The movie date night. It’s a long-standing, sacred institution for parents. Whether you are geeks or Muggles, the age-old question begs: Whose turn is it to pick the movie? To decide, some folks may flip a coin, play rock-paper-scissors, or even roll a D20. In full disclosure, we couldn’t remember who got to chose our last movie outing. Sadly, getting out to the theater does not happen as much these days, and that rarity makes the decision all that more important.
It would seem that the latest offering from the Marvel Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, would be a no-brainer, but we had some questions.
I was interested to know if it would hold the same emotional weight as the first Captain America movie. Would there be solid, satisfying performances and character development, as well as high-impact action? Chances were good with names like Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. My husband, who is a lifelong Marvel comic book reader, wanted to know how Captain America would deal with conflict separate from The Avengers. He also had concerns about the storytelling, confessing that he didn’t like the pacing of Iron Man 3.
Another factor in our decision process was whether we could see this as a family, and we carefully considered its PG-13 rating. I have seen tie-in toys, like the more muted for undercover mission Captain America suit and shield, heavily marketed to children at places like the Disney Store and Target. It gives me great GeekMom pride that my three-year-old daughter recognizes The Cap. However, due to the visually intense hand-held-style cinematography, the film’s violence and its emphasis on action, I would recommend The Winter Soldier for teens and adults only.
After debate and consideration, we took a leap of fan-faith and went to see the movie without our daughter, and I am going on record as stamping Captain America: The Winter Soldier as “Geek Date Night Approved.”
It moves quickly with great pacing, though it can sometimes be a bit disorienting. The movie has solid performances—Evans beautifully captures both sides of Captain America/Steve Rogers—a man out of time and a superhero. Johansson returns as the smart, kick-ass spy who holds her own with The Cap. (Warning: minor spoilers follow.)
The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is intriguing and moves in and out of his scenes with a quiet strangeness that can be downright chilling. But I’d have found the revelation that Steve Rogers’ best friend is his biggest foe to pack more of a punch if it weren’t listed in the credits. Nonetheless, the Winter Soldier is a gripping character
Redford is also an amazing addition to the cast and his minor character holds much of the plot twists and mystery. The introduction of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as The Falcon proves to be another high point.
Although I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed at times by the violence, which took me out of the politically charged thriller, I did enjoy the amazing scene that showcases a Stark Industries-pimped SUV driven by Nick Fury. The vehicle responds by command to a crisis situation much like an Iron Man suit. I sure could use that car in L.A. traffic!
As a special treat and because our readers love to be in on the latest geek info, here are 10 fan-favorite moments that are full of Easter eggs, tie-ins, and insider knowledge (with some more major spoilers).
Stan Lee’s Cameo: Stan’s appearances in Marvel movies always bring a huge smile to my face. In The Winter Soldier, he plays a Smithsonian Institution worker guarding the Captain America exhibit. He discovers that Cap’s costume has gone missing and announces that he is “definitely going to be fired.” Fun moment!
I (Heart) Hawkeye: Natasha/Black Widow wears an arrow necklace as a token of her affection for the Hawkeye character. She does get one good kiss in with The Cap, but it seems they are just close work friends.
Doctor Strange: My husband was happy about this one. When Captain America is told about the Project Insight agenda put in place by the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez), Steve Strange is listed as a target of elimination.
End Credit Teaser Scenes: Everyone loves post-credit teaser scenes, and we get two after this movie. A mid-credits scene, directed by Joss Whedon, gives us a peek into The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and features Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) with Loki’s scepter, making the connection that an Asgardian may be in Ultron. Von Strucker also reveals test subjects Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. In the second scene, Bucky finds out about his past while in the Smithsonian.
The WarGames Nod: A cool geek moment in the film is when Black Widow and The Cap find the first S.H.I.E.L.D. base, a secret bunker beneath his old training facility. We learn that H.Y.D.R.A. is really in control of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the base supercomputer is an AI version of Arnim Zola, a nod to blueprints in The First Avenger, which shows Zola’s change from doctor to robot. Black Widow turns on the Zola computer and types, ‘SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?’ Black Widow explains, “It’s from a movie.”
The Falcon: One of the fan-favorites who helps The Cap bring The Winter Soldier to reckoning. There’s an implication he may join The Avengers.
Stark/Avengers Tower: In a Helicarriers targeting sequence, we see a glimpse of Tony Stark’s rebuilt Tower with The Avengers’ logo.
Abed from Community Cameo: Danny Pudi appears as the IT guy The Cap uses to gain access to the Triskelion. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo also worked with Danny on the show Community. He plays the super nerd and fan-favorite Abed.
Iron Man Tunes Up the Helicarriers: In The Avengers, Iron Man saves the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and all aboard. His inadvertent changes lead to other Stark Industries updates, which are applied to the post-New York invasion Helicarrier fleet.
- Garry Shandling as Senator Stern: In Iron Man 2, we first met smug Senator Stern (Garry Shandling). He is back in The Winter Solider with an “ah-ha” moment. Upon exiting a court house, he whispers “Hail H.Y.D.R.A.” to Agent Sitwell.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens nationwide on Friday, April 4, 2014.