Defying a lot of early expectations, five of the most oddball characters ever to gain a mass audience the newest superheroes of the Marvelverse and, in Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the biggest hit movies of the year.
Given that the show had seemed near played out when it ended its eight-season run four years ago, the question is why the longest-running espionage TV series in history seems still to have a lot of life left in it 13 years after it first ran.
If you're keeping score at home, of the three Marvel comic-book movies so far this summer (a term I use advisedly for a season that technically doesn't start for another month), X-Men: Days of Future Past outranks Amazing Spider-Man 2 and is about on a par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
It was natural for the Russos to put Captain America in a political setting. They like to say they grew up in politics, because their father was a Cleveland city councilman and then a judge and their entire family is involved in politics.
On the spectrum of the Marvel Comics franchise films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn't reach the cinematic heights of the Raimi Spider-Mans or Whedon's The Avengers, but doesn't crater out anywhere near the Thor or Fantastic Four efforts.