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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Captain America vs. Agents of SHIELD.

I love the new trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I get the distinct impression that it's going to kick Agents of SHIELD in the balls. Without going into too much detail, AoS is suffering from a bizarre problem of portraying SHIELD agents as "the good guys" while having them do objectively terrible stuff like wiretapping, kidnapping and shooting civilians, and dumping American prisoners overseas with no money or ID. In most episodes so far, the antagonists have seemed more sympathetic (from a real-world standpoint) than the ostensibly likeable heroes, which is actually more confusing than the way SHIELD was depicted in The Avengers: ie, as an ethically ambiguous government agency, run by a decidedly shady individual. CA:TWS seems to be going the Avengers route with regards to SHIELD and Nick Fury, which is seriously going to screw with AoS's weirdly happy-go-lucky attitude towards acting like assholes in the name of homeland security.
This trailer is really promising on so many levels. Captain America has one of the few origin stories that I actually enjoy on its own merits, unlike Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, whose origin stories are all very overplayed. Cap appeals to me as a hero for the oppressed and downtrodden, in a way that I don't think is really covered by the other classic superheroes. A lot of his power is tied up in marketing and patriotism, which has the potential to be very subversive because he looks like this all-American cheerleader dude but Steve Rogers' own principles are a lot more liberal/socialist/anti-establishment than you might expect. There's a reason why there's a whole subgenre of fanfic dedicated to Steve Rogers in the 21st century, making public media statements in favour of LGBT rights and feminism, you know? So I'm really psyched to any possible hints of this in the trailer, including Cap walking past a giant banner of his own face. WHAT WAS THE PUBLIC REACTION TO AN AMERICAN ICON RETURNING FROM THE DEAD?

I didn't actually think much of Captain America as a film in itself. It's a great origin story and I loved the casting, but the central supervillain story is pretty dull, and the final third of the film is weak as a result. Overall I don't really rate it as highly as Iron Man or Thor, which is odd because I do love the concept. Which I guess is why I'm more prone to reading Captain America fic than Iron Man. The Iron Man movies basically give me what I want to see in Tony Stark's story, but what I wanted from a Captain America movie was way more focus on his pre-serum life in 1930s Brooklyn, his relationship with Bucky and the Howling Commandos, and the way he tackles becoming a public figure. For me, the most exciting moment in this trailer is when someone tells Cap that he "shaped this century". That line has a real ring of epic superheroism to it, in a way that the first Captain America movie never really managed.
The other main thing I'm looking forward to is the way this movie links to the aftermath of The Avengers. Iron Man 3 did this to a certain extent, but it was definitely focusing inwards on Tony Stark's own problems, whereas this movie is an ensemble cast featuring Black Widow and Nick Fury in fairly prominent roles. Also Falcon, who I am looking forward to SO MUCH, oh my god. Falcon!! I was surprised to realise that after watching this trailer, I was actually more excited by the appearance of Falcon than the hints of the Bucky/Cap storyline? I don't even know why. I guess Anthony Mackie is just that charming.

Some more deep & meaningful thoughts
  • This movie may as well be called Captain America: Blue Steel. Chris Evans' face is so ridiculously sculpted and pouty, what the hell. PLUS: snazzy new modern haircut. CAPTAIN AMERICA IS A SUPERMODEL. Or an action figure. A perfectly sculpted action figure with frosted tips and an unrealistically exaggerated waist-to-shoulder ratio.
  • Actually, maybe a better title would be Captain America: Red, White and Blue Steel. But whatevs.
  • I'm quite impressed by the way this trailer told us ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the actual plot, and yet still managed to be really intriguing and exciting? 
  • TWO helicarriers? Steady on.
  • God, I hope there's a A LOT of sassy, bitchy Cap in this movie. People keep thinking he's stolid because he's so moral and heroic, but Cap dialogue can totally be deadpan and hilarious.
  • Cap and Black Widow are bros. This is giving me life.
  • I'm not wild about Black Widow's straight hair but this doesn't matter at all because Black Widow is amazing and deserves twelve of her own movies, stat.
  • Speaking of Black Widow, is Scarlett Johannson the only woman in this movie? IN THE WORLD? I counted 973 men in this trailer but only one gurl. Step it up, Marvel. 
  • There's gonna be a scene where Steve tragically draws pictures of all his dead friends, right? Right?
PREVIOUSLY: If there's no such thing as a Captain America venereal disease PSA, I'm gonna be so disappointed.


  1. Captain America: The First Avenger had some really fantastic scenes in it that somehow failed to cohere into a fantastic movie.

    I totally agree with your annoyance at people thinking Cap is stolid and boring. He's snarky and stubborn and rebellious, generally for all the right reasons. I love Steve Rogers in the 21st Century fics, but I also love fics where people think they know Steve because they know Captain America, National Icon, then discover that Steve Rogers is an altogether different person.

    And Cap's dialogue is twice as hilarious just because everyone thinks he has no sense of humor.

    I tried to leave a comment on your Daily Dot article about the lack of plans for a female superhero-driven Marvel movie, but the site was having issues and it wouldn't post. Anyway, I'd like to think we were at a place where that's a thing that could happen and I would love to see a Black Widow movie myself, but then my best friend and I wanted to watch the Peggy Carter short on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray, and her husband couldn't remember who she was, even though he'd seen Captain America. Even after we described her to him and made him watch the short, he literally had no memory of the female lead in that movie. That's just...sad.

  2. they didn't show emily van camp in the trailer, but she's playing sharon carter. i was really looking forward to seeing her so hopefully she'll show up in the theatrical. peggy carter is supposedly also appearing, and possibly maria hill will cameo--so i heard. i'm not saying the dude-to-women ratio isn't still staggeringly high, but natasha won't be the only female character.

