#AvengerinTraining – Captain America Week

Finishing Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Entering the final week, I felt strong. Stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I discovered muscles I didn’t know could ache. I had better balance and control in my workouts. And since Captain America is my very favorite Avenger, I’d been looking forward to this week since the beginning of this challenge. And this week certainly did not disappoint!! It was an amazing finish to an amazing 6 weeks of focus and determination. I’m not an actress! And I’ll probably never be in a big budget action film. I’ll never have a crazy six pack or weigh 140 pounds. But I lost 15 pounds on this program and I have felt healthier than I ever have before! And that is success.

Week 6: Captain America Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Steve Rogers, an average man with above average morals and a desire to do more than he was born to do. After joining the Army, Rogers was given a “Super Soldier Serum” that transformed him from a small town Brooklyn boy into the superhero known as Captain America.

To become what he needed to be to play the Super Soldier, Chris Evans packed on 30 pounds of muscle and spent a lot of time in the gym training as he never had before. Take a look over at BodyBuilding.com for the full report.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all obvious. And if there’s on other comic book hero that will bring that all-American spirit, it’s DC Comic’s Superman. The alien who started it all. Without Supes there might be no Cap. And just imagine that sad, sad world!!

Music

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap comes back the world but is out of his time and has missed decades of pop culture, music, movies, etc. To try and catch up, Cap keeps a running list of things that people suggest he see or do or listen to. I tried to add some of the music to this list that Cap might have missed in the decades he spent in the ice. Including Falcon’s suggestion, Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.

Meals

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I really loved having steak back on my shopping list!! Thanks Chris Evans!! Take a look at Evans’ meal plan at BodyBuilding.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

I chose an army crawl challenge for Captain America Week for the obvious reason. Before becoming Captain America, puny Steve Rogers joins the army to try to make something more out of himself, not knowing at the time what that would mean for him in the long run. So army crawls it was!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 2 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 2: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 3: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 6: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Day 7: 6 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)

Extra Credit

Boxing @ Church Street Boxing Gym

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Photo from Church Street Boxing Gym

This was my favorite class of the entire 6 week program. I’d never taken a full on boxing class before. Church Street Boxing Gym is everything a boxing gym should be. It’s in the basement of a building in downtown Manhattan. There are pictures plastered on the walls, a giant ring in the middle of the gym and punching bags hanging around every corner. Church Street offers a free intro class and it was so great! Best workout of the entire series. I love that they allow you to start punching the bags right away. Halfway through the class we were hitting the bags. I gotta tell you, it’s addictive and after all the other classes I’ve taken, I would sign up to do this weekly!!

Parkour @ Brooklyn Zoo

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Photo from Brooklyn Zoo

Parkour, for those of you who don’t know this word, is a form of free running. You’ll often see it in high speed action chases in movies/ TV like: Casino Royale, Arrow and of course Captain America. It’s the art of being able to handle any challenge that comes in your path as you run. Jumping, swinging, ducking. Throwing your body into the movements needed to keep your momentum up. Brooklyn Zoo specializes in a lot of amazing high intensity classes. And their parkour class did not disappoint!!! If I thought the boxing class or the cirque class was intense, I was mistaken after taking this!!! Another class I would definitely try again sometime. And their gym is really cool!! Classes are $20 if you pre register online. Give it a try and stretch yourself far beyond what you think you can accomplish!

Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow WeekThor Week and Hawkeye Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Hawkeye Week

Pushing Through

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After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

Week 5: Hawkeye Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.

Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.

Music

Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.

Meals

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For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)

Weekly Workout Challenge

To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!

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Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

-200 crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Extra Credit

Archery @ Big Apple Archery

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I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!

Sports Conditioning @ Velocity Gym

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Photo from Velocity Sports Performance

Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!

Stay tuned for the following Avenger: Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow Week and Thor Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Black Widow Week

Going Strong

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 3 I felt like I could take on the world. My muscles were aching  because I was constantly using them in new ways. My endurance was getting better. My eating was clean and really healthy!! It’s the healthiest I’d ever felt. And I loved it!! An added bonus, my skin was looking so great cause of all the water I was drinking. Food started to become fuel. I loved Week 3!!

