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Sebastain Stan in a scene from the motion picture
The culture wars of the past half-century are rooted in differing ideological world views of what the United States was, is and should be. Similar to the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics or Sunni and Shia, where both sides believe in the same God but interpret what that God is differently, the ideological battles that have defined the conflicts of conservatives and liberals are between two sides that claim to believe in the same country, the same flag and the same constitution—but have vastly different visions of what those things should mean when it comes to issues like civil rights, privacy and fundamental societal fairness. So, if there is a culture war, that war is being fought over the nature and soul of the "American Dream."

This weekend the latest Marvel film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, dominated the box office by pulling $96.2 million domestically and over $300 million worldwide. The movie is a mixture of comic book film and political thriller, with an overarching theme of conflicting visions of America's future. Captain America has always been an interesting character for Marvel Comics in that, among all of its characters, Steve Rogers is usually considered the moral center whom all the other heroes find as their rock in difficult times. Add to that the character's American symbolism, bringing with it all sorts of characteristics that makes his position unique, a situation is created that allows the writers to comment on contemporary American culture. And that's exactly what's been done here.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have crafted a very entertaining action-film that shakes up things for the Marvel Universe going forward, but the movie is also explicitly meant to comment on civil liberties issues, drone strikes, the president's kill list and data mining.

More after the jump.

The cover of The Avengers, Vol. 1 #4, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, published March 10th, 1964
Comic books, and Marvel Comics in particular, have never been afraid of touching on social and political issues of the day. Depending on the perspective, the story of the X-Men is one of prejudice and discrimination against a class of people because of who and what they are. In more recent years, writers have used "mutants" for analogies to gun control. (i.e. if we are to have registration and waiting periods for handguns and assault rifles, shouldn't there be safeguards against people that can blast laser beams from their eyes and can invade other people's minds?) Captain America is an amalgam meant to be everything we believe America should be. The character represents an ideal through which everyone can fill in what that ideal means, and sometimes that ideal conflicts with the messy grays of current policy.

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Timely Comics in 1941, the story of Marvel's Captain America is built upon many familiar superhero tropes. Steve Rogers is a frail young man who's changed by World War II-era super-science. After being rejected as unsuitable for enlistment in the Army, Rogers is given the chance to be a test subject of a Super-Soldier Serum that gives him peak human abilities and is then armed with a nearly indestructible shield. After helping defeat the Axis powers, Rogers is lost and awakens many years later to a changed world. His status as a "man from another time" gives the character an outsider's perspective.

From Daredevil, Vol. 1 #233, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, published August 10th, 1986
There have been many interesting angles taken with the character over the years, but Captain America's staying power in pop culture is largely predicated on the character's nobility. In fact, the character wouldn't work at all without it (e.g. most people dislike the Ultimate Universe version of Captain America for that very reason). Unlike the trend over the past 30 years of having damaged heroes, antiheroes, or dark and gritty stories with flawed protagonists in a world populated with horrible human beings, Steve Rogers is presented as a good and decent man. Captain America struggles with the moral crises of the modern world, but makes the people around him better through his example.

He genuinely believes that people, when given the chance, will be good—and more often than not they are, if for no other reason than that they don't want to disappoint him.

From What If?, Vol. 1 #44, by Peter Gillis and Sal Buscema, published April 10th, 1984
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the ninth film released by Marvel Studios as part of their ongoing cinematic universe, with this movie taking part in what they're calling the post-Avengers "Phase Two." The movie sets the stage for Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron while also significantly changing everything you thought you knew from the previous films. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Marvel President Kevin Feige has a plan for movies all the way out to 2028.

The Winter Soldier takes the comic book elements discussed above, adds it to the previous cinematic Avengers story up to this point, and merges it with themes out of 1970s political thrillers like The Odessa File and Three Days of the Condor. The script, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, uses elements from Ed Brubaker's "Winter Soldier" story from the comic book and roots the story in Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) disillusionment with what he's supposed to be fighting for, and questioning the orders he's given by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Captain America is working for an organization that doesn't trust him with the truth, believes he needs to be "compartmentalized" from the not-so-legal or moral missions of people on his team like the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Decisions are being made by Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and others of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are preparing to take things to another level by putting together a plan to "neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen." After an attempt is made on Nick Fury's life, Rogers is told to "trust no one" and discovers there's corruption deep within S.H.I.E.L.D. that connects to the operations of a secret black ops agent named the Winter Soldier.

