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For much of 2013 and early 2014, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was doing well financially but needed something to bolster fan faith in it. Iron Man 3 was polarizing, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD had a slow start and Thor: The Dark World was decent at best. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the perfect remedy for that.
Not only does TWS move the overall Cinematic Universe plot forward in a shocking way, but it introduces great new characters (Marvel, PLEASE listen to Anthony Mackie and put the Falcon in Avengers 2) and improves the ones we already had. What they did with Arnim Zola was not only a brilliant and practical adaptation of how he looks in the comics, but it's a rare case of being something only a film could pull off.
My only big complaint is that Agent 13 was pretty much unnecessary and her role could have been folded into Maria Hill's presence (good to see her again too; her presence sort of makes this "Secret Avengers: The Movie"). The Winter Soldier also could have done a bit more, but I'm just impressed that they made him look exactly like he does in the comics. Nicely done, costuming department.
In short: go see it. The MCU really does still have that magic; here's hoping they can keep up the momentum through Guardians of the Galaxy.
Eh, I'm one of those insane fanboys who liked all of the stuff from last year, though I will admit that Agents needed to find its footing, and TTDW wasn't exactly up-to-par with previous Marvel outings, though it was pretty good. As for this one, though? I have to agree, this movie definitely feels like a reaffirmation of the MCU, and a kind of return to form. I have high hopes for GOTG, maybe not as a serious, dramatic character study, but as a fun film and a chance for some interesting world (universe?) building. But really, I'm playing the long game here, and hoping the really stellar hit is Avengers 3, when we finally come face-to-face with Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet.
^ That Infinity Gauntlet is going to rock. I've heard that Depending on the Writer, the Tesseract and the Dark Ether are merely two of several parts of it. To put that into perspective, the Tesseract was so powerful it was the MacGuffin in 2 movies: Captain America TFA and the Avengers, and the Dark Ether was also a very powerful MacGuffin all on its own.
I feel like Agent 13 is set-up for stuff later. She's no more superfluous here than anyone who first appeared in a post-credits sequence.
@Mr.Movie They mentioned that at the end of Thor 2, when the Collector says "One down, five to go." So they are definitely still going with the thing the original comics did, and having six Infinity Stones. The only questions are how will the Stones correspond with their comic counterparts, and when will they be revealed? I think a safe bet is that the MacGuffin in GOTG is another one, but will their be one in Age of Ultron? Well, the long game certainly requires a lot of patience.
^ With GOTG coming out this year and an Avengers sequel guaranteed, I think Marvel has soundly beat DC as far as movies go. They've successfully rebooted the Spider-Man franchise, pumped out a decent trilogy (Iron Man), and seem on track to turn either Thor or Captain America into trilogies (or more) as well. Meanwhile, in recent memory, DC comics has pumped out only the Dark Knight trilogy (which, while good, isn't enough against Marvel's more and arguably just as good movies) and the mixed-received Man of Steel film. Also, remember the Catwoman film?
I think there's only two movies in the Marvel universe who can be described as 'just as good' as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And then Rises is on level with the majority of Marvel films. But Marvel do have them beat because the Nolan trilogy is a stand alone thing whereas the Marvel movies are a franchise. (It's worth pointing out that Marvel don't actually make the Spider-Man films though)
I think three. Iron Man, Avengers, and this.
I guess it's a personal preference, but with Iron Man the only really good stuff in that film was having Downey Jr/Pepper Potts on screen. The plot was totally weaksauce and I even forget there was a villain until people remind me
...which makes it sound like I'm hating on Iron Man when I'm not. That's just how good Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow are in their roles (and to be fair, the film puts them on screen as much as humanly possible). It gets in just under the top flight for me.
One problem: given how the MCU keeps making more and more money, the only thing they really need to do to bolster fan faith is show up.
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