when the Cap is punting them across a ship deck three at a time as he dashes past them to more important things. That being said, there is still a noticeable drop off in power level from The Avengers, and even as compared to Thor 2 or Iron Man 3. You have to understand that while Captain America is superhuman, he has a really good shield, not a garage full of robot suits, or a hammer that shoots lightning. He also can't turn into a giant green rage monster.

I'd really like that winged jetpack.
Which is just absolutely not to say that this movie is not really intense, or that it isn't exciting. It absolutely is, but it's a really different kind of movie than a lot of the other Marvel superhero films. Really it is very different than the first Captain America movie even. The producer described the film as a kind of political thriller, disguised as a superhero movie, and I think that's a pretty apt description of it. While there are heroes and villains aplenty, and lots of black box technology juxtaposed with the more mundane aspects of modern society, a lot of the action is focused around fighting a shadowy enemy that has claimed legitimacy for itself, and made outlaws of the heroes. This isn't the sort of foe you can fight out in the open, and so there is a fair amount of intrigue, evading capture, and careful planning in this film, rather than the straightforward city block destruction featured in say The Avengers. It honestly makes for a really interesting movie, and is one of the things I like about Captain America. He might be a total badass, but he's caught in a field of even bigger badasses, but he's still ready to fight the good fight, even if it's getting harder and harder to figure out exactly where that fight is. Even more so we see the all too human limitations of Black Widow and Nick Fury, who at the end of the day are just really well trained people with cool gadgets and years of experience to draw on.

Metal arms really are an unfair advantage.
I briefly mentioned above that there is some really visceral and brutal looking fight choreography, and that same gravitas carries through the whole movie. Unusual for today perhaps, the directors approached the film with a desire to limit the use of special effects where they could. To that end, when they could build it they did, and when a person could perform a stunt instead of them fixing it in post, they did that too. Overall this makes the movie feel more real, which is an important thing when you have flying mega-carriers and a guy with a robot arm fighting a dude with a shield that comes back after he throws it. The movie is serious, and people get really hurt. lots of people get really hurt. A bunch are just plain shot with guns. Others are essentially beaten to death. Also substantial amounts of damage are caused to D.C. thanks to falling debris. Oops.

Cap might be gettin' in a fist fight with Hawkeye.
Don't take this as meaning that Winter Soldier is all doom and gloom. It's only MOSTLY doom and gloom. The directors are the guys who brought us Arrested Development AND Community, so there's a fair bit of humor slid in on the sly between life or death struggles. Apparently a lot of the dialogue in scenes between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson were written by them which explains why their scenes have a very natural quality to them. I like to have a little humor with my worldshaking revelations about enemies we thought were left dead in the past, and people being shot to death with heavy duty anti-personnel weapons. Also look out for a wide universe of memes going Hail Hydra now, it's the IN thing to do. It was also super weird to watch a superhero movie with Robert Redford in it. We are truly living in a different age.

Proof that we live in the future.
As a final aside, Emily VanCamp appears as Agent 13/Sharon Carter, and I know she's like on Revenge and I'm supposed to take her seriously as this ass kicker, but I just can't forget her as dopey teen girl on Everwood. Now I've admitted that I know what Everwood is this is AWKWARD. Not as awkward as Emily VanCamp dating Chris Pratt while she was on the show though. He played her older brother for god's sake, gross!

That's all for today! Join me again on Thursday, when I review the Veronica Mars movie, and try not to fanboy too hard over Kristen Bell, and fail.

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