Captain America: Metal Gear Soldier (A Review)

First, Captain America: Winter Soldier is a great spy movie disguised as a super-hero film. While I was watching it, one of my first thoughts was, “When did we get to Metal Gear Solid?”

[For those unfamiliar, Metar Gear Solid is a ridiculous but awesome spy game franchise.]

Jumping out of a helicopter-like vehicle? Check.

Metal Gear Solid 3 opening parachute

Metal Gear Solid

Captain America

[BRIEF SPOILER]

Robo-Cyborg-Frenemy? Check.

Gray Fox metal gear solid captain america

Metal Gear Solid

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Sebastian-Stan

Captain America

Giant robot-vehicle designed to travel almost anywhere and kill bajillions of people at once? Check.

Metal Gear Solid

shield-helicarrier-air-ship-captain-america-the-winter-soldier-hd-1920x1080

Captain America

 

In addition there are:

  • A government conspiracy and not being able to trust those in charge.
  • A hot, booty-kicking female ally, who cannot be fully trusted.
  • A cool black guy with gadgets.
  • A pretty, but slightly-less-booty-kicking female support person, providing information and save data.
  • A scene of sneaking through a ship and beating up bad guys.

Maybe these things are in a lot of action stories, but… Captain America is a great mix of spy action, the super hero fantastic, and political thriller all packed together in a tight, well-paced story with the main character still at the center.

Spoilers

Spoilers

What Worked

This Is Not An Origin Story

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While the filmmakers have given small moments for the audience to catch up, they expect the audience to have a working knowledge of SHIELD and Captain America himself. The hero isn’t bogged down with learning how to become. He simply is Captain Steve Rogers, a super-human soldier. This keeps the film clipping along from start to finish, simply telling the story without worrying about attaching the audience to the hero.

In addition, there is no origin story for the villain. Yes, there is brief background, but this is summarized in a brief set of dialogue here and a quick montage there. More on this in the next section…

One Unified Villain

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Many super hero films (i.e. The Amazing Spiderman 2) like to bring in several super villains and tie them together in a one-off tale. Much of the movie gets weighed down with not only the hero’s origin, but also in setting up the villain’s origin.

This film expects the audience to already know enough about the villain to not need some origin story. The origin does not matter much: We know Hydra. We know it is dangerous and deadly. And now, we learn it has been spreading like a virus in SHIELD (this twist, by the way, is what has made the last 1/3 of the first season of Agents of Shield great).

Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Photo Credit: Marvel

In addition, The Winter Soldier is a great force in the movie. He is both sympathetic, and yet ruthless and a formidable opponent. It is often said a hero is only as good as his villain. Therefore, The Winter Soldier makes Captain America a greater hero.

[Also, I have loved Sebastian Stan as an actor ever since the first seeing him a good but short-lived show called Kings, and was extremely excited to see him as the Mad Hatter on Once Upon A Time. Besides being handsome with amazing cheekbones, he brings an excellent brooding darkness to all his characters. I am sure we will see more of him.]

Humor And Wit

APple

And the award for best use of the Mac store in a movie goes to…

This is also a clever movie, with great one-liners, a bit of repartee, and allows itself to have fun. I love the scene where Nick Fury is attacked, and he asks the computer for his spy-car, “What does work?” and the computer answers, “The air conditioning.”

A Positive, Happy Hero

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-trailer-0

While all of his friends are gone, he is still upbeat and friendly. He doesn’t wallow in sorrow. He isn’t dark, brooding, and full of angst. Even when things are going terribly, he remains positive and willing to keep up the fight. He looks to the future and what is right, and keeps pushing toward that goal.

In short, Captain America is a nice, upstanding guy, which makes him a hero worthy of rooting for.

Women

I am really glad that after convincing my feminist-twelve-year-old sister to see the movie by saying, “Black Widow is in the movie,” that the women were treated well.

In the film, there are four women of note (Black Widow, Kate – the hot nurse/secret spy, Maria Hill, and Peggy Carter) compared with six men of note (Captain America, Nick Fury, Falcon, Alexander Pierce, The Winter Soldier, and Brock Rumlow – the lead commando).

