Genre: Action/Superhero
Premise: (from IMDB) Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from a nemesis shrouded in mystery, the one known only as the “Winter Soldier.”
About: Captain America smashed April records, bringing in 96 million dollars this weekend. It was written by mainstream writing titans Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who have written a Thor movie, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, and three (yes, the next one too) Captain America films. If you need to find these guys, look north of Sunset. One of the main choices the team was faced with, since most of Captain America’s life existed in the 1940s, was whether to include a lot of flashbacks. In an early draft, they did just that, before the flashback structure became “unwieldy.” Eventually, they came to the conclusion most writers do when dealing with flashbacks: “You [include flashbacks] when you don’t have enough interesting stuff [happening] in the present.” I agree wholeheartedly!
Writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (story by Ed Brubaker) created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Details: 136 minutes

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Captain America is a strange beast and one of the more surprising successes of the Marvel Universe. At his core, the Captain is a cheesy on-the-nose supster, the kind of hero made for another era. “Captain” “America.” How ridiculous does that sound when you say it out loud?

The unusually stiff Chris Evans embodies that on-the-nose idealism perfectly. Captain America is a big fat square, the kind of guy who’s going to remind you you didn’t put your turn signal on before changing lanes. To that end, you’d think people would be annoyed by him. But for some reason, they’re not. And I went to “The Winter Soldier” to find out why.

“The Winter Soldier” focuses on the aforementioned Steve Rogers (Captain America), a pint-sized nobody who enlisted during World War 2, only to be genetically modified into a giant hulking super-soldier. With a shield! Due to some tricky timeline logistics that required Captain America to be in The Avengers movie, a silly storyline was thought up where he was frozen for 70 years and unthawed in the present.

Steve now works for the U.S. Government as well as the secret super-hero agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., and is finding himself routinely disillusioned with his role. Whereas it used to be clear who the good guys and bad guys were, now it seems like half the guys on his teams have ulterior motives, including the sexy Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johanssen), who’s always disappearing to snatch up a USB drive or two that Steve had no idea about.

Eventually, Steve’s boss, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) is attacked by a mysterious baddie, known to the few who have seen him as the “Winter Soldier.” Steve eventually realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually corrupt from the inside, and that those ulterior motives everyone had were a precursor to a much bigger plan to use S.H.I.E.L.D. to take over the U.S. government, and eventually the world!

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The most obvious question one comes up with after they watch Captain America is: What the heck is “super-hero” about this guy??? He has a SHIELD. That’s it. A shield! That he uses to block stuff and occasionally throw at people. If that’s all it takes to become a super hero, give me half an hour and a trip to Target and I can be a super-hero, too.

That question can be extended to our bad guy as well, the Winter Soldier. The man has one really strong metal arm. That’s his “super power.” Here’s a question. Why didn’t they add a second super arm? Wouldn’t that have made him twice as formidable? I mean, what’s the logic in stopping at one?

And let’s talk about Black Widow. What is her super power? Being able to squeeze into a very tight latex outfit? Or Falcon? He has mechanical wings that allow him to fly around and distract people? These are super powers??? What ever happened to real super powers? Like Superman???

That’s what annoys me about the superhero universe. Things can be so arbitrary and we’re just asked to go with it because… well, because! The truth is many of these characters were designed in an era and in a medium that wasn’t subjected to the same kind of scrutiny we subject our movie characters to today.

And it leads to an interesting dilemma for the writers, one that some of you will have to deal with one day when you’re writing a superhero movie. Do you stick with the origins of the character to make the original fans happy? Or do you improve upon them to make the character more logical and realistic?

I guess, in the end, you’re either going to go with this flimsy-ruled world or you’re not. If you go with it, Captain America’s a pretty good movie. One of the main reasons for this is they built the story from the inside out. What I mean is that Markus and McFeely first asked who Captain America was, and then what the best situation would be to challenge that person (instead of coming up with a plot first and trying to wedge Captain America into it).

They realized that Captain America was very black and white.  He grew up in a time where it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You got your orders and you followed them without question. That was Captain America’s “comfort zone.”

Your job as a writer is to take your character out of their comfort zone. So this movie is about how grey the world has become. How, when a mission goes down these days, you’re not sure if you’re on the right side or not, if the guy next to you is on your team or someone else’s. That stuff starts to eat at Captain America. And it’s what gives this movie an extra layer or two.

