The patriotism of WWII glory has been replaced with a gritty paranoia in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel Studios and Disney return to the silver screen with their newest movie in the Avengers franchise on March 4. The movie begins with Steven Rogers (Chris Evans), better known as the Captain, still struggling to come to grips with his life in the 21st century. Rogers, formerly the pillar of service, has become disillusioned by S.H.I.E.L.D and the secrecy of the organization.
During an ops mission Rogers pairs up with Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) for some quick ass-kicking action. Black Widow uses her sultry spy training to steal some confidential information from the very ship they are supposed to be saving and when Rogers catches her, he is less than thrilled. Black Widow is quick to refer to a separate mission from HBA, Head Bad-Ass, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Rogers, as Captain and mission lead, demands answers from Fury and what he finds out leaves him more confused than ever as to why he continues to serve. This is where running buddy/fellow vet Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), comes in. As a former para-infantry slider Wilson is the first character that understands Rogers conflicting feelings of duty towards his country.
Some may recall that the original Captain America film was done in WWII style, paying homage to the Captain’s glory days. The Winter Solider has very obvious references to 70’s espionage movies. The most outright nod of course is the casting of Robert Redford, known for his spy/paranoia films of yesteryear. Redford stars as Alexander Pierce, friend of Fury, and powerful politician in S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Captain America: The Winter Solider, not only do fans get a fuller image of the first avenger but this is also the first film in which Fury is allowed to shine. In prior films Fury has seemed as little more than an accessory with a few compulsory lines but here Jackson is allowed to shine as the film delves deeper into the history of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fans will also be happy to see more of the multi-faceted Black Widow, who reveals she is more than just a beautiful spy.
As far as sequels go The Winter Solider is nearly flawless and to call it action packed would be a gross understatement. Marvel and Disney have managed a solid story line with fluid introductions to new characters like Wilson and Agent 13. The actual dialogue can seem a little stoic and awkward at times but incredibly talented actors do their best to make it work. The score also served to add a new dimension to the in the film. At one particularly nail biting scene under a bridge it is the score that shines and ups the suspense before the action kicks in.
There are certainly some bold decisions as far as plot lines go and at one point in the film it looks like the end of the franchise for both the Captain and the Avengers but as every fan knows it takes a little more than a beating to keep these super heroes down. In another daring decision the writers choose to make romance an underlying subject versus a key factor as it is for other supers like Thor. In The Winter Solider, friendship takes center stage and the Captain is presented as a team player not just a sex symbol, although Evans does a great job at looking effortlessly attractive.
Where The Winter Solider really shines is it’s overarching themes, in no other movie has Marvel challenged the current systems of government and military power. At one point in the movie it seems S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to launch air carriers that serve to eliminate any potential “threats” whether they be terrorist, or high school valedictorians. These aircrafts sound startling like the drones that are actually being used by the U.S. government today. Whether the film intentionally does it or not it certainly addresses many privacy issues Americans face today. The result is astoundingly positive as it makes the Captain seem like a greater hero and an actual person.
For new fans, Captain America is pretty easy to follow. From the start of the film it is obvious that Rogers is more capable than the average man. He sets himself up as a righteous hero from the get so picking up the storyline follows pretty easily. Most of the villains are new so while knowledge of the Marvel Universe will certainly help, it’s not necessary.
Speaking of villains, this is really the film to watch before the upcoming Avengers flick. In addition to the title character, the Winter Solider, there are a variety of other baddies that will carry into future films, some of which will definitely surprise viewers. Even fans of the comic books will be shocked by a few of the villains in this movie, so make sure to pay attention or risk missing the foreshadowing the filmmakers left throughout the movie.
Without spoiling too much, The Winter Solider should be a familiar face to those who partook in the first Captain America film. As far as villains go he, much like Loki of Thor and Avengers, is a complex character. It is impossible to hate him, especially with those steely blue eyes, but he also is responsible for some big “deaths” in the film making him really hard to like. As the movie progresses it seems everyone, including the Captain, wants to believe the Winter Solider is more than a villain.
Viewers who stick around after the credits will be treated to two additional scenes that tease upcoming avengers movie The Age of Ultron and Captain America III. The latter of the tow will be a direct competitor for DC’s Batman Vs. Superman, both currently set to release in May 2016. As the comic book franchises go head to head it will be interesting to see if Marvel can continue to stay on top with their productions. In the past Marvel has dominated the summer box office with their releases and this summer looks to be no different. Guardians of the Galaxy, staring Chris Pratt, is on deck for an August 1 release, with Ant Man and the Avenger following summer 2015.
All images courtesy of Marvel.com