Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
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The Winter Soldier
Wonderfully directed by the Russo Brothers and masterfully written by Markus and McFeely, what else can I really say about the second Captain America movie that has not already been said by so many others? This film is by far one of the best the MCU has to offer, and for me, that's saying a lot, because I love almost all of the MCU movies. What really makes this film stand out above the rest, however, is its diversion from the intense science-fiction world that the MCU was at that time. This is a film grounded in as much realism as possible, and it truly benefits from it. Coming off the back of the pretty moderate Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier manages to be a change of pace that I believe that MCU needed in 2014.
Captain America is a character that has character development, but not in the same way as Tony or Thor. Those characters grow with each movie they are in. Events happen and their viewpoints change, which makes watching each film in the franchise so engaging. Captain America is a character who never really changes his views... and that's what makes him so great. In each movie he is in, Steve Rogers believes in trust, freedom, and doing the right thing. He has these views at the start of The First Avenger, and that film does a great job of showing the audience exactly what his views are. In The Winter Solider's case, Cap does not trust the government––and for good reason. Holding a gun up to everybody's head and calling it protection is something Cap does not believe in, and he has a point. Even when Cap is thrown into the modern world––a world he is not used to––his views stay consistent. This is what makes him such a great character.
Not only that, but the movie brings so much to the character. His relationship with Bucky––which was heavily showcased in his first solo film––is obviously important to him. Recognizing his friend doesn't recognize him is sad to see, having seen how close they are. The film does such a great job of handling this relationship while also making Bucky such an awesome and brutal villain. Moreover, Cap's friendship with Sam, which we see grow, also has a lot of heart, and it makes sense why they stayed so close and why Cap chose Sam to be the next wielder of the shield. The directors and the writers do such a great job with handling these relationships, as well as the idea of trust.
This film may just be the most brutal film the MCU has ever put out. Every punch, kick, stab, and bullet wound feels real––I can feel the impact when watching. This movie truly pushes the boundaries of the PG-13 rating. The amount of blood is surprising, the amount of action is enticing, and the choreography is intense. Cap's strength can be seen every time he kicks an enemy into a wall. Adding to the intensity of the action is the soundtrack––an engaging soundtrack that utilizes orchestral and electronic sounds. The film took risks, and I am all for it.
This movie feels like a spy thriller that just happens to include comic book characters––that's how good it is. The first Captain America film kind of did the same thing: it was a war movie that included Captain America. This time around, we are given a spy film that feels so unlike a comic book that I was left speechless the first time I watched it. Don't get me wrong, I love watching the Avengers beat up aliens, Iron Man fighting flaming people, and Thor fighting Dark Elves (scratch that, I didn't actually enjoy that last one), but I also love movies that are grounded in realism, and that fact that they were able to take a character who we last saw punching aliens and throw him into a realistic spy thriller is astonishing. The inclusion of Black Widow actually aided the film, because she has knowledge of espionage that Cap doesn't. The Hydra plot is perfect for Cap because of A). he fought the leader of Hydra way back when, and B). he doesn't trust the government, and SHIELD is a branch of the government. Basically, this film was perfect for Captain America and was an awesome change of pace––and genre––for the MCU.
There is so much I have not said, but I think I've gotten my point across. I do love myself a comic book movie, but the fact that this movie was able to take a comic book character and throw him into a spy thriller––and a good one at that––is just amazing. It allowed Cap to keep his beliefs––he doesn't need to grow when he is inherently a good man. This film also perfectly sets up the events of Civil War in more ways than I had thought. It's all about trust. Yes, I do love myself an Avengers team-up flick where they beat the crap out of aliens and robots, but I also love films in a franchise that are able to be different while also staying true to their characters. With all this being said, I am going to give Captain America: The Winter Soldier a 9.5/10.
Next up are the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, two movies that I am excited to watch back-to-back.
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