Friday, April 04, 2014


Caught it at an early show tonight. A very satisfying Marvel movie experience. But then, I already felt I got my money's worth when I got the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY trailer followed by GODZILLA! =)

A moment of sadness at not living in the universe in which Marvel has the film rights to Godzilla, allowing them to bring bits and pieces of the GODZILLA comic book to the big screen—G v. SHIELD and the Avengers! Thor and Godzilla in a shoving match with the Empire State Building caught in the middle! Shogun Warriors!

O well. *sigh*

I was saying, satisfying, but not what I would call wonderful. I *LOVE* THE FIRST AVENGER. It was a near perfect film for me in so many smart, clever, joyful, button-pushing ways. This one doesn't deliver that brand of nickelodeon adventure joy. It's darker, more "grown-up," and that change fairly reflects the change in eras within and without the Marvel movie universe continuum, FIRST AVENGER being about a character living and fighting in WW2 who was drawn and inked in the 40s in bright propaganda reds, whites, and blues, and WINTER SOLDIER retelling a story originally written in the 21st century with all of its frustrating gray areas. But there is no chance that it will bore you. There's a lot of action sugar to help the darker themed medicine go down.

Hadn't thought of it at all while reading the comics, but if you're just a little poetic, "Winter Soldier" can refer to either Cap or Bucky, and even Nick if you push a bit. The comic places the Soldier's origin in Russian cover ops, which makes "Winter Soldier" a logical code name: cold war, Russia, and all. It also works because in between ops, he is kept literally on ice in cryosleep. Winter also evokes a lateness in time that reflects both Steve and Bucky's chronological, if not lived, years. Being out of time, y'know? And of course, it is about cold. And who's the coldest warrior we know in the MMU? Nick Fury. Bloodstained Captain America trading cards, anyone? =)

The film's action for me is generally a bit sterile and mechanical but definitely has its moments. I felt oddly uncomfortable with the amount of carnage and the body count delivered by the film. For better or worse, it's totally appropriate to the story, but I just didn't enjoy most of it. Probably the correct, responsible response, tho, and I guess that comes with the darker territory of the film.

I will say that I totally dig seeing Cap's shield *spang* back into his hands after a combo strike, but I did find myself wanting something different in the sounds of its contacts and strikes.

Allright, I'm just gonna start scattin on what comes to mind, so if you continue, you are entering SPOILER territory…
Cap vs. Batroc! Nicely shot face-off, almost Capcom arcade gamey, heh. And while the Leaper did get a lot of good hits in (he might've won by points in a tournament =), he's outmatched by the super soldier in strength (as a result, not sure about skill—would've been nice to have seen Rogers training in various martial arts in *any* of the movies so far, or even a reference to SHIELD basic or an instructor). I would've liked for Batroc to do better vs. Cap, but, well, he *is* Batroc, right? Heh. And he was the first "boss" in the film. Their fight helps us calibrate our notion of how superhuman Cap is.

Batroc! Good wardrobe. Subtle color choices made him appear comic-book Batroc when in action vs. Cap. Not sure if I'm disappointed that we didn't hear him challenge Steve in heavily accented English. =)

Right away I'm feeling the darkness of this sector of the MMU and this film. Watching Cap mercilessly take out the pirates holding the Lemurian Star just doesn't sit easy with my image of him from the comics. MAYbe he's using nonlethal force when possible, but it looks like he's not pulling any of his enhanced punches (which look pretty awesome/fearsome).

The Black Widow also goes in with tiny pistols blazing. I really wish that we got to see Tony Stark or SHIELD outfit her with ballistic or distance Widow's Bites. They seem to work as close-up tazers, not blasters or projectile launchers. It's easier to see that, tho, given Natasha's modern day covert ops background. Are her throwing discs a standard in the Widow's arsenal? Maybe they'd do better launched from one of the barrels of her bites, instead? First I thought that it was some kind of contact EMP device, but later I realized that it's a kind of tazer. It tries to fry whatever it lands on, i.e. Winter's cybernetic arm or the badge that Pierce tricks Natasha into wearing.

Lemurian Star. I'm fairly certain I heard Fury and Cap call it "Lumerian" a couple of times while others called it "Lemurian." Would've been nice to be consistent and correct, but maybe it's a subtle sign of derision of the corruption/infiltration of its crew by Hydra?

The Lumerian Star was referred to earlier this week in AGENTS, which I thought was significant. Yes, it refers to a once hypothetical ancient (sunken, I think?) continent, now rendered impossible by modern plate tectonic theory. However, it also refers to the very Marvel-real original home of the Deviants, monstrous counterparts to the Eternals. Also, realms and denizens connected to Atlantis (an offshoot of Atlanteans) and the Savage Land. MMU-wise, introducing Atlantis would be pretty sweet altho I feel it would require/deserve some the retcon-insertion of The Invaders during WW2—Cap, Namor, and the Human Torch (check out the Stark Expo in the first Cap movie =). But that seems like a lot of work, no?

