WINTER SOLDIER (2011)
I went and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last Thursday. I was tempted to write a related toy review in the days leading up to the film’s release but I didn’t want to give away any spoilers. Now that opening weekend has come and gone I feel that it’s safe for me to talk about the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet maybe don’t read this review.
I thought the first Captain America movie was excellent and this is definitely a worthy successor. Though if I had to choose between them I still prefer the first one, in part, because Cap’s origin was told so damn well. Sometimes seeing an origin story that you’re VERY familiar with can be tedious. Amazing Spider-Man suffered because it rehashed the origin already told in the Tobey Maguire movies. I’ve read and watched Spider-Man’s origin so many times that I can recite it in my sleep. Cap’s origin is a different story. It’s never been done justice in a medium other than the comics. Seeing a scrawny Steve Rogers leap on a grenade to protect others gave me goosebumps back in 2011. And seeing a live-action Red Skull was amazing. I also love that the first movie gave Cap a chance to shine in a WWII setting. Had the Avengers movie been his first big screen appearance they would’ve had to quickly gloss over that very important aspect of the character. Setting the entire first movie in the 1940s established Steve Rogers as a man from another time and laid the foundation for this sequel where he feels like a fish out of water.
The movie starts out with the introduction of Falcon. He’s a character I never really cared for before but Anthony Mackie makes him very likable right off the bat. The action quickly ramps up when Cap has to take out a boat full of pirates lead by Batroc (Georges St. Pierre). This scene reminded me of that scene from X-Men 2 when the school gets attacked and we see Wolverine really cut loose for the first time. Watching Cap single handedly thrash a boatload pirates with brutal precision had me fighting the impulse to squeal with excitement. GSP didn’t do a whole lot but he was quite good as Batroc and like Mackie, St. Pierre made me care about a character I never had much interest in before.
The movie managed to be action packed with car chases the like you would expect to find in a fast & furious flick and yet it also managed to be a spy thriller with multiple layers to peel back. The filmmakers pulled off an amazing feat by balancing the loud scenes with the quiet ones. There were plenty of moments for comic nerds to geek out to such as nods to Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Crossbones; not to mention the mid-credit scene with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Perhaps my favorite reveal was the return of Armin Zola. His physical form is dead now but he lives on as a computer program with distorted face on a computer monitor. I hope we see him in full robot mode in the next movie.
This movie was by far my favorite of the Marvel sequels thus far. The Winter Soldier is a fascinating character and they gave you just enough of him this film to leave you wanting more. I’m glad they didn’t try to cram his entire character arc into one film.
It’s hard to imagine now but when I first got wind that writer Ed Brubaker was planning on bringing back Bucky I was hardly excited about. Bucky had always felt to me like a poor man’s Robin; Cap’s teenage sidekick in a goofy costume and a domino mask. He was one of a handful of characters in comics who actually died and stayed dead. He was dead for decades and I think most everyone wanted it to stay that way. It’s not like there were any big Bucky fans out there and reviving characters always cheapens the original death story.
But like all the other naysayers I was wrong. Ed Brubaker not only succeeded in bringing Bucky back in a cool and believable way (for comics anyway) but he turned Bucky into one of my favorite Marvel characters. Through flashback tales he made it so Bucky never sucked. Bucky was a WWII badass, doing the dirty work that even Cap didn’t want to do. And the revived modern day Bucky, a brainwashed soviet assassin now known as the Winter Soldier, was cool as hell. He gave Cap a run for his money and even snuffed out another former Cap sidekick, Nomad.
The Winter Soldier story was epic and it lasted for years. I highly recommend you pick it up. I’m so glad it didn’t get watered down for the film. I imagine that we will eventually see James Buchanan Barnes wearing the stars and stripes on the big screen and I cannot wait.
Like the movie, and the comic that inspired it, this Winter Soldier figure is awesome. So many of these Marvel Universe figures suck but the reason I collect them is because of figures like this. This guy is sculpted and painted beautifully. He could easily be displayed with the high-quality G.I. Joe figures of the 30th anniversary era. There are multiple paint apps including individually painted buckles and buttons. The black wash over his silver robotic arm gives it a nice weathered look. The sculpting is also top notch. The face and hair are really well done and solidify this figure as one of my favorites from the Marvel Universe line. He even comes with a two-toned rifle, a pistol that can be holstered on his leg, and a jet pack which I have tucked away somewhere.
Now technically this figure isn’t from the all encompassing Marvel Universe line, though there were a pair of Winter Soldier figures (a short haired and a long haired) released as part of that line in 2010. I wasn’t a fan of those figures and at the time wasn’t 100% committed to the MU line so I passed on them. It was a good thing I did because this far superior figure came out one year later as part of the MU compatible Captain America toy line from the first movie.