Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Discuss: Captain America: The Winter Soldier -Spoiled Edition!

Karen: OK, we've waited an appropriate amount of time -now we can blab about all the great stuff in Captain America:The Winter Soldier! To get the ball rolling, I'll share some email exchanges Doug and I had about the movie. Maybe you can build off that, or share your own thoughts about this great Marvel flick!


Doug: Captain America was just wonderful -- what a great superhero movie. As others have remarked, it's in Marvel's top 3 alongside Iron Man and the Avengers. Chris Evans makes me believe that he is Steve Rogers. This screen version of Captain America, although a bit more tolerant of lethal force than I'm used to, is truly how I'd see the character. The increased roles for the Widow and Nick Fury were welcome, and the Falcon was incredibly well-handled. Throw in the Lemurian reference, a Stephen Strange reference, the way they played Arnim Zola and Batroc, Baron Strucker, and three (!) Helicarriers and there was a lot to love.

Karen: I thought you'd love Cap. They really did a fantastic job on the film. I feel like Chris Evans has finally grown into the role -I actually believe him as Cap now. I'm very happy to see that principled character I grew up with up there on the big screen. I really can't fault his performance at all.

Karen: I also was very pleased with the Falcon and how they introduced him. Thankfully he was not an agent of SHIELD! His comics origin would have been too convoluted to use, but I liked what they did, especially the idea that he was counseling returning veterans. And the flying! That was outstanding. His relationship with Cap was perfect too. I loved how they met. And some of his lines -"I do what he does, only slower." -classic.

The whole infiltration of Hydra into SHIELD was a great idea. I've been interested for years in Operation Paperclip and the incorporation of Nazi scientists into our space program and other areas  of government, like post-war intelligence networks, and it's very troubling. It's not that hard to imagine that in a world of super-beings, a group like Hydra could worm its way into a large organization like that. We've been very lukewarm viewers of the Agents of SHIELD show, but I have to say, the way they tied this movie's events into the show was pretty clever. All this does make you wonder how the rest of the films will be affected.

I loved Arnim Zola! Do you see a trend here? Love, love, loved it all!

Doug: I'm a little confused on two things in the first bonus scene, however. Didn't Loki have the scepter with him when he sat on Asgard's throne at the end of the last Thor picture? And, are we to assume that the Maximoff twins will not be mutants but instead genetic constructs of Hydra?

Karen: I thought Loki/Odin was holding Odin's spear at the end of Thor 2, but I'd have to check. As for the twins, I guess this is their workaround for not being able to use the term 'mutant' -they just make them experiments. Did you notice that Pietro's hair was still dark in this scene, but in the pictures from Avengers: Age of Ultron, it is turning white? Maybe as he uses his powers, it will turn white? Also, it seems that perhaps Wanda's powers may be more telekinetic than probability-altering? Perhaps that would be easier for an audience to understand?

Doug: I missed the whole Crossbones thing, but then I have no experience with the character. Was he the main Hydra soldier, that was with Cap in the initial scene and then was the main guy in the control room scene when Agent 13 put a gun to his head?  Also, when Fury was being attacked by the Washington, DC police, did I hear his "Jarvis" say that there were no humans in range? So were they all LMDs?

Karen: Yes, you got it. Brock Rumlow =Crossbones. It will be interesting to see if they put him in his mask. He could be interpreted as  a Bane rip-off by some.

I didn't pick up on the LMD comment. I'll have to listen for that when I see the movie again! (NOTE -On my second viewing, it sounds to me like the AI says "No units in the area," referring to the Metro police).

I thought the scene with Peggy was unnecessary. It didn't actually do anything for the story. They should have either cut it, or built upon it. The only mis-step in the movie, in my opinion. 

Doug: See, I thought the Peggy scene served to cement Cap's "man out of time" element. Looking at how young she was, and how beautiful she was in the first film, it did (for me) hammer home the point that Cap and Bucky would be 95 years old! So for me it worked, because it would later bring the incredulity to Cap when he saw the Winter Soldier unmasked. Of course, at the end of the film we got to see Bucky in a cryogenic chamber in that KGB folder. 

Karen: Don't get me wrong, I like Peggy a lot, and would like to see more of her, but I felt that scene needed more follow up -it felt sort of thrown in there.

Speaking of, and I need to research this -- didn't the KGB go away when the Soviet Union fell in 1990? If so, it would be difficult for the Widow to be KGB trained, as she'd have been 6 years old.