It’s a great thing to remember when you’re writing one of these big “summer-type” films. You can make your script deeper simply by challenging your main character with some kind of inner conflict.  Add a theme as well (in this case, the theme deals with “trust”) and you have a more sophisticated blockbuster than 80% of the writers out there.

But let’s be honest, when you’re talking about a popcorn flick, the average moviegoer is judging you by your action scenes. Are they unique? Are they fun? Do they get you off your seat? For the most part, the action in Captain America was above average. But there were two scenes in particular that stood out. The Nick Fury car scene and the Captain America gets accosted by 20 men in the elevator scene.

The reason these scenes were cool was because a) we cared about the characters in danger. b) the stakes were high. c) the scenarios were impossible to get out of, and d) it was easy to understand what was going on. See, that last one is the biggie. You can get carried away with an action script, believing your set pieces have to have a million things going on at once. But actually, some of the simplest scenarios are the ones that work best. Nick Fury trapped in this car surrounded by 40 men with AK-47s unloading a non-stop barrage of bullets at him – we’re engaged because we’re wondering how the hell he’s going to get out of this, but also because it’s so easy to understand what’s going on.

Contrast that with the finale of Captain America. I didn’t know what the hell was going on in the climax. There were 18 different things happening at once and I’d forgotten what the ultimate goal was other than to “stop the bad guys.” It was a classic case of “throw everything and the kitchen sink” at the viewer, with them not realizing that we can’t see anything through a kitchen sink. The contrast between those simple and complex action scenes working (or not working) really opened my eyes.

All in all, I’d place The Winter Soldier as the third best Marvel film made so far, behind Iron Man and The Avengers. I still think Steve Rogers is kind of boring when you compare him to other super heroes, but the writers did a really good job creating that inner conflict inside of him, getting as much out of the character as humanly possible. The film did leave me with some questions (why didn’t Iron Man, Bruce Banner, or Thor stop by to help if the world was in danger?) but I guess with these comic book films, a certain amount of logic must be thrown out the window to enjoy them.

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the price of admission
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: The power of the contained action scene. Like I said above, the instinct is to go big and crazy. But the bigger and crazier you go, the harder it is for the audience to keep up with what’s happening. Sometimes the best scene is a simple one. Put your character in an elevator with two dozen bad guys and see how they get out of it.

  • Jonathan Soens

    I’m kind of impressed with what they’ve managed to do with Captain America given the limitations.

    Carson mentions how they had to concoct the nonsense 70-year freeze to walk the necessary tightropes (giving him the appropriate WWII origins that explain him being the way he has to be because he’s from an older era, but also letting him fast-forward to be in present-day movies like The Avengers).

    But I’m impressed they took what should have been a weakness and made it a strength. It makes him so much more interesting to have him reacting to being a soldier in a different era when America sees itself as always being at war against faceless enemies or vague concepts. If the alternative was making him a gung-ho guy who enlisted in the ’90s or 2000’s, I’m glad they bent over backwards to come up with a way to let him have his WWII origin story instead. It makes him more interesting to me. They could have “gone there” and updated Cap’s origin story to make him a kid who rushed to enlist after 9/11, I guess, but that would have taken away the charm and whimsy that he has as a WWII-era relic. It might have been grittier, but probably wouldn’t have been any better.

    Still, I wish he wasn’t so shocked to find out how murky US military/security interests can be, though. He mentions he’s been using the internet to “catch up” on what he missed while he was frozen. And he’s a soldier, so you know one of the first things he did was to read up on all of our wars and conflicts. So he should know what’s up by now. But he’s somehow still “shocked–shocked–to find that gambling is going on in here.” That was a little tough to buy, unless he’s made a point of not learning about any of the shenanigans we’ve been up to while he was sleeping.

    I also could have done without Cap’s awkward trip to the museum dedicated to himself… but I guess they thought it was necessary to remind everybody who Bucky Barnes was and what he looked like, since I’m guessing they didn’t realize he’d be playing such a big part in the sequel when they cast a kind of forgettable face to play him in the first movie.

    • Gregory Mandarano

    • wlubake

      SPOILER ALERT ABOVE…Though reading Carson’s review I wondered if they revealed the Winter Soldier’s identity in this movie, or if they were carrying him over to another film. Seemed like they had to tell you.

    • Mayor of Shark City

      They didn’t “concoct” Cap being frozen for the movies. It’s straight from the comics. He was frozen, and found by the Avengers. He’s a man out of time. That’s the whole point. Updating his origins wouldn’t have made any sense. Even the low budget 90s movie knew this.

