Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

06April2014 [movies]
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The best of the Marvel movies yet

We’ll know for sure when we see how it flows through to Agents of SHIELD, but it looks like CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is the first of the Marvel movies to really change the status quo in their shared universe.

And that’s a big step up, and a big part of what makes this the best of any of the Marvel movies yet. The first round of movies focussed just on introducing their characters, and did so with flair but very simple storylines; AVENGERS went big, but for all the destruction wrought, like most comics stories there was little sense of its impact on the world. Now that we’re in the second round of movies, the creators seem more comfortable telling stronger stories, and referencing more of the world without having to explain all the details. And Agents of SHIELD has been slowly exploring the rest of the world beyond the superheroes, and expanding on the SHIELD mythos.

But WINTER SOLDIER really upturned a lot of the simple mythos that had been established in the movies. Its twists are unsurprising to anyone familiar with the tangled back-and-forth of the comics world, but I was still surprised to see them writ large, and with such pointed satire. The movie’s full of comments on the world’s intelligence apparatus, on the rise of the surveillance state, and the removal of freedoms that brings.

Plus it’s just a fun movie. It plays with the tropes of spy thrillers and of superhero action. It makes Cap a character actually worth caring about. And it elevates Black Widow to so much more than eye candy; Scarlett Johansson’s performance is a tour de force, her character finally rounding out beyond the hints of a mysterious past, becoming a spy-action-hero that stands up to the powered heroes and villains around her, and is often the smartest and always the wittiest in the room. And it introduces the Falcon, a hero who’s inherently pretty lame, and could just be a token black dude, but is filled out and full of heart. It’s a movie that’s about much more than just Cap, and in that is a peak example of what the Marvel world is capable of.

WINTER SOLDIER is full of teases for more of what’s happening in the rest of that world, some explicit and others less so. There’s the necessary credits scene to introduce the next AVENGERS. But I really hope we get to see more of Black Widow, and the cute closeup on her purple high-top sneakers, clearly matching Hawkeye’s, has me (probably over-) optimistic we get to see Natasha and Clint team up soon.

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