Karen: I asked the same thing about the Widow to my husband, who just shrugged it off, after the film. We're getting pretty far away from the Soviet era  now. I asked also why the Winter Soldier had the red star on his shoulder if he'd been working for Hydra all these years -or was it  Hydra within the KGB? It is a little confusing but I guess it doesn't prevent me from enjoying the movie.

And how about Cap taking down a whole jet with just his shield? Wasn't that an incredible scene? It gets across the point that he deserves to be a part of the Big Three. That to me felt very much like comic book action.

Doug: So there you have it -- some thoughts from your hosts to get things rolling today. Have at it!


William said...

Great synopsis of some key points guys.

Doug, as in regards to what Fury's onboard computer said about other people in the area. Karen was right in that it said that there were no "Police units" in the area (or something to that effect). Which simply served to let Fury (and the audience)know that those guys weren't real cops. They were however real people, and not LMDs.

I really loved this movie. Definitely my favorite Marvel Studios film after Avengers. What's funny is that I didn't much care for the whole "Winter Soldier" idea in the comics, but I thought it worked great as a movie.

Here are some of my favorite things about Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

1. The action scenes. Right from the beginning the movie established that Cap was a total bada$$. The way he used his shield was right out of the comics. And Karen I loved the scene where he took down the plane as well. Now that's my Captain America.

2. Falcon. I agree with everything you guys said. That is about as good a movie version of the Sam Wilson as we could ever hope for.

3. Batroc. I thought that was awesome that they had him in the movie. I was so happy to see that they made him a highly trained martial artist like he is in the comics.

4. Arnim Zola. I especially loved the classic "evil" German accent. I hope he returns in future Marvel films. They could evolve him to incorporate his robot body.

5. All the other comic characters like Sharon Carter (Agent 13), and references to other Marvel characters like Dr. Strange.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head. If I think of anything else I'll post it later.

Dr. Oyola said...

I am going to take big leap here and this was even better than the Avengers. Don't get me wrong Avengers is great, but this one was better paced and allowed time for characterization that a team movie doesn't allow for.

I agree with most of Doug and Karen's positive comments.

Some responses:

- I assumed KGB was just shorthand for Russian espionage and security agencies (if I remember correctly the KGB was split into two agencies after the fall of the Soviet Union)

- I agree with Karen, there could have been more done with Peggy - perhaps by making a stronger tie to Sharon.

- I didn't know who Crossbones was either until a friend told me about him after the film. Maybe he can come back as Taskmaster in a later film!

- Batroc was great! The kind of villain that is good for a set piece, but that you can't build a movie around.

- The set-up with Fury and the ship or whatever was a little too convoluted.

- The Falcon was great. Love that he counseled soldiers. But no Redwing! ;)

- I never much liked Falcon in the comics, but this movie has made me re-consider taking another look at him.

- Nice to see Cap and Black Widow have a partnership without a hint of romance

- The politics of the movie were certainly. . . uh, interesting. I have thoughts - but that's its own blog post.

- Hail Hydra!

Anonymous said...

Doug: Speaking of, and I need to research this -- didn't the KGB go away when the Soviet Union fell in 1990? If so, it would be difficult for the Widow to be KGB trained, as she'd have been 6 years old.

Well, remember the scene with Bruce Banner and Natasha in India in THE AVENGERS? Bruce comments about the little Indian girl being quite young for a spy. Natasha responds by saying that she started out that young.

Karen: I asked also why the Winter Soldier had the red star on his shoulder if he'd been working for Hydra all these years -or was it Hydra within the KGB?

In the comics, Winter soldier was a Soviet operative. In the film, I figured that the Soviet references (the red star on the shoulder, Soviet slugs, etc)were meant as cover. That way, no one would think to trace the semi-mythical Winter Soldier back to SHIELD.


Anonymous said...

RE: Favorite scenes.

CGI just leaves me cold. Stuntwork, though, still excites. Hence, for me, the scene showing Cap taking out ( mostly one handed) an elevator full of well-trained men was more exciting than watching a CGI Cap destroying a CGI SHIELD plane.


Doug said...

trajan --

You're good! I do recall that line from the Avengers, spoken by the Widow. So it could fit.



Anonymous said...

IIRC, the computer said, "Metro DC police dispatch shows no units in this area," so the point (as I understood it) was that Fury's attackers were impostors, not real cops. I assumed that they were human Hydra agents, not robots.

The movie Cap seems "more tolerant of lethal force" than long time (Silver and/or Bronze Age) comics fans are used to, but movies are aimed at a broader audience, including fans of James Bond, Dirty Harry, and Rambo.

