Captain America: The Winter Soldier: How 9/11 Made Marvel's Superheroes Less Fun

Comments

1
I really liked how HYDRA infiltrated SHIELD to illustrate how knowing the good guys from the bad guys is much more difficult when everyone's keeping secrets. In that regard, the themes weren't as simple as "collectivism vs. individualism". They were more about how transparency is necessary to ease some of the tension between collectivism and individualism.

The Avengers was about how collective action was needed to solve big problems. Captain America was about how essential trust is in preserving that ability and how trust can be eroded by individual actions. Captain America is still a soldier, after all. Even at the end of the film, he wasn't going to go it all alone.
2
I'm more excited to see Loki play a vampire with Tilda Swinton.
3
Paul- your recommendation to see in 3d or not 3d?
4
It was weird in The Avengers, for example, to see Bruce Banner chilling in the middle of a SHIELD operation, when the Hulk’s whole schtick is that he’s pursued by the Army at every turn.


To be fair and really nerdy, they pursue him, and Banner runs for fear they can somehow weaponize the Hulk, but there have been quite a few lore times where he's gone back to 'work' for them briefly in the face of a massive threat. It's more human Banner's crippling and devastating mental and anxiety issues (which is what makes the Hulk a complete lunatic, except when Banner's incredible moral compass overrides the other problems) that makes him constantly run.

Especially in the comic book version of the Hulk, there is basically nothing SHIELD or anyone else can DO to stop the Hulk. The Hulk stops because the Hulk has decided it's time to stop. He's -- and Banner, being honest -- are godlike. Banner goes where Banner wants.

Hulk in the films is heavily de-powered, just like everyone else, compared to their comic book versions. In fact, the only comic book versions of the films since Tobey McGuire's Spider-Man that haven't been de-powered is McGuire's Spider-Man, who was powered UP -- comic Spidey trying to stop that train would have had his arms at least dislocated if not ripped off if he tried that trick. But film Hulk is still wayyyyyy above everyone else. The combined film Avengers couldn't stop him if he tried to kill them all. They'd all be dead in the end. He ripped Iron Man's helmet off like I rip a piece of bread. He split Thor's lip with one punch - a space god. What's Hawkeye going to do?

Remember when he punched out the massive alien worm ship thing in New York in Avengers? That technically broke the laws of physics.

HULK PUNCHED OUT PHYSICS. Samuel L. Jackson has nothing on him.

I'm curious about the 3D thing too. I was leaning 2D.
5
Wait, Batroc the Leaper doesn't dress and sound like this in the film?
6
@3: They didn't screen it for critics in 3D, which I take as a sign that the 3D is total garbage.
7
@4: Sure, there's always been a testy relationship with the government in the comics, but it's gotten a lot cozier over the last few years and in the Marvel movies.

I'm thinking specifically of that 70s and 80s Marvel supporting character Henry Peter Gyrich, who was always the stand-in for government assholes. Everybody hated that guy, and he represented the awful, bureaucratic side of government control. He comes back every now and again, but he was everywhere in Marvel Comics in the 70s, basically so the cool heroes could blow him off and complain amongst themselves, like, "That guy is such a square."

8
@7 it would be delightful fan service if they introduced Gyrich to the films as a cameo in one scene. Cast a currently younger version of William Atherton, have him walk up to the Avengers spouting typical Gyrich bullshit as they're busy heading somewhere, and have someone just haul off and punch him into a wall. Never show him again.
9
It's not as if the Avengers were super happy about being "assembled" by S.H.I.E.L.D.; and it's kind of bold that Marvel just used one of its feature films to literally destroy and intellectually discredit an agency at the heart of their television series. I can only hope it makes the show slightly more interesting.
10
@9, The show has always been interesting and I have never understood the hate. Sure its had some 1st season issues and at times feels hamstringed by the network, but it has still been a fun show week to week. And if you had been watching, you would know that the teams distrust in what is happening 'back at HQ' has been a major plot point of the show. In fact, last weeks episode (and next weeks continuation) looks to be tying directly into what happens in Captain America TWS.
11
Yeah, the show has been incrementally improving each week, and the past few weeks have been just great television.

Prediction: Skye is an Inhuman, a Kree, or something similar to whatever Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are in the films. There is no way a human makes it through what she did in the way that she did (compounded with the T.A.H.I.T.I stuff) and they're being way too cagey about keeping control of her blood samples.
12
I don't hate the show, but it's been kind of uneven and I think the developments from the movie will help to give it a lot more to do. The close tie-ins between the show and the movie are exactly what I meant by "bold". I don't know if I've ever seen that kind of thing done before.
13
Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning should have had a cameos in this film.

SPOILERS FOLLOW!

This is seriously, and 'Only Nixon can go to China' thing. It's a Captain America movie, so no one notices that it calls out American policy on drone strikes, war policy, and universal surveillance unambiguously fascist and evil.

Oh, and also the American military engagement over-seas causes more strife and chaos than it fixes, and it does so on purpose. Basically the whole theme of this movie is that a huge portion of our government is run by people that might as well be Nazis.

It's all right there. in the script, totally on the nose. They even reference real operations like 'Paperclip'. Drone strikes on steroids is the antagonist's goal. The NSA's surveillance program is, using metadata to find people to kill, is the method Hydra uses to meet that goal. The justifications the villains use could have been quoted from a George W Bush speech. All this is in there to make sure we know this is allegory, not metaphor.

Yeah, it's sold as a superhero/political thriller, but Winter Soldier is really pure allegorical science-fiction. Captain America as a super-soldier, and established property is how the film got made. Our government uses computers to pick the people it kills before they commit crimes already. We know it's morally wrong, but we do it anyway. We tell ourselves that security is worth some moral compromise, and just a little murder. Here's where Winter Soldier might as well be an episode of Star Trek. The film takes the technology into a possible future iteration, and puts it in the hands of people who embrace our current policies and goals, just with a different moral calculus.

And since it's Captain America, we get this heavy-handed, fantastically subversive theme without any deep scrutiny from the people it's criticizing. The media gets to keep it shallow and go on about fight choreography, explosions, and sexy actors. Meanwhile kids and adults around the globe absorb the idea contrary to the dominant media narrative; that the whistle-blower who exposes government misdeeds is a hero. It's kind of perfect.