  • RO

    “Do you stick with the origins of the character to make the original fans happy? Or do you improve upon them to make the character more logical and realistic?”

    I think this is probably the worst type of ultimatum to ask when adapting an superhero. I also think that the second part of the question is counter productive as well, and I’ll explain why.

    First: movies aren’t REAL! They do not have to be. The whole concept of writing “realistic” will bring nothing but a boring script. What you want to do is work harder at the setting you created so that your audience accepts what you wrote, will subconsciously suspend disbelief and be engrossed with the result. This comes from the most important part of screenwriting: The outline. Figure out your characters, the most interesting plot to put them in, and then the world that best suits the former.

    If you don’t do this, if you write for the real world, you’re not going to succeed as well as you hope. The reason is because you didn’t create the real world, you don’t know all the rules, it’s functions, it’s laws, no one can. You are a tourist, going somewhere you do not know, not quite speaking the local language and offending many with your ignorance and lack of respect for where you are visiting. The tiny mistakes you make can snowball into massive ones. You could mistakenly misquote a fact or say the classic “this is real life” and pull your audience right out of the film they’re watching.

    BUT if you create your world, with your rules, that make sense to the characters and the plot, then you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing; Making the audience a tourist and that’s what movies and the base concept of story is about. Leaving your personal world for a moment to experience someone else’s. I do not go to the movies to watch my life, I’ve lived my life, I’ve seen that and while I am extremely narcissistic, I’m not quite narcissistic enough to enjoy watching me make pancakes and go to work for two hours.

    Just take a look at the films that have stood the test of time: Casablanca, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, Star Wars, A few of the Bond films, just to name a few. Those movies aren’t in any way truly realistic, but they feel real, we as an audience accept them because they create their own world, plot and characters that all work together, and that’s what you should be doing. As a writer you shouldn’t be asking “is this realistic” but instead “does this work with the world I’ve established?” If it does, you’re golden, if it doesn’t you can either re-write the world or re-write the thing that doesn’t work with the world. You can’t have both options when you’re trying to write realistically.

    My next point: “Do you stick with the origins of the character to make the original fans happy?”

    Answer: YES. The original fans are your base, they are also advertisement that pays you. All you have to do as a writer is tell those origins in the most interesting and entertaining way. I direct examples to Iron Man, Captain America The First Avenger, And the first hour of Batman Begins. Read up on their origins from the comics, break them down in to beats then watch those movies and break down those origins into beats and guess what. They’re virtually identical.

    • filmklassik

      Good post overall but I’m not sure I agree with your assessment that CASABLANCA is every bit as outlandish as STAR WARS, DR. STRANGELOVE and the BOND films.

      I’ll concede that it’s not as scrupulously real as ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, but I don’t think it requires the same suspension of disbelief as STAR WARS and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

  • Brandon

    “Due to some tricky timeline logistics that required Captain America to be in The Avengers movie, a silly storyline was thought up where he was frozen for 70 years and unthawed in the present.”

    Carson you do realize that that storyline was from the comics and not something the screenwriters came up with so he could be put into the avengers right?

    As to the “why is he a superhero if he only has a shield?” thing. I thought it was pretty obvious from the outset with the running uber fast around the monument reflection pool at the beginning and the whole tossing people around on a ship and jumping out of a plane at high altitude kind covered that. You did realize that he’s tougher, faster, and stronger than a normal person right? And Black Widow, other than her super hotness she has the same powers as Batman, which is to say, none. She is just incredibly good at what she does.

    I always question whether you are being deliberately ignorant in these kind of statement/questions as pretty much every question you ask on these usually has already been answered within the movie itself.

    But I’m glad you enjoyed the movie, I did as well. I would also mark it 2nd behind the Avengers but before Iron Man. This had the better script and stronger story than Iron Man, it’s just Iron Man had RDJ to distract you with his awesomeness. Take him out and the movie flounders.