"S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is, not as we'd like it to be." —Nick Fury

"This isn't freedom. This is fear." —Captain America

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (whose previous experience has been in TV with Arrested Development and Community) have deliberately accentuated many of the concerns about government that have made headlines over the past year or so. In our world, the temptation to surrender privacy and transparency for security can be rationalized out to extraordinary lengths. In a world with green rage monsters, crazy Asgardians with mind-controlling scepters, and aliens invading New York City through a wormhole, the pressure to defend the homeland at any and all costs would be even more tempting.

The fact that the Russos were able to get those ideas and concerns across while introducing and juggling so many characters that get screen-time, like Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson, Frank Grillo's Brock Rumlow and Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill, is impressive. And the film latches onto one of the great strengths of the comic book—that the Avengers, and most of the Marvel Universe, is one big dysfunctional family whose members bounce off of each other. The dynamics of those interactions are what sell the lighter moments in between the action sequences.

And speaking of the action sequences, there are at least five of them in the film that are expertly choreographed, with the Russos having cited The Raid: Redemption as inspiration. All in all, the result is an entertaining two-hour ride.

Captain America versus the mercenary Batroc the Leaper
Beyond this point, I'm going to get spoiler-y and speculate a little bit on how this movie fits into Marvel's future plans. So if you haven't watched the film and don't want to know plot details, this would be the place to stop reading.
  • The Absence of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Iron Man 3 Explained?: When Iron Man 3 was released, there were many that pointed out that a glaring plot hole in the movie is the fact that the United States is under a massive threat from The Mandarin and A.I.M., yet no one from S.H.I.E.L.D. nor any of the other Avengers are involved. Given that at the end of The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't exist anymore and its members have been scattered, that may mean that the events of Iron Man 3 occur after The Winter Soldier. Also, Redford's Alexander Pierce asks Nick Fury to get Iron Man to show up at his niece's birthday party. Since Tony Stark destroys all of the Iron Man armors and had the arc reactor removed from his chest at the end of Iron Man 3, that would seem to indicate The Winter Soldier occurs some time before it. Plus, the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D., the impact of HYDRA's corruption of it and its actions against the Stark family (the implied murder of Howard Stark and Tony's mother) would seem to make sense as being part of Tony's depression in Iron Man 3.
  • Corrupted Centers of Power and Changed People: In all three of the post-Avengers phase two films, either institutions that were trusted are revealed to be actually corrupt to their core (HYDRA existing within S.H.I.E.L.D. and Loki now sitting on the throne of Asgard) or the situations of the heroes are drastically altered from the status quo. Most superhero films are variations of the same formula, but Marvel has seriously altered the circumstances in their films. Tony Stark is no longer Iron Man, both the Black Widow and Nick Fury don't have the protection of S.H.I.E.L.D. and are searching for new covers as they try to begin their new quests, and Captain America is responsible for dumping every S.H.I.E.L.D. secret on the internet and doesn't seem to be that popular in Washington at the moment.
  • Hail HYDRA: The biggest reveal of the movie is that not only does HYDRA still exist, but it has been part of S.H.I.E.L.D. since its origin. Starting as a conspiracy of former Nazis saved by Operation Paperclip, HYDRA grew like a parasite within S.H.I.E.L.D. and has used S.H.I.E.L.D. to direct global events since the end of World War II with the goal of creating a world susceptible to HYDRA's version of order. One of the biggest wham lines of the movie is when Arnim Zola basically argues the Nazis won, and that Captain America's sacrifices were for nothing. But some reviewers have wondered whether or not that takes some of the bite out of the commentary. If all the bad things of the past 70 years were HYDRA's doing, then the moral crises weren't situations where "we" went wrong, it was "dastardly Nazis" who deceived us. On the other hand, "just following orders" has never been a good defense. And the movie doesn't shy away from the idea that there's not much more than a wafer-thin difference between what S.H.I.E.L.D. wants and what HYDRA is attempting to achieve—only the extent of the tactics to get there differentiate the two. In fact, during the film's ending, Pierce tells Nick Fury that HYDRA wants an ordered world too and the Project Insight plan is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s policies taken out to their natural conclusion.
