I loved this new installment of Captain America, but I’m not in love with it, if that makes sense. It had some big shoes to fill after the masterpiece that was Winter Soldier, but it was still a solid, great entry to the MCU.
Out of five stars, I’d say 4.
Head behind the cut for more detailed thoughts, but be warned!
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
What It Got Right
All the characterizations are solid, with one exception and which I’ll discuss further down. Cap and Tony’s motivations and choices make sense, and considering we’re watching characters make decisions that clash with their previous behavior, that’s a major accomplishment. By now, these characters have grown together (or apart) in very organic, believable ways. During a discussion between Tony and Steve concerning the Sokovia Accords, Tony mentions how ‘wrong’ things could go (wish I could remember the exact line) and I was reminded that he has had a vision showing all the Avengers dead; maybe it was just Wanda Maximoff playing with his mind, but real or not, it shook him.
The stunts are amazing. There wasn’t a single fight that didn’t have a moment of pure jaw-dropping amazement. The physicality of the stunt people is spectacular and made me want to go straight to the gym from the theater.
And there’s a lot of sweetness and heart to the movie. The characters’ habits and personalities bump up against each other in charming, sometimes humorous ways (“Can you move your seat up?” “No.” got a huge laugh) that are best of all, believable.
T’Challa is amazing. Chadwick Boseman’s acting and wardrobe, the stunts, and his entire arc was perfectly executed and didn’t have a false note. I only wish we could have spent more time with him. He’s sure to be a new fan favorite.
What It Got Wrong
The transition between Winter Soldier and this film was jarring, as if the Russos were more concerned with making a successor to Ultron than WS. I say that because WS was so focused, and this film feels more all over the place, trying to pack in everything at once.
The one characterization that doesn’t make sense is again, Black Widow. Although Nat’s fighting, dialogue and hair on on point, a single fallacious moment stood out to me – during a scene in the… uh… Berlin UN? Wherever they had Bucky contained before he broke out again – Bucky is fighting and she runs right at him. I got a huge chuckle out of her sitting on his face and hammering on his head, but Nat and Tony had no business engaging Bucky in hand-to-hand combat. Bucky and Cap are super-soldiers, as we have seen countless times before. Additionally, Bucky’s metal arm turns him into a walking jackhammer. One hit from him would have shattered Nat and Tony; the latter survives the fight with a broken arm, but Nat barely has a mark on her. I’m not downplaying her ability in the least, but it just made no sense because she and Clint are very aware of her unique place among a team of superhumans. I’ve never seen Tony take any step toward danger unless he had a suit standing by. And if you recall in The Avengers, Nat’s the one who warns Cap not to get into a fight with Loki and Thor – you don’t survive being a spy for long if you go around overestimating your abilities. Everything else about Widow is perfect and makes sense, and I loved seeing her throw down in the opening sequence in Lagos, but that beat between she and Bucky seemed off. I continue to light a little candle in the Chapel of Movie Gods that BW gets her own movie soon.
The settings are lush, but there were so many that I started getting a little dizzy as far as where we were. The giant white ‘PLACE NAME’ on the screen was almost distracting as I thought we would be spending a lot of time there. It might be because previous MCU movies didn’t leap around anywhere near as much as this one does; which would be fine if the characters in question are capable of global circumnavigation in no time, but all our MCU people have to get on the Quinjet or at least fly there, and while Iron Man and Iron War Machine are fast, they better have brought a magazine when they’re going from the US to Africa. That’s still a long damn trip.
Additionally, there was so much story. I’m not even sure the plot with Zimo and the Super Soldiers (band name trademark pending) was necessary, especially since he killed them all. It would have been interesting if he’d gotten there and they were all skeletons already, or if there was just nothing there and they’d already been disposed of and buried out back.
Wanda and Vision got some moving screen time, but it wasn’t clear why she joined up with Cap, especially since she’s lost her whole family to superhero fighting by now. Granted, she and Pietro chose to take part in the Sokovia battle, and Cap has a way of appealing to people’s sense of duty, but I never felt that moment come full circle with her. Maybe there was too much happening and I missed it.
T’challa too gets short shrift – I’m not familiar with the character so I had a lot of questions about his abilities. I got that the suit was Vibranium and I understand that Wakanda is the only country that can mine and process it. I’m also content that T’challa studies fighting and martial arts and is just physically amazing. What I don’t understand is how he can have the same strength and speed as the super soldiers. I guess his country has the serum too? My point is not that he’s bad or wrong – I loved him! I thought he was great! But his story was wadded up and jostled amongst several going on at once. In any scene, he became the most interesting person on screen (except for my imaginary boyfriend Bucky) and that is a difficult thing to do in a cast with this much charisma.
But the tl;dr is that I loved it and will own and it look forward to Cap marathons on rainy Sundays.