H:4 Although my problem with Captain America still holds true for this movie (he is just too perfect and has no character flaws, which makes for a pretty boring character) at least in this movie he has to grapple with new realizations: the organization and people that he trusted so completely and carried out all their orders had been infiltrated by his enemies. As he struggles with who to trust, it is the closest Cap has come in any of the Marvel movies to having character development.
V:4 One of the things the Russo brothers always do well are their villains. Thank goodness we got to enjoy a Marvel movie that didn’t have one generically evil man trying to kill everyone, but instead a generically evil organization trying to kill everyone! I’m kidding. In all honesty, having SHIELD itself essentially be the bad guy of this movie (plus a wonderful performance by Robert Redford) is what makes it work. It takes the superhero genre and adds just enough “conspiracy thriller” to make things interesting without veering too far off course. Now if only Redford hadn’t played yet another rich white guy…
U:5 It’s hard to describe what makes Winter Soldier so unique, but it is undeniable that everyone walking out of theaters when it was released felt that something had changed. Winter Solder marked a significant shift in the marvel universe. It complicated things, throwing out the accepted and comfortable “We are heroes and we work for this wonderful organization named SHIELD” default. Not to mention it’s Bourne-esque action sequences, Winter Soldier manages to feel distinct from, yet still remain close to, the rest of the MCU.
S:4 The secondary characters in Winter Soldier are pivotal. As we see Bucky struggling with remembering Steve we feel for him, and are so saddened when he is brainwashed again. We meet Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) for the first time, and can’t help but like Cap’s new right hand man. We watch in horror as Nick Furry dies, but aren’t even mad about it when we realize that Marvel tricked us all, because Samuel L Jackson’s performance makes us sympathize on a deeper level with the mysterious, secret-laden Furry, even if we don’t agree with his choices. And although Scarlett Johansen’s wig has never been worse, her portrayal of the Black Widow has perhaps never been better.
M:4 I have one word for you regarding memorable moments: elevator. That scene was one of the most iconic in Marvel’s history of fight scenes, and they didn’t even have to destroy a city to do it! “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” So boss! Add some hilarious cameos by a worker at the (not-so-subtle product placement) Apple Store, and you’ve some great moments. Sadly, although the climax with the heli-carriers was epic, it didn’t give quite enough grounded, gritty suspense as we’ve come to expect from Marvel.
Final Score: 21 – Mad props need to go to the Russo brothers for managing to get their two Marvel installments (Winter Soldier and Civil War) are the top two! This film manages to be heavy enough to stand on it’s own, yet light enough to not get bogged down in its own complex story. It is a movie that marked a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the audience realizes that there are actual consequences for heroes actions, and that the world is a far more complex place than just the good guys vs the bad guys. And while it may not be your personal favorite of Marvel’s many winning films, it’s undoubtedly one of the most finely crafted.