For the past few weeks, the advance word on Captain America: The Winter Soldier is that it’s as good as The Avengers if not the best Marvel movie to date. It even made curmudgeony ol’ fusspot Jeff Wells’ heart grow three sizes as it should have because the hype is real. Winter Soldier is the best Marvel movie to date that smacks you around like a vibranium shield to the dick. Which sounds more painful than pleasurable, but shh, shh, that’s in the past now. It’s in the past.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers although almost every single one of them has been included in promotional materials by now and, surprisingly, didn’t lessen the movie at all. Even the part when Robert Redford turned out to be Doctor Strange which I did not see coming. Kidding! Kidding. That didn’t happen. (Or did it?)
The Shit That Worked
- Everything. Everything worked. Usually about halfway through these things (Looking at you, Thor: The Dark World.) some sort of shoe drops that snaps you right out of the movie and makes you wonder when this shit’s going to be over. That did not happen once. Everything clips along smoothly, and there’s not a single scene where the momentum grinds to a halt. Which is pretty damn impressive for a film that functions as a 70s political espionage thriller as much as it does a CGI superhero movie starring Shield Man, Karate Lady, Flying Brother, and EmoHair RobotArm: Super Assassin.
- The casting. I have never been completely sold on Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, but he definitely found his groove and just in time to be killed and replaced by Bucky in the third movie. And speaking of Bucky, Sebastian Stan was fucking awesome as the Winter Soldier. The costume was perfect and he was goddamn ruthless which I’ll get back to in a second. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury finally got some scenery to chew along with character development even if he’s still nowhere near the intricate spymaster as his comics counterpart. Robert Redford was perfect even though it never stopped being weird seeing Robert Redford in a Marvel movie. As great as Winter Soldier was, my brain could not stop going, “This shouldn’t be happening…” Anthony Mackie, fucking solid. Frank Grillo, badass as Crossbones even though he never did anything to indicate he was Crossbones including wearing the mask or even being referred to as Crossbones, but he was definitely Crossbones. Cobie Smulders, better than Lindsay Lohan: Movie Star. And most surprisingly, Scarlett Johansson wasn’t a superfluous character shoehorned in to setup The Avengers.
- The fight scenes. Good god, the fight scenes. The characters in this movie, even Captain America, do not fuck around. I would put this flick toe-to-toe with any action movie except for Hard Target. In Hard Target Jean-Claude Van Damme punches a snake. Nothing beats punching a snake. Nothing.
- The CGI. For a movie that has three flying aircraft carriers blasting the fuck out of each other above Washington D.C. while a man with metal falcon wings zips around them getting his black ass shot at, the effects sold the shit out of it. There was not one laughably bad scene on account of the CGI which is a goddamn miracle when it comes to superhero movies.
- The suspension of disbelief. If you want to nitpick this movie, there are things to nitpick. For example, Black Widow should’ve snapped in half at least twice while fighting the Winter Soldier. Not to mention, we’ve seen Cap’s kick send men flying off a ship, yet somehow he’s not caving their skulls in when he roundhouses them in the face. But after the fantastical shitfest that was Thor The Dark World, these are tiny little quibbles that still work – and how – within the “rules” of Winter Soldier’s world. Rules that will go right out the fucking window in The Avengers: The Age of Ultron, but that’s neither here nor there yet.
- The story. Having already read Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier run, I was worried about what this movie was going to bring to the table considering I already knew the twists and turns. Turns out Marvel was smart enough to lift just bits and pieces and then write their own story around the existing framework. So if you’re looking for the same exact story as the comics, you’ll get something respectful to that, but really, why would you want to see a story you already know played out exactly as you know it? That’s some boring-ass shit.
- The middle-aged black woman in the theater who clearly had no idea Bucky is the Winter Soldier. I’m a giant nerd, so I already knew going into the movie who he was. On top of that, I work in the media, so I’ve been pummeled with press material full of Sebastian Stan openly talking about the role because Marvel isn’t J.J. Abrams. So when you’re in that kind of bubble, you forget that the average moviegoer has barely a clue about these characters outside of what they’ve already seen in the previous films. Which is why during the pivotal scene where the Winter Soldier loses his mask and Captain America sees his face for the first time, this woman as clear as day yells, “It’s his freeyend!” like she saw a goddamn ghost. I will never, for the rest of my life, be able to watch that scene again without laughing every single time. Whoever you are, Theater Talking Lady, God bless you. God bless you.
- The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tie-in. Not because it was clever synergy/cross-promotion of two Marvel products that gave diehard fans an extra layer of story, but because the show set the bar so clown-shoes low for how S.H.I.E.L.D can look onscreen that Winter Soldier looked like a goddamn masterpiece. (Also, if you had Sitwell pegged as The Clairvoyant, I’ve got some bad news for you.)
- The running gag. Throughout the movie, there’s a running gag where Black Widow keeps bringing up potential women for Captain America to date while in their middle of missions. It’s innocent, and sounds way worse than it plays onscreen, but the more I thought about it, she’s trying to save his life. Because here’s a fundamental fact that the movie tries to carefully dance around, but once you realize it, there’s no ignoring it: Captain America is a virgin. And a virgin who hasn’t had sex with a woman’s vagina is more prone to say things like, “No, childhood best friend, I’d rather die than kill you,” instead of remembering his super-soldier body can score crazy pussy and kicking his best bud into an exploding aircraft carrier so he can continue doing just that. It’s really the greatest act of kindness any character’s shown him in all three movies he’s been in, if not his entire comic book history.
The Shit That Kinda Worked
- Arnim Zola. If there was one possible scene where the movie kind of went pear-shaped, albeit slightly, it was the Arnim Zola exposition-fest which could’ve been way, way worse if you’re familiar with how he’s been portrayed in the comics. Also, the movie had to move the needle on AI to get this Marvel universe closer to Ultron, so I was willing to let it slide whereas Photo Boy was wondering what the fuck that shit was all about instead of focusing on
working my the movie. Instead of focusing on the movie. Ahaha!
The Shit That Shat
- The post-credit kicker. After watching a two-hour, tightly crafted political action thriller, it’s a huge tonal shift to jump right to cartoonishly German Hydra agents talking about “zee twins” and how “zey are a miracle” because Fox owns the exclusive rights to the word mutant and, oh I dunno, the father of these two new characters. No biggie.
- Sitting through the rest of the credits to watch Bucky go to the Smithsonian. Will he fight for good in Captain America 3 or teach us the history of aviation? STAY TUNED.
And that about wraps it up. Sorry, it took so long to get this up (That’s what she said.), but as you can see, I wrote way, way too many words because I’m a lonely dork. But if it’s any consolation, this review like so many others before it will almost certainly get me negative laid. And if you’re wondering exactly how that works, let me explain: Somewhere, some place, a woman is sitting quietly when suddenly her vagina begins to talk. “Hey. Hey, you,” it’ll say. “Listen up. One day, you will meet a man. A loose definition of the word man. And upon meeting that man you will decide against all logic and reason to put his penis inside of me. And should that happen, I want you to know that at the most humiliatingly possible moment of your life, I will queef. I will queef loudly and clearly with just the right amount of wet raspberry flapping at the end so that anyone within earshot has literally no doubt about what just happened. The choice is yours.”