Debuting back in April to rave reviews, Captain America: The Winter Soldier wowed critics, fans and general audiences alike, with many citing it as one of the best superhero movies ever made. Boasting a new suit, a stronger script and unlikely directors, it proved to be more than just another cog in the hugely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The action was incredible, the cast was phenomenal, and Chris Evans delivered his best performance yet. “Hail Hydra” even became the world’s favourite catchphrase for a little while! But what made the movie such a success? And is it as good as comic-book fans seem to believe? This is the first of four articles looking at the big CBMs from 2014, looking further into detail at what went right – and which elements failed.
So scroll down to read some of the key talking points from the Russo Bros’ stellar sequel…
A Political Thriller
“Don’t… trust… anyone…” – Nick Fury
This is a political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie – with enough twists, tension and trust issues to make Homeland jealous. Famous for diversifying their plots above and beyond that of a ‘standard superhero affair’, Marvel delivered their most intelligent script yet with this film. On-going questions throughout the movie about the ethics of SHIELD and the underlying conspiracy only helped to strengthen the tone.
Despite its entertainment value, this film’s weakest section ended up being its big finale. A more low-key conclusion may have been closer in-line with the rest of the story’s suspense and intrigue. The film’s highlight was arguably the Winter Soldier’s assassination of Nick Fury – a fantastic scene that could easily have fit in a Bourne movie. On top of all this, add in Robert Redford and you have all the key elements for a classic thriller.
“I know I’m asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay.” – Steve Rogers
The Winter Soldier’s most interesting character was always going to be its lead. Captain America claimed all of the best lines – from inspirational speeches, to witty one-liners – to his emotional final confrontation with his former best friend. Whether it’s through his kick-ass action scenes or his hilarious interplay with both Black Widow and the Falcon, Cap steals the show here.
Since he first stepped into the role in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Chris Evans has achieved wonders. He has revolutionised the public’s perception of Steve Rogers – from an overly patriotic boy scout to many people’s favourite Avenger. Here he puts in his best performance yet. He’s brave, honest and most importantly: “a good man” – all vitality important qualities and characteristics for a likeable lead character.
“Hail…. Hydra.” – Alexander Pierce
The big talking point coming away from this film was the fall of SHIELD – and the subsequent rise of their archenemy: Hydra. Revealed to have been ingrained within SHIELD’s system for over seventy years, they grew like a parasite, before finally coming to the fore here with devastating consequences. The twist was unexpected – and has repercussions on a universal scale – something no other Phase 2 movie has achieved.
Hydra’s presence here revolutionised the movie, turning things from ‘good’ to ‘great’. It was also nice to see them represented in a more dangerous manner than The First Avenger’s laser-touting cannon fodder. Elsewhere, Arnim Zola’s inclusion was perfect – a creepy and wonderfully inventive adaptation. And while it may have been cheesy, it also spawned a wonderfully addictive internet meme – which only made the concept better.
The Winter Soldier
“Then finish it. ‘Cause I’m with you ’til the end of the line.” – Steve Rogers
There were two sides to the Winter Soldier’s story-arc in this movie – one-part assassin, the other part fallen-comrade, Bucky Barnes’ conflicted dual role made him one of the better written villains in the MCU. While I personally believe Sebastian Stan’s acting was lacking a little, his character was undeniably engaging – whether as the brutal, mysterious ‘ghost’ who deals in destruction, or as Steve Rogers’ tragic former best friend.
Some may argue he was sidelined little, relegated to ‘henchman’ status. I felt this limited role suited the character perfectly – giving him greater effect when he was onscreen, and making you miss and fear him more when he wasn’t. I’d go so far as to call his part in this movie the ‘Darth Vader’ to Alexander Pierce’s ‘Emperor’. He played a key role in some of the movie’s best scenes – and nothing beats his emotional final encounter with Cap.
The Russo Brothers
“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” – Steve Rogers
Unfairly criticised by many when they were first handed the role, the Russos stunned everyone with their directorial efforts on this movie. Anybody who’s seen their work on either Community or Arrested Development will know they had the quality, but the manner in which they pulled off their first blockbuster was truly remarkable. They nailed the tone – balancing all of the action, drama and comedy without a hitch.
Indeed, the movie’s greatest achievement may have been its comedic moments. Subtle yet hilarious, the humour was spot-on – proving that comedy is perhaps best handled by comedic directors. They appear to have been justifiably rewarded for their work – as the first director(s) to have been re-hired by Marvel for another movie since Jon Favreau, way back with Iron Man. Bring on Civil War!
The Russo Bros delivered an entertaining yet thoughtful blockbuster sequel, backed by a talented cast and crew. Throw in big performances from Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, and we’re looking at one of the finest superhero and action movies of the year.
Result: “Very Good”
So anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this – and the movie of course. What did you think of The Winter Soldier? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you want to read my full review of the movie, check it out below…