Tag Archives: The Winter Soldier

Opinion: The Success of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-PosterIt’s the source material! It seems like a pretty basic idea, but so many comic book films in the past have missed the mark. The reason these movies are immediately appealing, have a huge built-in audience, and star characters that most of the civilized world already knows and loves is because of the comic books. Now, I’m not going to go on some fanboy tirade demanding that comic book movies be direct comic book translations, but it’s very difficult not to see an association between the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the film’s heavy use of elements taken straight from the pages of Marvel Comics. Warning: This article is spoiler heavy, so if you haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, what the hell is wrong with you?! Until you remedy that problem, check out our spoiler free-ish review of the film.

Batroc the Leaper and (Just) Batroc

Batroc3In one of the opening scenes of the film, we see Cap taking down some hijackers, with said hijackers being led by a French terrorist named Batroc. If you’ve never read Cap comics in the past, and even if you have, you may have missed this obvious connection to long-time Cap villain Batroc the Leaper. Portrayed by ultimate fighter Georges St-Pierre, Batroc, as he’s known in the film, didn’t make for much of a character despite his amazingly choreographed fight scene with Captain America, which is exactly what Batroc the Leaper did in the comics. Batroc wasn’t anything special, and was actually kind of cheesy (even for the 60’s), but in his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #75 Batroc showed off his unique fighting style to the world, Batroc2and it’s been his one compelling factor ever since. Flipping, spinning, and that french accent when he’s talking smack: they were all there in the comics; they were all there in the movie. And that’s all we wanted and all we needed from Batroc in either. “Leaper” or no “Leaper” Batroc made quite an impression in The Winter Soldier, and did so by keeping to what made him great in the comic book.

Cap’s New Threads

Cap1There’s a great moment in The Winter Soldier when Cap goes back to his original uniform. It’s reminiscent of Game 2 of the 1995 NBA Playoffs when Jordan went back to wearing “23”. Prior to donning the Stars and Stripes again, though, Captain Rogers was seen wearing his new duds, The S.H.I.E.L.D. Blues. But this costume change was in no way original, and The Blues from the film look a whole lot like Cap’s uniform during his stint as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Yup, that’s Cap2right, Cap had Nick Fury’s job for a little while, and although Steve just couldn’t handle a desk job, the suit making it into the film is just a single, small example of the great use of the source material. With only a few differences to the Star Emblem, these two suits are identical in almost every way. I was never a big fan of this uniform or of Steve being in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it signified a period of examination and introspection for Steve within the pages of the comics that led to a fantastic new and modern approach of telling the whole “Soldier Out of Time” story that is the embodiment of the character overall. This characterization of Captain America was used quite extensively in the story told in the film, and it was all born in the pages of comics.

Cap and Falcon

Cap and FalconCaptain America and Falcon have been a duo in the comics since the 1960’s, and their bromance has continued well into the present day. Falcon was the first to Cap’s side during the Marvel Civil War, an event that split the Marvel U quite the same way S.H.I.E.L.D. was split in the film. The two are synonymous in comics and now, it seems, the two’s relationship is just as cemented in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The very first Secret Avengers were started by Cap and his best bud Falcon, and, if Captain America 3 continues down the road it’s on, that could very well be the road these two end up walking down. No matter where their paths take them, however, we know these two will be walking the path together. Cap and Falcon go together like the Peanut Butter and la_ca_0102_Captain_AmericaJelly, Steak and Potatoes, Kool-Aid and Sugar; and their relationship was handled in the film with the same sort of care that their comic book relationship has been handled, and it made for a great on-screen duo. I simply cannot wait to see more adventures from Cap and Falcon on the big screen. Their bromance is better than the one between Cap and Black Widow, actually.

Black Widow

Although her coming out party in Ironman 2 was definitely something wonderful to behold, she had to share so much screen time with the rest of the Avengers in Marvel’s The Black WidowAvenger, that we really didn’t get the whole story behind Natasha’s level of badass. That all changed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier because Black Widow was, arguably, the shining star of the entire film. But the character’s badass nature was more than evident in her very first comic book appearance as the character we all know. Black Widow may have first appeared way back in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #52, but her comic book breakout was in Amazing Spider-Man #86 where she was immediately shown as the badass she truly is. In that ish we see Black Widow swinging around NYC, much the same way she swings off that bridge while running from Black Widow BridgeThe Winter Soldier. These scenes are eerily similar, but it’s much more than that. Black Widow has ALWAYS been one of Marvel’s strongest female characters, and she easily stands on her own within those pages. But, up until The Winter Soldier, this aspect of the character hasn’t been completely delivered. Marvel has certainly opened the door for making Black Widow a character that can equally stand alone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cap Escapes from S.H.I.E.L.D.

One of the best scenes in the film was Cap beating the hell out of an entire elevator of henchmen before leaping to freedom from a dizzying height. It simultaneously showed Encounter2how awesome Cap is in a fight, while giving the audience a real look into the power of a sinister S.H.I.E.L.D. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Captain America leap out a window to escape the clutches of S.H.I.E.L.D. Again, we go back to the Marvel Civil War and Cap’s escape from a helicarrier. The similarities are so close that it’s simply impossible for this not be a complete ripoff of the comic book, but that’s the whole damned point.

