Last year, I helped welcome a new movie theater franchise to my hometown area as I watched the Tony Stark saga continue beyond the events of AVENGERS. Now that I’ve seen how two of the other main members of the group have fared in their respective sequels, here’s my take on the different approaches taken in the storylines of THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA. Is the criticism warranted? Does the praise have merit beyond just the initial excitement of a new installment? How are the secondary characters handled, and do they progress things nicely into the future for each?
THOR: The Dark World [FQ’14 #36]
I really liked the way that the conflict they established in the film was based in Asgard but had ties to Earth. Much of the criticism I’m hearing about the post-AVENGERS films is that Team Shawarma isn’t helping each other out with their issues. While it’s a valid complaint regarding the events of Iron Man 3, it doesn’t necessarily hold here. Was the issue big enough? Absolutely, but I liked the “team” they used to combat it (no spoilers here), and the fact that the other Asgardian warriors got involved.
One area on which they should have invested more time was the fact that Thor has a potential Asgardian love interest, Sif (played beautifully by Jaimie Alexander), and yet he seems to have an attachment to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). They had a handful of dialogue on the topic over the course of two (maybe three) scenes, and that’s it. Having seen how this has progressed, Jaimie Alexander probably should’ve had her agent on the phone with DC Comics, begging to be cast as Wonder Woman. She’s perfect for the part, and Marvel clearly doesn’t seem interested in featuring her Sif character to any significant degree. This would’ve been the time to do it, and they essentially shrugged and moved along.
Do I even need to mention how good Tom Hiddleston was in his reprisal of the Loki character? There’s so much I could say about it, but given the fact that I want to keep this spoiler-free, I won’t.
Some of the battle scenes in this movie were really awesome, especially one that was early in the film which allowed Jaimie Alexander the chance to kick some ass in addition to showing just how powerful Thor can be. The final battle in the film was too confusing, switching between realms, and used camera shots and visual effects which were too fast-paced for its own good. This is absolutely a big part of the reason its rating didn’t make it into the 80’s.
Rating: 77 out of 100
(For comparison, I rated the first THOR film 75 out of 100)
The reason I liked the sequel better than the original is because Thor is no longer a petulant prince anymore. He’s finally coming into his own as a warrior god. It’s still not a film that I’d put near the top of the list of Marvel films.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER [FQ’14 #41]
The approach taken with this film was excellent. The storyline surrounding Captain America, or more accurately Steve Rogers, as he moves beyond the intense events of AVENGERS was a great choice. They began the film by showing us what his mindset is like. He’s searching for his purpose now that the “war” is over, and he hasn’t quite seemed to find what makes him happy. Aside from still having feelings for Peggy Carter, the only thing he seems to pass his time with is training for the next mission, whenever that might be. As the film unfolds, I really enjoy how it turns into a political thriller, whereby loyalties are questioned and Cap is on a search for the truth. What really helps drive this film are the characters surrounding Rogers in his quest. Not only that, but they’ve established a reason why the Avengers aren’t called-in for reinforcements.
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character continues to be an enjoyable part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s nice to see that they’ve decided not to make her a love interest, but rather an extremely important member of the team, and highly effective, at that. I like the way they blurred the lines on the relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers, blending friendship with professional respect and a hint of attraction between the two. She’s also not just a “sidekick”, as she plays a vital role in the way things go down in the third act. I would’ve appreciated at least a mention about Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner’s character from AVENGERS) from Rogers, especially given all the relationship advice Romanoff dishes out as the film progresses.
I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull off the inclusion of Falcon in the film, but he passes with flying colors. Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans had great chemistry in the film, from their very first interaction. It’s also effortlessly established why Sam Wilson would want to help Rogers, as well as the reason Wilson has the experience to be part of the team through a simple-yet-effective backstory. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they continue to pair these two together as the series continues.
In avoidance of spoilers, I’ll simply state that Robert Redford, Samuel L Jackson, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and the actor portraying The Winter Soldier all did great jobs with their involvement, to the extent that I’m considering making an additional, spoilerific article to discuss what I’m thinking about the future of the AVENGERS Universe.
Rating: 89 out of 100
(For comparison, I rated the first CAPTAIN AMERICA film 82 out of 100)
The reason I liked the sequel better than the original is because there’s less “filler”. Sure, the first film had to give us a look into the “character” of Steve Rogers before he got all synthetically bulky, and we had to go through the motions of watching him get tired of the song and dance the Army was putting him through when he was being utilized as a spokesperson for war bonds. And it’s understandable that it would take some time for the other soldiers to take him seriously, but that’s a LOT of filler for the first movie. Also take into account the fact that the first movie ends with the majority of its secondary characters deemed useless in Cap’s new modern reality, and it’s something of a bummer. The sequel doesn’t suffer from any of those causes.