  3. I sincerely hope CA:TWS kicks AoS in the balls. AoS needs some balls-kicking, and this is from someone who likes it all right.

    I think the straight hair gives SJ a vastly more Natasha vibe than any previous costume. I'm all SQUEE! over it. :)

  4. That's exactly what makes Steve so compelling as a character to me—the way he is used as a literal symbol of "traditional" America despite his actual politics. I'm delighted Captain America: The Winter Soldier is going to deal with that.

    Also, Steve's sass is a beautiful thing, because it is both hilarious and a holdover from when sarcasm and sheer stubbornness were his only ways to defend himself. He may be a ridiculously buff and chiseled slab o' man on the outside, but inside, he's still that scrawny kid from Brooklyn.

    I am also super-excited for Falcon. He looks like he's going to fit in well with Cap and Black Widow. (Can we have a running gag where Natasha changes her hair every two years because she just feels like it?)

    If there isn't a scene where Steve tragically draws a picture of Peggy and someone asks who that is, I don't know what I'll do.

  5. > AoS is suffering from a bizarre problem of portraying SHIELD agents as
    "the good guys" while having them do objectively terrible stuff like
    wiretapping, kidnapping and shooting civilians, and dumping American
    prisoners overseas with no money or ID.

    We're talking about the show whose first episode ended with a debate between the Man and a disenfranchised black man about morality, and whose lead character killed a man in cold blood to save the lives of others, right?

  6. Colbie Smulders is set to reprise her role as Maria Hill. Personally, I'm excited for this, as I feel that we haven't seen enough of her in AoS.

    "God, I hope there's a A LOT of sassy, bitchy Cap in this movie."
    I have a feeling that we'll (hopefully) see some of this in his interactions with Fury.

    I'm hoping to see more of Natasha's softer side in the movie. I'm totally cool with her being an awesome badass, but I'm curious to see the emotions behind that persona. Hopefully this will play out in her dialogue with Steve.

  7. are you referring to the end of when ward shoots mike? because he didn't kill him. he used fitz' night night gun. they saved mike.

  8. I was talking about the Graviton guy. Hall, I think his name was.

  9. You're making me want to see the film! I'm glad that Loki and Thor are pushed in the character development category and that as a fan film The Dark World is trying different storytelling. All the reviews I've read are negative or ambivalent and usually praise only the graphics and Loki, so your take on the film is very nice and refreshing. Can't wait for part 2!

  10. I am now envisaging Loki in a 'triple pluff', which I take to be a particularly pouffy dress. Of *course* it is a thing of beauty.

    As to the rest of your review, I'm just nodding along to everything. I'm aghast at this film not having brilliant reviews, though. I thought it was the most engaging superhero film plot I've seen for a while (mostly because of everything that involved Loki).

    I can't wait for the next part of your review! FRIGGA, MY QUEEN. <3___; HEIMDALL BEING SO AWESOME. I have SO MANY things to say about Loki's relationship with Frigga. (Also about Loki & Sif.)

  11. What you said. They really did do an excellent job of this movie in the reversals. Especially with the scene with Loki and Thor on the Dark World. (trying to avoid spoilers). I thought this movie also did a pretty good job of not wallowing in the ANGST. There was heavy stuff but it wasn't grimdark. This is why I love Marvel movies on the whole over DC. Have the deep stuff, of course, but then for God's sakes let us laugh.

    I am excited to see what you say about the women next time. I thought the costumes were very beautiful. I loved Jane's gold Asgard dress. Although Frigga's one-boob armor in that one scene threw me a bit...I just kept thinking, "Why would you design it to only cover one boob?"

  12. Truth. I think a lot of the reason for those mixed reviews (and truthfully, I felt a lot more mixed about this film than you did, even as a Marvel fanboy) is that the stuff you've (rightly) identified as great made up so little of the screen time. A Thor/Loki odd couple buddy heist movie where you're constantly second guessing motivations would be great, but we only got that for about 10 mins.
    And would also better set up the third film they seem to be shooting at.
    And, from a structural point of view, would be fascinating to see a version of the superhero film which downplays the supervillain plot to mere background.

  13. Emily VanCamp is playing Agent 13 in Captain America and Cobie Smulders is back as Maria Hill.

  14. I have to agree with this whole post. I was delighted by the movie, but what really sealed it for me was the Loki/Thor dynamic. Also the fact that they didn't toss their supporting characters aside. Darcy was wonderful, as was Erik. I loved Jane Fosters never-failing love and interest in scientific discovery almost above all else. And the settings, costume design, and visuals were just to die for as usual.

  15. I agree that Malekith was mostly a nothing (and that poor Christopher Eccleston was wasted), but I didn't care because I loved basically every single second of every other thing so much. Except maybe for the part where Jane reached out to TOUCH the you-know-what when she was you-know-where (this sounds way more fun than what the scene is actually about, augh), because YOU ARE A SCIENTIST. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

    I'm so happy Darcy got so much screentime. And this was probably the funniest shit I have ever seen Stellan Skarsgaard do.

  16. I love that helicarriers are the blimps of the modern age. They're only useful or interesting to the extent that they crash spectacularly.

  17. I saw a press conference recently in which Alan Taylor confirmed your suspicion that a bunch of Malekith scenes were cut. He said he hoped they make it onto Blu-Ray.

  18. I'd love to see you do another TDW post, specifically on the costumes. Loki's prison garb; Thor's new corwn jewel protection, etc.


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    your suspicion that a bunch of Malekith scenes were cut. He said he hoped they make it onto Blu-Ray.

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