As someone that waited very, very patiently until the end of “Phase One” so I could secure the Marvel Cinematic Universe complete box set, I’ve grown to expect a lot from Marvel Studios when it comes to the home video release of their films. They may have started weak, but as the universe expanded, so did the content for the fans. Extensive featurettes, director commentaries, sneak peeks at the upcoming films, the fan-favorite “Marvel One-Shot” set within their cinematic universe, there was nothing to complain about. Now enter Captain America: The Winter Soldier, praised by many to be one of the best if not the crown jewel of the Marvel Studios stable, which offers some of the weakest additional content since the days of The Incredible Hulk.
One thing that is very important about this release, and that which some will only care about, is that the film looks fantastic. The picture is as crisp as it was when the film debuted, and in fact I noticed more detail in some sequences than when I saw the movie in the theater. Sound is always a critical component of Blu-ray releases in my opinion and the audio for “Winter Soldier” is flawless. This might be the finest looking film of “Phase 2” thus far.
Now that I’ve gotten my gushing about the actual film out of the way, let’s scratch our heads at the special features. There are three featurettes for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a ten-minute behind-the-scenes look that mostly examines the stunt work, a two-minute piece on Anthony Mackie, and a two-and-a-half minute piece on Steve Rogers’ notebook. The piece on the stunt work is pretty interesting from a behind-the-scenes perspective, as it offers fans a look into what it takes to stage and prep for some of these monstrous sequences, but stars Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans barely speak, and why was it cut down to just ten minutes? Thor: The Dark World got a thirty-minute featurette on brothers Thor and Loki, so why we don’t even get one minute about Steve and Bucky for a film that arguably has bigger repercussions on those characters’ relationship?
The Anthony Mackie featurette, again only two minutes long, starts out informative and interesting but then quickly becomes a half-gag reel. It’s cute and funny but largely content free. Steve’s Notebook is an interesting piece, and something that I wouldn’t have thought of to include for additional material, as it guides viewers through what Steve’s notebook looks like in the different parts of the world. While an interesting segment this doesn’t so much tell us more about the movie as it just provides filler for the anemic bonus features section.
There are a few other things included on the release such as a chuckle worthy gag-reel and four deleted scenes. Those deleted scenes are pretty interesting to watch as a fan and are surprisingly one of the better additions, a testament to how the movie is overall, because even its deleted scenes are spectacular. Normally it’s easy to tell why something was cut from the film, still the case here, but these bits at least provide small asterisks to sequences in the film that fans will find interesting, especially with the commentaries.
The best part of the “Winter Soldier” Blu-ray, as I’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios releases, is the filmmaker commentary. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo sit with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for a rather interesting peek behind the curtain in one of the most packed commentaries for the MCU. As far as film commentaries go, this one is pretty much for the uber fan. Those only casually interested in the movie might find themselves bored with the content, which is largely joke free unlike Shane Black or Joss Whedon’s commentaries, but from the perspective of a film nut it’s everything you could want. Stories about the production and development of the film, how they decided on which characters and who almost wasn’t in the movie, down to the films they blatantly admit they ripped off for the movie, it’s a fairly educational listen.
There’s plenty to like about the Captain America: The Winter Soldier Blu-ray–a great looking film, some cute bonus materials, and a great commentary–but there’s also plenty to scratch your head over. I expect a lot from Marvel for their Blu-rays and normally they don’t disappoint, so why such an anemic offering for one of their best films? Is it because they know we all like it and we’ll buy it anyway? What we’re given is mostly fine content, though sometimes bordering on “why is this in here?,” but I know that Marvel can do better.