Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America 2 PosterRelease Date: April 1, 2014

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan

Synopsis:

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in Captain America The Winter Soldier

The folks at Screen Junkies have done a wonderful job over the years of lampooning some of Hollywood’s biggest and boldest products with their “Honest Trailers,” a parody project that markets movies with their flaws exposed. And as far as we can remember, they have not yet run up against a movie that is impervious to their observations. Until now, that is. Marvel Studios, whether they know it or not, accepted the challenge and delivered a movie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that is actually, you know, pretty good. About half way through this Honest Trailer entry, the usually sarcastic narrator stops and admits that Cap 2 is an excellent film. Watch for yourself after the break.

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Captain America 2

What is the most basic difference between a movie like Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel? The way my mind works, I have long considered Steve Rogers and Kal-El to be similarly positioned in their own respective universes. Both are stronger than regular men, both were dressed with America in mind and both are leaders of their own superhero groups (The Avengers and The Justice League, respectively). So why is it that one hero got a movie last year that was shrugged off as “not as good as it should have been” while the other appeared this past weekend in a film that’s a potential game-changer for the genre? It’s simple: it’s all in the approach. One wanted to be a superhero movie, the other did not.

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Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in Captain America The Winter Soldier

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is a pretty solid comic book movie. But it is still a comic book movie, complete with a lot of ridiculous plot points that we should know to just let slide. Well, I can suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment while I’m watching and enjoying the thing, but later I also enjoy pondering its logic and gaps regarding certain important details. I don’t necessarily like the movie any less for these faults (this movie’s true flaws are in the direction anyway), and in fact sometimes the more I ask these sorts of questions, the more I like greater discussions they take me to. Given that this is just a single puzzle piece in a large scheme of intertwining and forward-moving blockbusters, maybe all the questions I have left over are yet to be answered. Maybe the information I seek is in the pages of the comics — though this shouldn’t be since the MCU is separate from the universe found in Marvel’s pages, past and present, and has a ton of differences. Obviously, the following inquiry is full of spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen the Captain America sequel and care to. 

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Black Widow in Captain America 2

Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. Thor and Jane Foster. Steve Rogers and…? Who is the significant other of Captain America? The fact that I can ask that question is one of the greatest strengths of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Captain America Winter Soldier Helmet

When a superhero film is announced, no matter the hero up for the task, the most important component that audiences first look at is the costume that has been designed for that character. It’s the link between the hero and the comic book, a sign that the filmmakers have been paying attention to their source material and fully understand the history and evolution of the character. When a character like, say, Captain America, makes the leap from the small pages to the big screen, the people in charge of adapting years of comics into big budget cinema have an important job on their hands – they’ve got to make the man look the part. A key difference between adapting a novel and a comic to film is that loyal comic readers already have a distinct, concrete visual of their favorite heroes in their heads. It’s been laid out in front of them for decades by illustrators, in volumes upon volumes of adventures and escapades wearing a particular uniform. In short, fans know what their Captain is supposed to look like, and they’re going to get mildly upset (or bitterly outraged) if their expectations are not met when he shows up on screen. When “Captain America Comics #1″ debuted in 1941, Steve Rogers and his star spangled getup were an instant hit among war-weary Americans looking for a patriotic mascot to lift their spirits during a particularly dreary decade. They certainly found it in a super soldier designed in a lab […]

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America has had a tough life. Steve Rogers, created over 73 years ago by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, has been put through the wringer time and time again. Sure, he made a hell of an introduction by punching Adolf Hitler in his first issue ever, but his luck soon ran out. He went to hell, fought communists for Joseph McCarthy, and, at his lowest and most desperate, worked as a History professor. As we all know, teaching history is far worse a gig than having to fight Nazi Werewolves. Now things are on the up for Captain America, at least for his public image. In 2011 he got his own movie — let’s just pretend the 1990 version never happened — and it was the top dog of Marvel’s Phase I. Now that the studio has successfully moved into Phase II, Director Joe Johnston‘s Captain America: The First Avenger has managed to remain the best of the bunch. Its sequel, Captain America: Winter Soldier, is a close second. Captain America (Chris Evans) faces his greatest threat yet: his best friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a.k.a. The Winter Soldier. The world may have been threatened in The Avengers, but global annihilation doesn’t match the personal stakes that come from having to fight your BFF, who’s been turned into an unstoppable killing machine with a shiny metal arm. This isn’t just Captain America taking on some power hungry villain, but Steve Rogers having to confront a friend. The personal stakes aren’t all Captain America: The Winter […]

