Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier

As a comic book reader, one character I could never get behind was Captain America. Cap’s costume seemed silly and in modern times felt anachronistic. For what it’s worth, I never really gave him an honest shot, as I was too busy reading other Marvel and DC titles in the 80s and 90s. Most people know the comic industry is fickle. If someone’s beloved character is shit on by a terrible writer, artist, editor, or a combination of all three, they will leave you (that’s money left on the table) — so it’s in the best interest of the creative team and publisher to make a series appealing to their readership as best as they can. You can always bring in new fans of course, via other mediums, such as direct to video animation or toy lines, however, you’re likely better off at acquiring new customers from a big budget film, which leads me to my next point: Marvel has had some very successful box office hits lately, and their latest offering, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is no different. The film itself, which cost $170 million, has already more than broke even.

“The Winter Soldier” has grossed $303 million worldwide in just ten days, having already surpassed the previous movie’s international gross with over $200 million overseas. $9.6 million of Cap’s opening weekend take was delivered from 346 domestic IMAX screens, which made up 16 of the top 20 locations, with another $6.5 million grossed on 278 international IMAX screens for a $19.4 million global IMAX total so far.

Marvel no doubt wants to make successful movies, but more than that, I’m confident the entire creative team involved also wants them to be great. Sometimes when you bring together the right people, and the words on paper are just so, you make something truly good — regrettably, this has not always worked out for Marvel. Last night I watched this new film with moderate expectations, considering how disappointed I was with the last two Iron Man films. I’m extremely pleased to say that “The Winter Soldier” is not only a good film, but it surpasses its predecessor and even The Avengers. In my eyes it boiled down to better dialogue, superior action scenes, and less crazy CGI. After the initial sensory explosion of watching it, I very much thought this reminded me of a Bourne Identify film, but with superheroes. The action sequences were tight and everything just felt visceral (this is a good thing).

Here’s a passage I wanted to pull out from IMDb’s trivia page that resonates with my feelings about the action sequences:

Unlike the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Winter Soldier minimizes the use of visual effects as much as possible. Anthony Mackie, elaborated: “The Russos, what they did that was so great was, they wanted to stay with live action, which is a dying art form…If they could build it, they built it. If we could do it, we did it. They wanted to do as little CGI as possible. That’s why the movie looks so great.

Marvel has done a great job at communicating the value of the character to me. Sure. Cap’s costume looks silly at first, but you get over that quickly when you realize it was a product of its time. His costume evolves and the colours and style are certainly less gaudy when he’s living in current times — the stars and strips are still there to a certain extent too. By making a good film, Marvel will surely bring in more new fans (like me), but perhaps also rope some lost ones in as well. For anyone new to the comic medium, there’s a good chance they will also be incentivized to read other Marvel titles once they get hooked (a big win for Marvel and comics at large).