    • Brandon

      I meant to say jumping out of a plane at high altitude without a parachute

    • Nate

      Comics might not be Carson’s thing but I really wish he’d at least read up on the source material before writing his review. All it takes is ten minutes to check out the Wiki page for the character. I wonder if he’s even seen The First Avenger. It wouldn’t really matter if he hasn’t because he’s seen The Avengers and even though it doesn’t really explain Cap’s powers, it still gives you a bit of insight into who he is and how he’s able to do the things he does.
      One of the things I really like about Cap 2 is how they showed us exactly what the super soldier serum did to him. The opening scene is one of my favourites simply because it showed us exactly who Cap is. We’re introduced to him running around the National Mall at top speed.
      And regarding the Black Widow I’m pretty sure in the comics she was biologically enhanced by the KGB in the 50’s or something like that. I do know that she worked with the Winter Soldier and had a brief fling with him at one point. It’s possible Marvel won’t even go that route, they might just keep her as a non-powered human like Hawkeye.
      Anyway I’m glad he enjoyed it too. For me it’s my favourite MCU film.

  • martin_basrawy

    I loved this film. Best Marvel movie behind the Avengers for me.
    As for Carson’s review… once again you’re asking questions about really obvious things that are already covered in the movie (is Cap a superhero, what was the final fight about, etc.). Sincerely speaking, since this happens a lot with your movie reviews, I have to wonder whether on some level you’re just tuned out because a superhero romp may or may not be “your kind of movie”. Yes, no, maybe so?
    Also, the movie was loaded to the gills with GSU, which I’m sure you enjoyed. And hey, I know you gave it a “worth the price of admission”, so that’s cool. I was very impressed that (as you pointed out) this movie had that extra layer or two on its plot and characters. It actually retroactively made me like the first Cap movie more. It was also very topical, with the NSA surveillance and preemptive drone strikes and such. I don’t know how much better (or practical or safer) it is to dismantle SHIELD altogether, but it should make for a very interesting Avengers 2, especially with that mid-credits scene.

    • Jonathan Soens

      I found the “stakes” portion a little confusing. Don’t get me wrong — they established the stakes pretty well. Millions of lives were about to be snuffed out and the concept of freedom was being jeopardized. I get that. But (and it’s a really big “but”)…. because of this game Marvel is playing flip-flopping between solo movies and team-up movies, it gets a little awkward having these heroes occupying the same universe.

      They can sell me on the stakes all they want, but on the drive home, everybody who saw the movie was surely discussing how stupid it is that the stakes were supposed to be that high and yet nobody can be bothered to track down Stark and Banner. I can buy that Thor is always in some other galaxy or whatever, but the other guys are a phone call away.

      Having characters say “We can’t trust anybody” or “We have to be careful who we tell” isn’t enough of an excuse for refusing to deputize Tony Stark and the Funky Bunch into this fight.

      Considering the ultimate plan included releasing all of SHIELD’s files onto the internet for everyone to see? And considering the plan included Captain America commandeering a P.A. system to tell everybody what’s up and to ask them to help him fight the bad guys? You’d think it’d have been worth giving Iron Man a phone call.

      Literally millions of lives were hanging in the balance. The concept of freedom was hanging in the balance.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    OT: I’m looking for beta readers for my epic fantasy novel, “Dead Star: Frozen Magic” and thought I’d offer it out to SS.

    It is gritty, realistic fantasy, with world building and a unique mythology. Part horror, part politics, part action. It has multiple viewpoint characters, similar to Game of Thrones but less in number. There are two separate plots, one with the main protagonist near the north pole, and the other involving all the secondary characters together.

    The draft will be ready in about a week. Reply here or send me an email at GregoryMandarano@aol.com if you’re interested. The draft comes in at around 165k words.

    I know I didn’t give info about the plot. I’m looking for cold reads.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Thanks guys. Got three requests to read. Script will be mailed out next week.

