4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“This isn’t freedom, this is fear” — Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For a very long time, there was a feeling among a certain segment of hardcore comics fans. When Jean Grey was resurrected in the lead-up to the launch of the X-Factor comic book, it started a flood of character resurrections in Marvel (and DC for that matter). Heck, even Aunt May was revived! (Thus ruining a most powerful character death in Amazing Spider-Man #400.)

To many comics fans, though, there were two people who were likely to stay all dead, rather than be mostly dead: Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and Captain America’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. Those two deaths were too important, too formative to ever be reversed.

And then in 2005, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting did the “Winter Soldier” storyline in Captain America Volume 5 and blew that idea all to hell.

Brubaker and Epting managed to find a way to bring Bucky back that actually worked, proving that there’s no such thing as a bad idea, only bad execution—and while bringing Bucky back was, on the face of it, a terrible idea, Brubaker and Epting managed to make it work by having Bucky be rescued from being near death in the ocean deep by Soviet soldiers, having lost an arm in the explosion that was supposed to have killed him.

He was brought to Russia, brainwashed, and trained as an assassin, used by the Soviet Union, and then by the Russian government after the U.S.S.R.’s fall in 1989, and put into suspended animation between missions, so he did not age appreciably.

Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus were hired to write a second Captain America movie before The First Avenger was even released, and their idea all along was to adapt Brubaker’s Winter Soldier idea, and also show Cap adapting to the modern world following the end of his first film and of Avengers.

Besides introducing the MCU version of the Winter Soldier, the movie also gives us Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon. Wilson was first introduced in 1969 as a partner for Captain America, and was one of the first African-American main characters in a superhero comic (and also didn’t have the word “Black” in his superhero name). Using a set of mechanical wings to give him flight, with a falcon named Redwing as his sidekick/helper, and after some extensive training by Cap his own self, the pair fought side by side for years. Falcon also has been a member of the Avengers on and off.

In the comics, Wilson was a former hustler (with the street name “Snap”) who later became a social worker, an occupation he still has today. For the MCU, this was changed to him being former military, part of a team that used experimental tech that enabled him to fly, tech he uses again in this movie, becoming the Falcon in the MCU as well. He also runs group therapy sessions at the VA hospital, thus keeping him at least somewhat in the social-worker game.

At various points in the last twenty years, both Barnes and Wilson have taken over as Captain America when Steve Rogers was believed killed or missing or whatever.

Anthony & Joe Russo were brought in to direct (they, along with F. Gary Gray and George Nolfi were Marvel Studios’ finalists for the job), and along with Markus & McFeely, constructed a conspiracy thriller along the lines of Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, Marathon Man, and the Mission Impossible movies. To that end, the movie focuses a great deal on S.H.I.E.L.D., which is also the subject of Marvel Studios’ first MCU TV series, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show which got a major change in direction after this film came out. (ABC would’ve been better off waiting to launch the show until one or two months before this movie instead of seven months, as the show spun its wheels for most of the first season waiting for the events of this movie to occur so the real story could kick in.)

Back from Avengers are Chris Evans as Cap (by way of a Thor: The Dark World cameo), Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and Jenny Agutter as a member of the World Council. Back from appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, and Maximiliano Hernández as Jasper Sitwell. Back from The First Avenger are Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Sebastian Stan as Barnes, and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter (by way of the one-shot Agent Carter). Back from Iron Man 2 is Garry Shandling as Senator Stern. First appearing in this movie are Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow (the real name of Crossbones in the comics, and he’s set up to appear as a version of that character in the end), Emily VanCamp as Agent 13, George St-Pierre as Batroc, Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Strucker, Henry Goodman as Dr. List, Elizabeth Olson as the Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, and most amazing of all, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce. (I love that I live in a world where Robert Redford appears in a Captain America movie.) In addition, Agutter is joined by Chin Han, Alan Dale, and Bernard White as the rest of the World Council.

Evans, Johansson, Mackie, Kretschmann, Olson, and Taylor-Johnson will all next appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Jackson, Smulders, Atwell, and Goodman will next appear in episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Stan will next appear in Ant-Man. VanCamp and Grillo will next appear in Captain America: Civil War.

