Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America The Winter Soldier

One of the biggest hits of the year so far has been Captain America: The Winter Soldier, making it a bigger success than the first film. It helps that it follows up The Avengers and cross-pollinates with other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, what also helped it along was a fresh story that was less of a gee-whiz superhero film and more inspired by the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s. Now that the film has been released on home video, the directors and writers have sat down and dissected it in their commentary track, available on the Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. (Sorry, folks… the DVD does not have the commentary on it, so you’ll have to spring for a Blu-ray player if you want to listen. But, seriously, why don’t you have a Blu-ray player already? You do? Thought so.

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CA WINTER SOLDIER discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is 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 past, his integrity, and every core belief he holds dear. I usually reserve the “Pick of the Week” spot for a great title in need of more press, but hot damn do I love this flick. If you’ve followed my reviews here over the years you know I’m no easy mark for Marvel or other big movies, but there’s not a dull minute to be found here between the expertly crafted action sequences, plot revelations lifted equally out of the comic books and the New York Times, character moments and legitimately funny laughs. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is big, spectacular entertainment that manages to stay grounded even as the action turns to explosive spectacle. It’s the kind of summer […]

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Scarlett Johansson Movies

Last year, Steven Spielberg postulated that sometime within the next few years, a series of subsequent major flops will, in effect, dismantle the blockbuster mentality that has dominated Hollywood since Spielberg himself became a well-known director. While this doesn’t look like it will occur anytime soon – certainly not in 2015 – it’s not hard to imagine that the culture industry of remakes, sequels, adaptations, umpteenth reboots and general unoriginality will one day go the way of the September 2008 stock market. It’s happened before. When Hollywood attempted to compete with the rise of television, studios produced an onslaught of lengthy widescreen Technicolor historical pictures, all with massive star power and even bigger budgets. But this model of putting so much money into fewer individual films proved unsustainable, and now even massive hits like Cleopatra are remembered as flops in part because the stakes were so high and their productions were so troubled. It’s hard to believe, but the series of epics that Hollywood produced during the 1950s and 1960s are a blip on the radar of Hollywood’s history compared to the exponential bloating of budgets and expanding of franchises now. We’ve been swimming in the Blockbuster Mentality since 1980 and it’s only intensified since. Hollywood has dug its heels in, only to continue reproducing the same existing properties – thus limiting both the imaginations of audiences and filmmakers – in a way that’s unstoppable unless a West coast economic catastrophe happens. Well, at least, that’s the conventional wisdom.

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Three Days of the Condor

The glut of American superhero films that continue to dominate the US box office have proven time and again to provide a rich and repeated diagnoses of post-9/11 American power. Whether showing an empowered Spider-Man triumphantly swinging between NYC buildings, depicting Bruce Wayne going all Patriot Act to save Gotham from being subsumed in terror, witnessing Iron Man privatize the defense industry, or simply blowing up iconic buildings ad nauseum, these films have served – sometimes with surprising depth – as startling funhouse mirrors for 21st century values, sentiment, and fears as they bear upon the politics and iconography of armed defense and homeland security. But no other film in this endless cycle of cinematic behemoths has explored with such clarity and precision the larger paranoia-industrial complex as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Black Widow in Captain America The Winter Soldier

For a while now, a storm’s been building. Comic book movie fans are wondering why we have yet to see a female-lead superhero film despite being in the middle of a boom of comic book movies that show virtually every other kind of superhero film getting made. The knee-jerk answer is “sexism,” but I think it’s more complicated than that. We might not have gotten a Wonder Woman movie yet, but you also have to remember that Warners has thus far balked on films about the Flash, the Justice League, and took forever to decide if it was going to do a sequel to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. All three of those projects spent a lot of time in development before being abandoned. (Though all signs are that Warners is moving forward on a different Justice League project at some point soon.) Since Marvel has put out a lot more product over the last several years, it’s harder to give them the same excuse. Thus far, Marvel Studios’ films have only featured one female superhero – Black Widow. With appearances in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Scarlett Johansson’s depiction of the character has become quite popular. While she’s not the only Avenger to miss out on a solo shot (Hawkeye being the other one), you don’t have to go too far on the internet to find fans taking umbrage that Black Widow is “only a sidekick” in the Captain America sequel. However, if the choice was between having Black Widow in The Winter Soldier and having her in a solo film, […]