In Golden Age issues, Cap and Bucky were sometimes shown killing villains and enemy soldiers when they had to. By the 1960's, violence in comics was toned down, but even so, some stories set in WWII showed Cap and Bucky using deadly force. In Tales of Suspense #64, for example, they blew up an enemy submarine. And in Invaders #21, Cap shot down a German aircraft.

In Captain America #321-322, he was forced to shoot a terrorist in order to rescue hostages, and that story claimed that he had never used a gun or killed anyone before. But in Avengers: Endless Wartime (2013), a WWII flashback sequence shows Cap blowing up a German bomber in flight. So, with all the retcons and revisions, there is no definitive version.

Movies usually make changes from the source material, annoying fans of the original, but this movie generally stays faithful to the spirit of the original. I liked the idea of Sam Wilson as a counselor at the VA. Also, having him as a veteran of Air Force pararescue provides a plausible explanation for his combat skills. And it's good to see a Gulf War veteran who is not portrayed as a serial killer or psychopath. For a change. (There is a brief scene of some PTSD patients in group therapy at the VA clinic, and, again, at least they are not portrayed as a bunch of drooling homicidal maniacs.)

The KGB ended when the Soviet Union collapsed. Unless Natasha is a lot older than Scarlett Johansson, she would have been about six or seven at the time. The successor agency is (in English) the FSB (Federal Security Bureau). Maybe they should have just used some generic term, like, "Russian Secret Service."

Or maybe the Soviet Union still exists in the Marvel Universe? The Winter Soldier was supposedly a Soviet hit man, but he first appeared in the comics almost fifteen years after the Soviet Union fell apart IRL.

Doug said...

Thanks for the informative comments, Anonymous!

I remarked to Karen when I first brought up the potential LMD comment that the theater at which I saw Cap is a wonderful old auditorium. However, there have been issues with the upgraded sound system to the extent that when I saw The Dark Knight at that theater there was quite a bit of dialogue that was unintelligible. It seemed that they've gotten some things straightened out, but I was still unclear on whether or not the line said "no humans present".


Pat Henry said...

I also see KGB as shorthand for "Russian Secret Service."Maybe they should just call it SMERSH. Marvel World is not our world, after all.

Loved this movie; and it was surprisingly much more relevant, with s stronger resonance, than most other movies set in the modern security state. So much for "funny books."

I like how they made Steve's Greatest Generation ethic really shine as he confronts this Brave New World of security surveillance and subterfuge. I think that is one reason for the scene with Peggy—"we screwed up, Steve"—but also to answer what I think were common viewers' questions from the first film about what happened to her.

I continue to be impressed with how Marvel seems to understand what book elements will transfer gracefully to film and which will not, all while being true to the nature of these characters. I am getting less perturbed about the continual unmaskings; secret identities appear to be a thing of the past, as IM made SO clear, and audiences are paying to see handsome actors.

Remarkable that after all these years the Creative Forces have finally discovered these are great action-adventure characters exactly as they were depicted in the original. They've really proven the formula.

Anonymous said...

Most Valuable Supporting player: Frank Grillo as Rumlow

Best Makeup: Fantastic old-age makeup on Peggy

Best Samuel L. Jackson moment: Nick Fury in the car fighting goons.

Best Brick Joke: "On your Left"

Best use of '70s computer technology: The Arnim Zola AI

Best Disguise: Steve proving that Clark Kenting works

Inexplicable Museum Location: Why was the Captain America exhibit in the Air and Space Museum and not in The National Museum of American History?

Moment that didn't happen, and I'm glad that it didn't happen: Robert Redford did not, at the climax of the film, rip off his Robert Redford mask and reveal that he was actually the Red Skull the whole time.That would have been too hokey.

Moment that did happen and I'm glad that it did: Steve Meeting Peggy. Very touching.


William Preston said...

I think this was far superior to The Avengers. That movie worked okay, but several elements--including the entire opening sequence--are clunky. The movie doesn't take off until the fight in the forest. Also, though the scope of The Avengers was meant to be epic, it felt like it took place in a few blocks of NYC, by and large.