For a modern blockbuster, 4:6 is an unfortunately fantastic ratio.

Even though several of the women have hints of romance with the hero, there is no actual romance in the film. Instead, each of the women is independent, intelligent, and gets their work done (even post-alzheimer’s Peggy Carter has a key purpose).

They are equals with the men, none of them sad damsels to be rescued as they swoon. Instead, they are out fighting and working toward the defeat of Hydra.

They are also not over-masculinized, and turned into fan service vehicles of hotness. Yes, Black Widow’s uniform is tight, but so is Captain America’s… and, during the major climax of the movie, she’s doing martial arts in a business suit.

What a miracle it would be if more Hollywood Blockbusters treated women this way.

What Didn’t Work

Apparently, The Theater

About ten minutes into the movie, the movie blipped, the screen went dark, and the lights went on. Then, the trailers started over again.

Yes. That is right. We had to sit through this:

TWICE.

(At least there’s a robot dinosaur. For 15 seconds.)

This probably added an extra half-hour to the film, making it feel longer that it is.

The upside is, my friends who were running about 15 minutes late were able to see the whole film…

Fortunately, this is an individual problem, and should not effect other people’s experience watching the movie.

The Female Government Official

When she broke out in kung fu, I really wanted it just to be her, and was a little disappointed when it turned out to be Black Widow. It builds to great plot points and action, but it would have been awesome to see a woman over 40 getting an action hero moment.

The Movie Felt A Little Long

But, I think this has more to do with the circumstances of it starting over. There’s a whole lot of story, and it’s a good ride.

Really, I enjoyed the movie, and I’m stretching to come up with some criticism…

What To Look Forward To

  1. Unlike other franchises, Marvel and Disney are putting together movies and stories actually worth watching and enjoying. These aren’t the deepest, most world-changing films, but they are good, solid stories and are fun. They have a lightness to them, while having enough depth to carry the film.

  2. More ways for Disney to part us with our cash, including:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. Agents of Shield, Season 2
  3. The Avengers II

[As well as DC Comics and Warner Bros trying to play catch up, with upcoming TV shows such as Constantine, The Flash, and Gotham (and Arrow seems to be doing just fine).]

In short, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, and you like a good spy-action-super hero story… 1. I may have just ruined some plot twists for you, but… 2. Go see it anyway.

  • What did you think of Captain America: Winter Soldier?
  • On the scale of great comic book movies [from Batman and Robin to Batman: The Dark Knight], where do you think Captain America: Winter Soldier lies?
  • Are you excited for The Avengers 2?
  • If you were to hang out with a super hero, who would be the most fun and least problematic?

More Thoughts On Captain America: Winter Soldier:

Side Note 1: I should confess the Metal Gear reference may be due to missing my brother who is on a LDS mission in Oklahoma. None of my other siblings have played the games, and don’t fully appreciate when I mention feasting on the meat on a tree frog.

Side Note 2: This week, William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher has been released. I’m very excited. I have the first two, and they are AMAZING!

the-jedi-doth-return-ian-doescher

Side Note 3: Have you read the latest about Harry Potter? Go to pottermore.com and read what Rita Skeeter has to say.

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21 thoughts on “Captain America: Metal Gear Soldier (A Review)

  1. I saw the movie twice and loved it. I rank it up there with Spider-Man 2 and the original Batman. Kind of fell out of love with Nolan movies around the 2nd movie. By the way, I think Elektra or Howard the Duck are he worst comic book movies. 😉

    I’m looking forward to Avengers 2, but I’m also a little worried. I’ve heard that various actors aren’t contracted beyond that. Chris Evans has even stated that he’ll be retiring after that movie, which means they’ll need a new Captain America. I know Winter Soldier took up the mantle in the comics for a while, so maybe they’ll do that, but it won’t be the same.

    Not sure about least problematic superhero. I’d be waiting for a villain to show up at any moment and many heroes have some pretty big personality problems. Cap seems to be the most adjusted.