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Captain America Cartoon

In the fall of 1966 the American people invited Captain America into their living rooms every Monday for half an hour of dramatic, kapow-filled World War II nostalgia. He was out in front of The Marvel Super Heroes, an animated TV series that was initially broadcast five nights a week. It was Marvel’s first major attempt at animation and, if you don’t count the 1944 Captain America serial from the Timely Comics days, their first moving picture project. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit rough. Yet in its experimental shakiness The Marvel Super Heroes is an amazing little show. Episodes were built from six-minute segments which could be played as a single half-hour episode or broken up any which way. It often looks incredibly cheap. The most common shots are still images in the style of the Silver Age of Comics, in which the only animated element is the mouth of whoever is speaking. Occasionally the eyes are animated as well, an effect much eerier than intended. There’s a lot of zooming in to create the impression of movement and a lot of quick editing. It sometimes feels more like a shadow puppet show than an animated television program.

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Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor

With its inspiration coming from both ’70s paranoia thrillers and today’s headlines, there’s a lot of background to cover for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Basically, the list of movies to watch for this new Marvel sequel could simply be: all post-Watergate conspiracy theory movies from around 40 years ago and all documentaries of the last 10 years dealing with post-9/11 fearmongering and domestic surveillance. But I’m going to be a little more specific with those targets while also highlighting some directly referenced movies, some earlier features starring cast members of The Winter Soldier, a new documentary about one of the supporting players and more. We’ve actually already featured a whole trilogy that compliments the plot of the Captain America sequel, which you can read about over on our sister site, Nonfics. Unlike that post, this one is hopefully pretty light on spoilers. However, I like to give the warning with these lists that it’s best to actually see the movie in focus before reading ahead. 

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Zeitgeist

Disclaimer 1: Yes, I am serious. Disclaimer 2: This article spoils a major chunk of Captain America: The Winter Soldier There have been conspiracy theorists as long as there has been an America — and long before that, to boot. In his book Idiot America, Charles Pierce theorizes that cranks are a deeply ingrained, even vital part of our national character. But the age of mass communication has warped nuttiness into a form like nothing we’ve seen before. Now the cranks can easily find each other. They can build communities. Like the Zeitgeist Movement. An advocate of transitioning to a “resource-based economy” that rejects all currency in favor of a utopian social model, the group was founded by Peter Joseph, the writer, director, producer, editor and scorer of the three films of the Zeitgeist series. Made between 2007 and 2011, these “documentaries” are Joseph’s one-man exposé of the various and sundry giant conspiracies that run the cogs of our civilization. Zeitgeist: The Movie tackles the “real” origins of Christianity, the “truth” about 9/11 and how the Federal Reserve controls America. Zeitgeist: Addendum features an explanation of money creation, a lengthy interview with Confessions of an Economic Hitman author John Perkins, an introduction to the Venus Project and a call for a boycott of the banking system. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward dives into discussions of human nature and social pathology, reiterates the need for a “resource-based economy,” and imagines a scenario in which people throw off the yokes of the banks. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I like comic books. I don’t always like comic book movies. I don’t rush to a message board to complain every time a movie turns an awesome Jack Kirby design like Galactus into a giant cloud, but one of the recurring problems with comic book movies is that they often pointlessly change the source material in ways that diminish the story and characters. Just think about what the X-Men movies did to Cyclops. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t immune from messing with the source. Marvel has mostly been smart in their changes, though, tweaking specific plot points while maintaining the fundamentals of the major characters. In fact Marvel movies rarely straight-up adapt comic stories — they draw heavily from the work of many comic creators, mashing up story beats and characters from various eras in a way that’s often seamless. Captain America: The Winter Soldier might come under extra scrutiny from comic fans, though. It shares its name with a specific storyline that’s less than a decade old and extremely popular with both readers and critics. If any Marvel movie could draw fanboy ire over storyline changes, it’s this one. And there are changes — lots of them, in fact. Those alterations from comic book page to movie screen don’t derail the film at all, but they’re worth talking about.