  • Not Exactly Winning: At the end of The Winter Soldier, HYDRA has achieved something its comic book counterpart could have only dreamed of winning: the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. And while Cap saves millions of people, he doesn't necessarily "win," as he and the people he cares about only survive to fight an entity that still exists another day. The "rot" within S.H.I.E.L.D. is too far gone to save it, and the only thing left to protect the world are the Avengers.
  • Zola's "Body" and The Clairvoyant: One of the strangest but most faithful bits of continuity is Arnim Zola's form in the film. The character has survived the death of his physical body and still helps direct HYDRA's actions from within a 1970s-era computer system. It is Zola who develops the algorithm that predicts future actions and determines the targets for HYDRA's kill list. In the comic book, the character has uploaded his mind into a robot that has a huge screen on its torso and a single camera lens for a head. In the movie, Zola (Toby Jones) exist in a huge bank of reel-to-reel computers, has a huge monitor display for interaction and sees through a single camera that sits atop the system. Whether Zola truly destroyed himself in the attempt to kill Cap and Black Widow is an open question, since Zola might be The Clairvoyant who's been the unknown enemy of Agent Coulson and his team on ABC's Agents of Shield. The Clairvoyant is something or someone deep within S.H.I.E.L.D., and given what's happened in this film and so far on Agents of Shield, the allegiance of Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) is also an open question.
  • The Falcon and the Action Sequences: Anthony Mackie's Falcon is a mish-mash of both the 616 Marvel incarnation and the character's Ultimate Universe version. The character's uniform and military background are consistent with the Ultimate Universe, while Sam Wilson being a counselor at the V.A. is a nod to him being a social worker in his origin within 616. However, unlike the 616 version, this Falcon is not telepathic with birds and doesn't have a falcon sidekick named Redwing. The action sequences between Cap, the Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Falcon, etc., have a kinetic style and visceral intensity. There have been eight different directors with the nine Marvel films, and all of them have brought a different aesthetic to these films.
  • Still Waiting On That Dance: The first hint in the film that things are wrong within S.H.I.E.L.D. comes during the conversation between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter in the present day. Steve says that one of the reasons he stays at S.H.I.E.L.D. despite his disillusionment with it tactics is that Peggy was one of its founders with Howard Stark. However, she tells Steve that "compromises" were made with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s policies. Although not explicitly stated, this version of Peggy Carter seems to suffer the same fate as the comic book version, with both afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. The connections to Steve's past, and how they've been ripped away from him, not only setting up his perspective as an outsider judging the new world, but it also effectively sets up the dynamics of the relationship between him and Bucky that dominate the finale of the film.
  • Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 25, Verse 17: Nick Fury chooses not to reveal that he faked his death so he can go to Europe and hunt HYDRA. At the end of The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson and Nick Fury meet to discuss their next moves at the site of Nick Fury's fake grave. The tombstone for that grave is an Easter egg reference to another Samuel L. Jackson film.
Helicarriers launching from the Triskelion
  • The Triskelion: The headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a massive facility called the Triskelion. In its comic book form, the Triskelion first appeared in the Ultimate Universe and was based in New York City. In Marvel's film universe, it exists as a facility on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. and is a subtle early clue to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s corruption. In the opening shots that pan across it, the Triskelion is shown to be directly across the Potomac from the Watergate Hotel.
  • Project Insight: HYDRA's plan in The Winter Soldier is a lot of present-day controversial policies currently in use turned up to 11. The three Helicarriers are loitering drones that use S.H.I.E.L.D.'s NSA-esque eavesdropping technology to target potential threats on a kill list. According to an interview co-director Joe Russo gave with Mother Jones, the question the movie presents is where is the line? "If there are 100 people we can kill to make us safer, do we do it? What if we find out there's 1,000? What if we find out there's 10,000? What if it's a million? At what point do you stop?" Robert Redford's Alexander Pierce tells Nick Fury that he can give him a world with order and without threats, but he just needs to kill 20 million and that's not so bad in the grand scheme of things with 7 billion people.
