Look, I know "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Isn't very good, but it seems like there are easier ways to cancel it.
Seriously, what a movie. "Captain America: The First Avenger" was easily my favorite of the previous Marvel flicks, and this cements the Cap franchise as, I think, the best superhero movie series going. Some thoughts, in my usual bulleted list format:
- Holy crap, Batroc the Leaper. And with plenty of leaping, too.
- The fights in this flick were fantastic. I imagine it's hard to keep things interesting in these films, especially since Cap doesn't have any flashy powers to fall back on, but I thought the choreography was well-done, that everyone got a good moment in the sun, and that each fight felt like an appropriate escalation from the previous one.
- I liked how much characterization Black Widow received. She's largely been the River Tam of the series, quiet and badass, but without much of her own personality up 'til this point, so it was nice to see her open up, be friendly, and show some vulnerability.
- The same largely holds true for Nick Fury, frankly.
- I liked the twists and turns that kept this feeling like a spy thriller. I also liked the little nods to Bourne and "Skyfall," between Steve's parkour antics and his plunge into the ocean. In that latter scene, I half expected Moby to start playing.
- I thought the film did a pretty good job of knitting together several different stories from the comics into a coherent narrative.
- I also really liked how at least a little attention and lip service was paid to the point that Allied actions in World War II weren't all heroic and virtuous. That kind of nuance gets lost when your film's about superheroes vs. laser Nazis, and the shift to the secret war and shades of gray in this film could have turned into a misguided commentary on the changing times, but I think they did a decent job of making it clear that things have never been quite so rosy.
- I about lost it when Arnim Zola showed up. Somehow I had both forgotten he was around and forgotten he was announced in the cast some time ago. I love Arnim Zola, and crazy 1970s Arnim Zola is amazing. Though for a second I thought the AI was going to be Ultron.
- Speaking of last-minute reveals, I'm really curious to see what the legal fallout of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch showing up here is. Conventional legal wisdom had held that whoever got them on the screen first was going to have the rights to them, which made it look like they were a lock for Fox, but here we are. I can't imagine notoriously-litigious Disney letting "X-Men: Days of Future Past" go by without some legal challenge, and I would be surprised if this weren't going to be leverage to reclaim some of those licensed characters. If there isn't a legal challenge, then you'd better believe Sony and Fox are going to be looking at what other characters they can potentially poach, as per precedent. Spider-Woman's a Spider-Man family character, right? And She-Hulk and Black Panther were in the Fantastic Four. It's gonna be an interesting few months.
- Falcon was pretty great. I liked (and didn't notice until my wife pointed it out) the parallel between Cap's status as a man out of time, and the experiences of soldiers returning from long deployments. The war never really ends, and life moves on without you, whether you're in Kandahar or a block of Arctic ice. It's a great take on the character.
- Speaking of takes on the character, I really wish we could get a Superman movie like this. You know, one where he's optimistic and inspirational and always doing the right thing, even when the world he lives in would drive anyone else to cynicism and despair. Superman and Captain America should be the unshakable moral foundations of their respective universes, not weepy angsty guys who struggle to be heroic.
- I love how many hooks the movie left at the end for sequels. Nick Fury running an underground war against Hydra, Cap searching for Bucky and taking down Hydra bases, Arnim Zola doing whatever he's going to do...they could make Captain America movies forever and I'd be okay with that.