Out with the old, in with the new – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
My comic book experience is a tad frozen in time. My familiarity with storylines that take place after the mid-1990s is, at best, limited, not from any distaste for the material so much as an inability to cope with the sheer volume of storytelling that’s taken place over the medium’s ascendant decades. The last comic purchased in what could be termed my youth was issue #3 of Kingdom Come, and then it was off to college — and comics were for a long time a thing of the past. (Indeed, it would be several years before I finally found out who won the titanic alt-future showdown between Superman and Captain Marvel.) Over the past five years, as I’ve gotten into buying old comics and started the dopey blog you see before you, the interest has gone backwards, but not forwards from that jumping off point. Older comics are valuable, and the largely worthless comics from my childhood have sentimental value. The stuff after? Cheap and no nostalgia — not as much interest. (That comics were no longer printed on newsprint didn’t help. Is it truly a comic book if you can’t pull off an image with Silly Putty? No. No it is not.)
This is a roundabout way of saying that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the first time I’ve gone into a comic book movie with only a passing familiarity with a major character — in this case the titular villain. Yes, I know his senses-shattering secret identity and the general outlines of his whole deal, but he’s not internalized as characters like Loki and the Red Skull are. There isn’t a rote understanding of the chapter and verse. This is new for me, undiscovered country, which makes this movie a fresh experience, both watching it and reviewing it. Kind of nice — I feel a little bit like those people who scratched their heads after Thanos’s toothy cameo in The Avengers. Ignorance may be bliss.
And the verdict?
It’s good. Not great, but good, a solid effort that at no point demeans itself like Iron Man 3 did. As many others have said, The Winter Soldier injects a dose of Bourne series espionage and dirty tricks into the Marvel bloodstream, and this is a positive. Most importantly, it’s a stepping stone not just into next year’s Age of Ultron, but for the crossover universe as a whole. The training wheels are off, and there’s nothing but excitement in these quarters about what that means.
More on that last point and other observations, as well as a final verdict, on the next page. Click on if you’re so inclined — and only minor spoilers if you’re worried. (Unless you count the Winter Soldier’s ID as a spoiler. Then there’s a big huge spoiler.)
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