  • One of the Names On HYDRA's List: Tony Stark, the newly rebuilt and renamed Avengers Tower, Bruce Banner, President Ellis and others are either mentioned or shown as being targets of Project Insight. However, one of the names also mentioned was Stephen Strange, who is also known as Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe. Strange is a member of The Defenders, which is about to be adapted into a miniseries on Netflix. And there have been recent rumors that Marvel is interested in making a Doctor Strange film and may want Johnny Depp for the role.
  • The Winter Soldier and the Future of Captain America: Most of the character's background from the Brubaker "Winter Soldier" comic book story, including his relationship with the Black Widow, is cut in this adaption. However, the relationship between Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Steve Rogers is the same in the story, as well as Rogers refusing to kill or harm his old friend and doing everything possible, including submitting to being beaten almost to "the end of the line," to break his brainwashing. The second post-credits sequence shows Bucky standing at the Smithsonian's Captain America exhibit trying to remember his past, and Steve and Sam are out there looking for him. One other note about Bucky is that he becomes Captain America in the comic book after Steve Rogers is (sorta) killed, and almost all of the characters involved in that death are present in this film, raising the question of whether that might be the direction Marvel goes for Captain America 3? Bucky/Winter Soldier is shown catching and throwing Cap's Shield proficiently multiple times during the film. Frank Grillo's Brock Rumlow is the real name of Crossbones, with the ending of this film showing him still alive but horribly scarred like his comic book counterpart. Steve Rogers' S.H.I.E.L.D. agent neighbor (Emily VanCamp) who was pretending to be a nurse is Agent 13/Sharon Carter. In the comic book, Sharon is the niece of Peggy Carter and Cap's love interest in modern times. Whether that will be changed in the film continuity is unknown.
  • Senator Stern of Pennsylvania: Gary Shandling's Senator Stern from Iron Man 2 makes another appearance in The Winter Soldier. In Iron Man 2, even though the character is presented as a bureaucratic jerk, his insistence that Tony Stark turn over the Iron Man armor doesn't come off as crazy or all that unreasonable given how much of a drunk asshole Stark can be. And if Elon Musk built a highly advanced weapons system, flew it to Afghanistan and started blowing shit up, I think there would probably be some congressional hearings about it. However, this movie reveals Senator Stern to be a member of HYDRA. So the entire issue of whether or not Tony's armor should be in the possession of the United States government takes on a different light, since it was most likely a ploy for HYDRA to get their hands on Stark's repulsor beam and arc reactor technology. The actions of HYDRA also put S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plan in The Avengers to develop new versions of HYDRA's weapons in a much different light as well.
Ultron, who will be played by James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch
  • Ultron and the Twins: The end of The Winter Soldier introduces Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and reveals the existence of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. In a post-credits sequence directed by Joss Whedon, Strucker and HYDRA are in possession of Loki's scepter, which may or may not have the Mind Gem that a certain giant, blue mad Titan might want back at some point, as well as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch locked in cages. Both characters are referred to as "miracles." This might be because of copyright and licensing deals made with Fox, with Fox controlling the film rights to the X-Men, and leaving Marvel/Disney unable to refer to them as "mutants." It also means Marvel can't refer to their parentage either. (i.e. they're Magneto's children.) However, Marvel Studios can use characterizations that originate in the Avengers comic books, where Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were part of a major reinvention of the Avengers called "Cap's Kooky Quartet." And conversely Fox is unable to refer to any of the Avengers storylines while using Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Also, given they were introduced with Baron Strucker, there's some speculation that Whedon may shift their parentage from Magneto to Strucker and their storyline will take on aspects of the Fenris. There's also the question of how exactly Ultron comes into existence. Whedon has already stated that unlike Marvel 616, Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man) will not be directly responsible for Ultron's creation. And some of the early promotional material implies that Tony Stark may be the responsible party. Also, The Vision will make an appearance in Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron and will be played by  Paul Bettany. Up until this point, Bettany has been the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. (aka Tony Stark's AI). Some other speculation has wondered whether S.H.I.E.L.D. would create Ultron, but since S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't exist anymore that might mean that HYDRA could be the responsible party. Could Ultron be something that grows out of Zola's algorithm?
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Comment Preferences

