By the time it comes out, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be the third Marvel movie to follow The Avengers, but it’ll also be the first among them to feel like a direct continuation of that still-looming genre-reshaping event movie. Partially because this is once again something of an ensemble piece – with Black Widow, Nick Fury, newcomer The Falcon, and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself all accounted for – but mostly because it’s another large-scale actioner in a mostly metropolitan setting. Simply put, it looks like The Avengers to a greater degree than Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World did.
It’s also, interestingly, the first of the Marvel Universe series to try and change genres between sequels: Captain America: The First Avenger was a deliberately-retro, old-fashioned throwback a’la Indiana Jones; which was appropriate to its World War II setting and Nazi Sorcery bad guys. Winter Soldier is aiming in a totally different direction – a dark, politically-tinged spy thriller in the vein of Three Days of the Condor or the Jason Bourne movies… albeit one that still features flying aircraft carriers, men with bionic arms and a guy dressed like a flag throwing a giant patriotic Frisbee at people. Will it work? It just got a new trailer, so let’s watch it.
P.S. If you’re wondering why we’re doing this instead of the slightly more-recent trailer for X-Men: Days Of Future Past? Basically, because there’s just not that much going on in that trailer to pick through other than Hey! Look how many people we got to come back for this!” and brief glimpses of Bishop, Blink, Warpath and Sunspot; all walking reminders that the problem with the X-Men “family” is that there’s hundreds of characters but only like twelve of them, on a good day, are good for anything other than a splash-page shot of using their powers. I’m sure it’ll be a fine movie, but it was a shame to lose Matthew Vaughn and right now the most concretely interesting thing about this project is that it stars both someone with the first name Booboo and someone with the last name Bingbing.
00:00 – 00:29 – Cap is back working with S.H.I.E.L.D. That feels significant in and of itself, given that The Avengers rather pointedly decided to not work for the Agency. Speaking of which, I wonder what (if anything) the insinuations in this trailer that all is not well with said Agency will mean for the characters on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which could well be wrapping up its now-official full first season of episodes either just before or shortly after this comes out? It probably wouldn’t change things up too much, since that series is built around a small sub-division that operates pretty independently of the bigger Agency already, but there’d almost have to be some ripple effect, no? Also, assuming the show remains fairly popular/well-watched, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of its characters pop up in the background of this.
More pruriently: Here, Black Widow is trying to set him up, which begs the question: As far as we know, is Captain America still a virgin at this point? That was pretty clearly the case in First Avenger, and it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s getting out much post-unfreezing.
00:30 – 00:34 – “Is he wearing a parachute?” “No. No he is not.” Good line. That’s Frank Grillo, and while it’s not spelled-out here his character is named Brock Lumlow. In the comics that’s the unmasked name of perennial Red Skull henchman (and onetime co-assassin of Captain America) Crossbones. So… yeah, probably a bad guy.
00:40 – 00:52 – Speaking of “probably a bad guy,” here’s Robert Redford (wow!) as Alexander Pierce, here one of the big shot-callers at S.H.I.E.L.D. If the instantly suspicious “build a better world” speechifying doesn’t set your Villain Alarm off, his presence in the plot seems somewhat similar to that of Aleksander Lukin’s in the “Death of Captain America” storyline from a few years back. (Spoiler: He got better.) I really, really want there to be a scene in this where he rips off his face to reveal The Red Skull or someone else who might need a fake face… but I feel like Redford might read that as a cheap shot at his famous later-life leatheriness.
00:53 – Is this our first look at S.H.I.E.L.D Headquarters, aka The Triskelion?
00:58 – Our first official look at Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, Captain America’s 70s pal at one point infamous for a storyline wherein he rejected membership in The Avengers after coming to suspect that he was an Affirmative Action hire. He typically uses a winged suit that lets him fly (which we’ll see later in the trailer) and has a pet bird, Redwing, he can communicate with via telepathy (which I’m somewhat doubtful is going to be in the movie.)
01:01 – 01:03 – Cap and Nick Fury tour The Pit from the first G.I. Joe movie. Let’s get this out of the way: I really don’t like Cap’s new outfit (it’s a version of one he wore recently in the comics while he wasn’t officially Captain America) and yeah it’s mostly about the missing stripes – that’s like taking away the Bat-symbol. But, I’m getting the sense we’re supposed to dislike it, in that it serves a thematic purpose, so… I can deal. I mean, Batman has never had a good live-action costume, and his movies still averaged out pretty good.
01:06 – Our first glimpse of The Winter Soldier, though from behind so we don’t yet know that. (NOTE: that link will spoil the identity of The Winter Soldier for you.)
01:07 – 01:09 – Who is this badly-injured African-American man whose hospitalization has so upset Cap and Widow. Is it Nick Fury? Is it The Falcon? Is it… oh, right. They’re sort of it, as far as we know. Hm.
01:11 – 01:27 – Lots of VFX hardware-porn intercut with some brief glimpses of Winter Soldier and his crew shooting up Washington, D.C. – but the real meat here is the argument over “preventative war” (aka The Cheney/Rumsfeld Doctrine) between Nick Fury (For) and Cap (Against.) Really glad to see this aspect of the character make it into the movies.