Cap:WS, by contrast, had no clunkiness or cheesiness--except for the intentional (and commented upon by the actors in the War Games reference) cheesiness of the Arnim Zola computer. It also felt, to me, bigger, and with a threat that wasn't "generic aliens defeated within minutes." The movement from scene to scene, from combat to quiet, was exceptionally well handled. At no point did I feel a "quiet" scene was shoehorned in for the purpose of exposition. That's established at the outset, with the way Sam Wilson is introduced and we move from Cap showing off, having a conversation of significance, and being called to a mission . . . which segued nicely to that next sequence. And that next sequence continues the conversational tone, though now it's The Widow and Cap in discussion. You got the sense of real people with actual lives engaged in this stuff. At the same time, Cap was a superhero, showing off his powers as well as his limitations. There probably could have been some more clear explanation of the Winter Soldier (how he's defrosted only for occasional missions over the years), but otherwise, a great many plot threads were handled well, and the acting was top-notch. Redford didn't seem to be slumming; instead, the movie took his role seriously, grounding the film.

How many car chase/attack scenes have we all viewed over the years? Even so, the Fury scene was surprising and intense and, like the hand-to-hand fights, felt fully integrated into an environment that, at any moment, could be helpful or difficult.

What a great experience.

Anonymous said...

Just some general comments, nothing specific...

I loved this movie! I agree with Karen, this is my Captain America up there on the big screen.

I knew it was going to be good, when my 24 y/o and 19 y/o daughters took me to see it. That they even wanted to see something like this told me that it was going to be good. When we left the theatre with them both commenting on much they enjoyed CA:WS confirmed it.

The two Cap movies and The Avengers are excellently done superhero movies. I can't wait to watch The Winter Soldier again, as I missed the Dr. Strange reference :(!

Loved the way The Falcon was portrayed!

David in Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

It was worth the wait!!!! I'm speaking of both the Cap movie and today's spoiled blog. I really feel that movie technology/techniques and the people using them are making movies that bring "our" comic book universe to the big screen. I've heard in a few different interviews where the Russo brothers wanted as much realism and as little CGI as possible.

One quick tidbit, the Peggy Carter scene was shot with Hayley Atwell as is then CGIed to age her. It wasn't make up! I know! Right?

The movie worked as a movie, not as a comic book movie, it was smart, insightful and well paced. I loved the little characteristics that were folded into each character. The Cap I grew up with was always training, ALWAYS. The scene that introduced Sam Wilson had Steve out running, I mean, come on, how classic was that. It couldn't have been better even if you had mixed in rings and a pommel horse. And the wrap around of "on your left" from Sam and Steve's first meeting to the hospital scene was subtle but cool.

Doug, before I forget, Natasha ripping off the rubber mask was just the greatest scene that Marvel Studios has produced so far. In my opinion, as a US American, surpassing Hulk throwing Loki around. "Puny God" indeed.

Let me throw out the things that didn't sit well with me. I did not like the Peggy death scene. I think it would have added more to Steve Roger's isolation for them to have never gotten to say goodbye. Where he turns away from her picture would have just torn you apart that much more.
The Howling Commandoes exhibit was a cool shout out to his origin but I didn't like how they Hollywooded it to say Bucky was the only one to have died. War does not work that way. Every unit took casualties; when Captain America went knocking on the front door of the Hydra Base in the first movie, look at how many men they lost just getting in.

I would love to just go through this movie start to finish but that would take too long. Karen, as I asked before, could you imagine this movie unfolding over 8 or 9 issues?

The secret base under a secret base!!??!! Steve knowing that the munitions building was in the wrong place. Finding Arnim Zola in the computers. It's not the tools, its the craftsman. Remember when Howard Stark was looking over the sub and remarked it was something he had never seen before. HOWARD STARK!!!

One of my favorite scenes was when they finally had the helicarriers reprogrammed and they turned on each other. I got the Patrick O'Brian feeling of the old ships of the line fighting both sides just hammering away at each other, asking no quarter and giving none. Another scene was when Agent Hill was in the control room after Abed had cleared out. She was monitoring the door as well as her other duties and middle of the sentence pushes the chair back BAM BAM shoots the two guys and goes back into what she's doing.

Let me jump to the credit scenes. Seeing Loki's spear from the Avengers. We all thought it would be locked away under guard or at least warehoused al a Raiders of the Lost Ark, but to see that is no longer under SHIELD control!!! I wonder if there's a box somewhere with a walking cane in it. And Pietro and Wanda not being mutants but mutated? Way to go Marvel Studios!

There's still so much to go over, but I've gone too long as it is....

The Prowler (going back in this weekend).

PS Humanbelly, was the movie "The Sword and the Sorcerer"? If I remember Lee Horsley was crucified in that movie. You went to movies with your sister? I didn't know you were from Arkansas? LOL, I slay me......

