Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
April 8, 2014
Kim Hollis: Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened to $95 million this weekend, roughly $30 million more than the first Captain America film. It also has already grossed more overseas - $207.1 million - than the first title managed during its entire run. What are your thoughts on the Captain America sequel's box office performance?
Edwin Davies: This is pretty stellar, and in some ways impresses me more than the performance of Thor: The Dark World or even Iron Man 3 did last year. The original Thor did about the same as the first Captain America domestically, but outperformed it considerably overseas, so its growth was impressive, but not exactly unexpected. And Iron Man was always the most popular of The Avengers, so while the jump from a $300+ million to $400+ million domestic finish was impressive, and its expansion overseas was spectacular, it wasn't exactly unforeseen.
Captain America, I thought, had a bigger struggle on both fronts. Overseas, the fact the character has "America" in his name is a little limiting, and the period setting, while novel, seemed out of step with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first film was also a little straight-laced and less funny than its fellow MCU compatriots, so the character might have seemed a little less interesting as a result. We've talked a lot about the way in which The Avengers super-charged the various component parts, and I always thought that the two characters that benefitted the most from inclusion were Hulk and Captain America, the former because he didn't have to shoulder the whole film and founder a third time, and the latter because he got to be wryly funny, and because the film played on the way he felt out of step with the times and the people he was meant to be working with. Captain America 1 introduced the character, but The Avengers made him interesting.
The marketing for The Winter Soldier played up both aspects; there was plenty of solid comedy in the ads, and there was a heavy emphasis on the conspiracy/mystery elements that underlined how uncertain Cap was about his place in the world, and particularly if he has to work with an organization whose methods he actively dislikes or mistrusts. The film also added in a cool bad guy in the eponymous soldier, which helps a lot, and the presence of Black Widow and Nick Fury gave it the feel of being like a mini-Avengers (Anthony Mackie even referred to it as The Avengers 1.5 in interviews). More than the other two post-Avengers releases, this one strikes me as the one which has most improved, and I won't be surprised if it winds up out-grossing Thor: The Dark World by a substantial margin, something I wouldn't have expected back in 2011 when the God of Thunder seemed like the top non-Tony Stark member of the gang.
Matthew Huntley: In terms of its box office, the sequel's performance thus far is amazing and already bodes well for the third film in the franchise, not to mention other Marvel-related superhero movies. In fact, a friend of mine informed me the Marvel/Disney power couple already has movies slated up through 2028 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier's numbers should only support this claim. With nearly a $100 million in one weekend in April, I wouldn't be surprised if the summer movie-going season moved up by a month.
But while its numbers are impressive, I was less enthusiastic about the movie itself, which is mostly standard superhero fare (conspiracy plot that interrupts the status quo/threatens security, new characters with special abilities, etc.). Don't get me wrong--the plot and characters are interesting, and the movie is never boring, but it doesn't make for a truly awesome experience. It's very familiar territory and once again, just as I felt after Thor 2, I think we're entering a period of superhero movie, particularly Marvel superhero movie, overload. I seem to be in the minority on this, though; if most people felt this way, I doubt Captain America and friends would have made such a big statement this weekend.