  •  They data mine Facebook, among other databases,... (8+ / 0-) decide who to kill with massive drones.  The NSA plus a new Dick Cheney plus massive drones.  Watched it yesterday.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 07:13:17 PM PDT

  •  Saw it thursday night and LOVED it!! (9+ / 0-)

    It was almost more of a mission impossible movie than a super hero movie.

    I was very curious why Redford was in it, until I saw it and understood.  

    Loved the Pulp Fiction reference on the grave.

    Fantastic diary, by the way!

  •  I wasn't sure about seeing it- (8+ / 0-)

    but if it has Bat-Roc, c'est necessaire!

  •  Had to keep skimming in order to minimize the (6+ / 0-)

    spoilers throughout, so I might suggest a SPOILER ALERT at the top.  Unless I simply missed it, in which case I apologize.

    I always enjoy your ability to relate fiction to elements of events and personalities in the real world, and what I saw reads quite well - I'm expectant (for a change) about a Marvel movie actually existing on multiple planes of storytelling.

    That said, the direction being led by Redford's character makes me think of the X-related future(s) seen in X-Men, X-Force, and especially X-Factor titles, wherein the government has formalized Sentinel programs across various parallel Earths (i.e., different types of Sentinels, different leaders/manipulators, etc.) in a manner to minimize the damage that a future mutant and/or event causes, worldwide.

    Now, Marvel has created a number of global, mutant-caused events in their many Brian Bendis-influenced crossovers, but even older story arcs have mutants being hunted as a means to keep them isolated from doing humans harm, out of bias for perceived threats, accidental conflicts which arose and escalated beyond simple beginnings from the (again) perception of reasons to fear each side, or in direct retaliation for a perceived mutant event that impacted far more than the mutant population, alone.

    In many of those futures, killing the relatively few super-powered mutants was seen as creating a stable, controllable population - so long as other super-powered beings registered with the government, with terms that effectively placing invisible leashes on some and more direct assignments with others.

    The overriding theme in these "kill some to benefit all" scenerios from Marvel has been that someone at the top of a military+political heap wants centralized control, with agents of this mission at all levels, in all arms, of the core organization.

    If that doesn't sound like a Hydra type of goal, I don't know what else would.

    Maybe the twins are a bridge towards one of these Marvel cross-over scenarios, but to date I had not read of the upcoming X-Men movie having any linkage with this plot stream you've described.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 07:28:22 PM PDT

    •  Disney/Marvel doesn't have the rights to (6+ / 0-)

      "mutants" or any of the X-Men/Fantastic Four/Spiderman characters.

      It's unlikely they'll do a crossover any time soon simply because everyone is going to want too much money.

      Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch are in limbo because they are mutants but were also in the Avengers.

      When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

      by PhillyJeff on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 08:59:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  very interesting and way (5+ / 0-)

    too much for me to follow not being in this world and only having seen a few of the films.

    taking aim at the new world order may be a big hollywood fantasy, but actually opposing it doesn't get the same sort of response, not that i don't think our fictions are critical determinants of what we ultimately do.

    decades of anti-heroes are not going to be forgotten so easily.

    or maybe at all.

    •  oh the anti hero isn't going away (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Doctor RJ, nanoboy

      but what Marvel has done so well is embrace both types. Captain America is in many ways Marvel's Superman (not in powers of course), a larger than life quantity that represents everything humanity wants to be and hopefully will be.

      And really they even managed to do so in the same film here with the approach of both Black Widow (which I have to say is one of the best I have ever seen) and Captain America.

      Der Weg ist das Ziel

      by duhban on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 11:43:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Captain America (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I read Captain America as representing the very best of America.  He doesn't represent the worst parts, as he fights those things.  His virtues are America's virtues.  I personally like this a lot.  Anti-heroes and heroes with huge flaws have their place, but I think stories have overly focused on them these days.

        •  well to be fair (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          till really the last decade the only comic book movies that have done well have been largely anti heroes (Batman pre Nolan and Blade). It seems to have been a bit easier and probably less risky to use anti heroes. That though is the continuation of a long trend in comic books. Marvel got into the game as it were by making their characters everyday people with everyday problems. That's a tall order for a character like Captain America. And it's really to the credit of  Marvel Films that they can present someone like Captain America and keep what it means to to be Captain America while making it interesting.

          Der Weg ist das Ziel

          by duhban on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:52:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cap's Problems (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            duhban, Ellid

            I loved how in the movie, there was this listlessness Cap had for a while.  He was working for SHIELD, because he felt like he had to work for SHIELD.  Then, he felt like their mission wasn't making the world a better place, and he couldn't figure out what he needed to do.  Captain America needs to be able to find the best agenda, and I like that.