Most of the classic Marvel heroes were askew in some ironic way: Thor, as a human, is a cripple who requires a cane. Iron Man’s “invincible” suit is actually part of a life-support system that holds him back from death. Spider-Man is actually a nerdy loser who can’t catch a break. In Captain America’s case, being a WWII-era symbol of “Go Team!” patriotism with a mostly left-of-center political leaning serves that function. He actually quit being Captain America in protest for periods during both the Nixon and Reagan administrations. Also, fighting government/military corruption is really the only context that lets you do the “Good WWII America comes back to smack some sense into Bad Modern America” routine without having Cap come off like Archie Bunker in tights.
01:33 – 01:39 – Cap versus baddies in S.H.I.E.L.D onesies (The Skeleton Crew, maybe?) in close-quarters. Bad-ass. A longer version of this was shown to SDCC audiences, and it’s a pretty lengthy and elaborate sequence. All I know for sure is that the “kick the shield up into my hands” move is awesome.
01:40 – Captain America visiting an exhibit (at The Smithsonian, maybe?) about himself. I have a feeling I know how this comes into play…
01:43 – …case in point: The pairing of these shots of Cap in something closer to his WWII-era uniform with Redford’s dialogue here is supposed to make us think this is a flashback scene, but look closer: That’s modern-looking tactical gear on the guys he seems to be fighting. Also, it’s not precisely the costume from First Avenger because the torso-stripes are arranged differently.
My guess: The boring all-blue suit is a “you’re working for S.H.I.E.L.D now” thing, and when Cap (inevitably) decides to fight against The Agency (or at least some sinister force that’s taken it over) he’ll swipe the replica of the original from that museum exhibition and change into that as a way of symbolizing getting back on the right track.
01:46 – Whoa. Is that Black Widow’s body he’s carrying, or someone else? Speaking of which – how much more of Natasha’s backstory will we be getting in this? It’s only been alluded to so far, but her traditional backstory involves a lot of the same Manchurian Candidate-style brainwashing skullduggery that also afflicts Winter Soldier, and she’s tied in with his comic-backstory as well. Johansson has said that her character and Cap do some bonding in this over having led similar lives. Some are speculating they’ll even end up a couple. Maybe this is where she’ll get to start being more than “The Girl On The Avengers.”
It’d be pretty odd if she and Cap wound up paired off here, though. Where does that leave Hawkeye – did Jeremy Renner ask for too much money? Emily VanCamp is in the movie, somewhere, as Sharon “Agent 13” Carter, in the comics a love-interest of Cap’s and also the niece of his WWII-era best-gal Peggy.
01:48 – 01:54 – The Winter Soldiers blows up Nick Fury’s car (so that was probably him in the hospital.) I like Winter Soldier’s super scifi-looking robot arm poking out amid all the otherwise realistic tactical gear and gunplay. The whole aesthetic, honestly, seems to be doing a really good job of integrating the Marvel Stuff with the Spy Thriller Stuff without having to make too many compromises in either.
01:59 – 02:04 – Falcon’s wingsuit/armor looks pretty cool. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed it’s not closer to his comic threads… but then again the red/white/gold color scheme on what kind of has to be a more mechanical looking thing in live-action might’ve made him look too much like Iron Man. But still, being a human fighter-jet is the only thing cooler than having a jetpack.
02:05 – 02:06 – Winter Soldier, on the other hand, looks like he just walked out of the comics design-wise save for the mouth-covering mask; which actually looks pretty cool and has the added benefit of keeping his identity secret so that non-fans can be surprised in the theater. Also, that fight choreography looks pretty tight.
02:07 – 02:09 – Can Black Widow have her own movie now?
02:10 – 02:11 – Captain America, charging at a fighter-jet on a motorcycle. And you just know he’s gonna beat up the jet and say something that would sound cheesy coming out of anyone else. Cool.
02:12 – More of the new/old costume. Definitely different design from both the first movie and AVENGERS; so either that’s some lazy continuity-upkeep or these scenes are indeed taking place in the present and Cap will likely be looking like himself again by the end of this.
02:13 – 02:18 – Multiple(?) S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarriers fall out of the sky over D.C. It looks awesome… right up until it reminded me of Star Trek Into Darkness and now I’m sad again.
02:25 – 02:30 – Winter Soldier catches Cap’s shield one-handed. This is actually a big deal, though it hasn’t been fully addressed in the movies so far (I assume it’ll come up in this one.) Basically, using the shield is supposed to be a skill that almost nobody other than Captain America possesses. You need to be at least as strong as him to catch it without losing an arm, and throwing it with accuracy to make it do the bounce-and-return thing is apparently super-difficult to master. Yes, in practical terms, it’s just a big Frisbee that magically boomerangs back to you if it hits something, but Marvel Physics dictate that anyone being able to so much as pick the thing up without injuring themselves or someone else is major noteworthy.
NOT IN THIS TRAILER (BUT APPARENTLY IN THE MOVIE):
SHARON CARTER: See above, entry for 01:46.
BATROC THE LEAPER: Never expected to see this guy on the big screen, but he’s in here too somewhere. He’s a French mercenary and master of savate whose nickname refers to his particular skill at jumping exceptionally high. He’s frequently played for comic relief (his dialogue being written in an exaggerated phonetic French accent) but he’s also supposed to be one of the deadliest hand-to-hand combatants in the entire Marvel Universe, and for a good long while it was official canon that he’d very nearly gotten one over on The Goddamn Batman during the JLA/Avengers crossover miniseries (which is still a “real” event in the current Marvel Universe and was in the DCU at least until the New 52 reboot.)
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you’ve heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet. Aside from his work at The Escapist, he wrote a book and does a videogame criticism show.