Anonymous said...

Loved it. One of the best movies I've seen. I gushed about it in my brief review on the AA boards.

Falcon was great. BW was fantastic.....I wish she would slip in a bit of her Russian accent, but why would a double-agent slip out of character, it would be dumb.....I still would like it.

I think I heard someone mention STEPHEN STRANGE----how cool would a trippy DR STRANGE movie be???


Anonymous said...

And now for the things I forgot:

Scene I wanted to see: Spinning newspaper with headline "Guard finds missing uniform, hailed as National Hero!" Big picture of Stan in his guard uniform in front of a bank of microphones, implying Steve not only left a note when he took the electron er vintage uniform but returned it when he was done.

An outtake of Samuel L Jackson covered in blood whispering to Chris, "But I'm the glueeeee...."

Things I would like to see come out of this movie:

Stark Industries becoming Stark International as Maria Hill opens the European offices. She runs into either AIM or a branch of Hydra and teams with Paul The Paladin Denning and Michael The Torpedo Stivak to bring them down and save the day. At the end, a failed business man by the name of Simon Williams gets recruited by the crushed organization to under go a "procedure".

Chloe Sullivan, former SHIELD agent, now investigative reporter uncovers a lack of widespread police corruption on New York City. A series of professional hits seems to take out the key player(s) before they can fully form. The Maggia seems to be making a play for control and Chloe teams with a shadowy figure by the name of Mathilda (played by an adult Natalie Portman) to save the day. At the end, Chloe mentions to Mathilda she knows of a lawyer in Hell's Kitchen who could help her with any legal issues.

As good as this movie is and the bar that's being raised with Marvel Studios, is the Hulk becoming the forgotten Avenger? Is history repeating itself? Am I asking questions and not answering them?

The Prowler (you betcha).

Humanbelly said...

Ha! Prowler, my Mother and her WHOLE SIDE OF THE FAMILY are from Arkansas-!!! (Oh lordy, what a dreadful state to visit as a child. . . in the 60's. . . at the height of summer. . . with no AC or indoor plumbing in their farmhouse. . . )


Anonymous said...

Spoiler of my own - I haven't seen it yet! All these positive comments make me want to see this movie really, really badly!

- Mike 'Hail Hydra too!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Mike, I'm with you: haven't seen it yet, either, and also increasingly excited about doing so (the spoilers in this thread actually make me want to see it more, not less).
Initially, I wasn't going to participate in this discussion because - as noted - I haven't seeen the movie yet, but since I just finally saw Thor II a few days ago, I feel I can make a useful contribution: Loki is indeed holding Odin's scepter at the end.

By the way - and I know I should probably go back to the Dark World post and comment there - but I have to say Thor II was a really fun romp for the most part. I didn't even mind the scenes with Kat Dennings. Only thing I didn't like was Frigga getting killed...

Humanbelly said...

Hey, the whole Widow's-KGB-Training question, up above? Scarlet J is the second person interviewed in one of the linked clips and she does talk a bit about Natasha's (undisclosed) backstory, which as an actress she herself needed to have completed, and she mentions that Natasha was taken AS A YOUNG CHILD into the KGB's "Widow Program" for training. It's like she was reading our minds. . . !

And I may not be politically informed enough, so I should ask: Did the KGB just dissolve w/ the fall of the Soviet Union, or did a lot of it/them simply get new jobs as part of the Russian Secret Service, or whatever? Seems like "former KGB" was a tag you'd hear for years and years on the news when it involved some old-school politically functionary. . .


Anonymous said...

The KGB was formally disbanded after the failed coup attempt in 1991. Some of its agents went into business as private investigators or security consultants.

The KGB was replaced by the FSB and SVR. Basically, they are equivalents of the FBI and CIA. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, became director of the FSB, and staffed it with a lot of his old KGB cronies. Now, with Putin as president, it's likely that a lot of FSB/ex-KGB men hold key positions in the Russian government.

"KGB" is still commonly used as shorthand for "Russian Secret Police" or "Russian Secret Service."

Humanbelly said...

Wow, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss". . .

Thanks much, Anonymous. I daren't ask my wife, as she's highly politically informed, and would smack me for not really knowing the answer already. And of course, during a discussion of Putin's antics on NPR yesterday they spoke a bit to his KGB past. (Wow. . . so he could totally be a "real world" tie-in to Natasha's childhood recruitment and training. I'm sure that would go over just wonderfully-!)


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