 

“I do what he does, just slower”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Written by Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Produced by Kevin Feige
Original release date: April 4, 2014

Sam Wilson is going for a run around Washington, D.C., and he’s repeatedly passed by a much faster Steve Rogers, who calls out, “On your left” every time he passes him. The pair of them talk after the run, Wilson identifying himself as a former soldier who now works at the VA hospital. They talk about how Rogers is adjusting to modern life (Rogers likes the better food—”we used to boil everything“—the lack of polio, and the Internet), and Wilson recommends Marvin Gaye’s 1972 record Trouble Man. (“Everything you missed, jammed into one album.”)

Rogers’s phone buzzes with a mission, and Natasha Romanoff shows up in a nice car to pick him up. In the two years since the Battle of New York, Rogers has been working for S.H.I.E.L.D., leading the Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies, an awkward name created to fit the S.T.R.I.K.E. acronym. A pirate named Georges Batroc has taken a S.H.I.E.L.D. boat hostage. Rogers goes first, jumping out of the plane without a parachute, to the horror of one of the team, and taking out most of the people on the deck. The rest of the team ‘chutes down, and Brock Rumlow takes out the last of the pirates on deck. When Rogers thanks him, he snidely says, “Yeah, you seemed helpless without me.”

Romanoff secures the engine room while Rogers goes after Batroc and Rumlow and the others free the hostages. (Romanoff also keeps trying to talk Rogers into asking out one of the other S.H.I.E.L.D. employees. Rogers rebuffs her. “Secure the engine room, then get me a date.” “I’m multitasking!”)

Rogers fights Batroc, who’s proficient in savate, at one point taunting Rogers into fighting without the shield. However, Romanoff is late for her rendezvous, and Rogers finds her downloading data from the ship’s computer—which, it turns out, was her secondary mission, given to her and her alone by Nick Fury.

The hostages—including Agent Jasper Sitwell—are rescued. They return to the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters in D.C., and Rogers bitches out Fury for not telling him about Romanoff’s side mission. Fury calls it compartmentalizing, but Rogers calls it fatal for operational safety. Soldiers need to be able to trust their comrades in arms. Fury allows as how trust is hard for him to come by, as the last time he trusted someone, he lost his eye. (And I’m watching this in 2019 thinking, “Will they remember he said this in Captain Marvel?”)

Fury decides to trust Rogers with something above his clearance level, and takes him to a sub-basement of the Triskelion to show him Project: Insight. It’s three helicarriers that will orbit the globe, with repulsor technology in the VTOL engines (Tony Stark apparently had some ideas after getting an inside look at the turbines in Avengers), and linked to spy satellites, designed to take out threats before they materialize. Rogers is disgusted, wondering what happened to innocent until proven guilty, and saying this isn’t the freedom he fought for in World War II. Fury tartly points out the compromises that the so-called “greatest generation” had to make to win that war, and Rogers just as tartly says that they were fighting for something greater.

Rogers isn’t happy with this, and he wanders. First he visits the Captain America exhibit at the National Air & Space Museum, then he visits Wilson in the VA, and finally he visits the elderly Peggy Carter. Carter is bedridden, suffering from Alzheimers, though in one of her more lucid moments she tells him that they made a mess of the world after he saved it at the end of the war. Rogers also allows as how Carter’s role in founding S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only reason he’s been working with them.

Fury tries to read the information on the flash drive that Romanoff provided for him, but it’s encrypted, and he doesn’t have access. According to the computer, the person who authorized the secrecy is Fury himself, which makes no sense.

He goes to the top floor to visit with the World Council that has oversight over S.H.I.E.L.D. He meets with Secretary Alexander Pierce, who’s the one who made Fury director back in the day. Fury wants to delay the launch of Insight. It might be nothing, but in case it isn’t nothing, he wants to be sure. Pierce says he’ll try to do that, but he has to promise to have Iron Man appear at his niece’s birthday party. And not just a quick appearance—”he has to mingle.”

Fury gets into his customized fancy-shmancy S.H.I.E.L.D. SUV and contacts Maria Hill, telling her to get to D.C. as fast as she can. Fury is then assaulted by a team of commandos disguised as Metro Police, though the SUV’s on board computer alerts him that Metro has no units in the vicinity.

