Captain America: The Winter Soldier

August 27, 2014

The 10 Best Superhero Films of All Time Blog Relay

We here at Simplistic Reviews are honored and happy to be apart of the Top 10 Superhero Films Blog Relay…mainly because we have this same conversation amongst ourselves nearly twice a day.  The rules are simple….well actually they aren’t.  They’re a bit more complicated and elaborate than our feeble minds are use to.  However it is all in an effort to make a rock solid, no doubt about it, objective/subjective list.  Here are the rules:

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.

3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it is locked into place.
4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be chosen by someone else. 
5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies. 
6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie. 
7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

Confused yet?  Good.  Let me explain…no…there is too much.  Let me sum up.

Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights & Movie Nights began with a list of The Avengers, Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, Hellboy 2, The Incredibles, Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, Superman, X-Men,Unbreakable, Batman: Under the Red Hood & Blade 2.

Andrew from A Fistful of Films rearranged things by removing Batman: Under the Red Hood, X-Men and Hellboy 2 and adding Chronicle, Mystery Men and The Rocketeer.

Ruth from FlixChatter yanked Blade 2, Chronicle and Mystery Men, and replaced them with Batman Begins, X-Men 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Terrence from The Focused Filmographer pulled out The Incredibles, Batman Returns and X-Men 2, before adding Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, V For Vendetta and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Jay from Life Vs Film dropped Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Superman, and Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm then put back in Incredibles and X-Men 2 and finally handed the ball over to us. Whew!!!

Our criteria was based primarily on overall quality, difficulty of concept, impact on the genre, and a 10-point must system.  That last one was probably a mistake.  Lets get started with a few thoughts on the films sticking around this round.

1. The Avengers (Locked)

The Avengers because…well…duh…it’s the f%*king Avengers!  This film…hell…that moment above was thought to be just a geek fever dream that was impossible to make, let alone, work as a film.  Whedon and company made the impossible…jaw droppingly possible.  The Avengers is a manifested representation of our childhood imaginations.  What?  Too much?

2. The Dark Knight (Locked)

Chris Nolan took the skeleton of the great crime drama Heat and put Batman and The Joker in it.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?!  As a result, came one of the finest performances we have ever, and maybe, will ever see.

3. Spider-Man 2 (Locked)

Still holds up in our opinion and nails Spidey’s world, look, motivations, and characters…which is more than we can say for its two bastard stepchildren The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2.

4. Iron Man (Locked)

The unquestionable birth of a cinematic superhero icon.  Close your eyes and try to come up with an actor who could play Tony Stark better than RDJ did in this…NOPE…you’re wrong.

5. Unbreakable (Locked)

Hey, remember when Shyamalan was good?  Hey, remember when Bruce Willis tried?  This film explores and breaks down the mythos and archetypes of superheroes and supervillains in a way we’ve probably never even thought about. IE: It’s literally superheroes for dummies.

6. The Incredibles  

Not only is this a terrific superhero film, it is one of the best family films centered on family that Pixar has probably done.  And it is the closest we are going to get to a good Fantastic Four movie for the foreseeable future.

7. The Guardians Of The Galaxy
A movie that went from low or no expectations to exceedingly high expectations in a matter of one trailer…and it still delivered Marvel’s riskiest success yet.  It felt more like Star Wars than the last 3 Star Wars films.  That has to count for something.

8. Watchmen
Matt’s Zack Snyder hate is high, but even he cannot deny the awesomeness that is Watchmen.  Watchmen was thought to be an unfilmable masterpiece.  However, Snyder’s efforts here are the closest and truest interpretation of Alan Moore’s material we’ll ever get to see on the big screen.  Don’t think so.  Read up on what Fox wanted to do with Watchmen when they owned the property.  It’s scarier than a visit from Rorschach himself.
9. V For Vendetta
Any other time we wouldn’t consider V For Vendetta as a top film in the superhero genre, but after the events in Ferguson, MO and how Anonymous and other hacker groups have taken the mask of Guy Fawkes that or our “hero” V wears, and turned it into a symbol, this film carries even more meaning in this turbulent time. V is also another great adaptation of the works of Alan Moore and offered us a look at the future that we actually might not be that far away from.  Plus, there’s nothing wrong with seeing Natalie Portman in a baby doll dress.
10. The Rocketeer
Usually when there is no pressure and expectations are low, you get something great, case in point The Rocketeer.  Before Joe Johnston was able to bring justice back to Captain America: The First Avenger, he brought us another hero that kicked some Nazi ass.  Before we had The Shadow and The Phantom, The Rocketeer was the first big stab at creating a superhero from the days of radio serials.  From the iconic score of James Horner to the slimy turn of former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, everything works for this film.  It still captures the imagination of kids and adults because a guy flying around with a jetpack punching Nazis in the face is absolutely awesome.

