liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I've never really quite had time to get into the Marvel franchise, but I really like a lot of the fandom response I see drifting past me on Tumblr and to some extent my DW network. And I was over at [personal profile] jack's for the weekend and he happened to have Captain America: the Winter Soldier in his rental queue. He reckoned it was probably accessible to someone who hadn't watched the whole rest of the series, so I decided to give it a go.

And we watched about the first hour and a half and then paused the DVD to get up and pee. And at that point I realized that there were any number of things I'd rather be doing than watching the rest of that film, so we gave up and did other things instead. ([personal profile] jack was ok with watching the ending after I'd headed back to Stoke).

Basically, I just couldn't bring myself to care about anything. The characters seemed to have no depth or complexity. I didn't care enough about S.H.I.E.L.D to be invested in the fact that the agency had been infiltrated, and I pretty much guessed the identity of the "mysterious" Winter Soldier even though I have no real background in the mythos. I wasn't moved or shocked by Nick Fury's assassination, I was only mildly disappointed that having that character played by Samuel L Jackson didn't prevent the cliché of the African-American mentor figure getting fridged to give the blond hero some motivation. There were lots of explosions and shoot-outs and the obligatory car chase, but I found them so dull I was mainly noticing flaws in the CGI (the whole thing looks like being inside a fairly generic FPS computer game) rather than getting emotionally involved.

I don't think the problem was unfamiliarity with the franchise. All the characters kept explaining direct to camera what was going on and how they were feeling. If anything the film was almost too accessible; even as someone who isn't in superhero fandom at all, I felt talked down to. I tried to relax and enjoy it as just a big dumb action movie, but I was bored or irritated a lot more than I was excited or moved. So even the combination of sunk cost fallacy and narrative drive which usually means I always read or watch all the way to the end wasn't enough to keep me from wandering off half way through.

Basically, I like the version I'd glimpsed through fandom a lot better. The apparently entirely imaginary film that really explores what it would be like for a superhero veteran from WW2 to suddenly wake up in 2014. And where the Black Widow has a really interesting past as a former Russian spy and is genuinely morally ambivalent, rather than just looking sexy and pouty in very tight clothing. Where the friendship / bromance between Captain America and the extremely cute Anthony Mackie's Falcon takes centre stage rather than Mackie just being a minor comic relief character.

In general, feh.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 01:09 pm (UTC)
jae: (filmgecko)
From: [personal profile] jae
Yes, I have also learned the hard way that I need to watch that sort of film through the eyes of my friends rather than making the effort myself.

-J

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 01:11 pm (UTC)
pretty_panther: (bm: joker)
From: [personal profile] pretty_panther
I think it is a film that does require the rest of the films to emotionally connect to the characters. Sure the plot makes sense but I think the understanding of the charactres comes from the previous ones. I don't think you can emotionally connect with the Bucky and Steve aspect if you haven't watched Captain America the First Avenge. However, I do think comic based movies are a very marmite sort of thing. You're either going to love them or be thoroughly bored. I love marvel and Batman but Superman puts me to sleep like nothing else. XD

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 07:12 pm (UTC)
rysmiel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rysmiel
I'm sure you've seen me rant before about how annoying it is when superhero films spend half their running time retelling the origin story yet again, because it seems to me that for any given character anyone cares about enough to see a film about, the origin story is the thing that they are most likely to already know: I am not convinced that the perpetual-second-act feeling of more recent Marvel films like Winter Soldier is actually an improvement on that, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-02 01:04 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Contemporary Lois Lane with cellphone (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerrypolka
Yeah, at this point I'm considering the Marvel films as a really, really, really big-budget ongoing miniseries.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-02 03:43 pm (UTC)
rysmiel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rysmiel
[profile] tnh is interesting on this topic as well, I think "perpetual second act" may be her phrase originally; it's a genre full of soap-opera-type middle and retellings of beginning but with endings really rare and notable.

I can see some beginnings as worth retelling - Grant Morrison's All Star Superman, which is far and away the best Superman comic of recent years, gets all the essence of the relevant origin down in four panels and eight words (here). As Superman origin retellings go, though, Smallville running to ten seasons and over two hundred episodes is a concept I am deeply unconvinced by.
Edited Date: 2014-10-02 03:44 pm (UTC)
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 01:36 pm (UTC)
simont: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simont
Speaking of nerding on the wrong subjects, hooray for bizarre centre-embedding!