What would be an easier and fit would be the Savage Land. How awesome would that be? Maybe a High Evolutionary storyline? Perhaps he could be the end-credits villain reveal of an Ant-Man/Ka-zar team-up? =)

Arnim Zola! Where the heck is his primary brain now? It was originally housed under Cap's old SSR training camp in Jersey, which apparently become one of the first SHIELD facilities. SHIELD or Hydra, if I was dealing with Zola, I'd do everything possible to keep him contained in a closed network, cut off from the wilds of the Internet. Was his primary consciousness transferred to the Lemurian Star? That would make sense to me. Was the intelligent encryption that Natasha copied from the Star some kind of Zola "agent" that independently knew to reactivate the old tape drives and stall Cap and Natasha and sacrifice its self/instance in the missile strike on the bunker?

Wherever he was, he's still at large. A disembodied digital consciousness. An awesome interpretation of Zola for the big screen from the comic book. Do Zola and JARVIS get it on in some corner of the deep web and birth Ultron? So great to see the Project Paperclip era tech. =)

The Insight Algorithm?! Where the heck is this? On what computers/drives is it stored? It was on the computers on the Lemurian Star. It was backed up—AI-encrypted and unreadable—to the thumb drive by Natasha. It was apparently in the computers of the Insight satellites, added or activated (I can't remember) by Hydra cronies (that's when we see one of the Insight helicarrier screens identifying targets on the ground in the White House and Stark Tower and (who the heck was standing in the middle of?) that baseball field or park.

It sounds like Zola had developed this some time ago, so Hydra must have been using it to help with their campaign to sow chaos and drive humanity to the point where it would willingly give up its freedoms/privacy (gotta say, I appreciate the dark theme, if presented overly dramatically as the purpose of Hydra). Would be nice to have the history of the algorithm revealed in upcoming AGENTS OF SHIELD eps.

Does WINTER SOLDIER Insight Algorithm = AGENTS OF SHIELD Clairvoyant? I kind of hope not. I'd made the suggestion that Clair is more Hari Seldon than Amazing Kreskin, and the algorithm is exactly the tool to back that up. Zola's algorithm = Seldon's psychohistory.

Brock Rumlow! (aka Crossbones!) Nice way to bring him in. I think it was kind of masterful and economical writing putting so much bad-guy-ness under the tentacled arms of Hydra. Looking forward to seeing him resurrected and improved in a future Cap flick. I never quite got his loyalty to Red Skull in the comics (I thought of him as more of a merc than a true believer), but I can see how he'd follow Strucker and Hydra in his movie incarnation. "There is order in pain," he says. Or something like that. Wackjob.

Cap and Natasha are Level 6. When Pierce gives Winter Soldier his final mission, he describes the targets as Level 6.

Zola's algorithm would identify anyone who could threaten Hydra, including Stephen Strange! =)

On Fury's headstone: The path of the righteous man… =)

Senator Shandling: "Hail Hydra!" =)

Nick Fury's eye?! Aka, proof of his Alpha-level clearance identity. He lost it the last time (the one time) he trusted someone. It seems like he's talking about Pierce and Bogota, when he disobeyed orders and rescued Pierce's daughter. But that didn't actually require him to trust Pierce, did it? The result of that action was that Pierce trusted Fury, and became a believer in what he took to be Fury's way. Still, I'm there was something in the delivery of some of Nick's lines regarding losing his eye that seemed to point the finger at Pierce, no? Dammit, I'll hafta watch again soon. =)

Pierce does say that Nick already took a bullet for him. We saw that happen when Winter popped him thru Cap's window. But maybe he wasn't referring to that?

Nah. I'd say it's 95% likely he was. Foo.

Anyhow, we've always heard that it's been LOST, right? That under the eyepatch, we'd expect to see a socket or scar tissue but definitely not an organic eyeball. Frustrating when we see him dead on the gurney in profile, with his right eye hidden from view—argh! But in the end, he shows us, and surprises Pierce with, his other eye, which when scanned releases SHIELD's (and Hydra's) data to the Twitters. Heh.

I want to believe that he DID lose his eye. I want to believe that they eyeball that he reveals is not his eye, but someone else's. Someone who has Alpha-level clearance or whatever they called it. Victoria Hand, perhaps? =)

Does that sound crazy? Well, does it sound crazier than the notion that SHIELD, in its bureaucratic precision, decided to revoke all of Fury's codes and biometrics, but were so mind-numbingly utilitarian and practical about it that they only revoked those codes and biometrics that Fury could supposedly actually use? And, since all SHIELD's records indicate that Fury no longer has a left eye (but did back when he joined SHIELD, before Bogota) there would be no reason to delete that retinal scan from Alpha-level access.

Like when the gunners on Vader's Star Destroyer decide to conserve "blaster ammo" or whatever and not destroy Artoo and Threepio's escape pod? =)

I like how when the council is dressing Pierce down for hiring and supporting Fury as director when he's the one responsible for Batroc, the attempted data heist, and sabotaging Insight, that it so nicely fits into the picture that Pierce is painting for the need for Insight. Some smooth plotting.

