Okay, I’m over a month late on getting out a Captain America: The Winter Soldier LitFlix, and for that I am sorry. I can blame the A to Z Challenge and all the things we put off writing about in April, but that’s not it entirely. I think the problem is, there’s just too much to say about this film.
I was also left with a question: what was it about this movie that made me love it so much?
After seeing it another two times, I think the answer is quite simply that it is a good movie. It works internally with itself. It works as a sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. And it works within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, the characters and events fitting in with the larger happenings in other films. It did the things it needed to, and did them well.
My goal however is not to present you with a review – though I will provide you with a list of solid reviews to the film. My goal is to compare this film to the comics it is based on, in the full fashion of our LitFlix. So needless to say, all sorts of spoilers to follow!
Winter Soldier Reviews
There have been a ton of reviews out there for this film, because lots of people are going to see it, and lots are walking out thoroughly entertained and satisfied and happy and excited and other adjectives. Here are some of the reviews I’ve read from around my local blogosphere:
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Review by Ashley Hagood at RoboHeart Beat
- The Nature of Trust In Captain America: The Winter Soldier by/at Simpleek
- Review: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” by Hannah Givens at Things Matter
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Marvel Totally Went There with This Movie by MadameAce at Lady Geek Girl and Friends
- Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier *Spoilers* by/at Therefore I Geek
- And three great reviews by Kelly Konda at We Minored in Film:
- Film Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Believe the Hype
- Nitpicking Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- “With You ‘Til the End of the Line”: The Bold Bromance of Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Even Holly and I got in on the action, with posts about the larger implications from the film and its real villain, and on what it meant for Agents of SHIELD. So the point now is not a review – that’s been done.
Who the Hell is Bucky?
I touched on one meme generated from this movie before, but there’s one other that has cropped up: around the devastating moment, the sheer lack of recognition, on the part of the Winter Soldier.
“Who the Hell is Bucky?”
This is not some crazy movie invention – this is straight out of the comics. And this is the beating heart of the film: the Winter Soldier and his identity, the effect it has on Captain America. And these aspects are directly from the comics. The plot stems from this, the title – occasionally maligned for the fact that the Winter Soldier is not the main villain of the film – comes from this.
Iron Man 3 came out of the Extremis comics, but the villains and situations were added and came out of the progression that already existed in the films; in much the same way, The Winter Soldier pulled from the comic plot, but then also worked in continuing plot and ideas that fit the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Whoa, sorry, that was one long run-on sentence, but this film pulled it off. Solid connection to an existing, established comic plot, while keeping a connection to the other films. It kept the spirit of what happened in the comics, without having to stick with every fact.
In the comics, the Red Skull has gotten his hands on the Cosmic Cube. Okay, again, much like with Extremis, here is an original plot point from the first film and origin story, from a more recent comic that ends up a basis for a later film. Well, just in his moment of triumph, the Red Skull is assassinated – by the Winter Soldier. An angry Russian ends up with the cube, uses it to mess with Cap, blows things up, hijinks ensue. The bad guy group is a radical offshoot of AIM, rather than Hydra; the villain ends up with Red Skull in his brain, so there’s a Hydra connection; Crossbones is a major villain as well helping bad things happen; Fury goes off the reservation; Cap turns to Falcon for help… There’s lots of connections.
Oh, and Bucky is indeed the Winter Soldier, found by the Russians (not Hydra, though to be fair Hydra could have been Russian in the movie too) and turned into an assassin they kept on ice, waking him up every so often to do a big-deal assassination. So, yeah, exactly the same origin. One point I liked from the comics is that they found him with modern facial recognition, which showed he had aged only about 5 years over the course of decades – and that was how they finally connected all the murders to the Winter Soldier. Because otherwise, who would believe it? It’s a ghost story.
Very clearly they read these comics to shape this film. But they didn’t do a direct adaptation. For instance, they bothered to include Sharon (Carter) as Agent 13 without putting too much into her. Really, they seem to be setting her up for the next film, continuing the comic storyline. Similarly, really, Winter Soldier is setting us up for the future, and the same overall plot.
What the Comics Say for the Next Films
So I just mentioned Agent Carter, so let’s start there. I really liked how they used a known character – Black Widow – as Cap’s partner-in-herotude rather than Agent 13. The point with Agent 13 was that they had a history together, had been adventuring already in earlier comics. In the film, it would have been forced. Falcon was almost forced, but they made it pretty natural. In a film fundamentally about trust, could they really have dropped that many new characters on Cap, had him trust them, and had us believe it?
So that worked for me. But from the initial storylines introducing the Winter Soldier, the comics move on into the Marvel Civil War. The Civil War was fought over super hero registration – a la The Incredibles – and Cap was on the side of freedom, rather than registration.
Honestly, I don’t think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enough heroes in it to do justice to a plot like this – you really need there to be a critical threshold of heroes to make everyone upset enough that you need registration. We might get there, but not yet. So I think the heroes versus SHIELD versus Hydra versus heroes dynamic was like a small Civil War – people had loyalties, and SHIELD tore itself apart. I think this might be as close as should reasonably be gotten to this plot.
But part of why I bring it up is because of the panel I show above – the idea behind the elevator fight scene, straight out of Civil War, when SHIELD tries to bring Cap into the fold. So they were tapping into this too. Which means I read further in the comics – I read this scene and, having seen the elevator fight pre-Thor: The Dark World, wondered how far they were going to go.
The plot right after Civil War is The Death of Captain America, the plotline I remember catching a lot of press back when it happened, regardless of how long it lasted. And when Cap was killed – in spoilery ways by spoilery people – it’s Bucky Barnes who takes up the mantle and becomes Captain America – the idea. The hero.
Because what has Bucky been up to? Well, since Fury has gone into hiding and is no longer in charge of SHIELD – sound familiar? – he find Bucky, who is fighting to break free of his identity as the Winter Soldier and remember – and recapture – his past, and they spy and do missions together. So that’s where I expect Fury to be what I expect Fury to be doing, as well as the Winter Soldier.
Also, I think that a growing presence for Sebastian Stan in the movies will work out just fine – the fandom seems to have accepted him and invited him in just fine.
And Age of Ultron? I am now pretty well convinced that will be a result of Hydra, and Arnim Zola, and Zola’s algorithm. The idea of a computer code able to decide who is a dangerous person on Earth? Sounds like great targets for a constantly adapting and evolving evil AI presence powerful enough to challenge the whole of the Avengers. Wanda and Pietro? That is, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver? Time will tell.
And one other thing: rather than have the Skull make clones, or inhabit other people’s brains, or other things, he can really just come back in the movies: he was last seen scooped up by the Bifrost, never to be seen again… until he is. Captain America 3, bossing around Crossbones and causing mayhem for Steve Rogers? Maybe.
Sorry if you’ve ended up spoiled for the future movies, but I have no idea if you are or not! Speculate away in the comments below as to where you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going from here!