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Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avengers

If Superman is the boy scout of DC Comics, then his goody-two-shoes counterpart in the Marvel universe is Captain America. Fitting in nicely with the squeaky clean stereotype of the soldier who fights for truth, justice and the American way, Steve Rogers exemplifies all of the ideals of the classic American hero. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t womanize. He fiercely believes in just one God, even though he happens to personally know two other gods from Norse mythology, and he has rippling abs and bulging biceps. However, this clean cut image is not all a conscious decision. In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, he explains that he doesn’t drink only because he is being a good guy. Instead, he doesn’t drink because his body metabolism is so efficient in processing toxins that alcohol basically has no effect on him. And that got me thinking… super soldier or not, this would suck for Steve Rogers at your average Fourth of July picnic. Could Captain America ever get drunk?

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Elevator Scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier already has a lot of people claiming it as the best Marvel movie yet, which is bizarre hyperbole in the face of The Avengers, but for those who love a grounded spy yarn it definitely has a maturity not present in any other Marvel outing to date. Or at least a different style of superhero storytelling. Imagine it as Captain America: Enemy of the State with double the action sequences. Rob’s review is thorough and glowing, worthy of a great superhero movie that tones down its superheroism in favor of plot intrigue. It’s a sentiment matched by a ton of critics, but I can’t agree with it completely. The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives, and it’s a very slick movie, but there’s more to do than simply throwing ticker tape from out your office window. Mostly because it would be difficult to find ticker tape these days. Do they even make it still? Spoilers included, here are 10 things I liked about Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 10 things I didn’t.

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Captain America USO scene

Captain America was introduced to the Marvel universe in 1941 as a young man who gets injected with a super serum that changes him from a frail kid to human perfection. The idea of an ordinary person suddenly finding themselves with super powers has consistently appealed to audiences and comic book fans, but Captain America became one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes during the 1940s thanks to it’s patriotic message, something that was much needed while America was in the throes of World War II. But most notably, out of all the superheroes populating the Marvel universe, Captain America was the first character to get his own movie serial, the self-titled, Captain America. (The next Marvel superhero to hit the screen would be The Punisher forty-two years later!) The serial (and Dick Purcell) brought Captain America to life, but Purcell’s version was slightly different from the version in the comics. Purcell’s alter ego was that of District Attorney Grant Gardner while the alter ego in the comics was the formerly frail Steve Rogers. However the patriotic message and feeling of the comics remained constant on the screen thanks to music from composer Mort Glickman.

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To Do List from Captain America 2

When you wake up after 70 years encased in ice after plunging into the Arctic and get thrust back into modern day New York City, you’re bound to have a few questions. Such is the case with our pal Steve Rogers, who, from a one-off joke in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has vowed to catch up on a few missed events and pop culture references during his time “asleep.” While Captain America set up our star-spangled defender as the super soldier boasting Dr. Erskine’s serum and a grand sense of duty without said serum, The Avengers served to give the character a different edge as comic relief in his time after unfreezing. After all, the world is a strange and startling place – even when you’ve lived through morphing into a handsome, all-powerful 1940s action star, fighting a terrifyingly faceless Nazi supervillain and crashing a plane into the Arctic Ocean. It’s not that the Steve Rogers depicted in The Avengers is easy to make fun of, but after 70 years removed from society, it’s as if your dear, somewhat clueless grandpa has come to join the superhero initiative you and your friends have worked so hard to put together because your mom (clearly Nick Fury in this scenario) said that you should all bond. While Captain America’s military expertise and combat strategy is unmatched among his fellow Avengers, it’s not enough sometimes to keep certain members from teasing their “elderly” comrade. Or at least not Tony Stark.

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Captain America

Captain America is everywhere right now. He’s in TV ads and action figures, comics and video games (also something else I seem to be forgetting). But how many of those who’ve seen Steve Rogers battle evil across diverse forms of media actually know the ifs, ands and buts of where he came from? Well, now you too can be a Cap expert, without having to read the 7000+ comic books (seriously) Captain America has appeared in. Just consult the history below; a history portioned out by the eras of comic bookery. Traditionally, the Golden Age lasts from the late 30s – late 40s, Silver Age is mid 50s – 70, Bronze Age is 70 – 85, and Modern Age is 85 – today. Sometimes there’s a Copper Age and a Tin Age, but for ease of organization let’s not get into all that. Instead, let’s begin with the first of many Ages.