Despite being attacked by a dozen well-armed professionals, Fury escapes mostly intact, because he’s just that awesome, but then a masked assassin with a bionic arm blows up his SUV. He still manages to escape by blowing a hole in the bottom of his SUV and the pavement and escaping through the sewers.

He goes to Rogers’s apartment, telling him verbally that his wife threw him out, but showing him text on his phone saying the apartment is bugged and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised. Fury is then shot through the wall by the same masked assassin. Before he lapses into a coma, Fury gives Rogers the flash drive and tells him not to trust anyone.

Rogers’s next-door neighbor turns out to be Agent 13, assigned by Fury to protect Rogers. She tends to Fury while Rogers goes after the assassin, but when Rogers throws his shield at the assassin, he catches it one-handed and throws it right back.

Rogers goes to the hospital where they’re working on Fury. Also there are Romanoff, Hill, Rumlow, and Sitwell. As they watch, he’s declared dead.

Hill says the ballistics on the rounds that shot him had no rifling, impossible to trace, and Romanoff immediately says, “Soviet made.” She seems to recognize the assassin, but says nothing.

Rumlow informs Rogers that Pierce wants to see him. He says he’ll be right there, and then hides the flash drive in a vending machine.

Pierce waxes rhapsodic about his long friendship with Fury, and wants to know what Fury told Rogers before he was shot. The only thing Rogers will admit to Fury saying is that he shouldn’t trust anyone. Pierce also mentions that apparently Fury himself hired Batroc to seize the boat.

Rogers gets into the elevator to leave. Several people join him on various floors, and Rogers soon realizes he’s about to be ambushed. Despite being outnumbered about a dozen or so to one, with his foes having high-tech tasers and magnetic handcuffs and other fun gadgets, Rogers still wins. Before Rogers takes him down, Rumlow insists it’s not personal, but Rogers says it sure feels personal. He then leaves by way of the elevator window, as there are more agents waiting to take him out on the next floor.

He escapes the Triskelion despite all S.H.I.E.L.D.’s efforts to stop him (which are considerable, but Rogers is Captain fucking America). Sitwell then makes capturing him priority one. Agent 13 demands to know why there’s a manhunt for Cap of all people, and Pierce enters and says that he’s withholding information about Fury. This seems an extreme response to that, but nobody questions Pierce.

Rogers returns to the hospital to retrieve the flash drive, but it’s gone. Then Romanoff shows up behind him with the flash drive (and also blowing a bubble from the pack of gum Rogers hid it behind). She reveals that she knows who the assassin is, though most people think he’s a myth: the Winter Soldier. She encountered him once, and was shot by him (she shows him the scar). He matches the description, and has a Soviet-made rifle with those clean ballistics.

Romanoff and Rogers go to an Apple Store to try to read the flash drive. They’ll have about nine minutes before S.T.R.I.K.E. traces the use of the drive, and while Romanoff can’t decrypt it, she can trace where the data originated from: Wheaton, New Jersey. Rogers recognizes the location, as it’s also where he originated. They escape the mall without S.T.R.I.K.E. finding them (in part because Romanoff has them kiss when they pass Rumlow on an escalator), and then steal a car. (Rogers insists it’s borrowing, and also allows as how he learned how to hotwire a car in Nazi Germany.) On the drive to New Jersey, Romanoff wonders if that’s his first kiss since 1945, and Rogers wonders how he can trust someone he doesn’t entirely know.

The data originated from the now-long-abandoned Camp Lehigh, where Rogers went through training for the super soldier project in The First Avenger. Romanoff detects no heat signatures or electronic emissions, but Rogers notes that the munitions building is too close to the barracks per Army regulations. Turns out not to be munitions, but a secret office, and they realize that this was the first headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in the day. There are portraits of Colonel Phillips, Howard Stark, and Peggy Carter in the main office. There’s also a secret passage to an elevator, and Rogers wonders why a secret base has a secret elevator.

