Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivers superior Marvel Studios effort
Captain America: The Winter Soldier emerges as the best Marvel Studios film to date. It’s a fascinating superhero hybrid. Winter Soldier features the humor and wall to wall action of Marvel’s The Avengers. Beyond that, it features a plot that is both a throwback to a 70s spy thriller. Winter Soldier also has a contemporary feel with a modern commentary on government privacy invasions. It’s got it all.
Marvel Studios films have stayed on the side of over-the-top comic book sized action. Winter Soldier marks a far more sophisticated turn with darker, mature themes. Yet it retains every bit of the larger than life spirit of its predecessors.
After the battle of New York, Captain America (Chris Evans) is slowly acclimating to modern society. He joins his fellow Avenger, Black Widow (a sultry Scarlett Johansson, Her), in working with intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D.
Leading global peacekeeping missions is right up Cap’s alley. Still, he’s concerned Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been too secretive.
With few friends and even less confidants, Cap strikes up a friendship with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, Gangster Squad). Wilson is a former soldier who can relate to difficulties adjusting to normal life.
Mackie is easily one of the best additions to the Avengers’ franchise. Mackie’s enthusiasm is evident even before he assumes his superhero identity. His role in Marvel Studios films should definitely expand beyond Captain America movies. Avengers Director Joss Whedon should rewrite whatever is necessary to work Mackie into The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
An assassination attempt on Fury leads to Cap being considered a person of interest by interim S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford in all of his cool and commanding glory). On the run, Cap and Black Widow get off the grid. Escape won’t be easy though. Pierce has S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in pursuit. Further complicating matters, the mysterious Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is gunning for them as well.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the team behind Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor: The Dark World, handle the script. They pen in essence a super heroic take on The Bourne Identity. It’s filled with secrets, betrayals and conspiracies at every turn. It’s not all dark though. There’s still a good amount of laughs and tons of Easter Eggs for comic fans.
Perhaps better than anyone that’s worked on the character before, directors Anthony and Joe Russo get what makes Captain America special. He’s a soldier that can handle his own against anyone. Winter Soldier’s version of Cap is even more impressive than the one battling aliens in Avengers. The fight scenes are brilliantly staged and fully convey Cap as an elite class fighter.
There’s less emphasis on CGI so the action feels more immediate and less the handiwork of a computer team. The Russos go a bit more ‘old-school’ with their filmmaking techniques, which is appreciated.
Per the norm for a Marvel Studios movie, the acting is solid across the board. Jackson and Redford are pitch perfect as always. Evans fully establishes himself as a cornerstone of the MCU. His performance is more nuanced than what we’ve seen in most comic book movies. Evans’ chemistry with Johansson and Mackie is excellent. The Evans/Mackie pairing flowed so naturally it didn’t seem like their first time working together.
Status quo for the Avengers universe changes dramatically as a result of the film. To an extent, this is the MCU’s first cliffhanger. The mid-credits scene, directed by Whedon teases The Avengers: Age of Ultron. There’s another end credits scene with stronger ties to this film though.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Marvel Studios’ answer to The Dark Knight. This is tremendously entertaining and likely the superhero blockbuster to beat. Not just for 2014, but possibly many years to come.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel