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Marvel Cinematic Universe Breakdown (Part 1)

marvel cinematic

Avengers: Infinity War is poised to take the entire world by storm this summer, so for our monthly Cinemaholics crossover episode, we’re revisiting and analyzing the first 11 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Iron Man to Avengers: Age of Ultron, we discuss the hits and misses of the first two phases of the MCU and have a fun series of agreements and disagreements along the way…

Hosted by Sam Noland, Jason Read, and Anthony Battaglia. Featuring special guest Jack Muldoon!

Note: At the time of recording, we neglected to realize that Ant-Man technically counts as being part of Phase 2. We will discuss Ant-Man and address the mistake in next week’s episode!

Question for you: What do you believe is the most underrated MCU installment? Also, which Guardian of the Galaxy is your favorite? Comment below, email us at ataigpodcast@gmail.com, or follow us on Twitter @AnywayCast. All feedback is hugely appreciated!

Go on…Marvel Cinematic Universe Breakdown (Part 1)

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Second Opinion: Why ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Isn’t a Masterpiece

captain america winter soldier opinion

It’s strange that the sequel to one of Marvel Studios’ most ho-hum superhero origin stories is among the most celebrated as a standalone feature (and easily the best sequel of the now large catalogue of films).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is often the film to talk about when discussing the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But is it ever talked about as a movie that stands among the greatest superhero movies? That’s not as clear and most likely not the case.

Unlike “First Avenger,” Winter Soldier is not a superhero movie that happens to be a period piece. It is instead a superhero movie that happens to be a spy thriller that Robert Redford himself is cast in to echo Three Days of the Condor. Notice, though, that neither movie starts first as a genre that happens to contain superheroes in it, which arguably the best superhero movies do. Because this is, after all, a movie that has to lay the seeds down for future films, for better or worse.

The film centers around a freshly minted Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans, as confident as ever), the man out of time who’s having trouble adjusting to a life beyond the one he had in the 1940s. His friends, connections, and even his values have been severely outpaced by his biology (and circumstantial preservation), as he’s trapped in a new world that uses him a lot more than they seem to need him.

captain america winter soldier

And he embraces this workload by diving headfirst into his job at S.H.I.E.L.D. and ignoring the suggestions of fellow Avenger Black Widow (played expertly here by Scarlett Johansson)  to get out there again and make a new life for himself. But he’s unable to do this anyway when a shadowed figure from his past arrives to disrupt a Big Brother world that Steve himself is disillusioned by, making the audience wonder why Captain America has to fight this battle at all.

It’s amazing that throughout this runtime, that is the question audiences are wondering. They aren’t put off by Captain America’s name, his moralistic nature, or his costume. Despite the fact that it’s hardly easy to relate to a man who represents excellence in every aspect, from his physical prowess to his righteousness. But the way he represents these ideals is something we can relate to, because almost all of us wish we were a little bit like Captain America, especially those of us who have grown up idolizing superheroes.

It just so happens that the handiwork of Winter Soldier is good cinema as well. The atmosphere, action scenes, and acting are all enhanced by the Russo Brothers’ vision and a solid script as mentioned. The movie is much like Captain America himself, in that it gets the job done — no more, no less.

But it’s the “no more” aspect that ultimately inhibits Winter Soldier from being one of the great superhero movies. Nothing in the film is exactly new or intriguing outside itself, but it’s still ust a great recipe that someone has managed to put together perfectly, rather than a turning point for the genre (not that it needed to be).

captain america winter soldier

This is fine because Winter Soldier already exceeded expectations by daring to even be good at all, putting forward an incredibly entertaining sequel about a character who’s seemed behind the times in more ways than one. Perhaps the film’s status as an underdog is why so many fans call it their favorite of the MCU, even above massive hits like The Avengers. I have a hard time disagreeing with them, because despite all of the credit Winter Soldier owes to previous Marvel films, it’s easily the most complete out of all of them.

Second Opinion Grade: A-


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

New Captain America And Amazing Spider-Man Trailers Compete For Our Hearts

Instead of watching the Super Bowl this year, I had the immeasurable benefit of having one night to finish a video I made for one of the nonprofits that I volunteer for. So instead of watching what is being considered by many as the worst Super Bowl of all time, I had my face buried in a computer (but what else is new?)

Aside from not being able to watch the game itself, I was equally distraught at having to miss out on the commercials, though I heard those didn’t fare well either. Still, I was anxious to watch two commercials in particular that were bound to be good (at least one had to, right?)

My wish was fulfilled and then some because both trailers were amazing, despite my immense displeasure with the first “Amazing Spider-Man” and my worry that Captain America would have nothing interesting to do in a sequel without Downey Jr. or the God of Thunder. Or Mark Ruffalo. Or Colson.

