Captain America: The Winter Solider; the return of America’s first Avenger
By Heather Nichols, a Contributor to The Tawfik Zone
Not so long ago comic-book inspired movies were just summer blockbuster action flicks with cheesy dialogue, over the top characters and big boss fight scenes all aimed at a young male audience looking for something with enough action to amuse them and tame enough to bring a date to. Since Marvel studios started producing films all set in the same universe inspired by the comics but applied to modern times, this has upped the ante for what a superhero movie should be.
Starting in 2008 with the release of Marvel’s Iron Man, which one could attribute at least in part to the success of DC Comic’s inspired Batman Begins in 2005, the playing field was changed. Both fans of the comic books and movie-goers have been treated to well written, action-packed adaptations such as Thor, The Avengers, Ironman 3 and Thor the Dark World.
The newest addition, Captain America Winter Soldier builds upon this universe even further with a 95 year old hero, previously frozen at the start of the Avengers, and now living in a post 9-11 world. Some of the scenes are humorous with some of the dialogue falling into the category of cheesy. Overall the story itself has adapted beautifully from the comics and been modernized in an appropriate way.
It is important to have seen both the first Captain America movie and the Avengers before you see this sequel. To recap, Captain America is set during WWII when a young man, Steve Rogers has been rejected multiple times to join the army due to his poor health and meek physical appearance. Rogers, played by Chris Evans, is noticed by a scientist for his outstanding character when he answers the question, “You want to kill some Nazis?” with “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just can’t stand bullies no matter where they’re from.” From here he is selected to undergo a procedure that will give him super human strength and transform him into a super soldier.
With his newfound strength he avenges the of the man who gave him his power, and peruses the killer, who is part of the evil HYDRA, an organization connected to the Nazi party. After the final confrontation with the Red Skull the Captain’s plane crashes into the water and he is frozen for many years until SHIELD, a secret agency for which the super heroes work, finds and restores him. The Avengers unites him with Earth’s (and Asgard’s) finest champions to save the world from a deadly alien invasion. The main thing to take away is that he has been recruited into SHIELD and Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, is one of his allies.
At the start of Winter Soldier, Rogers is living in D.C. and working on missions for SHIELD while adapting to the modern world; we are even treated to a glimpse of his “to-do” list. Rogers learns that SHIELD is trying to combat terrorism with large weapons that have been created for no particular target. Rogers objects to this coercive invasion of freedom. Shortly after the head of SHIELD, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), is attacked, the rest of the film is a pursuit to find the perp and the identity of the mysterious Winter Soldier who was present at the time of the attack.
The actors reprising their roles from previous films again make their characters totally believable. New to the cast is veteran actor Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, who fans of the comics will recognize as a minor character from the Marvel universe; due to Redford’s presence, the role has significantly been beefed up. As the friend, colleague and mentor to Nick Fury Redford is fantastic in this role. The Marvel films recruit great talent for these roles that easily could have been minor blips on the screen (the previous film utilized Tommy Lee Jones as Roger’s commanding officer).
Another new actor to the franchise is Anthony Mackie as Sam, aka the Falcon. He serves as a sidekick to the Captain but is not comedic like Robin in the Batman series. He joins the Captain because he believes in a similar cause and as a fellow former soldier, he has a connection with the protagonist on another level that other characters, such as the Black Widow who is more notable as a spy, do not. Overall it is a solid cast.
Anthony and Joe Russo direct this film in a similar tone to the other Marvel Films. I will say that there are a few things this film did that are arguably better than in The Avengers. The film keeps a consistently entertaining pace despite its more than two hour running time. Also there is attention to a detail a lot of fans noticed in Avengers. In the final fight scene everyone is communicating without wearing ear pieces. On the other hand, Winter Soldier has no shortage of ear pieces.
Captain America Winter Soldier has put into play the last piece of the puzzle before the Avengers sequel next summer. The other noteworthy aspect of this film is how dark it is willing to delve into the suspicion and corruption of government agencies. It is a bold move that pays off spectacularly, creating a smart spy-thriller. Overall, it is potentially the best film Marvel has offered up to date. Of the trio of Captain America films, I’d say this one is the strongest as a standalone for its brilliant acting, clever script and its treatment of the modern issue of security and terrorism. I give this film a 4.5/5.