Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Mark at the Movies: Captain America - The Winter Soldier

Full disclosure: I collected Marvel Comics when I was younger.

Well, not *that* much younger. I was a college student, okay? Collected for years. Sold them all for $500 when I was raising money to take my wife with me to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a conference. But that's another story.

When I first began reading comics seriously (rather, let's say, "as an adult") I sampled both Marvel and DC, which were and pretty much still are the two mainstream production companies. After a very short time, I realized that there was a fundamental difference between the two approaches to comic storytelling. DC was all about action and art. The plot and backstory of the titular hero was secondary to the flow of the pages.

Marvel, on the other hand, would routinely spend a page (and often several) on our costumed hero's personal life. Marvel was all about character development. Not just the "what" and "how" of our heroes and villains, but the "why" was nearly always included. Marvel Comics were driven by the deeper elements of a story, and that's what appealed to me and why they received the bulk of my dollars.

Now, having said all that as preface, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is a movie that would make DC proud. You'll find very little in the way of character development or, indeed, much of a humanizing element here at all. What you will find is non-stop storytelling, action scenes, plot twists galore, and a smattering of wisecracking humor. You will be engaged and most likely enthralled from the beginning until the very last credit rolls. You will get your money's worth.

I walked away from this film marveling - no pun intended - at the overarching achievement of creating the Marvel Universe in cinematic version and of how tightly every single movie (and even the television series) is dovetailing one with another.

I cannot use my usual review format here for fear of giving too much of the film away. Let's just say that any solid familiarity with the Steve Rogers/Captain America story and history will serve you well to understand some deeper character connections being made. Plus you'll get a glimpse of Wanda and Pietro, two characters who will eventually become ... well, you'll see.

The bulk of the screen time is shared between Chris Evans (Captain America) and Scarlett Johansson (The Black Widow). Samuel L. Jackson has the largest role he has played to date with his Nick Fury character. And you know Marvel's stature has come up in the world when you can sign Robert Redford to be in your film.

Captain America will return for his third solo adventure in May, 2016. In the meantime, Marvel Comics lovers will have another Amazing Spiderman with Andrew Garfield in the lead role, an upcoming X-Men film that will combine the "First Class" cast with the older cast, and a "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie which, while not necessarily set in the Marvel Universe we have seen so far, is still a part of it but - to paraphrase a Star Wars line - takes place in a galaxy far, far, away.

And next year we will have our Avengers sequel in "The Age of Ultron." But for now, go see Captain America and try to gather all the threads woven into this story. I bet it'll take you two hands.


Mark's Musings is published on a semi-periodical basis that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/markmusings. Facebook link is over there to the right. This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761.  As you watch, remember that Cap was sweet on Peggy Carter in the first movie. This sequel introduces us to Sharon, known by Cap simply as "Neighbor."

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