It’s incredibly difficult to assign a grade to SHIELD’s inaugural season. I’m sold on the show now, but I’d given up halfway through until I’d heard it improved and Captain America 2 confirmed something had to be happening. The first half is fairly awful, with boring characters and weak stand-alone plots, like rejected X-Files episodes. Then Winter Soldier forced a change (though clearly in the works all along), and the show becomes episodic and suspenseful, full of great reveals and red herrings. The characters found their places, and the actors meshed. Even the fight choreography got notably better. It attempts Whedon-esque wit throughout, and the quips evoke more chuckles than groans. The addition of some fantastic actors, including Bill Paxton and cameos from Sam Jackson, Patton Oswalt, and Cobie Smulders, also did much to improve the show.
Captain America 2 felt more like a modern action thriller than a superhero film, and that is perfectly OK. It had all the slick melees, gunfights, and car chases you could ask for, never really giving the excitement time to wind down. Even Samuel L. Jackson finally gets a good action sequence. What downtime it does have is filled with Marvel-brand humor, so it flows by easily. Its only real fault is predictability, a fault which truthfully lies with the trailers and my knowledge of the comics, so it’s easily forgiven. It’s certainly better than the first film, and easily the best phase 2 Marvel film so far.
Avengers represents everything that is great about the summer blockbuster. It was witty, entertaining, and full of memorable moments. The characters were portrayed exactly as I’d hoped, with a surprising amount of depth given the limited amount of screen time available that comes from having such a large cast. My only real complaint was that the enemy aliens were fairly bland, though to counter that, their big snake ship things were fairly awesome.
This movie-sequel just didn’t capture that familiar absurdity that the original miniseries did. The weak plot and pointlessly resurrected characters lost their appeal, and the forcibly inserted new characters were scraped from the bottom of the writer’s creative pool. Still some great action scenes though.
I haven’t watched any significant amount of anime in a long time and a show this fun had me questioning why. Granted, it’s not really anime, but all the conventions were there, and they were done well. It was unique, extremely well made, and wonderfully entertaining. I’m not sure why it took me so long to give it a chance but I’m glad I finally did.
Captain America offers no surprises and no scene truly wowed me. That said, I wasn’t at all disappointed. It took a while for him to really get down to the real Captain America-ing, but that was ok, since that time was spent building interesting characters. Hugo Weaving was great as Red Skull but his accent wavered, and that’s being generous. I also really liked how it began to tie everything together for Avengers, such as the elder Stark and Norse references. Forgoing a scene post-credits for an Avengers trailer however, was not cool.