          •  Christopher Reeve did very well. n/t (0+ / 0-)
            •  Reeve did okay (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Elwood Dowd

              but it's still a fact that following Reeve there was almost 30 years before another comic book movie.

              Der Weg ist das Ziel

              by duhban on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:48:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Another SUPERMAN movie (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                There were tons of comic book and superhero movies.

                This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

                by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 05:12:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I can't think of many (0+ / 0-)

                  the late 80s and Punisher is the first comic book movie I can think of after Reeve's Superman run and that was almost 20 years. Not only that but if flopped and was widely panned by everyone. After that is the Batman run which was better but still had its flaws and then came the second Punisher run along with Blade and X Men.

                  Most of these did okay with Blade and X Men really being the ones most directly responsible for the current surge in quality an quantity.

                  Der Weg ist das Ziel

                  by duhban on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 09:34:07 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Let's see... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    The Blade movies...the Batman movies...all the X-Men movies...the Fantastic Four movies...Swamp Thing...Dark Man...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...the Crow movies...the Rocketeer...Judge Dredd...Tank Girl...the Phantom...the Tobey McGuire Spider-Man movies...Daredevil and Elektra...the Ghost Rider movies...the Punisher...Howard the Duck...Supergirl...the early attempts at Captain America and the Fantastic Four...and that doesn't even count all the animated films and anime starring superheroes.  The Reeve films were very influential, yes, but they weren't the only superhero films, and after the last one in '86 there were always a couple in production.

                    This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

                    by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 10:04:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  huh (0+ / 0-)

                      for some reason I thought the last superman was in the late 70s not 80s.

                      My bad and my apologies

                      Der Weg ist das Ziel

                      by duhban on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 10:12:46 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No problem :) (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        The last GOOD Superman movie was in the late 70's.  Superman III and IV were pretty bad, and Supergirl was so awful it basically destroyed Helen Slater's career.  A lot of these films are pretty mediocre but there are some very enjoyable ones, too.

                        That said, I've seen all the current run of Marvel movies at least twice, some more than that, and just watched Captain America:  The Winter Soldier for the second time on Monday.  I loved them all, but Monday night I distinctly remember sitting in the theater as the credits rolled and thinking, "This is a brilliant movie," which I didn't say about any of the others, including The Avengers.

                        Seriously.  If you haven't seen it already, do so.  It's not only a terrific action film, it's one of the most important films of the year.

                        This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

                        by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 10:55:08 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  oh I have (0+ / 0-)

                          I've been an avid follower since Iron Man when at the time I wasn't really following movie news let alone comic book movie news and just happened to sit though the credits because I was texting with someone. I do believe I said 'holy shit' about a hundred times.

                          Winter Solider is definitely one of my top favorites

                          Der Weg ist das Ziel

                          by duhban on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 10:59:19 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great movie, clearly brings in drone war (9+ / 0-)

    into moral question, but without being too preachy.  Depth of character development was wonderful, especially combined with the first movie, which was also great.  Both movies are intensely patriotic, but not in a way that is mindless or boring.  

    Also -- note the Easter Egg for War Games.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 07:51:35 PM PDT

  •  Another option concerning "The Twins". (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, ericlewis0, duhban, Simplify

    In the recently-deflated-yet-looking-like-it-will-be-rebooted-again "Ultimate" comic universe, mutants aren't the next step in human evolution (as the mainline comics so often claim) but are the result of various experiments on the human genome by regular old humans.  The end result being a sub-species of humanity, not a new evolutionary branch.  

    I won't be at all surprised if "The Twins", be they named Maximoff or Strucker or who knows what, turn out to be more in this mold.  Its more sinister, and a little easier to swallow.  The girl's powers look fascinating all on their own.

    I'm a little surprised the author didn't note that the Senator shares the same surname as a certain big-brained nemesis of a certain jade giant.  Could it be that someone even smarter than Zola has managed to co-opt HYDRA from within, and done so subtly enough to make the supposed superior race thinking they're still running the show?

    Personally, I just hope that when The Vision does make his debut, Marvel finds a way to get him paired with the Scarlet Witch.  Those two have long been my favorite pairing and this looks fresh enough not look too creepy.