See, I was pretty worried, and although a trailer is only a halfway decent benchmark for anticipating the success of a film (critically, that is), I am happy to report that both movies look to be promising superhero flicks that will satisfy our itch for escapism once the weather warms up.

But which was better?

If you had asked me on Saturday, I would have met you with a resounding laughter. “Captain America, obviously.” is one of the 14 phrases I would have uttered. But with this latest look at The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I actually have to think about this, and I hope you help me decide.

Normally, I break down trailers individually with funny captions and litter them with interesting side notes about the upcoming film. I already did that for Captain America, and I was too disinterested to give Spider-Man more than a Tweet.

So this time, I’ll be comparing the two trailers side by side. Let’s get started!

You know what I love about being Spider-Man? Everything.

Yeah, really profound Andrew.

I liked this trailer a lot more than the first one, which reeked of Spider-Man 3’s villain overload. But what we learned from the first Amazing Spider-Man movie is that there are more problems with the handling of Spider-Man than introducing a lot of villains. The Lizard was the only villain, and the movie was still terrible, for instance.

But it looks like the sequel will be giving it the old college try at redeeming its creative decisions in the first movie. Most importantly: the costume is perfect. He actually looks like Spider-Man now, and his arms are no longer blinking.

Next, it’s comforting to know that the movie will focus more on the heroism of Peter Parker’s alter ego, rather than just focusing on his revenge quest against his uncle’s killer and his uninteresting girl problems with Gwen Stacey. This trailer gave us a glimpse of Spider-Man actually saving people and fighting crime, a small detail that has been overlooked since Spider-Man 2 (the best one).

I have to admit that the Max Dillon/Electro/Jamie Foxx plot makes little sense so far. The trailer explains that he is a villain because a brief encounter with Spider-Man encouraged him to gain powers. But when he did do that and became Electro, Spider-Man forgot his name, which set him off on a rampage.

That just seems…silly. For now, I guess we’ll just chalk this up to the fact the guy is wickedly unstable.

Finally, as much as I am excited to see the Sinister Six being hinted at and built up, I can’t help but feel like the Harry Osborn/Rhino thing is being crammed into the movie. The trailer doesn’t flow, as a result, and I feel like that may be a sign of pacing problems the movie is bound to have.

Still, the action looks far more creative and fun to watch than the last movie, with even CGI effects looking crisp and imaginative. Here’s to Spidey and Sony trying to make good on second chances.

Now, let’s take a look at the new trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and compare:

If they’re shooting at you, they’re bad.

Yeah, really profound, Chris.

The first trailer did a good job of introducing us to another side of S.H.I.E.L.D. that is similar to the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, in that it features the “Black Ops” aspect of hunting down dangerous, god-like individuals. It’s setting the stage for Secret Avengers, a plot avenue that makes perfect sense for Captain America (and Steve Rogers).

Cap isn’t the most powerful Avenger. He’s not the smartest, or even the most good-looking (thanks to Black Widow). But he is the bravest of them. He’s a soldier, and his role as the “Captain” is something that this new trailer is willing to explore.

Unlike the first trailer, this featurette focuses more on the antagonist, The Winter Soldier. Many of you probably already know who he really is thanks to comic books and the Internet being terrible at keeping secrets, but please do not spoil the surprise for anyone who doesn’t know.

That said, we got a more full glimpse of the action behind this new villain and why we should actually be afraid of him. 1 point goes to Captain America for having a much more interesting and streamlined villain (which is surprising).

It was also great to see more of The Falcon joining the action, particularly when the two are being shot at toward the end. Between Falcon, Black Widow, and Fury all vying for Cap’s attention, it now makes sense why Hawkeye probably won’t get brought up this time around.

A point goes to both trailers for giving us some good action to rejuvenate our childlike lusts for violence and explosions, but I’m giving Spider-Man another point for costume design. Maybe it’s because it’s such a fantastic improvement over his last one, but it’s also because Cap’s helmet is just plain awkward.

Captain America gets 1 more point, however, because of Scarlett Johansson, but that is met by another point to Spider-Man for having more comedic moments. The “washing the American flag” bit, along with the chimney thing, actually had me laughing, while the Captain America trailer’s only attempt at humor fell extremely flat for me.

Thanks to Emma Stone, Spider-Man gets the last point, which means I actually pick The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer over Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Never in the history of the last few months did I believe such a thing was possible, but here we are.

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Trailer Breakdown – Captain America: Winter Soldier

captain america winter soldier

Good marketing Marvel. Releasing the Captain America trailer just a few weeks before your “let’s hope to God this sticks” premiere of Thor’s first sequel was a good move, getting fans hyped and movie bloggers over-analyzing.

Speaking of shamelessly breaking down trailers, let’s talk about the Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer, which was actually 83% better than I thought it would be, as Barney Stinson would claim.

Go on…Trailer Breakdown – Captain America: Winter Soldier

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