    • If both Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans leave, this brief era of Marvel Greatness may be in trouble. The great casting and their chemistry is part of what has made the whole web of movies work.
      It’s also interesting to see a lack of love for The Dark Knight – that is a rare and bold statement. I can understand if you didn’t enjoy it. I’ve watched it twice – years apart between viewings. Each time, I recognize its quality in deconstructing Batman through Joker, but feel drained and exhausted in the end.
      The nice thing about the Marvel series is they are able to build something positive in the end, even when everything has fallen apart.

      • I didn’t really enjoy it. I loved Heath Ledger, but the rest didn’t entertain me. One of the big things was Bale’s Batman voice grated on my nerves. Though I think another issue was that the movie destroyed the chance of Hellboy 3 because it dominated the theaters. One of the reasons it dominated was because many people were buying tickets to every showing of the day even if they weren’t going. So I guess the mass hysteria of the fandom turned me off too.

        I hope Marvel/Disney have a plan for if they lose an actor. These guys can’t do it forever.

  2. I had to keep my mouth shut around my husband before we saw the movie because I already knew who the Winter Soldier was. Love Sebastian Stan!! It would be awesome if Bucky took up the Captain America mantle.

    Just when I think I can’t get more excited about Marvel, they put Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2, turn Agents of SHIELD into a fun show, and put out a trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy that made me totally invested in a group of characters I know nothing about.

  3. Winter Soldier was an incredible movie. I think it’s my favourite Marvel one so far, other than The Avengers (which is kind of a tie – it’s a different kind of movie). I love Cap as a character, and enjoyed seeing him banter with Falcon. I am so with you on the kung fu by the female government official! I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and then…oh. Definitely a letdown. As the first round of actors starts getting out of the franchise, I would love to see Marvel introduce a second round that includes a standalone pic of a female Marvel superhero. They’ve done a great job so far, and if they continue this greatness through new actors, then I will really be blown away. As it is, I can’t help waiting for something to be a miss (although I hope not).

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one disappointed by kung-fu business woman.

      I think part of what makes this movie great too is it’s focused on a single character. A lot of action movies try to add more and more and get really scatter-brained. Bonus points to Marvel for keeping things focused.

  4. I thought the “female gov’t official” impersonated by Natasha/Black Widow looked an awful lot like Angela Merkel. I yelled out, “Go for it, Angela!” But like you was slightly disappointed. Only slightly. I also enjoyed seeing some of the rank-and-file SHIELD agents have their moment.

    I didn’t like the ending — out of deference to those who may not have seen it, let me just say I thought it was vague. I also thought Cap was a little petulant toward his neighbor, who was only doing her job. It seemed naïve of him to not expect SHIELD would place other agents near him.

    These are small quibbles. I’m glad I went to see it.

  5. I have yet to see this, even though I’m a big comic book fan! I’m happy to hear the movie also has a lot of strong women in the story. I enjoy seeing how they compliment the scene when they’re doing their thing. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  6. I loved this movie so much. I don’t think Captain America gets enough credit; he’s such a nice person and I really like him (though I do admit I like snarky Tony Stark a lot more). The movie had me entertained the entire time, and that’s all I can ask for when I go to theatres.

    I too cannot wait for Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2! =D

  7. I loved Captain America 2 – it was one of those quietly brilliant movies. Much better than the first one (in my *humble* opinion) and one of my favourite Marvel movies so far … Great, witty review 🙂

    • After the first third, the first movie was a series of montages of Captain America being awesome with some story in between. Also, Red Skull was just… weird, and not as cool as he could be. I was actually a little worried about Captain America 2. I am so glad it was fantastic.

      • One of the best bits of the first movie was Skinny Steve (methinks). Red Skull just looked unreal, I couldn’t believe in him, if you know what I mean. His face was … was almost as bad as Ryan Reynold’s mask in the Green Lantern.

        And the second film? In total agreement with you – fantastic.

        Oh yeah and … ‘specimen’. Just priceless 🙂

  8. Pingback: 3rd Annual W.I.T. Awards | The L. Palmer Chronicles

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