They go (very far) down to find a computer lab from around 1979 or so—albeit with a single USB port. Romanoff plugs in the flash drive, and when green text shows up on the monochrome monitor, Romanoff smiles and says, “Shall we play a game?” then is surprised to learn that Rogers has actually seen War Games some time in the last two years.

And then a pixelated version of Arnim Zola’s face appears on the monitor. Zola was part of Operation Paperclip, the American program that brought Nazi scientists to the U.S. (cf. Wernher von Braun), and was assigned to the nascent S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Zola conceived an audacious plan to embed Hydra agents within the spy organization, working covertly to sow chaos and fear so that people would crave security in exchange for freedom. Project: Insight is the culmination of Hydra’s plan.

Zola only told them this much because he was stalling. S.H.I.E.L.D.—or, rather, Hydra—sends a couple of missiles to destroy Lehigh and kill Rogers and Romanoff. They survive only thanks to an underfloor and Cap’s shield.

They return to D.C. and take refuge at Wilson’s place. Rogers is convinced that Pierce is part of Hydra as well, as he’s the only one who could’ve ordered a missile strike on U.S. soil. Since Sitwell was on the boat, they want to question him. Wilson volunteers to help, and shows them his Army file. Turns out he wasn’t a pilot, as Rogers assumed, but one of two guys who used mechanical wings in combat operations. His “wingman” was killed, and Wilson’s own rig is in a secure location. Romanoff and Rogers are so confident that they can steal it that the theft happens off-camera.

Pierce meets with the Winter Soldier in his house, just as his housekeeper Renata leaves. As they talk, Renata comes back in because she forgot her phone, and sees the Soldier. Pierce shoots her dead, wishing she’d knocked before coming back in.

Sitwell is escorting Senator Stern, who whispers “Hail Hydra” to Sitwell before getting into his car. Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson then kidnap Sitwell and question him. (His willingness to talk increases after Romanoff kicks him off a roof, with Wilson rescuing him after he’s fallen several dozen feet.) Sitwell explains that Hydra has been data mining to find threats to their eventual sovereignty. They’ve created a lengthy list of targets to kill once Insight goes online—Rogers is one, as are several politicians, a high school valedictorian, journalists, other superheroes (both Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange are name-checked).

Unfortunately, their plan to use Sitwell to get into the Triskelion fails when the Winter Soldier attacks Wilson’s car as they’re driving down the highway. Sitwell is thrown from the vehicle and killed. A vicious fight takes place on the highway, during which Romanoff gets shot, and the Winter Soldier’s bionic arm is damaged.

At one point, the Soldier’s mask comes off, and Rogers is stunned to see that it’s Bucky Barnes.

S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra captures the three of them, putting them in the back of a truck with two agents. However, one of those agents is Hill in disguise. She tases the other one, and uses the same go-out-through-the-bottom-and-into-the-sewer trick that Fury used earlier.

They go to a cave, where Fury is alive. He faked his death with a compound that Banner created in one of his attempts to keep the Hulk in check. (“They can’t kill you if you’re already dead.”) Rogers and Romanoff inform him of what they learned from Zola, which tracks with Fury’s suspicions. He’s especially pissed about Pierce, who once turned down a Nobel Peace Prize because he said peace wasn’t an achievement, it was a responsibility. (“It’s stuff like this that gives me trust issues.”)

Fury wants to save S.H.I.E.L.D., but Rogers refuses, believing it to be beyond saving. The cancer of Hydra has been there from jump, and it all needs to come down. Hill, Romanoff, and Wilson all agree.

The Soldier wants to know why Rogers is so familiar. We see flashbacks showing that Zola’s experiments on him when he was a prisoner make him stronger and faster, and enabled him to survive the fall in the mountains where he was believed killed. Zola turned him into the Winter Soldier, and he was put in suspended animation between missions and upgrades. Pierce wants his memory wiped again.

Rogers, meanwhile, remembers Barnes walking him home after his mother’s funeral (his father had already died), and telling him that he doesn’t have to deal with it alone. “I’m with you till the end of the line.”