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Chris Evans in CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER

Captain America should be the most boring lead in the ongoing cinematic superhero cavalcade — he’s a goody two shoes who fights with a shield, wears an excessively patriotic costume, and by all accounts has never been laid — and yet, over the course of three films he’s quickly become the most entertaining, exciting to watch, and affecting of the bunch by a wide margin. (Your move Superman.) It takes nothing away from the writers and directors of those films to acknowledge that the biggest key to the character’s onscreen success can be found in the man behind the mask, Chris Evans. His charisma, appeal, and physical presence combined with the character’s personality and tragic circumstances make for a compelling and fun superhero whose humanity shines through far more often than heroes who spend half their screen-time as CGI creations. Captain America: The Winter Soldier sees Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans) still trying to fit in to the modern world while working for SHIELD on a regular basis. His latest mission leads to yet another conflict with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) over his and SHIELD’s priorities and methods in fighting the war on terror. Rogers thinks criminals should be punished after a crime has been committed, but Fury says they can’t afford to wait that long. The arrival on scene of a mysterious and legendary assassin, the Winter Soldier, shakes things up even further, and soon Captain America is fighting not only for the lives of millions but for his […]

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A24

We’re not even halfway into 2014 and already this is proving to be a terrific year for movies. In March alone we had a slew of quality films: Enemy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Raid 2, and Bad Words. This month is even better. What’s nice about this March and April is that they’ve given us some quality blockbusters that we’d expect from the summer without having to wait for the heat. While Noah had its flaws — a lot of them, to be exact — it was a grand and ambitious drama with the scope of a summer movie. A more consistent summer film is opening this week, and if you pay any attention to the world, you know which. A hint: it’s the one about a super soldier who was frozen for over 60 years and is now fighting a man with a metal arm that’ll make a gazillion dollars. The movie, not the guy with the metal arm. Not sure what his day rate is. The Marvel juggernaut isn’t the only movie you need to see this month, though. There are two movies in particular that will surely stand the test of time: Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive. Those are experiences, not just movies. Before the busy summer movie season begins, make sure to make the time for them, in addition to these other eight Must See Movies:

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captain america winter soldier 07

One of the issues Marvel’s Kevin Feige has admitted to being concerned about over the last few years is possible superhero movie overkill. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows, there’s potential for audiences to get tired of not just that multi-series franchise but with the whole genre. We’re already at a point where most tentpole blockbusters are comic book adaptations, and as long as they keep proving to be the safest bets, that number may keep increasing. And now it’s not even limited to the summer and holiday seasons. Captain America: Winter Soldier is opening on April 4th, and that’s too early to even make the usual “summer starts early this year” comment. Eventually we’ll have major superhero movies debuting in the usual dead months of January and September. This week’s Marvel Studios TV special, Assembling a Universe, might not have helped matters as far as not overwhelming the audience. It packaged the MCU’s past, present and future in a way that didn’t make the properties look all that distinct or independent, in spite of Feige stating on screen his idea that these movies (and now TV shows) offer a lot of variety, that the superhero movie genre is no longer really a genre because they represent a bunch of different kinds of movies and just happen to involve superheroes. Devin Faraci made a similar statement this week in a piece at Badass Digest tied to an interview he had with Feige. “Marvel has proven that ‘superhero movie’ isn’t so […]

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The Avengers

In his most recent cinematic appearance, Captain Steve Rogers (best known as Captain America) was called “The First Avenger,” as per the subtitle of the 2011 film. But did you know that he wasn’t the first Avenger according to the comic books? Of course you did, as you are all nerds. That said, below you’ll find a new infographic chronicling the history of Marvel’s Avengers. From the fact that the original team’s line-up didn’t include Steve Rogers to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe and its billions of dollars worth of box office sales, it shows us a bird’s eye view of the legacy of The Avengers. As Captain America gets ready to move the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward next month in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, let’s take a moment to look back over the history of the team that has led the way for Marvel for decades.

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Captain America

Lookout Agent Coulson, it looks like someone is out there to take down some SHIELD agents. That person appears — based on this new Captain America: The Winter Soldier TV commercial — to be the Winter Soldier himself. Will the forces of the world’s greatest intelligence organization, led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) be able to thwart the attacks of a man with super strength and a sweet robotic arm? We don’t yet know, but if they’re going to make it to Avengers: Age of Ultron, they are going to have to. Either way, so far this thing looks great.

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published: 11.26.2014
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