  •  Quick note on Iron Man 3 and SHIELD (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, ericlewis0, duhban

    You mentioned that Iron Man 3 could have taken place after Winter Soldier, but given that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the same continuity as the movies, that's not possible.  The character that ultimately becomes Dealthlok originally starts as someone on a variant Extremis program.  The series had to have happened after Iron Man 3, and Winter Soldier very clearly happened after the most recent episode of AoS.

    •  Nope, they took place in the order of release (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Doctor RJ

      and contrary to rumor, the Phase II movies did not take place simultaneously.  Iron Man 3 was set during Christmas, Thor II sometime in the fall/early winter, and Captain America 2 was set in the spring or early summer.

      This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

      by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 05:14:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Didn't read past the spoiler alert (5+ / 0-)

    but excellent!!

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    When the rich have tripled their share of the income and wealth yet again, Republicans will still blame the poor and 3rd Way Democrats will still negotiate.

    by Words In Action on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 08:41:57 PM PDT

  •  Marvel Pop Art Productions (6+ / 0-)

    (L to R) Scarlett Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye in mid-1965. Art by Wallace Wood and Don Heck.

    When it came to Pop Art in the galleries, Roy Lichtenstein tended to borrow from Irv Novick or Carmine Infantino at DC Comics, rather than the Marvel Bullpen.

    As someone who read these characters off the comic book racks when they were new, six decades back, it's fun, and funny, to see them evolving into big-time entertainment.

    Thanks for sharing your outlook on Captain America!

    Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

    by MT Spaces on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 10:34:47 PM PDT

  •  Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #13 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, duhban

    was my single favorite comic book when I was a wee lad. In that issue, Captain America helps Fury and the team fight Nazis in WWII, IIRC. Surely it was the first time Nick Fury and Captain America met, right?
    Great post! Thanks RJ M.D.! :)

    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 10:39:44 PM PDT

  •  awesome movie (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Tracker, nanoboy

    I've been thinking for some time that Hydra was the puppet master in AoS but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how they (Marvel) were going to do justice to revealing that. In that regard the movie completely blind sided me.

    I have to say I loved how Fury and Capt were used as foils to the most common outlooks on security. That said I highly doubt SHIELD is truly dead. As Peggy's character herself says 'sometimes you have to burn it all down and start over' (paraphrasing). My prediction is that long term SHIELD goes back to the shadows were it probably belongs. That said I'm curious how far Hydra has gotten into.

    A lot of the past events that I've barely even considered definitely take on a possible new meaning. Makes me wonder about the Banner project too.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 11:39:07 PM PDT

  •  Here be comments on the spoilers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elwood Dowd, Doctor RJ

    More Julian Assaunge/Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning than Edward Snowden, no? Beyond that, more the misperception of them of them than the reality—the data dump was full and unredacted, whereas Wikileaks filtered/redacted the reports before making them available. (Until an Assaunge security fuck-up combined with a stupid Guardian reporter's password book reveal exposed the unredacted files.)

    Wasn't Hydra as compromised as SHIELD?

    One thing the movie didn't really touch upon: it's not as though the "algorithm" was un-invented, or so special that no one else could recreate it. Likewise with the helicarrier tech.

    As an aside, the Avatar-esque Hollywood fascination with what are essentially impossibly heavy helicopters continues.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:26:01 AM PDT

    •  The Hellicarrier (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, duhban, Elwood Dowd

      The Hellicarriers in The Winter Soldier have Tony Stark's repulsor beam tech to keep them aloft. Whedon's version of the Hellicarrier in The Avengers is a bit more faithful to Jack Kirby's original design with the huge spinning fan blades.

      From Strange Tales #135 (August, 1965), Art By Jack Kirby:

      From Ain't It Cool News:

      First, how much energy would it take to lift an aircraft carrier to the height of, say, a kilometer? From high school physics you might remember that the equation for potential energy is U=mgh, where m is mass, g is acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2), and h is height. I’m not sure how much a Helicarrier weights, but a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (which the movie Helicarrier was modeled on) weighs about 100,000 tons fully loaded, or 108 kg. Plugging in the numbers, we find that it would take about a trillion joules of energy to lift one a kilometer. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered, so that they can go for 20 years without refueling. Their reactors generate about 200 megawatts at peak output. Since a watt is a joule per second, we can divide a trillion joules by 200 million joules per second to find that it would take an aircraft carrier about 5000 seconds to generate enough energy to lift it a kilometer, assuming it was using all of its energy to do that.  Being able to stay hovering is another thing, but hey, that’s in the ballpark. Maybe the Helicarrier has more powerful reactors, is much lighter, or they’ve figured out how to get energy out of the Tesseract. On energetics, I give them a pass.

