Finally went to see the new Captain America. It was out-freakin’-standing, better than the first one, which had a lot of annoying stop-action fighting sequences that interrupted the flow. Not this time. This was Cap kickin’ A and takin’ names.
And, boy, talk about kickin’ A. Whoever did the shield-throw effects deserves a bonus, because they looked exactly what you’d expect from ten pounds of vibranium smacking into someone at 125 mph. And further bonuses to whoever orchestrated that jaw-dropping fight-and-chase through the streets of DC (although, gotta say, I’ve experienced similar rush hours there).
Cap fought like Cap, overall. He used a fighting style reminiscent of 1940’s boxing and wrestling, although a lot of modern elements creeped in here and there, like that ridiculous leg-spin-on-the-neck, which is a hallmark of the Black Widow’s style more than anyone’s. Understandable. Cap probably picked up a move or two from Widow, who fights with a combination of Krav Maga and Hapkido. I’m glad that the Russo Brothers chose to keep Cap’s style distinct from hers, because it would be too much of a reality violation (like a WW2 soldier fighting terrorists in 2014 isn’t) for him to take on modern techniques. You generally base your fighting on the first style you learned, no matter what you study after. It’s what your body remembers best.
Falcon, Cap’s 1970’s sidekick, shows up. I always liked the character, although this isn’t the Falcon I remember (where’s Redwing?). But Cap with an Air Force? Unbeatable. And there were some delightful Easter Eggs thrown in. Batroc, who is Mr. Savate. A passing reference to Dr. Strange. Too cool. So, overall, great movie. But…
I think the Russo’s missed a grand opportunity here.
Now, before going on, I admit to ignorance of the whole Winter Soldier and Civil War Marvel series. I stopped reading Marvel comics around 1974 or so, at least, regularly. Not that I still didn’t love them, but I was off on other tangents and lost track. By the time I noticed them again, it was the late 90’s and the story lines had gotten so odd (what’s this Ultimates stuff?) that I felt too out of it to pick up the thread again. But my son kept me briefed, and I knew enough about the Civil War series to anticipate it as the Russo’s underlying theme in this movie: security trumping freedom. You know, SHIELD becoming the NSA and putting everyone under its thumb because of all the supervillain threats, and Cap opposed to all this.
But, no. Instead, we get Hydra.
And that’s a shame. It’s easy to hate Hydra. They’re Nazis, for chrissake. So the movie became a simple black-and-white, good vs evil slugfest with everybody rooting for Cap and Widow and hissing at Robert Redford, instead of a complex treating of a real-world issue: do you give up your freedom for security, or do you bear the threat? Me? I bear the threat. See, I support the idea of the hoverships, but they don’t get launched unless there is a direct attack, and then, only at the attackers. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go see the movie.
Widow became a bit annoying, too. Oh, no, not Scarlet Johansson; she’s perfect, just perfect as Widow, and the kiss she gives Cap makes Chris Evans the envy of every single red-blooded American male (and probably a few females). But there’s an ongoing plot of “Who do you trust?” in the movie, and Widow gives off a lot of signals that she’s doing her usual Widow thing and playing both ends against the middle. I was sure, sure! she was going to sell Cap out, like she always sells someone out. But, she didn’t. Out of character, that.