Week 3: Black Widow Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2. Using the alias Natalie Rushman, she was placed in Stark’s circle of trust by none of than Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., himself.  Natasha was originally trained to be an assassin in the KGB, but after Hawkeye was sent to eliminate her, by Nick Fury, he saw her potential and convinced Fury to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. When Loki threatened Earth, she joined Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop the impending threat.

To prepare for the r0le of Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson turned to trainer Bobby Storm to get her in shape and able to fit into her signature catsuit. Check out the full breakdown over at HealthyCeleb.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Still keeping both Avengers and Age of Ultron on the list, because Black Widow really has a chance to shine in both films. Iron Man 2 is where she’s introduced to the franchise and while it’s an extremely weak entry into the MCU, ScarJo has a really kick ass scene that you can feel free to fast forward to (if fast forwarding were still a thing… clearly I’m old.) I’ve also added Lucy to the list, in which Scarlett plays… you guessed it, an extremely bad ass female! She’s really good at that! Speaking of ladies who kick butt… I’ve added Wanted and Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the list for Black Widow week because if there is another female actress out there who could be on the team with the rest of the Avengers, it would be Angelina Jolie. Let these movies also motivate you to get in shape!!

Music

This list is comprised of music from The Avengers and a lot of music that puts me in a bad ass female state of mind.

Meals

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Head back over to HealthyCeleb.com to see the full report of Scarlett’s weekly meal plan, I based my sh0pping list on hers and then, once again, just made up my own meals with the ingredients.

Weekly Workout Challenge

For Black Widow Week, I focused on the booty and did a Squat challenge.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 20 Squats

Day 2: 30 Squats

Day 3: 20 Squats (2 reps)

Day 4: 25 Squats (2 reps)

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 30 Squats (2 reps)

Day 7: 40 Squats (2 reps)

Extra Credit

Cirque Class @ The Art of Fitness

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Photo from The Art of Fitness

I fell head over heels in love with this class. I’d never tried any sort of class on the silks like Aerial Yoga or Cirque or anything of that nature before. And let me tell you… it was certainly a challenge! We started doing floor work to get the feel for the movements that would be employed while in the air on the silks. Once our muscles were loosened, we went up on the silks and started climbing. I made it to the ceiling a few times and felt so powerful when I got up there (coming back down was a little different experience.) But after a few climbs I really started to get the hang of it. And then the instructor had us do a flip which was really fun but super difficult. If you’ve never been on the silks before it’s a really humbling experience to watch a class full of people who have done this before and be one of 2 new people to the class. We all need a little humbling every once in a while. Cirque class at The Art of Fitness is $20 and after doing a lot of research, this is one of the more reasonable rates in the greater NYC area. So worth the money!! I will definitely try this class again!!

Muay Thai @ Sitan Gym

Photo from Sitan Gym
Photo from Sitan Gym

One of the crafts Black Widow has mastered is Mixed Martial Arts. In order to be considered proficient in MMA, one must study many different forms of martial arts. So I started with Muay Thai which is a form of Kickboxing. I took class at Sitan Gym in Astoria. It was a very full class and again, I was one of 2 new students to the class. I really liked how they managed the new students. They throw you in with everyone else, but then there is a secondary instructor to help newbs with the movements. I enjoyed this because I like to do workout movements correctly, as you can really injure yourself if you don’t do things the right way. Sitan offers a free introductory class. Give it a try!!!

Other options for Black Widow Week:

Kickboxing

Barre Class

Ballet

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Thor, Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week and Hulk week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. part deux

In honor of all the big news coming out of Marvel Studios this week, I wanted to post about the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. If you don’t know what news I’m talking about then click here, or here, or here, or here. But seriously… if you don’t know, then I suspect you’ve just emerged from that cave you’ve been living in and probably have many other shocking things to deal with like the fact that they no longer make Pepsi Clear and that Kimye is an actual word people say nowadays! I have many thoughts on this news and I will expound on it a little later after I’ve dissected it and assimilated the information. TOO MANY THOUGHTS… all of them amazing!!! (CAPTAIN FREAKIN MARVEL!)

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A couple months ago I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit at Discovery Times Square, before it was fully up and running. And last weekend they invited me back to see it now that it’s completed.
It was cool before. It is awesome now!! Make sure to get tickets: Click Here!