      But the four engines of the Helicarrier look like pretty simple ducted fans. Could they generate enough thrust to lift it?  Could anything? Thrust is a force.  To make the carrier hover, we need to generate enough thrust to balance the force of gravity.  We can calculate this from Newton’s second law: F=ma, where F is a force, m is mass, and a is acceleration. Here we use the acceleration due to gravity again, which is what we have to counterbalance.  Plugging in the numbers, we get that we need a force (thrust) of about a billion Newtons. The world’s most powerful commercial jet engine (a turbofan, which is slightly different in design, but close enough), the GE90-115B on some versions of the Boeing 777, generates 569 kilo-Newtons of thrust.  So would take a hell of a lot more than 4 of them to levitate an aircraft carrier -- you’d need about 1700 such engines. If you were using the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters instead, you’d still need about 70 of them. This makes sense -- an aircraft carrier is about 50 times heavier than a Space Shuttle.

  •  Torture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Methinks the good guys' "enhanced interrogation technique" was a tad too efficacious...

    The most comic book-like scene seemed to be the one with Captain America falling from the helicarrier, as seen from below.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:51:50 AM PDT

  •  Great diary and glad to hear they touched (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    on moral quandaries instead of touting blind patriotism. Too bad they didn't delve into the connection of the phrase "Winter Soldier" to Thomas Paine and American war crimes in Vietnam.

    Tar sands, fracking and deep water drilling are expensive. Crude oil price exceeded $100/bbl in 2008 where it still hovers. NH₃ based fertilizer feeds an estimated ⅓ of the world with the Haber-Bosch process using natural gas as a feedstock.

    by FrY10cK on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:21:21 AM PDT

  •  They did (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, Doctor RJ, Ellid

    They did build at the end to a potential future relationship between Cap and Agent 13.  Hopefully they do keep her identity as Sharon Carter.  They will probably have to change the character to at least a grand-daughter.  Funny, the character originally started as Peggy's younger sister, and then had to retcon it to being her niece, since the
    "modern time" that Cap lives in has been getting farther and farther from WWII (1940's).  Peggy would have had to been in 90's up to 100 in this film, and the 20-30 year old Agent 13 would now need to be her grandaughter or maybe even great-grandaughter.

    The DNC fired people up, the RNC just wanted to fire a person.

    by magicman3315 on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 07:37:17 AM PDT

    •  I worked it out, and yes, it's still possible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Doctor RJ

      to have Sharon be Peggy niece (which the movie did do, since Sharon's on the phone with her "aunt the insomniac" at one point):

      Peggy was born in 1919 per movie canon.  If she had a younger brother born around 1930-1932, and he either married late (like Howard Stark) or had a second family in his early 50's, then it would have been perfectly possible for him to have a daughter born in the mid-1980's.

      Thus, yes, Sharon could and seemingly is Peggy's niece.  And given the family history, it's little wonder that Fury tasked her to watch Steve's back when he started to suspect that things were about to go very, very wrong.

      This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

      by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 05:19:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fabulous diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Elwood Dowd

    But I am so sorry to hear that they can't tie in Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver with Magneto and the X-Men.  I was so hoping that when Logan returns from his journey to the past in "X-Men Days of Future Past" he would have the following conversation with Magneto:

    Logan:  There's more.  A Nazi named Strucker has your kids.

    Magneto (scowling):  My WHAT?

    That could have worked in Magneto if not the rest of the X-Men into a joint effort with Captain America/the Avengers to find and defeat Strucker.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 11:10:04 AM PDT

  •  P. S. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Just out of curiosity, which are the other eight films in the official MCU?

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 11:12:18 AM PDT

  •  Edward Snowden deserves an Oscar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elwood Dowd

    for revealing the script for this movie

    •  Actually, they'd already written the script (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and were shooting on location in Washington, DC, when Snowden handed over the leaked documents to Glenn Greenwald last May.  

      This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

      by Ellid on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 12:01:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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