Fury has three computer blades that will enable them to reprogram the three helicarriers—but only if all three helicarriers have the new blades. Pierce is bringing the rest of the World Council in person to watch the launch the helicarriers. Romanoff replaces one of them, using a high-tech mask to disguise herself. Rogers, Wilson, and Hill penetrate the Triskelion—but not until after Rogers breaks into Air and Space and steals his old World War II uniform from the exhibit. (The security guard who discovers the theft, who looks just like Stan Lee, declares, “I am so fired.”)

Rogers goes over the PA and announces that Hydra has suborned S.H.I.E.L.D. from within and says that they can’t let the helicarriers launch. Several agents—including Agent 13—hesitate, as they know how brutally honest Captain America is.

This forces the Hydra moles’ hands—starting with Rumlow—as they force the launch. Firefights ensue all over the Triskelion. Romanoff removes her disguise and holds Pierce at gunpoint, helped by the other members of the Council, who are aghast at the Hydra revelation. Romanoff uploads everything about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to the Internet. Pierce points out that this will reveal all her secrets, and is she ready for that? She retorts, “Are you?”

Rogers and Wilson manage to put two of the blades in, but their attempt to put in the third is stopped by the Soldier, who rips off Wilson’s wings. (Luckily, he has a chute, but he’s now grounded.) Rogers and the Soldier fight, but Rogers keeps trying to remind him who he really is. (“You’re my friend.” “You’re my mission!”)

The helicarriers launch and start acquiring all of Hydra’s targets, intending to kill all of them.

Despite being shot several times, Rogers manages to get the third blade in. Hill reprograms the helicarriers, reducing their targets down to three: the three helicarriers. They all start firing on each other and crash into the Triskelion.

Fury joins Romanoff, and wants to know why Pierce made him director. Pierce says that it’s because Fury is ruthless. Besides, Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. want the same thing: order. Fury winds up shooting Pierce, and his dying words are, “Hail Hydra.”

Wilson intercepts Rumlow before he can get to the Council floor, but their fight is interrupted by a helicarrier crashing into the building. Wilson jumps out and is saved by Fury, Romanoff, and Hill in a helicopter. They try to rescue Rogers, but can’t find him.

In fact, Rogers fell off the helicarrier into the Potomac. His last words to the Soldier before falling were that he wasn’t going to fight him anymore, but will instead be with him till the end of the line. The Soldier dives after him and pulls him from the water.

Rogers wakes up in the hospital to the sounds of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man playing on Wilson’s iPod. Wilson himself is sitting in chair to the right of the bed, and Rogers lets him know he’s awake by saying, “On your left.”

Romanoff testifies before a joint Congressional and military committee about the revelations regarding S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra. Agent 13 winds up at the CIA, Hill winds up at Stark Enterprises, and Rumlow winds up in the hospital covered in burns and wounds.

Fury is still officially dead, and he burns a ton of personal stuff, and meets with Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson at his own grave. (Which has the same Bible quote that Jules quoted in Pulp Fiction, because the filmmakers are dorks.) He plans to track down the remnants of Hydra. He invites Rogers and Wilson to join him, but they refuse. Rogers is determined to find Bucky and Wilson joins him.

In Sokovia, another Hydra leader, Baron Strucker, is philosophical about the events of the film, saying S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are two sides of the same coin of a no-longer-existing currency. We see that he has Loki’s scepter from Avengers, and his experiments with it are bearing fruit, including a set of twins who now have powers.

At Air and Space, the Soldier, in civilian garb, stares at the part of the exhibit that discusses James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes of the Howling Commandos.

 

“I’m sorry, did I step on your moment?”

Just as Thor: The Dark World often lands near the bottom of most people’s rankings of the MCU films (though not mine), The Winter Soldier is often near the top, and there I can agree wholeheartedly, as it’s one of the best films in the MCU pantheon, and just a damn good film overall period.

It’s not perfect, mind you. While I am abject in my love of the character of the Falcon and of Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of same, his presence in this movie is a bit hand-wavey. Hey look, this guy Rogers met on his morning run just happens to have been a guy who flew high-tech wings in combat! What a coinky-dink! And also we see Wilson using the wings after this movie regularly despite them having been stolen by Rogers and Romanoff, and there’s no explanation as to how and why he gets to keep them. (Or, for that matter, how they got fixed.)

