‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’: One fanboy’s 5-point guide *(no spoilers)


Steve Rogers/Cap (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) bring adult depth to “The Winter Soldier.” (Zade Rosenthal/Disney-Marvel)

“CAPTAIN AMERICA: The Winter Soldier” is a game-changer. Not only is “The Winter Soldier” a superb adaptation of the Marvel Comics storyline of the same name, but it also may just be the best movie Marvel Studios has ever produced.

Kudos go to the directing team of the Russo brothers — Anthony and Joe — for recognizing that the tone of the Winter Soldier (a series of Captain America comics written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Steve Epting) was much more serious than what Marvel had released. This movie is dark, with an edge, and stars a Captain America (Chris Evans) who isn’t just a soldier following orders, but a rogue Avenger who isn’t afraid to question the red, white and blue.

After fanboys see this film, there shouldn’t much debate as to whether “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the best movie of Marvel Studio’s “Phase 2,” but rather where it ranks in the history of all Marvel cinema.

Here are One Fanboy’s Five Mostly Non-Spoiler Things that stood out from the latest outing by the star-spangled Avenger.

[ANN HORNADAY: 'Winter Soldier' is the most grown-up Avengers movie yet]

1. Marvel Comics unlimited library of movie material:
If this is any indication of what happens when Marvel digs into its massive collection of comic-book stories to look for their next film idea, then the future looks bright. The Winter Soldier was the obvious choice when the time came for a new Captain America movie to be made. It was modern, dark, full of top-secret clearances, spying and betrayal. Many fans were surprised when “Winter Soldier” was announced as the next Captain America film. It’s become somewhat common for comic-book movies not to lean too heavily on the source material, instead using them slightly for influences. But this movie shows the advantage Marvel has with its movie universe. Marvel Studios knows it doesn’t have to look too far for its next big idea. (Age of Ultron, anyone?)

2. The Captain, the Falcon and the Black Widow:
One of the most fun aspects of “The Winter Soldier” being adapted into film is that fans knew that there was no way this film could be made without including one of the most important members of Captain America’s supporting cast: Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon. Given that “The Winter Soldier” takes place in modern times, there is none of the social significance of seeing a black superhero go into battle alongside a white Captain America, like there was when the Falcon made his Marvel Comics debut in 1969. But no Captain America fanboy will be able to withhold the smile that comes from seeing Cap and the Falcon fight side by side on the big screen. Evans and Anthony Mackie have great team chemistry on film. And speaking of team chemistry, “The Winter Soldier” also provides an “Avengers-Lite” moment, as it also stars Scarlett Johansson (returning in the role of the Black Widow). Evans and Johansson are fun to watch as the Black Widow’s 21st-century/anything-goes attitude is always in conflict with a Captain America who has a mind that is sometimes still in the 1940s.

3. The Winter Soldier:
And then there’s the Winter Soldier himself. A rogue assassin who is an equal to Captain America in hand-to- hand combat (and boy, is there a lot of that in this film), and he’s possibly even stronger. Who is he? Now if you’ve read the comics, then you know the identity of the man behind the mask who is somehow connected to Captain America’s past. What makes “The Winter Soldier” so fun is that even if you know the big secret, it’s still fun to watch it all come together in live-action. And if you’re one of the many who will see this film with casual interest — without a strong knowledge of Captain America history — are you in for a surprise.

4. The G.O.A.T.?
Marvel fans should prepare themselves for the fanboy disagreements that will come when they are leaving the theater after their first viewing of “The Winter Soldier.” Is it the best Marvel Studios movie ever? Better than the first “Iron Man” and “The Avengers”? Despite what the first Iron Man and the Avengers movies mean to this superhero franchise, there will be debate after people have seen this film. If you think it’s anything like the first Captain America movie, it’s not. “The Winter Soldier” stands on its own as a film that could set a standard for what is expected from a Marvel Studios blockbuster.

5. Stay until the end:
If you were one of the many fans who left the movie theater after seeing Thanos at the end of “The Avengers” — and were then wondering why everyone kept talking about a funny scene with the Avengers chowing down on food at a half-destroyed deli — well, hopefully you’ve learned your lesson. Yes, we all know there is always an extra scene at the end of a Marvel Studios movie, but sometimes there are two. Don’t leave the theater until movie-theater employees are kicking you out. The surprises waiting at the end of this latest Marvel installment are the biggest ones yet.


The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) fights alongside Cap (Chris Evans) in “The Winter Soldier.” (AP Photo/Marvel-Disney)

You can follow contributor David Betancourt on Twitter: @aDCfanboy.

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