Cap Undercover

Cap UndercoverAfter leaving S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap finds himself on the run, and in dire need of a disguise. But this isn’t the first time Cap and his pals have had to blend in with the rest of society to hideout from the “authorities”. Again, we go back to Civil War to find another instance where Cap went undercover to make sure he could still fight the Undercovergood fight, and keep from being locked up as a fugitive. This was a really nice touch that was added to the movie, and it immediately made me think of this moment from Civil War. Thankfully, though, Cap never had to kiss Daredevil or Goliath to keep the villains off his trail, but that would have been much bigger news than Spidey taking his mask off. Either way, Cap undercover was something this fanboy really liked seeing, it was the perfect way to balance Steve Roger’s humanity with his super-heroism in the film, and it was completely stolen from the comic books.

The Winter Soldier

Ed Brubaker was the mind behind the madness that was the entire The Winter Soldier story told within the pages of the Captain America comic book. Many of the elements of ALL of the characters portrayed in the film were completely his doing. So this article wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning Brubaker’s epic creation, and the use of these elements in the film are unmistakable.

Winter Soldier5Winter Soldier3

The shield punch is almost a direct copy of the comic panel, and Cap trying to talk some sense into his oldest friend on the deck of the helicarrier was also a pivotal story moment from the film taken from the comic.

Winter Soldier4

Real-World Relevance

Helicarrier 1There are so many more comparisons that I could make in the context of this article – from crashing helicarriers to Agent 13/Sharon Carter to Baron von Strucker and Hyrda – but there’s one singular comparison to the comic books that makes The Winter Soldier the epitome of the comic book film. Ever since the X-Men were created to subtly discuss the problems with bigotry in America, Marvel Comics has mirrored the real-world. Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes important current events and makes them relevant in a subtle way. In this case, it’s the N.S.A. Spying Scandal as portrayed by the triumvirate of DNA seeking, murderous helicarriers being unleashed. Throughout the history of Marvel Comics, it has been this fine-drawn examination of real-world issues that have made Marvel Comics the compelling pieces of literature that they have always been. They have a level of historical importance, this facet of the comics was displayed perfectly on the screen, and it’s a huge part of the overall success of the film.

Conclusion

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been received such critical and audience acclaim that it’s arguably the best of the Marvel Movies to date. This fact, however, while certainly due in part to the quality of the acting, effects, and everything else that made up the film, has much more to do with the success that was already established by the comic book source material. This is by no means meant to say that other Marvel movies weren’t strongly influenced by the comics, but the success of The Winter Soldier, coupled with the specific elements taken from the comics, definitely suggests that Marvel has found a Nomadperfect balance with their movie-making recipe. And this can only mean that more great Marvel Comic movies are on the way. While we probably won’t see Steve Rogers donning the Nomad costume anytime soon, I have no doubt that what we will get with the rest of Phase Two and with Phase Three will be nothing short of spectacular.

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A Big Old Thanks to the Competition

Last Thursday night members of the Outright Geekery Crew set off on an adventure none of us had ever before undertaken. An adventure fraught with suspense, wit, cunning, and a little bit of danger. For last evening, we played Avengers Trivia!

Avengers Trivia PosterTo celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, comic book and pop culture website Four Letter Nerd and local comic book shop Comic Collector Live – The Store hosted a game of Marvel Movie Trivia at the local Brixx Pizza. Now, I could use this article to brag about how the Outright Geekery Team dominated all the rounds, including the Expert Comic Book Trivia Round, but we here at OG are in no way sore winners. And anyways, we would have felt like winners even if we hadn’t gotten a single question correct.

“Competition.” It’s a word that often brings a sense of negativity along with it. “Dog eat dog”, “win at all costs” sorts of feelings. But, 4LNin more ways than one, it’s competition that made this night of trivia so much fun, win or lose. As many long-time readers of Outright Geekery know, we ourselves are a comic book and pop culture website that happens to have an affiliation with a local comic book shop, just like Four Letter Nerd. Despite these similarities and the competitiveness that one may think would accompany such a scenario, our hosts weren’t only gracious and welcoming, but seemed legitimately excited for us to be there. While this wasn’t really a surprise to me at all since I’ve known some of the guys at 4LN for awhile now, it’s something I felt was worth sharing, especially in a world that seems too cutthroat too often.

Trivia Night
Image Courtesy of 4LN

The other aspect of “competition” at 4LN’s Avenger’s Trivia was the other teams that played with us, and our hats go off to some really passionate and knowledgeable Marvel Movie fans. A special thanks to the teams Young Justice (great players) and Nick Fury’s Bowling Commandos (not a typo, and an awesome name). It was a great atmosphere, a whole lot of fun, and the competition was fierce and made for one hell of a game. The local Brixx Pizza wasn’t too shabby either, and if you live in or around the Nashville, TN area check them out in Hendersonville at the Streets of Indian Lake. Great people, great pizza.

“Competition” casts a negative light far too often in our society. It doesn’t have to mean going for the jugular, kill or be killed, or any of the other barbaric terms that are so needlessly applied to something that is far better and more worthwhile. It’s about belonging, and getting together with people. Total strangers sharing a passion that has the uncanny ability of creating new friends, and that’s exactly how the Outright Geekery Crew felt leaving that game Thursday Night. We’d made a whole lot more friends!

Again, we’d like to thank 4LN, CCL – The Store, Brixx Pizza and everyone that came out and made it a great night!