This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Following up the two films that most people consider to be the worst of the MCU with what many consider to be the best was unexpected. In my own recollection, this one came AFTER Age of Ultron (which was a bit of a miss to me) as did Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s all wrong. Cap 2 and Guardians 1 both arrived in 2014, before Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2015. This film has everything you’d want from a modern day Captain America adventure, and while I’d still love to see another film set in WWII (or now during Cap’s secret life in the 60’s-70’s etc.), this was a film I didn’t know I wanted, but have since learned to absolutely adore.
From the opening scene with Sam that has so much more resonance now knowing where that relationship develops, to the battle aboard the pirated ship that displays how well Cap has adjusted to his new role as a SHIELD agent, and features a great minor Marvel villain in Batroc the Leaper, this movie kicked my butt from moment one. This all holds up 5 years later too, in fact there are several big action sequences in this film that I actually prefer to some of the over the top stuff that comes in Civil War, Infinity War or Endgame. Cap, Widow, Fury and Bucky are all AMAZING fighters, and they all get great sequences to showcase that. Fury’s attempted getaway early on is probably my single favorite sequence in the MCU outside of the final assault against Thanos in Endgame. After playing Professor Exposition and Man in the Shadows for the first 5 films, then getting a minor villain edit in The Avengers, it’s nice to see Nick Fury paid off in this one.
Robert Redford was GREAT casting, especially since they got him to come back for the Endgame cameo. I’d be interested in seeing a younger high-profile actor take on the role for a cameo in a period piece in the future, maybe even the Ant-Man franchise showing a time when he and Hank Pym butted heads. I say a younger actor, as I think it’s unlikely Redford sells them his likeness, but maybe I’m wrong on the number of zeroes they’d put on his check or how many it would take. Who knows?
This is the best Black Widow storyline that we get across the MCU so far too, and the chemistry she has with Cap is genuine (one of the reasons why it was so strange to me that they paired her with the Hulk in Ultron, though knowing that these writers had intentions to reunite Cap with Peggy Carter eventually, maybe that makes sense.
I love moments like Sam telling Cap that Bucky “isn’t the kind you save, he’s the kind you stop”, or to Nick Fury about Cap, “I do what he does, just slower.” Sam filling in the tights of Steve Rogers will be interesting to watch in the Disney+ series and my bet is that he’ll succeed. If he does, expect him to play that role in the team-up films for several years to come. I think it is entirely likely that we get a return of Chris Evans eventually in one way or another (the comics offer MANY ways and he clearly cares about the character and everyone likes money) but, I think the role of Captain America in the MCU will be filled by Sam Wilson for a long, long time. What will be most interesting to me will be to see the dynamic that he and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel develop together individually and as team members.
There is a natural “head”/”heart” relationship that Tony and Steve filled that you could imagine them stepping into, but it may not be same obvious positions their predecessors held. I don’t think we’re in for “Civil War 2” anytime soon, but I do think different personalities and leadership styles will be a feature of both the series and films moving forward. ESPECIALLY as they introduce mutants and the Fantastic Four eventually.
Speaking of Mutants. This film’s mid-credit scene features the introduction of “the twins” Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, that will play prominent roles in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Of course, in the comics, these characters are mutants, on screen they couldn’t be portrayed as such for contractual reasons, Fox owned all film rights to the term “mutants” as well as the vast majority of characters that fell under that distinction. The Maximoff twins counted for both companies because they’d had such long histories as Avengers themselves, and Disney pushed that envelope even as Fox was prepping a film featuring at least one of them as well.
Now that Bob Eiger’s snap has given Disney ownership of Fox and all the X-Men and associated characters as well as the term “mutant”, I fully expect that we’ll find that Wanda and her brother were not alone in the MCU as characters who’d been experimented on to activate super powers. When we eventually meet the X-Men, my guess is that at least a few like Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr have been living in secret with their abilities for years, each activated through some sort of radiation exposure or accident/experiment etc.
The snap (or at least one of them) will have likely set off a global activation that now means anyone with such genes will either activate immediately or around puberty (as happens in the comics). It’s a very clean and convenient in universe narrative excuse for a whole new arrival of beings and abilities without having them ALL be teenagers or arrive from an alternate dimension.
My guess is that whatever they’re explanation is going to be, gets seeded in the upcoming WandaVision Disney+ series, and then plays out over the next few years on screens small and large. Here’s hoping they take their time and don’t rush into the X-Men. I’d love for mutants to slowly roll into the universe before we meet their rockstars, and I’d also REALLY like a good Fantastic Four film FIRST.