Countdown to Avengers 2: Captain America the Winter Soldier

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As we did back in 2012, the blogs at Nerd Lunch, To the Escape Hatch and Cavalcade of Awesome are doing a Countdown to Avengers as we lead up to the release of Age of Ultron. In this countdown we are reviewing all the Marvel content that we can from within Phase 2. This is one of those reviews.

Captain America: The First Avenger was the last solo film of Phase 1 before The Avengers. So, appropriately, the Captain America sequel is the last solo movie of Phase 2 that will lead directly into The Avengers sequel. Coming in, I loved the first Cap movie. I loved it’s time period, I loved the cast, I loved pretty much everything about it. And I had a lot of doubts about the movie before it began in that I thought Chris Evans was all wrong for the role and I didn’t initially like that the movie took place back during World War II (even thought that’s the perfect place to set the movie).

So, I wound up loving the first movie and then came this sequel.  And again, I was not sure until I started seeing images of Chris Evans in the “stealth suit”.  And then the first trailer hit.  And the cast came together.  Black Widow.  Falcon.  Modern day SHIELD.  ROBERT F**KING REDFORD is now in a Captain America movie.  It just ballooned into so much awesomeness that the actual movie couldn’t possibly live up to what I was seeing.

And on watching, the movie is every bit as awesome as I wanted it to be.  It’s amazing what the directors did with this sequel.  This movie is completely different in tone, color scheme, sensibilities and setting than it’s predecessor but it completely works.

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First off we see a more seasoned Captain America.  He’s been in our time for a few years and has trained extensively with SHIELD.  The opening mission, storming a hijacked freighter, shows you everything you need to know to understand that THIS Captain America is BAD ASS.  We’ve seen Captain America be pretty awesome in The Avengers, but this movie cranks that idea “up to 11” and hammers that home.  We also see that Cap is becoming a little concerned with the direction that SHIELD is taking in response to external threats.  There are several really good scenes with Cap and Nick Fury debating this very issue, is SHIELD protecting or promoting fear.  It’s a valid and very relevant discussion.

Speaking of Nick Fury, we finally get to see him do something.  The attack on Fury’s car is a wonderful little scene where we get to see Fury’s quick thinking and quick acting save himself from capture and possible death.  And how awesome was the AI in that car?  And the hidden dashboard cannon?  Great little scene.  Another little scene I liked when I saw the movie theatrically was Steve going back to visit an elderly Peggy Carter.  However, now that I’ve watched Peggy in the Agent Carter mini-series and re-watched the original Captain America movie, that scene becomes HEARTBREAKING.  There are several more levels of heartbreaking sadness and loss that permeate that scene.  Especially thanks to the excellent Agent Carter series.

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And I love the addition of Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  I originally thought Falcon was a sort of, “we don’t need him but we need to add a new character” addition.  But I was wrong.  Mackie crushes it and I now want him in more movies.  Plus, how great is a movie that implies a giant action scene that we never get to see?  Cap, Black Widow and Falcon have to break into a military installation to steal back the Stark wing technology, but we never see it!  That needs to be a movie.  NOW.

And I haven’t even talked about the return of Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier.  He’s a great foil for Captain America.  I really liked him as a villain, but he’s more of a henchman than a mastermind.  I do hope we see more of him.

Now that the movie is over, I’d love to see a Captain America and Falcon movie where they are chasing Bucky.  The end of this movie teases that, but it looks like the next Captain America movie is going to be Civil War, which I can only assume does not cover that.

The status quo that this movie leaves will make the next Avengers movie interesting because I’m not sure how many years later it is in the new movie.  SHIELD was destroyed and has to be rebuilt.  I assume the Avengers are sort of an autonomous entity without any governmental connection.  Will that be addressed or has enough time passed that that doesn’t really matter anymore?  I don’t know.

As it stands, I liked this movie so much that I think it’s my third favorite overall Marvel movie behind only the original Iron Man and the first Avengers movie.  We’ll see if this changes after Age of Ultron.

But I’m not the only one that has ideas about this movie…here’s CT with his thoughts:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been referred to by some as Avengers 1.5. I wonder just how integral it will be to Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is the Phase 2 film that will have changed the world the most since the first Avengers film. The fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. is huge and will have to at least be addressed since they will no longer play a role in bringing the team together. I look forward to seeing if Black Widow and Cap have any interactions in Avengers 2 since they worked so well together here. Black Widow now has strong ties with all the Avengers except maybe Thor.

Besides pieces set up for Avengers and the plot lines sets up for future Cap movies, the big set up for future movies is the mention of Stephen Strange. Sitwell references him as though Strange is already a known person, at least by Cap. Is he already Sorcerer Supreme or just a really, really famous surgeon? It will be interesting to see how that plays out in a couple years. 

Other Countdown to Avengers reviews:
CT’s review of Iron Man 3.
Robert’s review of Thor: The Dark World

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