A lot of things click nicely into place as the story moves along, but I would not have minded swapping out 10 minutes of action for character and relationship building. I'm bringing my own comic-book-assimilated Cap-Bucky history with me to this. I'm not sure that a flashback and one line ("to the end of the line") sells that to me if all I know is what's in the movie/s. I do like that Cap is so ready to believe he's back, tho.

Sam Wilson! You will believe a man can fly! I love the Falcon exo-rig or whatever it is. I would've liked to have seen some logo or brand attached to it somewhere (did I miss it on the dossier folder?). Introducing him as the outsider who can help Cap and Nat on the run was well done, and "on your left" was pretty irresistible for me.

No one ever says Agent 13's last name. Her first name is Sharon, and if this character is a one-for-one from the comic books, her last name ought to be Carter, which would make her Peggy Carter's daughter (or maybe granddaughter, I forget). Maybe Marvel-Disney is debating the creepiness of a 95-yo Capsicle dating the granddaughter of his not-exactly widow from WW2 before revealing her back story, eh?

Epilogue 1. Baron Strucker in some research facility where Hydra scientists are studying Loki's spear. You know, the one that seems to contain a piece of the Tesseract? It *seems* like the flunky who's speaking to Strucker refers to the facility as something legit that's a cover for Hydra activity. First thing I thought of was a revived Project Pegasus, which would make sense since the first one was studying the Tesseract at the start of THE AVENGERS. Strucker's walking around in the open in this place, tho, so I'm thinking it must be a hidden lab, period. Or maybe a hidden lab beneath a legit lab or complex. The flunky mentions "the volunteers" and the Baron explains that the dead will be buried deep, so disposed of and covered up. Then flunky mentions "the survivors," and the Baron refers to "the twins." As the twins are revealed to be Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, the Baron declares the present to be an age of miracles, and describes them as…"horrible," I think? I was kind of hoping to hear "age of marvels," but maybe that line's being saved for a different speaker and moment. Pietro looks properly ticked off and Wanda looks wonderfully potentially out of her mind. I wonder what kind of countermeasures are built into their cells.

Epilogue 2. Back to the Captain American exhibit at the Smithsonian. Earlier we saw Steve Rogers visit it incognito, civilian togs and baseball cap pulled down over his eyes. Now we see a similar figure and when he approaches the Bucky Barnes section, we see that it's Winter Soldier. Is he remembering, or learning? Either way, he's alive and hanging around, at least for the time being, in D.C. Steve and Sam won't have that far to go.

AGENTS OF SHIELD: End of the Beginning. In this week's episode, before the agents deploy in double-blind fashion to identify/apprehend candidates for Clairvoyant, Victoria Hand relays orders to Agent Sitwell to report to the Lemurian Star. She also excuses herself from the op, claiming that she must return to the Hub to pull their fat out of the fire when the time comes. In WINTER SOLDIER, Cap is sent to rescue Sitwell and the SHIELD crew of the Lemurian Star, held hostage by mercenary pirates led by Batroc.

AGENTS OF SHIELD: End of the Beginning. When Fitz attempts to set up the secure hard line between himself on The Bus and Simmons at the The Hub, he gets a not-great connection and the last thing he hears from Simmons is something about a group of agents storming the situation room. This could be a response to Steve Rogers's announcement at the Triskelion, outing Pierce, Insight, and the STRIKE (I'm assuming that's an acronym =) team as Hydra. The end of WINTER SOLDIER shows all of our cinematic SHIELD stars parting ways, implying that SHIELD has, in fact, been dissolved. However, who knows just how long it takes to make that happen, right?

AGENTS OF SHIELD, moving forward… Is Victoria Hand the Clairvoyant? I'd be okay with that after the wonderful Brad Dourif sleight-of-hand. But I'd be much happier if she's yet another link in the chain.

Is Victoria Hand and/or the Clairvoyant a stooge of Hydra? Hrm… I'd like for Clair to be something different, completely unaffiliated (and from the future =). If not that, then someone who's taken a pledge to both SHIELD and Hydra and turned on both of them to create their own operation, aka Centipede. They've got a Deathlok in the field, and with the acquisition of Mike Peterson—a stabilized Centiped super soldier—they supposedly have the key to "Stage 3" of their Centipede soldiers.

Nit. I would've thought that Cap would hold his shield between Nat and himself and the explosion when jumping thru the window to avoid it on the Lemurian Star. Instead, he uses the shield on the window (which Natasha has already shot twice).

Nit. I would've liked to have seen Cap land on his shield on his feet when jumping from the Triskelion. His shield is supposed to absorb like 99.9999% of the kinetic energy thrown at it, right? Or is that not established in the MMU? Hrm. In the comics, do bullets hit his shield and just drop to the ground? I *liked* seeing him redirect the chain gunfire at other baddies, but hafta wonder how dangerous that would be for bystanders, right?

This isn't everything, but it's as much as I can put together semi-coherently just now. More later. =)

Keep on keepin on~

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