Winter Soldier Review (Sorta)

Captain America: Winter Soldier courtesy Marvel Studios

Captain America: Winter Soldier
courtesy Marvel Studios

I recently tweeted about Marvel’s latest installment in the Captain America franchise as a must-see for comic book and action movie fans alike. Despite what I’m about say, I stand by that. The plot is well-paced, the characters all have a strong screen presence and easter eggs for comic book geeks such as myself are scattered throughout the movie and ending credits.

I used to review movies for a now defunct spec-fic publication, The Speculative Edge. It was a fun gig where I got to go to a movie once a month and stuff the receipt in my “business” folder. There was plenty of snark and rarely a soft pitch thrown. Had I been reviewing Winter Soldier, I’d have a lot more to say.

In short: Yes, it’s a must-see for action movie and comic book fans. But, frankly, I think all the hype about it being a spy / thriller is a bit overblown. Perhaps Robert Redford’s gravitas helped puff up that claim. The super-powered action utterly overshadows any sort of subtlety which a spy / thriller normally demands. You find yourself simply sitting back following the Cap and his allies from well-choreographed fight scenes to CGI explosion-fests, one after another. In the storm of images, the entire reveal about the dark forces doesn’t really have the impact it should.

The movie had me thinking about my own book, Crimson Son, which also includes several spy / thriller elements. In fact, in the past year, I’ve seen some obvious parallels with Iron Man 3 and now Winter Soldier and my book, both of which I hadn’t seen until well after I was through the final draft. So many ideas are recycled and re-used, the devil is always in the details about how you present those ideas.

Captain America and your typical superhero stories are all based on this old-school idea of masculinity. At first, Steve Rogers can’t possibly be a super solider, even with all his determination and willpower. He only claims that title once the program alters him.

In Crimson Son, I intentionally explore the idea that this transformation isn’t necessary. That it can even be detrimental. Winter Soldier hints at this, but the product of one super-soldier program can only be stopped by the product of another similar program that cranks out nigh invulnerable human beings. In reality though, real heroes are the ones who have something to lose.

Winter Soldier was a kick ass movie and I look forward to every one of these films which Marvel can crank out. Straight from my boyhood fantasies to the big screen, this past decade of super heroes and genre fiction in film has been a wonderful ride. In my writing though, and my novels, I opt for a tad more depth. Hopefully you enjoy the results this June.

Categories: Geekery

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4 replies

  1. I’ve read several reviews that point out the lack of “spy story” and the overuse of explosions, but I think as a super-hero movie, the viewer should expect nothing less. I should have gone to see it with you and we could have gasped (“Stephen Strange?”, “Department H?”, “THE TWINS!”) in all the same places. I agree with the actor who played Falcon when he called it “Avengers 1.5” as it really was an ensemble piece. I enjoyed seeing just as much of Black Widow, Falcon, and Nick Fury as I saw of Captain America. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great but a little too sweet (and pretty) for me. I thought Josh did a better job with Black Widow. This one seemed a little schizophrenic, but I did like her use of her rope and stings from the comic. I wish sometimes these directors would read the background material and understand she’s been Black Widow since the 40’s in the comics (explains her KGB connection better), and I seriously didn’t like the twins being created by Loki’s staff and not Magneto’s loins. Still, I’ve seen it twice and will probably go see it again.

    • My experience was different as I read many reviews that tried to sell it as part throwback ’70s spy/thriller which it was not. Though I agree, it was great for exactly what it is and I’d definitely see it again and again 🙂

      Magneto seems to be tied up with FOX. Sad they’ve pulled one of the strongest teams out of the universe Disney/Marvel is building. I imagine the “fight” over which character will appear in which studio’s release first will continue. Seems it would be to their mutual benefit to co-ordinate.

  2. I haven’t seen this yet but it is on my list. I enjoy these movies in Marvel Cinematic Universe and I think it was a brilliant marketing and storytelling idea.

    I don’t expect to see Spy Game or tinker tailor soldier spy or anything like that.

    • I absolutely agree with you there. Great marketing and build up to Avengers first movie was spot-on.

      Yeah, you won’t see those and I may have just caught the wrong reviews before I got a chance to see it, but it’s a good movie nonetheless.

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