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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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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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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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Captain America Winter Soldier Banner

Well, you can take the superhero out of the Avengers, but you can’t take the Avengers out of the superhero. You would think that he would still be struggling to adjust to life in the modern world after, you know, being frozen for 70 years and then almost immediately fighting aliens in New York City, but it seems that Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is doing pretty well for himself as he continues to work for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. But as the title Captain America: The Winter Soldier implies, this isn’t really a team effort. Sure, he’s got Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) by his side to kick ass and take names, but we all know that when it comes down to it, that very Jared Leto-y looking villain is going to have to answer to the red, white and blue. As with any Marvel venture, there is explosion upon explosion, crashing car upon collapsing aircraft carrier, and it is all glorious. Soak it up. Plot wise, it’s still not clear why exactly it’s all on Captain America to save the nation, but there will undoubtedly be about 10 more trailers to dissect in the very long stretch between now and April. Check out the trailer for the Anthony and Joe Russo-directed film here:

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Captain America

From the looks of things, Captain America has definitely thawed out by now and is geared up to defend his beloved country on his own, post -The Avengers. The first images for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have arrived, via USA Today, showing Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) kicking ass and surveying his handiwork, and it also seems that he’s gone through a little makeover since the last time he appeared on screen. Gone is the red, white, and blue, stars and stripes bodysuit with matching head cap, it’s now replaced by a sleek black and silver incarnation. It’s more stealthy than overtly patriotic – but don’t worry; the shield is still intact. The overhead shot depicts the Captain in the moments after he takes on an elevator full of bad guys and obviously wins. What kind of superhero movie do you think this is?

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Hasbro Header

With New York Comic-Con kicking off today, Gotham is about to be inundated with all sorts of geeky goodness, and the fine folks at Hasbro like to stake their cool claim early. Every year the toy company hosts a swinging party called “Twas the Night Before” before the con kicks off, and they use the lure of hand-crafted thematic cocktails, finger foods, and tons of toys to get the press to turn out. It works – very well – for one simple reason (no, not the booze), but because nothing is off limits for play and examination, even new toys that haven’t been released yet (and toys that are quietly shuffled out of the party space when things get really rolling). Yes, you can manhandle that new Spider-Man mask, and then you can go right ahead and pose for pictures with a new My Little Pony right next to a display of new Furbies that give birth to small Furby eggs. Playing with toys will never get old. Probably. We think. After the break, check out some of very favorite things from last night’s “Twas the Night Before…” shindig, including new toys from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and many more.

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Captain America and The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The First Avenger was an odd movie. For one, it didn’t take on the “realistic” aesthetic we see so many comic-book movies aim for. Secondly, how often are superhero movies that unabashedly sentimental and light-hearted? Steve Rogers was a genuinely great guy who believed that the right would always prevail. There was no moral ambiguity in the first film for him to question. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy. From the sound of it, that’s not the movie we’ll be seeing with the film’s sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Although that’s slightly disappointing to hear, speaking with actor Sebastian Stan, reprising his role as Bucky Barnes and taking on a new one with Winter Soldier, there’s a good reason for that tonal shift. The movie takes place in 2013, and showing Steve now a part of a less black and white world should make for an interesting direction to take the character in.

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Marvel Studios Panel At Comic-Con

We could write all about the Marvel Studios Comic-Con panel from yesterday. We could dig through Twitter and the coverage from other sites and our own chats with some of the Marvel stars (coming later today) and give you a list of things we learned. Or we could just publish this video of the panel and let you make your own conclusions. That second option sounds great, as there is no perfect way to explain what happened when Tom Hiddleston took the stage in full character and turned a 6,000 person Hall H crowd into an army of loyal followers. Apparently we all just want to be ruled. All that trouble in The Avengers for nothing. So sit back and enjoy the Marvel Studios panel from the comfort of your own home. You’ll get updates on the more medieval Thor: The Dark World, the S.H.I.E.L.D.-heavy Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the out-of-this-world Guardians of the Galaxy and a little update about something called Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Anthony Mackie in Captain America 2

On tonight’s Movie News After Dark, we start with a few words on the Netflix Streampocalypse that will undoubtedly be wreaking havoc on your life, then move on to this week’s big stories: Iron Man, Marvel, Iron Man, Marvel, Thai Iron Man.

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