  • ThomasBrownen

    I saw this over the weekend, and eh… maybe, just maybe, I can give it a [x] worth the price of admission.
    I went in with really low expectations. I didn’t like the first Captain America. I thought the first movie was a nice origins story, but I was really, really bored. It all seemed so slow and predictable.
    So I wasn’t expecting much from this one… but you never know! So I gave it a chance. I thought the first half of the movie was predictable in where it was going, but confusing on how it got there. I figured out early on that Robert Redford was going to be a bad guy embracing an abuse of power because of all the talk about power and weapons technology(and note how they placed the SHIELD headquarters right next to Watergate), but… what was up with that whole thumbdrive?? It left me all confused about who was being motivated by what for the first half of the movie.
    But things got a bit clearer in the second half. People’s goals were more specific, even if I’m not sure exactly why they were pursuing their goals. But sadly, the action scenes became jumbled and confused, and the last one just left me bored.
    And after watching the movie, I’ve been trying to analyze why I became bored. Maybe I didn’t care very much about the plot because the characters were thin? I think there’s something to that. Did Captain America have a character arc? Well… he agreed to ask a girl out at the end, but that wasn’t because of any character development, I think, but just because Natasha kept asking him about it.
    Was there supposed to be a Captain America/Natasha arc about embracing “trust”? I think that’s what the screenwriters were trying to do, but it was such a jumbled mess of talking points about everything from WikiLeaks to drones, that I’m not sure it can qualify as a “theme.” And even the characters didn’t have a consistent arc with “trust,” from what I can tell! One moment Natasha is leaking every secret that SHIELD has, and at the end, she’s off to create a new alias for herself. One moment Captain America is talking about the importance of trust, and he reduces his views back to a simplistic view of: “If they’re shooting at you, they’re a bad guy.” I think Carson’s right that the screenwriters were attempting to put Captain America in a tough spot (patriotic guy forced to confront his own country), but the execution was too jumbled to do much for me.
    So I think this was a good attempt, but the script was too jumbled to do much for me. But some of the action scenes were fun, and everyone is talking about it, so maybe it’s worth watching. I guess.

    • Jonathan Soens

      I think you hit the nail on the head about them attempting to put Captain America in a tough spot. I was a lot more interested in the movie when it seemed like Cap was going to go rogue against a well-meaning government that was arguably overreaching.

      When it turned out the bad guys were full-blown Hydra, the plot lost any subtly or shades of gray. Suddenly everything was black-and-white and the villains were cartoons.

      The fact that the bad guys would whisper “Hail Hydra” to each other is insanity. I could maybe get onboard with the idea that this group was started by a couple ex-Hydra people who still believed in the basic principles of Hydra and wanted to advance them in a new form. I can’t buy the idea that they recruited so many followers while using the name Hydra. Remember, that was a Nazi group. It’s just bonkers to think they recruited so many American soldiers to effectively join a Nazi group going by the name that group used when the Nazis founded it.

      They could have used a different name so none of the recruits knew the extent of the group’s evil intentions. But, then, how would we have known how justified Cap was in turning on his own people? We just had to have sleazy Senators talking about banging young girls and whispering “Hail Hydra” to drive home which side is good and which is bad, right?

      The more interesting version of this movie, for my money’s worth, would have had the villains not turned into evil cartoons.

      Instead of having flying gunships that are set to murder 1,000,000 people in a split-second, I’d have actually–gasp!–lowered the stakes on that. I’d have made the ships capable of merely tracking and targeting people thought to be future troublemakers (based on the algorithm), but not actually murder them. And instead of doing it in the name of a Nazi group, they would have been doing it out of a genuine attempt to make the world safer.

      It actually would have raised the stakes for me. It’s counter-intuitive to say that giving the villains a smaller goal ups the stakes, but it honestly does raise the stakes when the villains have a goal I can realistically see them accomplishing before the credits roll.

      I’d still have had Cap fighting with the Winter Soldier throughout the movie. Once he turned on the government’s plans, I’d still have had them sending out teams to hunt him down. There’d have still been plenty of action, even if the villains weren’t Nazis trying to murder millions of people.

      • ThomasBrownen

        “When it turned out the bad guys were full-blown Hydra, the plot lost any subtly or shades of gray. Suddenly everything was black-and-white and the villains were cartoons.”

        This is a great statement that summarizes one of the reasons why I think the script was so jumbled. They were trying to have a political thriller with moral ambiguity, but then shoehorned it into a blatant anti-evil story. I’m not sure you can have both, but if you can, this didn’t do it.

      • Franchise Blueprints

        Haven’t seen the movie YET. And I may not after reading spoilers and half-hearted reviews.

        Strictly going from the comic book origins HYDRA was not an original NAZI offshoot. Baron Strucker and Red Skull took it over and made it into what it is today. A global subversive and terrorist organization. Similar to COBRA from GI JOE.

        Now that I have plot details the movie seems like a over-bloated “The Numbers Station”—– simultaneous assassinations. In “The Numbers Station” it made sense. The agents trying to carry out the mission were trying to go off the grid permanently. John Cusack self-righteous character spoiled that.

        Another thing I don’t care for in the Captain America movies, Capt. never directly worked for SHIELD in the comics he worked alongside them occasionally. Unless you want to count the ULTIMATE Avengers which switched Nick Fury from white to Sam Jackson. Or the Marvel Civil War which pitted IRON MAN against CAPTAIN AMERICA. If anything Tony Starks is a kiss ass government yes man.