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You start your tour by getting issued your very own S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent badge with your name and your probationary agent status. As you start your tour you are debriefed by a fellow agent and given instructions about what to do. First Avenger up is Captain America (rightly so.) Test your strength and stats against Steve Rogers.

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See if your Gamma radiation count is anywhere close to Bruce Banner’s. Explore the stars of the Nine Realms and the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard.

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And experience the advanced technology of Stark Industry’s flight simulator. The technology in this part of the exhibit was particularly impressive! They track your body movements so that they can put the Ironman suit on you in virtual reality and then you can move around and manipulate the movements of the Ironman on the screen. Including firing at targets and simulated take off! Very fun!

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It’s an immersive experience made for children and Marvel loving adults alike.
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Thank you to the PR teams at DKC Public Relations and Discovery Times Square for setting up our tour!!

The Good, The Bad and The Bigger Problem

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This weekend I went to see Marvel’s live show at the Barclay Center. And let me begin by saying that it was amazing! The costumes, the sets, the background CG work, the stunts, the pyrotechnics. It was a complete joy ride!

And with the partnership of characters that we can only dream of seeing in the MCU. The usual players were present: Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Wido, Hawkeye, Ironman, Falcon, Nick Fury and Maria Hill. Add to that a few favorite mutants: Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm. And of course the web-slinger himself (and incidental crowd favorite) Spiderman. And let’s not forget the best addition of all… Captain freakin’ Marvel!! Talk about fangirl moment, I love me some Carol Danvers!

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And the good side wasn’t the only side peppered with the fairer sex. Black Cat and Madame Hydra joined villains like Red Skull, Loki and the rest of the Sinister Six: Green Goblin, Rhino, Lizard, Doc Ock and Electro. Along with Whiplash and a passel of Chitauri baddies.

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The entire show was entertaining from beginning to end. And it was epic to see so many favorite characters on stage together.

Here comes the ugly. Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy came out, women and girls everywhere have been asking #WheresGamora. Sadly the promotional product available in the lobby has left me asking the same question.

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Yes, I understand that in years past, the comic book world has been a predominantly male one. But times are a changing. And that doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen and more than that, it should happen!

It’s starting to feel as if Marvel doesn’t believe that boys will want toys and other products if a female appeared on it. Call me optimistic, but I can’t believe that’s true.

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I sat next to a lovely family of 3: mom, dad and son. And the son was trying to convince his mom to dress up with him for Halloween in Marvel Universe characters. In eager anticipation, this mom bought a tattoo sleeve in the lobby just to fuel her excitement about dressing up for Halloween for the first time as an adult. When she pulled the sleeve out, not a single female hero was to be found on it, to her and my dismay and yes, even her son’s dismay, “Mom, where’s Black Widow?”

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I have to ask a question, Marvel… you know boys like girls right? In fact, I believe that seeing strong representations of females in an embodiment they understand could only have a positive effect of our young men. Imagine young boys growing up knowing that women are just as strong and powerful as men are. And in Captain Marvel’s case, more powerful than some! (Chick can fly!)

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Listen, everybody understands that change is hard and takes time. The fact that there was more than just one female hero in the show was a great start. But time is up and now you need to step up your game!

Girls don’t just want girl toys. I want a Captain Marvel figure as much as I want a Captain America one. And I have a feeling that if treated correctly, you’d find boys don’t just want boy toys either!

#WheresGamora

#WheresBlackWidow

#WheresCaptainMarvel

#Wherearemyladies

Change is coming and I don’t know if you’ve heard yet but… Girls sort of Rule!!

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At the end of the day, it’s a great show worth seeing!! So if it comes near you, go! You won’t regret it.

Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

The brand new Discovery Times Square exhibit from Marvel is fun, interactive and just plain cool.

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Last Thursday I was invited to the sneak preview of this exhibit and let me say, it is worth it!

You start by walking into a pure white room. Then you’re treated to a little recap of the Avengers.

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Then it’s off to the debriefing room. Where your mission is explained to you.

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Next is a testing station where you can test your strength against Steve Rogers’ and see if you are fit for duty.

