Film Face-off: 'Captain America: The First Avenger' vs. 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Film Face-off: 'Captain America: The First Avenger' vs. 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Apr 08, 2014

It's our first summer blockbuster... in April. That's America for you, Captain America that is. Chris Evans is back as Steve Rogers/Captain America with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He's not the Winter Soldier although he was the first Avenger with 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. At least we can applaud the Captain for using "The" in the title. It isn't totally necessary, but it's proper, just like Captain America.

In this week's Film Face-off the original is going against the sequel, with all of the other Marvel movies getting left out. One category will not be the red, white and blue shield. It is something I'll never quite understand. It bounces, and Captain knows where and when it will come back (like a boomerang). It will also knock out some people, but not others, and if Captain is going to jump off a building and otherwise hit the ground, the shield will help lessen the blow even though it's stronger than the ground he's hitting. Most importantly, it looks cool. Now on to the face-off.

 

Steve Rogers/Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger

Steve has a hero deep inside that scrawny little body, he just needs some mad scientists to help bring it out.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Steve doubts that S.H.I.E.L.D. is always keeping the American people safe the way he thinks they should.

Winner: Captain America: The First Avenger. Skinny Steve is great. They take their time with the first film, truly getting to know what makes this guy tick. Sure, there is a lot of "Aww shucks" in the first Captain, but the film properly fits that vibe. With the second film, there are plenty of amusing moments with Captain getting to know the new world (he has a notepad with "Berlin Wall Up/Down" written down), but they don't spend as much time on that as with him simply trying to figure out all of the evil lurking around. Evans has done a really good job with showcasing this character. He had a history of his charm being brash with roles like Johnny Storm (Fantastic 4) and Jensen (The Losers), but that never leaks in with this character. His giant muscles help.

 

Villains

Captain America: The First Avenger

Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) wants to take over the world, and he has the help of scientist Dr. Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

SPOILER ALERT. The Winter Soldier is from Captain's past, and he's being controlled by a group trying to take over S.H.I.E.L.D. from within.

Winner: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I said spoiler alert, so that was your warning and now we'll discuss. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) wants S.H.I.E.L.D. to have more power than it already does. Project Insight (a lot of guns pointed at a lot of people) will take care of that problem. The way they weave that together with a small role from Dr. Arnim Zola is really nice. The Winter Soldier is Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). This should be obvious to everyone who either read anything about the film beforehand, or at least during the first half of the film as they are describing the Winter Soldier. This makes it odd that they keep teasing it. Plus, it will only be a shock to Captain, not anyone else. All of the fighting with Winter Soldier, and his desire to carry out his mission works really well. I just feel they missed the point of revealing our enemy. My hunch is this will annoy the rewatchability of the film as well. With all of that being said, the second time I watched Captain America: The First Avenger, you can fast-forward every single scene with Red Skull, and replace it will this thought bubble: "The villain is growing stronger."

 

Women

Captain America: The First Avenger

British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) helps train Steve to become Captain America. She sees his potential, and then falls for him.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) works with Captain on the mission at hand. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) helps out and Kate (Emily VanCamp) does as well.

Winner: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yes, I'm surprised at this one as well. I thought The First Avenger would win easily. I never once cared about the potential romance between Peggy and Steve (even though there is an attempt at a tearful good-bye). That’s not to say it’s not entertaining when Peggy first lays eyes on super Steve with all his new muscles and cops a feel. Atwell does brings some toughness and focus to the role. With The Winter Soldier they finally give Black Widow a reason to exist. Her banter about dating and kissing with Captain works great, plus the concept that she's only comfortable when living a lie is intriguing. I feel like they are laying the groundwork for Kate with this film, almost like she's joining the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or maybe she's already on it. I don't know. I don't watch. We even get a little bit of Peggy in the second film, which pushes it barely over the top in this category.

 

Music

Captain America: The First Avenger

There is a full out musical number with "Star-Spangled Man." Alan Silvestri is responsible for the musical score.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The musical score is by Henry Jackman. The song "Trouble Man" by Marvin Gaye is heard at the end.

Winner: Captain America: The First Avenger. This isn't a crushing defeat by The First Avenger. "Trouble Man" is a good song that has a chance to make my personal annual soundtrack of the year. Plus, either "The Winter Soldier" or "The Causeway" from Jackman's score is great. I'm not sure which it is as I can't find the soundtrack anywhere yet, but it's the music that accompanies the Winter Soldier fighting on the street. None of this compares with the surprise and delight of "Star-Spangled Man." Somehow this song didn't get nominated for an Oscar, so hopefully the victory here will take some of the sting out.

 

Action

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain chases after a bad guy as soon as he gets his powers. There is also the attack on Red Skull's fortress, a motorcycle chase scene, and a fight on Red Skull's ship.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

It begins with a boat action sequence. Plus, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has a chase scene, Winter Solider fights, and there is a big sky battle with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).

Winner: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The best thing about The Winter Soldier is the meaningless action sequences. You know what I mean. Normally, the first 75 percent of a film's action scenes don't matter. They are just fun to look at. With The Winter Soldier there is tension and really cool stunts. Since Captain only has the shield (and not big-time weapons like Thor and Iron Man) he has to rely on his body more. The choreography from the stunt crew is great. I loved Nick Fury trying to get out of trouble and even though I didn't love Sam's dialogue, the flying suit is something I could spend more time with. In The First Avenger, it was fun seeing Captain fight without knowing his capabilities. The other sequences felt too familiar. With the motorcycle chase in the forest, I couldn't help but think of Return of the Jedi.

 

OVERALL WINNER: Captain America: The Winter Soldier beats Captain America: The First Avenger, 3-2.

What a fun film. That's what I take away from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Captain America: The First Avenger falls under the category of a fun idea that doesn't totally work. We finally have Nick Fury and Scarlet Widow getting some real playing time and making the most of it. Stan Lee has one of his better cameos as a Smithsonian guard. It's great to see films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3 entertain even with others missing the mark (I'm looking at you Thor: The Dark World). Now, if only I can find a super nerd to explain the first of the two postcredit endings so I know what's coming next in the Marvel movie universe.

 

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