        Bucky (aka The Winter Soldier) has been Retconned to death and back. (only comic book fans understand)

        Ultimately will I see the new Capt. I give it a 60% probability. Will I like it I give that a we’ll wait and see.

    • charliesb

      You thought it was boring, because it was boring. (not that some of the action scenes weren’t pretty)

      One of the biggest problems I had with this movie is the same problem I have with the Newsroom. I don’t like “congratulatory writing”, the kind of writing that is supposed to make you feel good because you’re on the “right” side of a viewpoint. Don’t show me what I already know. Don’t show me that excessive government surveillance and secret military projects are bad. I know they are bad.

      Don’t rip a topic from the headlines and then just regurgitate what all the “intelligent” people think. If you’re going to take a superhero movie and move it above the splosions, hulk smash, and falafel jokes, in an attempt to be “smart” and “subversive” then be smart and subversive.

      Don’t have a rich white man in a large windowed office pace back and forth and talk about saving us from ourselves. Have the balls to divide your audience, by having him actually have a point.

      The problem with Cap (as a character) is that all his conflict is external (i.e. boring) Until they decide to build some doubt, and conflict inside his red white and blues he’ll always be a bit bland.

  • ximan

    “The most obvious question one comes up with after they watch Captain America is: What the heck is “super-hero” about this guy??? He has a SHIELD. That’s it. A shield! That he uses to block stuff and occasionally throw at people. If that’s all it takes to become a super hero, give me half an hour and a trip to Target and I can be a super-hero too.”

    Really, Carson? Really? You’re stooping to this petty level of criticism? Obviously, it’s more than a shield. He’s also strong as f*ck, kicks all kinds of ass, and can jump out of an airplane witout a chute.

    This film was BREATHTAKING, subversive, timely, and did I say BREATHTAKING?! Far superior to Iron Man and The Avengers.

    And because you didn’t give this an IMPRESSIVE or a GENIUS….

    YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!

  • Kirk Diggler

    I hated the first Captain America. Hated it. Really liked the new one. A nice mix of humor, character work, and great action scenes. Unlike the first film which was overloaded with CG effects, the Winter Soldier was rooted in reality (for the most part).

    • ScottStrybos

      I really liked the first one,

      but I went into it expecting garbage. It was going to be a film I was just going to waste my time with. And it surprised me.

      There is only one other film I can remember that went against my expectations and surprised me by being a great film; coincidentally it was another Marvel film–Thor.

  • ScottStrybos

    Non-comic book readers usually get eviscerated when they ask question within the message boards for comic book properties, but here it goes… *deep breath* But how did the Bucky-actor sign a 9-picture deal: didn’t Bucky die in the first Captain America movie? In the train sequence. He fell off the speeding train. Was that not his best bud/sidekick Bucky. (He is back in Winter Solider?)

    • Nate

      There’s really not a lot we can say without spoiling the film but since you asked you must not care about spoilers.
      In the comics Bucky was ”killed” during a mission when a plane blew up over the North Atlantic and the cold preserved his body (comic book logic). He was found by the Soviets years later who replaced his missing arm with a bionic one and due to his amnesia he started working for the KGB as an assassin called the Winter Soldier. At one point he had a brief fling with Black Widow.
      They’ve changed his origin a little bit in the MCU but he’s mostly the same character as he was in the comics.

    • kevin thomas

      He is back in Winter Soldier because *spoilers* he IS the Winter Soldier. Just like in the comics Bucky was rescued and recreated into the Winter Soldier; an assassin and adversary for Captain America.

      The “Bucky-actor” signed a 9-picture deal because, more than likely, just like in the comics, Chris Evans’ Captain America will be killed off and Bucky will uphold his mantle.

    • sgelam

      Couldn’t have said it better Nate. And, that’s why they had him sign a
      9-picture deal. Like I said, there’s nothing really new that the
      screenwriters came up with. In the comics, Bucky comes back and is
      revealed as the Winter Soldier. He then gets deprogrammed, finds out
      who he was, and becomes Captain America’s sidekick again. Later, also
      becoming Captain America himself when Steve Rogers is away. The things
      the movie changed were his age, relationship origin with Steve, and how
      he died, which are, the same age as Steve, being Steve’s best friend
      since they were children, and falling off a train instead of a plane.
      This works much better as you only have 2 hours to tell a story and you
      need to establish relationships and characters or else the audience won’t
      care. If you went to see The First Avenger with a bunch of fans, you might’ve heard some clap when Bucky was introduced, or people going “oh my God.” That’s because they knew they were looking at the future Winter Soldier.