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There are costumes and props from the movies. As well as beautifully constructed sets that make you feel apart of the Avengers.

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There were still a few bugs being worked out when I was there, so I will absolutely pay to go back and see it fully functioning.

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Go check it out and let me know what you think!

The Best and Brightest: Captain America 2

I know Captain America 2 is old news by now, but I went to see it for a second time this week and realized I hadn’t blogged about it yet. So here goes…

Captain America is my very favorite Avenger. He represents the best in all of us. He is also the Avenger with the most honest and true heart. And Marvel is at it’s best when it displays an equal amount of action and heart (infused with a seriously epic soundtrack! Provided here by Henry Jackman.) Cap has friends in high and low places and knows just when to call on each. He may be in the dark about what’s going on in the big picture but he doesn’t let that stop him from making the best decisions with knowledge he does have. And when put to the test, Cap always comes out on the side of truth, justice and… you know the rest!

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America,  in Captain America The Winter Soldier

Also, this was the first time I actually liked Black Widow for more than just her ability to kick serious ass. Scar-Jo generally comes off as slutty secretary (though a ass kicking one at that) to me, but when heroes go on the lam, there is a certain vulnerability that comes with it that was delightful to watch. Cap, Black Widow and Nick Fury all are “taken down” (we all know they’ll get back up again) by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the sinister efforts of Hydra. They are each confronted with the realities of a world without restraint. Without checks and balances. An agency that believes it can make preemptive decisions with no consequences. What happens when that agency is one you are working for. What happens when that agency is the very thing that saved you. Which side do you choose? Great concepts to explore and deeper than bad guy vs good guy!

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And don’t even get me started on Sebastian Stan!! His Winter Soldier presents the perfect dichotomy to offset Cap’s righteous do-good attitude. The Winter Soldier has also been told that he is fighting for the better side. He too has been lied to. Bucky Barnes is equal parts hard hitting assassin and tortured soldier just following orders. The best villains (in my opinion) are the ones that we wish we could save. The ones we still see that glimmer of good in. The ones who push that aside and end up becoming evil anyways. The Lex Luthors (Smallville style, just wants to be friends with Clark and know his secrets), the Loki’s (only wants to be loved and accepted by his father), the Darth Vaders (redemption comes when his son is put in mortal danger), The Walter White’s (trying to good for his family till he realizes he enjoys being bad and embraces it.) Villains with depth and with layers. And The Winter Soldier may as well be an onion. Cause layers… he’s got em!

First shot I've seen of the Winter Soldier from Captain America 2...he looks so badass!!

All the other players in the game brought it as well. Cobie Smulder’s Agent Maria Hill was back and in the thick of the secrets. Now that HIMYM has ended, there should be a place for her over at ABC on Agents of SHIELD, especially now that it is getting unmissable!! Because her character is a great addition to the Marvel Universe. And anytime you throw Emily VanCamp into the mix… you’ve made a good choice. She’s great at duplicity. Turn on Revenge and see just how good. VanCamp’s Sharon Carter is the niece of Cap’s first love, Peggy Carter. Can’t wait to see the progression of her character! Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is a great side kick for Cap. He stands on his own two feet and compliments Cap’s dynamic at the same time. He’s exactly what you want from a side kick. So much good to talk about. Robert Redford as the baddie at the helm of the Hydra revolution is pure logical evil and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nicholas J. Fury has never been better as the dead and revived secret keeping agent in charge of the good guys.

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Agent 13/Sharon Carter poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (So excited for another BAMF Marvel heroine - fingers-crossed that she's as amazing as her aunt, Peggy Carter.)

Movie poster Photoshop fails - Yahoo Celebrity Philippines

Spoilers…

Let’s discuss the easter eggs they threw our way. Anyone else get super excited when they mentioned Steven Strange? Or how about the tag in the middle of the credits with “the twins.” A.k.a… Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch. Epic!! Cannot wait to see them debuted in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While other franchises lose power as they continue to beat the proverbial dead horse of sequel after sequel, Marvel just gets better with age. And I would put Captain America 2 at the top of the stand alone Avengers films. Only eclipsed by Avengers itself (cause dude… all Avengers are better than just one. But in Caps case… only by a little.)