Last year, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World continued Marvel Studios' dominance at the box office, as the beginning of "Phase 2" for the studio's Shared Cinematic Universe, following The Avengers becoming a massive critical/financial hit. Both the latest Iron Man and Thor movies played well with audiences overall, though between hardcore fans griping about the films' (mis)treatment of their comic book mythology and more general complaints - like how, arguably, Marvel has thus far been treading water in "Phase 2" - the hope has been that this year's MCU releases will up the ante, quality-wise.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been generating lots of positive buzz over the past few weeks in particular, with recently-unveiled footage from the Cap sequel indicating that early word about directors Anthony and Joe Russo - drawing from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger) - having knocked this one out of the park, may've not been exaggeration after all.
The filmmakers behind Winter Solider have identified it as being a superhero movie by way of political thriller, suggesting that it could break new creative ground for Marvel Studios; inclusion of more than just elements of a non-comic book film genre (example: the sprinkles of buddy/action in Iron Man 3) would indeed be something innovative for the young studio.
In addition, buzz surrounding Markus and McFeely's script has suggested that its plot beats will shakeup the MCU something fierce - whether through Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) character arc or via direct narrative repercussions for other Marvel properties, like its television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Similarly, insiders have been claiming that, with the Cap sequel, the Russo brothers have transitioned with ease from making cult TV comedy (Arrested Development, Community) to creating impressive big-budget spectacle.
So... is there actually some fire behind all this smoke? Well, have a look through the initial reactions posted to Twitter, by various movie bloggers and journalists who caught an early pre-release screening for Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
The CAPTAIN AMERICA sequel blew me away. Movie has a fantastic script, amazing action, and great character moments. Just about perfect.
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) March 11, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is awesome. A tad too long, a tad too plotty, but its action & MCU impact will blow your damn mind.
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) March 11, 2014
Really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Proves Joss isn't only 1 in Marvel's arsenal who can craft a compelling/fresh female char
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) March 11, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is absolutely incredible. Best action in a Marvel solo movie and perhaps the best of them all - around.
— Eric Eisenberg (@eeisenberg) March 11, 2014
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER: Phase 2 is 3/3 for me. Anthony Mackie has finally found that breakthrough role.
— Damon Houx (@houx) March 11, 2014
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER is right up there as one of the best Marvel movies ever. Epic and full of great surprises for fans.
— Don Kaye (@donkaye) March 11, 2014
You can peruse through additional Twitter reactions to the early screening of the Captain America sequel at sites like Collider and /Film, but the above posts seem to provide a nice summary of what people are saying in general about the film thus far:
- It's the best of Marvel's "Phase 2" movies yet, and one of the strongest films overall released by the studio.
- Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are given proper screen time and development, as promised.
- Despite a tad-convoluted plot, this movie feels more like a genuine "shared universe" installment (see: complaints about Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World being too isolated and non-impactful on the greater MCU narrative).
That's by and large encouraging to hear, for sure. Winter Soldier is not only heavily based on a particularly famous (and critically-acclaimed) Captain America comic book storylines - so fans want to see it done justice onscreen - but in addition the film is such a pivotal entry in the buildup to next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron (This summer's Guardians of the Galaxy quite literally takes place too far away to have as much immediate impact on Joss Whedon's Avengers sequel.)
No doubt, the actual reviews for the Captain America sequel will be more informative and detailed with their inspection of the film, giving us a better idea as to how successful the movie is as simply a good Steve Rogers story - not to mention, whether or not it really is a popcorn-thriller that has something to say about contemporary world politics. Still, we'll take a good omen wherever we can it, especially given some of the important developments that lie ahead for the MCU (both during and as a result of Cap's new adventure).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in U.S. theaters on April 4th, 2014.
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