Now, the superhero films we decided to substitute in are as follows.
 

11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

We know this movie has only been out since April, but after watching it multiple times since then, we can’t possibly leave it off this list.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is arguably the second best Marvel film ever made.  It has a hero whose righteous indignation actually feels real and earned, a black comic relief character that manages to bring charm, dignity and usefulness to a role no one expected anything from, an enjoyable and self-reliant female lead who doesn’t fall into any stereotypical or lazy love interest scenario, an actual scary villain that, which has been poetically said before, may be better at killing people than the hero is at protecting them, and has probably some of the best and grittiest action scenes of any film on this list. (Cap’ and Winter Soldier street fight fo’ life!) It’s one of the few Marvel films and superhero films that feel genuinely important to the grand scheme of its own universe while still overcoming the obstacles of an early release date, a jumping of genres, and being directed by people primarily known for comedy.

12. Batman ’89

Say what you will about Tim Burton, but there hasn’t been a better marketed movie in the past 30 years than 1989’s Batman.  It was the birth of the “Dark Knight” and made many people forget about the Bill Dozier “Batman” series from the 1960s.  Everything is iconic about this film; from the sets by Anton Furst, the score of Danny Elfman, and of course Jack Nicholson’s Joker.  Batman ’89, despite some shortcomings, created something that hadn’t been seen before in cinema and gave us a Batman we could all be proud of.

 Now, the superhero films we decided to give the chop.

Batman Begins

It’s never easy to cut a film that not only made up for the mistakes of the past but put us on course for one of the most iconic film trilogies of all time. It’s not that Batman Begins is a bad film.  Quite the contrary.  However, there is still something uneven in it tone-wise that Nolan got a better handle on in The Dark Knight.  Um…and it’s hard for us to get past the fact that the weapon created by Wayne Enterprises in Begins (Essentially a dehydration machine) is eerily similar to a weapon used in 1966’s Batman film.

X2: X-Men United

Again, another tough one to remove from the list since X2 was able to fix all of the problems with the first film and add to the X-Men mythology.  Even with Hugh Jackman giving his best turn of Wolverine and Brian Cox proving to be one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, one film had to go, and X2 is unfortunately the casualty.

In historic Olympic fashion, we are going to hand the baton over to our friends over at Insession Film to make their choices.  You have one week.  Although, we’d like to think our list is pretty close to perfection so there is no need to change absolutely anything…YOU HEAR THAT JD, BLAKE, and BRENDAN?!?  NOT A FINGER!!!!

April 5, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

STAKES

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the first post-Avengers Marvel movie to give me and most other Marvel fans the one thing we’ve wanted.  The one thing Iron Man 3 squandered away for a punchline.  The one thing Thor: The Dark World got close to delivering but got handcuffed by Thor’s…well…immortality.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier finally gave me STAKES.  It finally provides the feeling of true peril and importance to the grand scheme of this carefully constructed Marvel cinematic universe.  People not only get hurt in this film, they get hurt bad.  They bleed, they suffer, they die.  And throughout the chaos, you finally get the sense that important sh%* is on the line.  AND THAT’S EXCLUDING THE WINTER SOLDIER PLOTLINE!

I’ve been on media blackout for this followup to Captain America: The First Avenger since I saw the face melting first trailer.  I did this because Marvel, god bless ’em, has a bad habit of revealing the best parts of their films in their commercials. (Not as bad as Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 revealing EVERY part of their film in their 30+ commercials, but still.)  That first trailer gave me everything I needed to know about this film.  Since then, I’ve inadvertently overheard really positive stuff, going as far as to say, “It’s better than The Avengers”.  Well, I’m of the opinion that The Avengers is THE BEST superhero film ever made.  So, to even make a claim like that really raised my expectations for what I’d see.  I’m glad to report my expectations were met with ease.  Now, I’m not saying that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is better than The Avengers.  I mean, COME ON!  Need I remind you THIS happened?:

However, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the most well structured, action packed, comic book fan friendly, solo hero film Marvel Studios has ever made.  
Now let me get my largest criticism out of the way, because I’m a comic book movie snob.  We snobs complain first and praise second.  This movie should NOT be subtitled The Winter Soldier.  It is not an entirely accurate description of the main crux of the film.  As awesome as the actual Winter Soldier is, and holy f%#king sh%* is he awesome in this, he is merely an instrument for the story’s true villain.  A more appropriate title might have been Captain America: Shield vs S.H.I.E.L.D. or Captain America: The Sins Of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Captain America: The Soldier Without A Country.  Okay that last one is a bit wordy.  My point is that the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division is the beginning, middle and end of what this film is about.  It’s a story about Captain America finding his place in S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.H.I.E.L.D. realizing their place in the world.  The twists and turns that come with this journey are surprising, even with the film already being revealed to be a political thriller.  I mean, we heard that it would be, but did you actually think Marvel would have the balls to fully do so?  Well, they did.  The Winter Soldier himself does serve as a strong bridge into the next chapter of Steve Rogers’ story.  His presence somewhat mirrors that of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.  He steps in, causes major damage, then steps out.  But his potential for the future is astronomical.  Winter Soldier could be Marvel’s first legitimately dangerous and morally complex villain/anti-hero since Loki.   That’s because the breadcrumbs for this character have been laid out so well and the dynamic between him and Captain America is so strong.
Sebastian Stan will be a household name after this film, but let me just put in my two cents before he is.  I now understand what Joe Johnston and Kevin Feige saw in Stan when they cast him in Captain America: The First Avenger.  Not only did he have to be able to hint at the potential dark nature of (SPOILER ALERT) Bucky Barnes in the first film.  We also had to buy into his friendship Steve.  And that was something Stan accomplished in a very short amount of screentime.  That chemistry and friendship set the foundation for this film’s largest emotional conflict.  Over time, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth brought to life two characters audiences now love to see on screen together.  Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans have the potential to be a worthy successor to them. 
While Stan’s character has established chemistry with Evans, Anthony Mackie and Scarlett Johansson create new and equally rich chemistry with him here.  From his first line of dialogue, I knew Mackie understood and loved this world he now inhabits.  He isn’t just the plucky comic relief either.  It is very easy to fall into the trap of playing a comic book character instead of playing an actual character.  Mackie doesn’t fall for it.  He brings legitimacy and realism to the role of Sam Wilson.  You never doubt that he is a capable soldier and that he has deeper layers to him.  The kindred spirit relationship he shares with Steve works well.  Their connection felt even realer to me than Tony Stark and Rhodey’s.  And speaking of layers, it is now evident that Scarlett Johansson understands Black Widow inside and out.  Watching her play around with the subtle intricacies of Natasha Romanoff never gets old for me.  Since that scene in Avengers where she uses her weakness to play Loki, I revel in the moments I get to see ScarJo play this part.  I also love how this film doesn’t resort to the predictably forced romantic relationship motif.  Cap’ and Widow are friends.  Their relationship is as fraternal as Cap’s relationship was with Bucky.  Having it be this way makes it more meaningful in my opinion.  They can talk without the hesitance that comes with romantic entanglements.  Their bond was only shown briefly in the Avengers, but thankfully expanded on in this film.  
There is a scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that I call “The Captain’s Orders Scene”.  You will know it when you see it.  On paper, it is a scene that probably shouldn’t work.  One might think it too corny or cliché.  Thoughts I used to have about Captain America as a comic book character in general.  However, Chris Evans has come into his own so much with Steve Rogers, I totally bought it.  I buy him and his entire wholesome, honest, righteous attitude.  And because I buy it, I accept it when other characters buy it too.  People are willing to fight and die for Cap’.  And if they let him down, they are genuinely upset that they did.  When Anthony Mackie’s character Sam Wilson says “I’m sorry Cap’.”, there isn’t one bit of cynicism behind his words.  Chris Evans made this concept work.  He made a grown man running around in a red, white and blue outfit spouting platitudes about freedom, justice and the American way friggin’ work…TODAY.  There was a time where Marvel was hesitant to even call their film Captain America due to their fear of how the title would be received in foreign markets.  Now I’m watching set videos from the Avengers: Age Of Ultron set in Seoul Korea where little Korean children are geeking out about that same Captain America running down their streets.  Chris Evans made that happen.  I was sorry to hear about Evans wanting to retire from acting.  It is going to be quite a task finding another actor who will be able to believably sell Captain America the same way he does.  
Dear Russo Brothers…I’m sorry I ever doubted your abilities to deliver an action spectacle befitting a superhero movie.  No, I’m serious.  The action scenes in The Winter Soldier are gonna surprise you.  They are gritty and bloody and brutally intense.  Hell, the street fight between Captain America and Winter Soldier is my second favorite one on one fight scene in a comic book movie.  (Spider-Man vs Doc Ock on the train is still my number one.)  In addition to their apparent mastery of action, the Russo’s do a great job filling out the film with great character moments.  No one feels superfluous and each character feels three dimensional.  A car ride conversation between Cap’ and Black Widow is as entertaining as a motorcycle vs Quinn Jet showdown.  Joe Johnston’s direction was perfect for the first film because of the era.  However, the Russo Brothers have figured out a solid blueprint for using this character in our time.  
To go on any further would be to spoil this movie more than I already have.  Needless to say, it earns its place as one of Marvel’s best and is deserving of all the praise it’s getting…um…except for that “Better Than The Avengers” praise.  I MEAN, COME ON!:
Say your pledge of allegiance…salute the flag…never get in an elevator with Steve Rogers…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top