  • ScottStrybos

    I’m confused… are you saying Prometheus, Looper, Into Darkness are examples of… good films?

    • Storymark

      Not particularly. But Carson gave glowing reviews to Prometheus and Into Darkness, while pretty much entirely ignoring glaring problems with the scripts for each. In the case of Looper (which I found entertaining, but not great) he did as he does in this review – list a series questions about the plot which he says were not addressed – even though they clearly were.

      I love his script reviews. But I think the visuals get in the way of his critical skills.

      • filmklassik

        So in other words, when someone holds a minority opinion about a movie or one that differs radically from your own, that person is automatically “kinda terrible at film reviews”? Forgive me, mark, but I find it strange that you would regard filmmaking as an objective discipline — like math or physics, for example — and not as an entirely subjective art form that can accommodate a variety of viewpoints.

    • Casper Chris

      Carson liked Prometheus. So I guess he’s saying Prometheus was bad.

  • Jonathan Soens

    Well, you’re right that I was looking for a throw-away line explaining why Captain America was on his own. And no matter how well-crafted or clever that line/explanation was, I probably still would have rolled my eyes at it. So I admit that sometimes there’s just no pleasing me.

    I just think Marvel is trying to have it both ways. They want the big team-up movies when the stakes are high enough to warrant the gang teaming up… but they, I guess, don’t want to let the solo films tell smaller stories with lower stakes. It’s just messier than it has to be, I feel like.

  • andyjaxfl

    For the Avengers to assemble, they had to travel halfway around the world to find Banner, travel from New Mexico to NYC to fetch Stark, Russia for Black Widow, and Asgard for Thor. It’s healthy to assume the same might be true during this film’s timeframe, which I believe is only a few days after Cap’s flight from SHIELD HQ. Maybe The Avengers 2 will start off with a throwaway scene with Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor arriving a day late and a dollar short of Cap’s distress call. Hell, that would have been a better teaser for Avengers 2 than what we got…

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    You don’t know what’s superhero about Captain America? Seriously? You think it’s “just his shield”? Which, by the way, is not any shield, like one you’d find in a Target. The dude can also probably bench like 600 pounds, runs 13 miles in a half hour or whatever they said near the beginning there, can fall like 20 stories and not die, etc, etc, etc. Go to Target, buy your shield, do that stuff, let me know how it turns out.

    I thought this movie was a lot of fun, definitely one of the superior Marvel films, definitely better than the first Captain America. While I was watching it, I did feel like it took a little long to get to the story, and for a while I was wondering where the fuck the Winter Soldier was. He doesn’t appear until a good way in. But I understood why they did it that way, they needed all those set up scenes, so it’s not like it was a waste.

    My biggest question – SPOILERS—–

    Why, in the third act, did they not call in more of the avengers?? Like why wasn’t Iron Man there? I understand there was that “trust no one” thing, but that was moot by the third act, and I’m pretty sure the other avengers can be trusted. Shit would’ve been A LOT simpler if Iron Man and the Hulk and stuff were there. Put the Winter Soldier up against either of them, see how that turns out.

    But, overall, I had a great time watching it. Well directed action sequences (aside from the climax, which as Carson mentioned was a little all over the place), good story telling… I’d put it just behind Iron Man and probably on par with The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Not to mention, if Iron Man or Banner actually couldn’t be trusted, they’d probably be involved in this anyway on the bad guys’ side.

      I do understand that every film can’t have it this way, otherwise every film would be another Avengers, rather than a solo superhero film. BUT, when the stakes are the ENTIRETY of SHIELD and MILLIONS of people, you’d think that would necessitate some other help. At least like in Iron Man 3 they were mainly just going to kill the President (and do other stuff later), but that was more logical that Iron Man alone could handle it.

  • PeterMertesacker

    Great note on the contained action scene. Some of the best offbeat sequences come from this strategy — the double-wide fight in Raising Arizona, the 25-vs.-1 man and a hammer in (original) Oldboy, and many more. Far more fun and memorable than a lot of the bigger, more confusing set pieces in higher-profile pics.

    P.S. I’m with you, Carson — the superhero universe just ain’t my thing. I’ll stop now so as not to further enrage those who feel otherwise.

