There’s something about a superhero, right? Though I’ve always loved watching the television shows and film adaptations, I’ve never really done the comic reading thing. I appreciate the artwork that goes into them, but for whatever reason, the format doesn’t particularly attract me. This generation of Marvel films really knows how to bring in the people, regardless of geekery (or non, as the case may be)—and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is by far my favorite. Whereas some may be thrilled by effects and explosions, I found that The Winter Soldier’s ability to dial those things back a bit was what really drew me in. There’s an overall throwback feel and a connection to humanity that keeps the film grounded just enough to make it all *almost* believable. In fact, I loved it so much the first viewing, I ran right back to the theater again.
*OBVIOUSLY spoilers abound.
1. The Adorable Bromance Between Steve and Sam.
From their first moments onscreen together, there’s an easy rapport between these two vets Their military background binds them together and provides the realistic shorthand they share. Anthony Mackie couldn’t have been a more perfect choice; he’s a natural.
2. Falcon’s Backstory and Wings.
That Sam was part of a secret military program and uses a special set of mechanical wings made perfect sense, and hot damn, those wings are cool! It was also nice to see him leading the veteran’s group; a logical way to show his honor and loyalty—why he’d be Steve’s close friend.
3. A Stranger in This New World, and the Captain’s Old Uniform.
So here’s this old guy in a new world, and he retains his values and sense of self, taking time to write himself a list to check out some of the new stuff. He’s still adjusting, but doesn’t allow himself to be overwhelmed by it all. When he does feel the need to take a step back, the Captain quietly reminisces in the relative comfort of his museum display. It a neat way to handle Rogers’ transition, and fitting when the Captain went back for his glorious old uniform (which I so prefer to the new). There was an ease to the way the film handled the character’s transition, and Chris Evans has that old soul thing going—it all worked well.
4. That French Kickboxer Dude and the Awesome Fight.
OMG, this fight was one of my favorite scenes, I could watch it a zillion times. And yes, I’ve been informed the French dude is (a much cooler) Batroc the Leaper (Georges St-Pierre). Fantastic.
5. The Elevator Fight.
See part of the scene at the 1:32 mark:
I mean, come on. From the moment the Captain got on that elevator and Brock (Frank Grillo)—yes, I now know he’s Crossbones—stepped in, we all knew something big was coming. This exhilarating fight was my second favorite.
6. Emily VanCamp as Agent 13/Sharon Carter.
VanCamp was a total surprise for me, and a great choice to play Sharon. Revenge has been one of my on/off guilty pleasure shows, so it was kind of hysterical to read the filmmakers chose the actress based on that series. She brought both a playful, approachable side, and a toughness—loved when Carter stood up to Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández), and VanCamp’s performance left me wanting to see more.
7. Natasha/Black Widow Being Both Brains and Brawn, and Her Burgeoning Friendship with the Captain.
While at times I can’t decide exactly how I feel about Scarlett Johansson, the actress, as Black Widow, she does a fine job of treading the line between smart, kickass and slightly flirtatious. Without falling too deeply into the rabbit hole of maximum allowable superheroine sexiness, I’ll just say that for me Black Widow hits the right notes. I love that she’s often a step ahead of the Captain, doing her own thing and waiting for him to catch up. She’s the right combination of tough, but not infallible. Throughout the film, she outsmarts most of the men around her, and she kicks plenty of ass as well. There are a few moments where she’s made out to be vulnerable, and the Captain supports her emotionally or physically—but she does the same for him. Oh, and that reveal when Councilwoman Hawley (Jenny Agutter) was replaced by Black Widow—cheers all around!
8. “Shall We Play a Game?”
Natasha’s War Games reference was utterly delightful. I know you comic peeps are all nutso over the Zola head/robot thing, but all I cared about was that line.
9. Nick Fury’s Wild Ride.
I didn’t for one minute think Fury was dead, but this chase scene—it was brilliant and scary. Again it was an extra cool sequence, because with no superhuman powers we didn’t quite know how Fury would escape. On top of that, Sam Jackson just brings the cool to everything he does—every word, every action—the man is perfection.
10. Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce.
At age 77, the man is still bringing it. As a S.H.I.E.L.D. senior and covert Hydra leader, Redford lends gravitas to what could have been a cartoon-ish role. With a twinkle in his eye and a half-hidden smirk, the film veteran was just the right pick for a corporate villain, and it’s so great to see him in the Marvel world. I also cannot let a Redford moment pass without plugging All Is Lost; if you want to see a master carry an entire film without much more than a few well-placed curse words, do yourself a favor and watch.