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The world’s most swell superhero has returned in this weekend’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and fans all over the world have comes out in droves to see him kick ass all across the silver screen.  The film has already generated a staggering $303 million worldwide in just one week, with roughly $97 million coming from North America alone.  As a result, the superhero spectacle has attained the title of the biggest April movie release of all time.  For perspective, the total worldwide gross for Captain America: The First Avenger was $370.6 million, meaning the sequel will likely eclipse the first film’s success in a matter of a couple of weeks.  That’s pretty boss.

The success of this film is largely due to it’s tone, with Marvel employing the tried and true genre tropes of a political thriller along with a healthy dose of humor, action, and superhero badassery.  We’ve seen the film, like many of you already, and there is so much to talk about that it’s hard to even quantify.  The movie is a direct lead-in to The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and there is some spoilerific goodness to disseminate at your leisure.  We thought we’d dive in and dissect some of the film’s greatest winks and nods, along with some key scenes that imply changes in the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe.  So, let’s begin.

WARNING:  The Rest Of This Post Contains Massive Spoilers From The Film.  Read At Your Own Risk.

Being The Captain in a Post-Avengers World

When we find the much-beloved Steve Rogers, he’s working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in Washington, DC.  He spends his days longing for the past – even the Smithsonian commemorates his service to the country with an installation that tracks Cap’s origins.  By night, he is an efficient soldier, running dangerous missions with Black Widow.  This is a noticeably more physical Cap, and his first big action sequence involves a rescue mission on a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. ship that sees the patriotic warrior literally mowing down baddies at full speed.

You have to really love the way Cap is established here.  It also helps that, given the labyrinthine plot and shifting allegiances in the story, you have to really feel for him.  Here he is, this wayward super soldier, contending with his own personal turmoil, and the people who are supposed to be his friends turn out to be allegiant to the very organization he thought he destroyed?  You’ve got my endorsement, Cap.  But speaking of dubious assholes…

NEVER Trust The Old Guy In Charge

We’re introduced early on to a man known as Alexander Pierce.  Played by Robert “Leatherface” Redford (loved you as Sundance sir), Pierce is the man who put Fury in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He is now a representative on the World Security Council, making him one of the most powerful people on the planet.  He is a champion of Project Insight, and appears to support Fury and Cap’s efforts. He seems like a legitimately decent guy, with the best interests of the world in mind.

But we know now that that is simply not the case.  Pierce orders the execution of Nick Fury (which also happens to be one of the best action sequences Marvel has given us in quite some time), but he narrowly escapes.  He retreats to Cap’s apartment to explain that something is happening, and it is here that Fury is murdered (or at least appears to be) by a figure known as the Winter Soldier.  I actually liked the casting of Redford as Pierce.   He almost never plays a bad guy, and he’s just the right amount of smug to really sell the dubious nature of Pierce.  It almost devastates you when you learn his true intentions, but somebody has to be the evil one. Though, he’s small potatoes compared to the man who steals the movie.

Bucky Blew A Microchip

With his fierce agility, battle aptitude, and merciless pursuit of Cap, the Winter Soldier is easily the best character in this movie.  Sebastian Stan gets an upgrade as the reprogrammed version of Bucky Barnes, and everything about him screams villainy.  He wears an eerie face mask, dark armor, and he’s also sporting a chrome, robotic arm that proves to be his most deadly weapon.  As a foe, he is a perfect physical match for Cap.  Their fight scenes are extremely brutal, more so than a great many of Marvel’s already high octane highlight reel of great battles.  The brothers Russo film each sequence in close ups, so the ferocity of the fights are on full display.

What’s truly remarkable about this character is that you feel genuinely sorry for him.  We know Bucky – he’s Cap’s best buddy for life.  Here, the charisma that made Bucky so likable in the first Cap film is gone, and Alexander Pierce’s agenda makes him a pawn in Hydra’s dark resurgence.  Watching Cap try and get through to him is heartbreaking, but you sense a glimmer of familiarity every time.  The post-credits scene where Bucky wanders through the Smithsonian installation is basically Marvel’s way of telling us that the Winter Soldier is coming back for more, and if you know the trajectory of the character, you know how close to the lore of Captain America he truly is.  I for one am glad that Marvel is making good use of him, and you should be too.

Every Superhero Needs His Superfriends

Let’s take a minute and give it up for the great cast of supporting heroes and villains that populate this film.

As always, Scarlett Johansson delivers big action, humor, and undeniable sex appeal as the deadly Black Widow.  As she has done in previous Marvel films, Johansson adds an element of familiarity – a way to connect the story beyond what’s happening on screen.  The same goes for Nick Fury, who finally gets to show off his action chops.  But, the best addition to the story of Captain America is definitely Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon.

Wilson is a former pararescueman who works at the VA hospital in Washington.  His relationship with Cap is built out of genuine respect, and it proves to be quite valuable for our hero when he is forced on the run with nobody to trust.  Mackie seems to be having the time of his life playing Falcon, and he settles in quite nicely to the Marvel Universe – it’s like he’s been here the whole time.  Thankfully, we’ll probably see him again in the future.

Also of note is the appearance of Frank Grillo as S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team leader, and faithful Hydra assassin, Brock Rumlow.  As with a lot of the characters in this film, Rumlow’s true allegiance is revealed, and his fight with Sam Wilson ends with his body being badly burned.  As you saw if you’ve seen the film, his body is recovered but badly burned.  Since he lives, it can only be assumed that Grillo will eventually don the mask of the villain known as Crossbones.  I hope so, because Crossbones is awesome.  If you don’t know who that is, here’s a picture to help you out:

Easter Eggs, and Where Do We Go From Here?

This film is filled with cool little Easter Eggs that should excite fans of the Marvel canon.  Let’s run through them for a second:

  • While being interrogated on a city roof, Jasper Sitwell starts giving up names to Cap and Black Widow when he discovers that they know he is Hydra.  One of those names is Steven Strange, which many of us know to be Dr. Strange.  We know Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige has said that a Dr. Strange film is on the horizon, and this all but assures that that’s the case.
  • Legendary comic book artist Ed Brubaker, who created the Winter Soldier in the comic series, has a cameo as a scientist in the scene where Pierce gives the order to have Bucky’s mind wiped after he starts remembering his friendship with Cap.
  • Garry Shandling reprises his role as from Iron Man 2 as Senator Stern, and he is revealed to be another Hydra loyalist.
  • The mid-credits sequence directed by Joss Whedon introduces us to Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) who will be one of the big baddies in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and we also get our first look at Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver played by Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor Johnson, respectively.

So in the end, Captain America: The Winter Soldier pleases on all levels.  S.H.I.E.L.D. is dismantled, everybody is going their separate ways, and the future of the Marvel Universe is uncertain.  It’s an exciting time for all of us comic book fans!

What did you think of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER? Sound off in the comments below!





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The Author

Damen Norton

Damen Norton

Damen is a big fan of movies and baseball - but mostly movies. Aside from his work on Screen Invasion, he also writes for HeyUGuys and has contributed to We Got This Covered and UnrealityTV. His favorite movie is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and the coolest interview he's ever had was Colin Farrell - partially because of his dreamy eyes, but mostly because he's awesome. He has a wife named Chelsea and two insane cats.