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Captain America The Winter Soldier

Captain America was never my favorite Marvel hero, but he is an archetype, and there is something endearing about a guy who still runs around wearing a flag. Still, he hasn't aged well. He's an eternal Boy Scout, like Superman (who also used to be much more blatantly pro-America), and his costume is almost as embarrassing as Wonder Woman's.

In the comics, that is. In the movies, damned if they didn't manage to pull off just the right combination of earnest, sincere heroism and bad-assitude. Cap looks like a soldier, acts like a soldier, and being frozen since the 40s, manages to act like a man out of time while being savvy and smart enough to do his best to catch up. The first Captain America was my second favorite among all the recent Marvel movies, just behind The Avengers and narrowly edging out Iron Man and Thor. I like heroes who are genuinely heroic without being saps (something several Superman movies have failed to pull off). And yeah, I like harkening back to an era when you could be patriotic without ambivalence.

So anyway, The Winter Soldier did not disappoint. Although the true identity of the main villain should have surprised no one over the age of 10, and there were some rather silly Tropish moments that didn't execute as well on film as they do in comics (seriously, the Villanous Monologue where the super-smart evil genius tells you all his plans before he gon' blow you up, 'cause that always works? Or packing an elevator with a bunch of thugs to beat up Captain fucking America, because yeah, that will totally work too), it was gloriously full of city-razing special effects and high-speed superhuman martial arts smackdowns, and a plot no more silly than anything else based on a comic book. It's not a character-redefining movie, nor did it have the genius and the humor of The Avengers, but it was satisfying, and it managed to keep Captain America believably heroic without either ignoring or denying his essential Americanness.

That said, one cannot help noticing how very global the movie is, heroes and villains alike. This is the post-9/11 era, and it's hard to pull off unironic patriotism, especially of the "America, fuck yeah!" variety. Especially when foreign box office makes up so much of a movie's receipts. Hence while Captain America is still Captain America, he really doesn't talk a lot about America per se, except in a rather wistful past tense. S.H.I.E.L.D. is apparently an international organization (despite pretty much every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent we've seen being an American) taking its orders from the "World Security Council."

I enjoyed Winter Soldier quite a bit, and am happy that they've been able to update Cap (as well as a few other B-listers).

Cap and the Falcon

Batroc

I did catch the namedropping of Stephen Strange, though, which makes me wonder when Dr. Strange will get his own movie?

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
avsno26rocks
Apr. 8th, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
I won't even lie, I laughed for like ten minutes straight in the cinema when Batroc popped up. He is the villain least likely to be taken seriously in the history of ever.
Graeme Sutton
Apr. 8th, 2014 07:34 am (UTC)
RE: SHIELD yeah, that's always been a headscratcher for me as well. They at least try to address it in Agents of SHIELD with two brits and Mei, who's either chinese or chinese-american, in the main team. I think it would have gone down better if they'd given Black Widow a clear Russian background and made Maria Hill Japanese or French or something.
paulliver
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:09 am (UTC)
Movie producers are going to be more and more careful to be international - that's why they are making more alien invasion movies like "Pacific Rim," because then the international teams can work together to kick alien ass! Assuming they have one, of course.

And I'm afraid the only way you could get a Marvel movie better than the Avengers is to let Joss Whedon write and direct "Black Widow" and cross your fingers.
paulliver
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:10 am (UTC)
I'm sure in the movie Black Widow said she was ex-KGB, but I agree more should be done with her character.
strongbow
May. 12th, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
I realize we're dealing in movie time here, but she's far too young to be ex-KGB. An organization that hasn't existed in over 20 years? She would have been about 6 when it ceased to exist.
paulliver
May. 13th, 2014 06:26 am (UTC)
That's a good point - I'm pretty sure most of the KGB ended up in the new Russian spy group, but I forgot their new letters; started with an F. I wonder how many Americans would have gotten the reference if they used the correct name... She did say in the Avengers that she started as a little girl, but she said she left the KGB, so yeah, you're still right.
strongbow
May. 13th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
Most likely she would have been with the SVR (the successor organization concerned with foreign intelligence) or the GRU (it's Ministry of Defense equivalent). But you're right that most Americans (and others) probably wouldn't recognize what those are, while "KGB" is pretty universally understood. (Just like most people would probably recognize the defunct "INS", but might not know what "ICE" is.) (The "F" organization you're probably thinking of is FSB, which is the successor organization to the KGB concerned with internal security and counter intelligence.)
paulliver
May. 14th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
Yes, that was the one. Funny thing is, I recently read an autobiography of Putin, but all those LETTERS just don't stick in my head.

ICE for me is "Iron Crown Enterprises," a role playing game that sucked a lot of time out of my weekends my last year of high school. Somehow I doubt that's what you mean. lol
inverarity
May. 14th, 2014 09:28 am (UTC)
I still have all my Rolemaster books and boxed set.
paulliver
May. 15th, 2014 09:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, me, too, but I haven't played in years. I don't have the extra brain power left over anymore, nor friends who have the spare time.
inverarity
May. 14th, 2014 09:31 am (UTC)
In the comics, Natasha Romanov was originally a KGB agent (of course, she first appeared in Marvel Comics in the 1960s). Maybe the movies also follow "comic book time."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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