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Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Natasha Running
Captain America – the Winter Soldier


This was very enjoyable, at least in the first three quarters of the movie, where it balances action set pieces with conspiracy thriller and character development reasonably well. (Perhaps a little too heavy on the action set pieces, but that is a matter of taste.) It moves along at a great rate and there are a number of 'I wasn't expecting that!' moments as well as some decent one-liners. Evans, always good as Steve Rogers, has grown into the role of Captain America and has Cap's deadpan humour down pat.

Scarlett Johansson continues to impress as the Black Widow (solo movie! soon!) and Anthony Mackie is excellent as an Ultimates-influenced Falcon/Sam Wilson. Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier does fine when he is not asked to emote, at which point he gurns. I, personally, thought there was too much emphasis on Nick Fury as action hero, but then I find that a little Nick Fury goes a long way and, however big a name Samuel Jackson is, this is not his movie.

Unfortunately, where the movie is let down is in its final big set piece which is, to be frank, silly, illogical, unimaginative, boring and ignores the laws of physics.

On the whole, though, a big step up from both Iron Man 3 (it would be damn difficult to be a step down from that) and Thor: The Dark World Possibly the best movie in the series after Avengers/Avengers Assemble and Iron Man

This is the most political movie Marvel has made and this is not a bad thing. The McGuffin is basically a mixture of intelligence agency internet surveillance and the use of drones to pick off your enemies writ large. Even Nick Fury, an ambivalent figure in many comics canons, and one Tony Stark warned against – specially warned Steve against in Avengers -- has his doubts about this tech, which is why he shows it to Steve, who is set against it. Captain America has always been the most moral character in Marvel comics, and his opposition makes it clear where the movie, and Marvel, stands. Anyone familiar with comics' canon and the earlier movies should not be inclined to trust SHIELD and the script contains elements of 'Secret Wars' as well as the 'Winter Soldier' arc and echoes of all the many stories where Cap was pitched against the US government. (The theme reminded me strongly of elements in Johns' Red Zone.

'Who do you trust?' is also a major theme in the character-driven parts of the plot, along with friendship and its duties and pains. In fact, in many ways the least convincing friendship is that between Steve and Bucky, when for the first time the characters are close to being on equal physical terms, while the trio of Steve, Sam and Natasha represent different speeds and aspects of friendship.

I like teams. I like lots of character interaction. I like one-liners. This is very much a team movie, as it should be because Captain America, in comics canon (at least in 616 and this Cap is much closer in character to 616 Cap rather than the highly dislikeable Ultimates version) does not like working alone. So this movie suited me down to the ground.

Nice switcheroo with the World Security Council being the good guys in this case. Redford turned on the charm was obviously enjoying playing against type.

Zola's appearance on the computer was another 'Didn't expect that!' moment, as was the revelation that Hydra had been running SHIELD all along (and we need to re-evaluate everything except CA:tFA.) So was Sitwell's treachery – I was very fond of Jasper back in the old Steranko days.

Was Batroc's involvement just left hanging, or did I miss something?

Would filmmakers stop bigging up standard disarm-the-bomb scenarios? This one was the biggest yet and atrocious. Who builds a system without a fail-safe? Any system could be subverted and had anyone in SHIELD/Hydra checked that this one hadn't been? I could go on for a long time about the ridiculous design of the area where the chips were placed – why? Who in their right mind would design it like that? Why only three chips? Who'd designed the replacement chips, how had they known, why hadn't they been massively duplicated and, above all, why did they exist at all? How come the helicarriers fell into the Potomac and only hit the Triskelion on land? Did they have homing devices in case they fell out of the sky? Does no one at Marvel realise that they would actually do more damage falling into the Potomac than if they hit the streets? And on and on and on. Just like this sequence.

I have never been one of Bucky's fans. I didn't like him in the comics and I found the revamped MCU version too much of a 'Jock' for my personal taste. This movie did not change my mind. On the other hand, I have never been one of Sharon Carter's fans either, but I did immediately warm to Emily VanCamp's version.

Finally, I am grateful for the illustration of why secondary canon (deleted scenes, tie-in comics, odds and sods included in box sets and, for my sanity 'Agents of SHIELD') needs to treated with extreme caution because, in one tiny flashback scene the whole 'Steve's mother died when he was very small, he went to a Catholic orphanage where he was bullied but protected by Bucky' backstory as detailed in the Captain America: the First Avenger tie-in comic was cancelled and overwritten. As this trope has been annoying me in fan fiction for some time, I was overjoyed to see it go. I am also happy to lose (apparently, because you can never be sure with Natasha) the Bucky/Natasha backstory!

Four out of five stars.

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Just wondering how all this is going to affect Agents of Shield, which I have managed to catch for the last three weeks, though I'm still not convinced...

There has been much amused speculation on Tumblr. Is it going to re-titled 'Formally Agents of SHIELD' or 'No Longer Agents of SHIELD' or 'Are We All That is Left of SHIELD?'? Apparently (I haven't been watching) we are a couple of weeks behind the States, and last episodes have been a sort of pre-tie in to 'CA:TWS' leading to all sorts of completely wrong speculation as to who were the traitors inside SHIELD, that some of the AoS cast would play a part, and that the organisation behind the traitors would be... Caterpillar.

Another alternative title might be, I suppose, "Ex-agents of Hydra."

Oh, the possibilities...

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