Also, Hydra’s been secretly inside S.H.I.E.L.D. since its earliest days being all secret and covert and stuff. Yet they also send their agents disguised as Metro Police to shoot up an entire city street and a major highway, which is the exact opposite of what a covert organization should be doing, especially since they haven’t reached their big reveal yet. (I also think it does a disservice to several of the MCU’s smartest, strongest characters—Howard Stark, Phil Coulson, Maria Hill, and especially Peggy Carter and Nick Fury—that they were this clueless to the snake in the grass.)

Still, these are minor complaints in this fantastic thrill-ride of a movie. The pacing is fantastic, the characterization is strong, the acting is amazing, the dialogue is crackling. Things never slow down enough to get boring, nor speed up enough to be exhausting. The plot unfolds nicely, with revelations coming slowly and sensibly, with only two really big “gotcha” moments—Rogers realizing who the Winter Soldier is, and Zola’s ghost-in-the-machine act under Camp Lehigh. Even those work, the former because it’s quick and brutal, the latter because it’s kind of important, and seeing a pixelated Toby Jones deliver it snidely makes it all work. And it even serves a purpose, as Zola admits that he’s stalling.

Every performance in this movie is fantastic, starting with the one you expect brilliance from, Robert fucking Redford. If you’d told adolescent Keith that he’d grow up to see Redford starring in a Captain America movie and actually say the words, “Hail Hydra” unironically, I’d have thought you were absolutely insane. No way Redford would lower himself to that! No way Marvel would ever do something so classy!

Instead, no, we live in that world, and it’s awesome. Redford is superb here, perfectly playing the politician-as-former-soldier, his easy camaraderie with both Samuel L. Jackson’s Fury and Chris Evans’s Rogers hiding an almost bland ruthlessness. When he explains to Fury why he’s done what he’s done, he’s so reasonable and sensible. It’s a great performance, because it isn’t overplayed. Even when he shoots his housekeeper, he’s reluctant, but quick to do what needs doing.

Jackson is also fantastic, and I kinda wish they’d done either done an actual S.H.I.E.L.D. movie instead of a TV show with a limited budget, or found a way for Jackson to star on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., because while I adore Clark Gregg’s Coulson, Jackson really is the badassiest badass ever, and his calm competence in the face of disaster is the glue that holds the movie together.

All the supporting roles are brilliant, from Hayley Atwell’s heartbreaking scene as a failing Carter to Mackie’s easy charm as Wilson to Maximiliano Hernández’s toadying as Sitwell to Sebastian Stan’s bland affect replaced by torment as the Soldier to Jones’s prototypical Big Villain Speech.

The stars of the movie, though, are Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson. The Black Widow continues to be one of the few grownups in the MCU, and Johansson manages a tremendous balancing act here, managing both to provide reveals about Romanoff, yet not really telling us anything. (I also love the way she keeps trying to matchmake Rogers.) Her speech to Rogers about how she thought joining S.H.I.E.L.D. meant putting the KGB behind her is devastatingly delivered.

And Evans remains a rock. He never loses sight of Rogers’s honesty, his nobility, his skill, and most of all his belief in the American dream. When he tells Fury that Project: Insight is like putting a gun to the head of the entire world, he says it with a seriousness that manages to be earnest without being corny. It’s an inspiring, inspirational performance, and you can tell that cynical old spies like Fury, Romanoff, and Hill and tired old soldiers like Wilson gravitate to him because he has a purity of purpose and of belief that they’ve long since lost and would love to get back.

Finally, this movie shows a willingness not to rely on the status quo. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been an undercurrent of the MCU since Iron Man, and it’s just been trashed. And while it will continue in various forms in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers movies (and, based on the trailer, the next Spider-Man movie, too), and it informs the backstory of the two Ant-Man movies, it’s no longer the major driving force that it was in Phase 1. I like that the MCU is willing to flip the table every once in a while. Doing it in what is a humdinger of a movie just makes it even cooler.

 

Next week, we get the band back together, as the Avengers take on the creation of one of their members gone horribly horribly wrong in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest work is “The Midwinter of Our Discontent” in Release the Virgins! He’s also back to reviewing new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery as they air, and you can read his review of “Brother” on this site today as well.

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