This was a great action film in the mold of post-2000 action films – i.e. ludicrous stakes, lots of CGI, frenetic pace. I liked it a bunch. So some random notes:
* The film has Captain America’s name on it, but it’s a team film. Two black men, two women, and one traditional whitebread action guy. Sure, it’s that guy who’s on the poster, but this is definitely a good step forward. In related news, for heaven’s sake give Scarlett Johansen her own Black Widow film (if she wants it), she basically steals this one without even trying.
* Speaking of Black Widow – there’s a bit at the 3/4 mark when the big scary bad guy has Cap and Widow in his sights, and he says, “you get the man, I’ll get the woman”. And as soon as that happened and he went stomping after the brave resourceful woman, I sat a bit forward in my seat, because it’s the setup for one of the most cliche moves in action narrative.
To explain – as you move into your final sequence you need to set up the big confrontation – raise the stakes while you show your bad guy is scary as hell. The cliche way to do it? Aim your villain at the hero’s main ally. Put them in hospital, or in a coffin. Then the hero gets to be isolated and enraged and desperate all at once, ready for climax! (Or you aim your villain at the hero’s ladyfriend, and have them get killed or captured. “Fridged” you might say. Same deal.)
So in a movie called “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, the Winter Soldier (2nd part of title) could have a fight with Captain America (1st part of title) but he goes after another character instead? That character is toast, right? Is our super-resourceful Black Widow about to be stomped to put the villain over and set up a tearful Cap vs Winter finale?
SPOILER ALERT nope. Not even a little bit. It’s a small subversion, but it’s a pleasant one. This is a team movie, and the team get to work together the whole way through.
* Seeing comics writer/Winter Soldier creator Ed Brubaker in a scene was very distracting. He had good facial expressions.
* Marvel movies always have a little stinger scene at the end of the credits. They have one in the middle of the credits too. Well, this was the least rewarding end of credits scene yet. It was a loooong wait for something completely redundant. Don’t bother waiting for it.
* Anthony Mackie as the Falcon: yes, more of this sort of thing.