It’s amazing what kind of feat the Russo Brothers have pulled off. Not only do they offer up a pseudo-sequel to the continuing saga of “The Avengers” but they also manage to squeeze in a superhero epic, and revenge saga that stretches out over the Marvel Cinematic Universe without ever missing a single beat. “Captain America: Civil War” finally brings the Marvel Universe full circle creating something of a wider scope now that Marvel has been able to acquire and introduce superheroes and characters that were long thought to be incapable of appearing. In just a two and a half hour movie, we’re able to watch a full fledged tale of friendship unfold in the face of a revenge plot, while being given marvelous and overdue introductions to iconic Avenger The Black Panther, and Marvel’s long awaited iteration of their iconic superhero Spider-Man.
It’s apropos of Marvel to finally bring in Spider-Man to “Civil War.” Because while it is essential that he be introduced to a brilliant cinematic universe, he is representative of the underlying message behind “Civil War.” With great power comes great responsibility. After spending so many years doing battle with aliens and super powered foes, the Avengers are finally taking a toll on the world, and the government from all sides of the globe is angry at their inherent recklessness.
With “Age of Ultron,” Marvel and Joss Whedon essentially pave the way for a series of films that will make “The Avengers” the enduring franchise that fans have always wanted. It’s made abundantly clear that not only is the movie series here to stay, but we can expect a roster of rotating superheroes in the future that will create new conflicts and brand new dynamics. While “Age of Ultron” sags in certain places, it’s a superior follow up to “The Avengers” which was much more simplistic and aimed more to establish the crossover. “Age of Ultron” garners higher aspirations, constructing new story lines and setting up foreshadowing for future films. It also greatly raises the stakes for our team of flawed superheroes, all of whom are still learning to work as a unit. Set almost immediately after “Iron Man 3,” and “Winter Soldier,” we meet the Avengers, all of whom are back in combat fighting Hydra and taking on the elusive corporation’s hideout.
“They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Ed Brubaker’s acclaimed source material is the basis for “The Winter Soldier,” a remarkable and incredible follow-up to 2011’s “Captain America.” I’m very secure in declaring that “The Winter Soldier” is the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Captain America trilogy thus far, as the sequel manages to not only give Captain America the much needed conflict with his American ideals, and age old views on the concept of freedom and liberty, but turns him in to a hero who is no longer fighting for America, but for the idea of America. “The Winter Soldier” picks up right after “The Avengers” where Captain America has essentially taken to SHIELD headquarters as a home base, and doesn’t really keep in touch with his old teammates.
Oh Reb Brown, where would cinema be without you? Without Brown, we wouldn’t have had the 1979 Television movie “Captain America,” a movie so inept, it can’t even mimic Evel Knievel well. Brown is Steve Rogers for some reason, who came back from the war, and now drives around in a very kick ass van that also sports his favorite motorcycle. He’s a an ex-Marine/surfer/artist/motorcycle racer who also happens to be involved with a scientist developing a new formula for super strength (with the acronym F.L.A.G.), so while he’s helping develop a potentially groundbreaking formula for humanity, he is constantly moping around about the war and his lack of money. The sad fact is that the serum can only work for the Rogers blood line. Why? Because it’s a Captain America movie.
In the late eighties, all of the nineties, and some of the early aughts, comic books were our number one hobby. We collected literally every comic that drew our interest. Over the years, especially in the nineties, many of the major comic book companies attempted to draw in new readers by changing the costumes of some of their major superheroes and super villains. If that wasn’t bad enough, for a very long time, many of the live action efforts for superhero movies often got the superhero costumes so painfully wrong, that it was almost tough to admit to anyone that you were a fan of comic books. Over the years, superheroes have undergone a lot of major changes to their costumes in many platforms, and these are five of the worst that we just can’t get over.
One thing I found most inexplicable about Albert Pyun’s 1990 “Captain America” adaptation is the curious presence of the cast of “A Christmas Story.” Either, they were in town for a press junket, or Pyun just loves the movie, because they appear throughout the film. Melinda Dillon has a walk on role as Steve Rogers’ mom who gives him a memento to take to the war with him, while Darren McGavin has a supporting role as a corrupt politician working with the Red Skull. What, did Peter Billingsley opt out of playing Bucky? In either case, director Albert Pyun does the best he can with so little, and 1990’s “Captain America” is still a terrible comic book movie, in spite of the nostalgia value it holds. Only real collectors will want to pick up this latest Shout Factory release, as director Pyun really doesn’t know how to construct a great Captain America movie.
What Joss Whedon has done is quite spectacular. He’s managed to take what could have been a complete clusterfuck of a movie and compacted every single hero and their mythos within two and a half hours, while also being able to introduce new heroes we can root for in the process. “The Avengers” is a true accomplishment of not only studio ambition but comic book cinema, a true masterpiece of the fantasy genre that piles together Marvel’s greatest heroes for a film many comic book fans have dreamed of having for decades. “The Avengers” incidentally is one of the many variations of Akira Kurosawa’s unparalleled masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” In “The Avengers” much like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a thuggish villain rears his ugly head prepared to take down a land of innocent people for their own selfish purposes. Only when seven mismatched and unique heroes join forces and put aside their egos to defend the land does the villain meet his match. Ultimately while “The Avengers” is in fact an ambitious project that’s been planned from the get go, the film feels very meticulously crafted.