(Even if Samuel L. Jackson were dead, his tombstone would surely find it difficult to play a character in a movie. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 06:02 pm (UTC)
simont: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simont
Oops, sorry about that :-/

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 03:32 pm (UTC)
rochvelleth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rochvelleth
I had this problem with the first Captain America film. With some superhero films, it just feels to me as though they have made the wrong decisions about how to pitch them.

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy, another Marvel universe film? I went with James to see that fearing that it would suffer from my usual problems with superhero franchise films, and was most impressed with characterisation, plot, cinematography and especially the writing and directing.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 07:08 pm (UTC)
rysmiel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rysmiel
It's not bad at some aspects of popcorn adventure and stuff blowing up but its gender stuff is really egregiously annoying.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 04:57 pm (UTC)
kaberett: On May the 3rd 2013, an Adelie penguin looks REALLY UNPLEASANTLY SURPRISED and slightly flaily with its flippers. (HOLY SHIT)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
YOU WANT [personal profile] recessional'S YOUR BLUE-EYED BOYS

I GIVE NOT THE TINIEST OF SHITS ABOUT MCU BUT THAT FIC

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 04:58 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
by which I mean "I have never seen any of them and have approximately 0 interest in doing so and had pretty much no idea of ANY of the backstory going into YBEB, and it still regularly reduced me to tears and has made me feel substantially more okay about being me and er now I accidentally some of the other fic in the fandom occasionally tooooooo? >_>"

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 05:14 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
I would be only too delighted to give you sufficient backstory on any point you get confused on, having picked it up myself :-) You know where to find me!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 06:52 pm (UTC)
zhelana: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zhelana
In fairness, Fury lives.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-01 07:21 pm (UTC)
rysmiel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rysmiel
I think somewhere along the creative process someone lost sight of the difference between having a character come back who has been established as dead for the last forty years of the comic, and having a character come back when you only established him as being dead earlier in the same movie. Not sure the first could be duplicated by the second at all, but this film didn't even feel to be trying. I have always thought that Captain America is a fundamentally dull character, so accurately transferring that to the movie is a success of sorts I suppose.

There are weird things going on tonally with the Marvel movies that I kind of admire technically without necessarily liking - the thing that most impressed me about The Avengers was how well it works as a joint sequel to four separate movies about individual characters with quite distinct tones. This one felt like it was trying to do 70s political thriller (of the sort whose hour has come round again) with an existing universe that's not really fine-grained enough for it.

Also, the first two-thirds or so of the first season of Agents of SHIELD is constrained by having to do build-up for this movie without giving away any spoilers at all, and that show gets remarkably much better once it gets up to parallel with and aftermath of Winter Soldier. (Mind you, that is a remarkable improvement from "really pretty terrible" to "sort of OK unambitious mindless fun" so don't mistake that for an actual recommendation.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-02 12:10 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Contemporary Lois Lane with cellphone (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerrypolka
I quite enjoyed it but I do think it was helped by having seen two previous Marvel films; even if the characters are explaining to you who they are and how they feel, you're familiar with them and have experienced other stories with them. (Also I suspect my tolerance for being explained to in films is higher than yours, having grown up American.) Possibly it's just that I generally like Earnest Do-Gooder!: But Good Is Complicated? stories a lot.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-02 03:08 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Contemporary Lois Lane with cellphone (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerrypolka
Yeah, and again I think it helps to have experienced the other Marvel films, in which SHIELD is the organisation everyone works for or is somehow involved with, and that's been ticking along in the background as a simple establishing part of the 'superhero setting'. Then suddenly CATWS pulls back and starts engaging with it critically as a potentially dodgy autocratic secret organisation - which it has been all along, of course, but only been treated as 'ah yes, the handwavey Superhero Company that cuts everyone's paychecks, cool, moving on'.

Basically as I talk about it more I realise the main point is that it doesn't make sense without the context of the rest of the series! On the other hand if you want to try canon again at some point, the first Captain America does work as a standalone (I think...) and has a similar EDG:BGIC? story. Also a song-and-dance number!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-03 02:52 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
I've seen a few MCU movies, and I am pretty much am right there with you.

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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