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Out of 10: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

An MCU Review (On your left!)

By Conor HuftonPublished 6 years ago 5 min read
Great. Now I know Captain America wears a costume and stands near people. Thanks for ruining it for me, poster. 

Second of the Captain America Films—or last if you count Civil War as Avengers 3...or Iron man 4. That comment wasn’t even funny the first time, apologies. Cap, Black Widow, and allies react to the compromising of SHIELD, though it takes about two hours for that plot to surface. JOKING!

You probably didn't get it anyway, Cap.

Oh he did. Damn

This MCU entry uses an intriguing, layered espionage thriller tone. One real praiseworthy element is the almost sustained sense of tension. There are several brilliantly constructed expectation subversion scenes that keep the question of victory valid till the end. This might have been reduced if they insisted on more humour, but the writers wisely restrained themselves. Clearly I’m not against forced humour—OH BY THE WAY, DID YOU HEAR THAT JOKE THAT’S IRRELEVANT TO THIS—but in a film with such an effortless aura of danger and subtle darkness, it would be detrimental. That being said, what humour can be found is welcome, delivered naturally, and humanises characters who are difficult to explicitly relate with. I mean, I can fully relate to jumping from a plane into water then taking out pirates with a shield. However, as I said to Captain America, ‘Not all people are like us Steve. This film based on your life that’s coming out needs more lightness for relatability.’ Anyone who enjoys the subtleties of the script, you’re welcome. I also liked them.

See? He copied me.

I use a post-it note marked 'shield' he's inspired to use an actual shield but somehow I'm not the cool one? No justice in that story.

I know Cap is old, but how do you know that wasn't taken pre WWII? Ah, coloured photo scarcity. Good point.

One natural feeling exchange has Black Widow reveal a bullet wound she claims stops her wearing bikinis. Cap dryly responds ‘Yeah I bet you look terrible in them now.’ A hint of real-world commentary in one of the (very relatively speaking) realistic MCU films is fitting. A slight blemish on an attractive person doesn't reduce their attractiveness like Hollywood films imply. Even Cap, an outsider, can slyly address that adding a small scar to Scarlett Johansson doesn’t suddenly change the fact it’s Scarlett Johansson.

Though, she doesn't really have a bullet wound.

Just to prove that I'm not lying about the dialogue for some reason.

Or does she? I’ll check. If I’m found viewing pictures of her in a bikini, I promise it was research. Let’s leave that there. Oh, also, she has a nice voice *ticks item of review checklist*

Speaking of her, while not her first portrayal of Black Widow, this is the most relevant and developed the character’s felt by this stage. Her former KGB connections are respectfully addressed for motivation, her fight style is fluid, and her use of pistols are creatively filmed without indulgent flourish. Respect is deserved for not only making her attractiveness circumstantial rather than giving gratuitous reminders, but for also making a simple shot of her popping bubble-gum an incredibly crucial plot point. I defy you to name one other film that does—and then I defy you to name…30 other films that do. See? It's unique.

The aforementioned creative gunfire filming: A brilliant shot (Like shot with the gun but also the camera—wasn't intentional. I'm genuinely guilty).

Soo Visceral. Anyone else check themselves for bullet holes? Oh, yeah..Me neither

Chris Evans’ Cap is well characterised as an evolving traditionalist with ideals, a personable nature, and a willingness to use brutality when necessary. His alienation is subtly displayed through a list he keeps of missed pop culture & events. The opening scene —which cleverly shows civilian life rather than an exuberant fight—cleverly normalises his abnormal speed and stamina. There is also a sense of subdued angst with many of his actions being self-destructive and his loneliness being casually addressed.

For Example...

Captain America: The Banter Soldier. Ok, this caption is forced humour. If the film had some, I wouldn't have bothered.

My previous Falcon insults aside, he’s genuinely well introduced and relevant here. He also brings general lightness that's been less evident since—Ant Man cameo notwithstanding. The first scene develops him with subtle detail and his past as a soldier results in compelling dialogue, resources, and subdued theatrics that result in brilliant suspense. The above mentioned intro scene that normalises Cap’s powers completely grounds Falcon (he.he.he). Falcon may be healthy but he’s clearly human, visibly fatigued, and plausibly swift.

Bless Him

Not from this film- but I'm determined to maintain this theme. Yes the famously strong running theme of saying 'Bless him' and then showing the same picture of Falcon. Everyone knows that theme.

Robert Redford plays a complex and intense part. He’s never shown with battle skills, which basically justifies The Winter Soldier’s presence, which is actually quite limited considering it’s named after him. The limitations of Winter Soldier’s appearances are wise, creative choices. It avoids reduction of impact and limited potential viewer sympathy like a larger role might have. In one scene, a villain cleverly avoids typical hubris type stupidity, refreshing after all the ones who’ve suffered from it.

Nick Fury is given a more layered and substantial role than usual. He constantly seems controlled and the manipulations and forward thinking required for a job like his are given engrossing exposure.

Cobie Smulders is a helpful agent who no unnecessary history or implausible competence is forced upon. She’s given a similar humanising lightness to other characters in spite of her more limited role.

Can't remember this shot, maybe from elsewhere, but it has the two faces of the aforementioned characters.

Kids, your Aunt Robin was a SHIELD Agent.

To viewers who dislike the MCU’s extravagance, there’s still potential for entertainment, as well as the energy and meticulous battle scene choreographing offered by superhero films. It displays detailed moral ambiguity discussion, engaging expectation subversion, three dimensional characters with an unburdened sense of tragedy, effective suspense, and natural, light-hearted intervention.

Now For the Rating

Winter Soldier gets more screen time on this gif than the film.

Since the cinema, I’ve only watched once. I actually chose this one expecting I’d enjoy it less after time and wouldn’t give a ridiculously high score. Didn’t work. I was seriously surprised with the quality. It’s an 8.5; enjoyable as Thor Ragnarok (for different reasons). Superior to Civil War by just half a score, mainly because characters are featured for plot necessity rather than fan service. The main issue is length. It occasionally causes danger to feel drained. Though redeemable, the story could have concluded in less time without suffering. There is also a fairly egregious case of plot armour, but again becomes more forgivable than usual since its use eventually results in some of the film’s most pressured sequences. There are some irritating, turbulent camera movements in a key fight scene, but there’s a chance it could have been intentional to reflect disorientation. Still, I’d have preferred steady camera movements being intentionally used to reflect steady camera movements, since said fight is extremely plot-crucial. I even said to Cap: 'Steve, people won't have been in as many fights as us. They'll need to be able to see everything.' For once, he didn't listen.

Next time: A Marvel film I hopefully don't also give a really high score to.


About the Creator

Conor Hufton

getting better at this writing thing (aka slowly learning the alphabet, learnt how to use pen). Spanning critical writing, fantasy, parody and sci-fi (ruining all of them in the process).

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