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Out with the old, in with the new – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 4, 2014


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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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2014 9:44 am

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  2. almnop permalink
    May 25, 2014 8:21 pm

    Sorry, but CA:TWS is so much better, tighter storytelling and filmmaking than XM:DoFP, which I did enjoy nevertheless.
    Have seen CA:TWS 3 times in IMAX and it holds up, or even gets better. As good as Avengers.
    I might go see XM:DoFP again (not playing in IMAX many places because the unfortunate, overweight Godzilla is still filling those). I want to like XM:DoFP more but too much muddled time travel and too many characters we don’t get to care much about this time. Singer had a much better handle on that in the first 2 and Vaughn even did a better job in XM:FC. Vaughn even got me to enjoy Kevin Bacon, an actor I can’t stand to watch in anything else.
    Thanks for the in depth and if I do try XM:DoFP again it will be thanks to your thoughtful review.

    • May 26, 2014 12:52 pm

      While I liked the Captain America sequel, there was a bit too much deja vu to the underwhelming Star Trek follow-up — enhanced mysterious foe, old guy turncoat at the head of the good guy organization, big threatening ship(s), etc. Captain America Into Darkness. And bless ScarJo, but her Black Widow only speaks in wry quips. JLawr FTW.

      But to each their own as always.

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