On Sunday, I went to the retro local cinema, the Moray Playhouse to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I had been disappointed by Thor: The Dark World which felt like an Asgardian retread of the tedious Man of Steel. Winter Soldier however is a stronger film, although some of its mysteries are still to be unravelled.
Steve Rogers becomes aware of a conspiracy within SHIELD which threatens the life of Nick Fury. With his allies- the Black Widow, Agent 13 and Sam Wilson, the Falcon- Cap discovers his old ally Bucky is alive and the pawn of a decades-old Hydra plot, masterminded by senator Alexander Pierce ( a patrician and frightening Robert Redford).The other returnee from WWII is an incarnation of Nazi genetic experimenter Arnim Zola- more Amstrad Zola here. I was surprised that Pierce wasn’t unmasked as the greatest Nazi villain in Cap’s canon but I think we see a German villain from Steranko’s SHIELD after the credits.
Rogers was portrayed as an superlative hand-to-hand combatant but I preferred the use of the Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier costume in the movie rather than the Ultimates-inspired one, which made Cap looked like a startled luchador.
I was particularly pleased to see the debut of the Falcon, albeit in his Ultimate Comics guise; I hope this version guests in the Avengers sequel to add variety to the ethnicities. Speaking of Avengers, that customary post-credits scene also points, excitingly, to the introduction of two more of Cap’s Kooky Quartet…
Aside from Dr. Strange, who was briefly namechecked in the movie, other Marvel Universe stars I’d like to see onscreen include Spider-Woman, the Black Panther and Union Jack, the latter pair perhaps in future Cap movies.
Like Iron Man, Cap was never a great favourite of mine as a child and I actually read far fewer of his stories: the oldest was the Tumbler short in Tales of Suspense; then the first part of the Exiles story and battles with the Trapster and Batroc ( a gritty version of “Zee Lepair” appears in the opening action sequence in Soldier.)
I was more interested in the comic when the Falcon became Cap’s partner but I was annoyed that he began to feel inferior to Rogers’ short-lived super-strength. The Wakandan wings actually made the hunting Falcon less unique in my eyes. (Don’t start me on “seeing through the eyes of birds”!)
By the time the comic was being shipped regularly in the mid-70s, King Kirby had returned and I was around for the wrap-up of the Madbomb saga and the introduction of Zola. Last April, I wondered if Jack ever considered a 70s version of Bucky, in the vein of Krunch from the Dingbats? (See “Let Valour Write in Skies of Strife”)
I also wonder if the long-forgotten Super-Agents of SHIELD- seen with Marvel Man/Quasar here- might appear in the next installment of the Cap franchise?
The Falcon has always been something of a C-lister. He was “ghetto” years before Luke Cage appeared but has been overshadowed both by Cap and by other black heroes at Marvel. I hope he returns to the screen in the next couple of years.
Coming soon: more Batman Giants from the mid-Sixties
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