  • Paul Clarke

    I didn’t seem to get the same kick out this thing as most people. Certainly worth a look, but I found the action repetitive and boring, and the setups poorly handled (could just be that I was tired). Captain America is definitely a boring character, so that’s always going to hold them back. He worked much better as part of an ensemble (Head, Heart, Gut kind of thing) like in The Avengers. I guess that’s why they paired him up with Black Widow.

    I certainly preferred the contained action sequences that Carson mentions. Simple and clear wins every time.

    But, for me, it all came down to the stakes. Another example of filmmakers thinking more people at risk equals higher stakes. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Like the saying goes – One death is a tragedy, A million deaths is a statistic.
    And I can’t care for Captain A because I don’t know the rules. Can he die? What would kill him? He just seems invincible. So why do I care if he gets shot or beaten up? Even Superman has a clearly established vulnerability.

    And why wasn’t there a setup scene early on showing how accurate and lethal a single one of those guns could be? Then the big reveal when we see the ships have hundreds of them mounted on the bottom. That’s a setup.

    I just feel a simpler plot would have allowed the necessary time to establish the stakes and emotional connection. Rather than a cumbersome plot that had to grind to a halt every 10 minutes to explain itself.

    • Nate

      ”And I can’t care for Captain A because I don’t know the rules. Can he die? What would kill him? He just seems invincible. So why do I care if he gets shot or beaten up?”
      He can die. It’s a pretty big story in the comics and affects the Marvel Universe in a big way. I expect Cap 3 to explore that particular story actually. If not then The Avengers 3 will probably deal with it.

    • charliesb

      I also feel like these Marvel movies need to have smaller more “intimate” stakes.

      In a world where Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and Captain America are not much more than a phone call away, if the “end of the world” is at stake in all of these one offs, why aren’t they getting more people involved? I mean sure Falcon was nice guy, but wouldn’t it make more sense to bring in your A-team?

      Considering the movie is called Winter Soldier, I wish they had done more with Bucky and Cap. Instead they went for the tried and true, our government is hurting us by helping us, we must hurt some people for the greater good and Nazi’s are bad. Yawn.

      And while others may think the Captains black and white view of the world is endearing. I think his constant judgement of anyone who doesn’t see and do things the way he does is annoying and off putting. i would prefer to see him experience some sort of internal conflict to remind us (and maybe himself) that he is human.

  • Robin the Boy Wonder

    Refuse to see another superhero movie until ROBIN: THE MOVIE is green-lit…

  • Nate

    Whilst I liked the film I think it would have been better if the story was split into two parts. I can’t say much without spoiling it but I think it had quite a lot happening all at once. Although to be fair it handled it all quite well.
    I think Cap 2 should have been about Fury trying to uncover a conspiracy and ended with a certain character dying (those who have seen it know who I mean) and Cap 3 should have been about everything that happened afterwards with Steve and Natasha doing you know what.
    And to be honest the Winter Soldier character was a missed opportunity. He was a formidable foe for Cap but he was underused. He should have been introduced in Cap 2 as a shadowy assassin who pops up every now and then but the reveal should have been saved for the end. That way he could be used as the main antagonist in Cap 3.

  • Midnight Luck

    ZZZZZZ….snnnooorrrreee……..errrm, huh?
    Damn.

    I got Spandex flossing my crack.

    when oh when will the lame-ass spandex superhero movies end?

    Never it looks, since a totally unneccesary
    Captain ‘Merica part deux : battlism for capitalism
    did over $300 million worldwide this week.

    Great, another 300 years of this too tight spandex outfit I have to wear to ComiCon.
    Maybe the world will end and save us all from the pain.

  • MaliboJackk

    “If people don’t understand those base element of character/story
    creation they should think about pursuing another line or work.”

    Have always found it interesting how every BAFTA screenwriting lecture is — different.
    You would think they would be writing from the same play book.
    You would think they would have the basics numbered.

    And the last thing — you wouldn’t expect them to say they don’t know how to teach it or, as some have said, they don’t know what they’re doing.

  • Robin the Boy Wonder

    Yeah, I probably would. So long as he gives me props. But Batman/Superman can kiss my tunic!

  • Cfrancis1

    I thought this movie was an absolute blast. The casting of Robert Redford was spot on as it was going for a “3 Days of the Condor”/ 70s conspiracy film kind of vibe. Action was terrific. Chris Evans takes a potentially boring character and really makes him interesting and likable.