4.0 out of 5.0 Stars
Out of all of the Avengers to star in their own franchise, Ol’ Cap has got to be the most misunderstood. As a World War II soldier who’s been frozen in ice for 70 years, it might be a little tough for him to relate to the world around him, and modern audiences might think the same of him.
That’s why, when Marvel created the first Captain America movie, fans were submitted to a more grounded and not-so-hokey version of the super soldier in the 2011 WWII film.
But three years and one Avengers movie have past. Cap, played by Chris Evans, is back to star in the latest entry in Marvel’s cinematic universe. This time though, directors Anthony and Joe Russo take the Winter Soldier into the political thriller genre.
For the most part, the movie delivers on its promise of intrigue and subterfuge. The plot revolves around Cap’s involvement in S.H.I.E.L.D., a fictional multi-government agency responsible for the containment of world-threatening entities. After discovering the possibility of a conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap is forced to run from the law, while figuring out how the mysterious antagonist, the Winter Soldier, ties into the whole thing.
All the trappings of the political thriller are present. Scenes of shady government backroom deals, senators shaking hands with secret agents and sweeping aerial shots of Washington D.C. make for a visually appropriate genre piece.
However, at its very core, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is still a comic book superhero movie. Any opportunity to explore the nuances of working for the government in an age of surveillance are totally hampered in a pivotal plot point where Cap discovers the true nature of the conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D.
At that point, the film becomes less about who Cap can trust, and more about who Cap can punch the hardest in order to save the day. But even though it’s not as thrilling or mindfully engaging as its original premise, audiences can still expect to see some of the most glorious computer generated punches to be seen on a movie screen.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier relies heavily on its hand-to-hand combat and shootout scenes. These expertly coordinated moments are simply amazing to watch. Watching Cap fight alongside Agent Romanov and Sam Wilson, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie, create some of the most heart pounding scenes in any Marvel movie to date.
And as a bonus to die-hard comic book fans, the movie is sprinkled with tons of references, not just to previous Marvel movies, but to the comics as well. In a single sentence, the names “Tony Stark” and “Steven Strange” are mentioned. Plus, homages to villains or even the design of Cap’s modern uniform are all deviously subtle and non-intrusive ways of teasing future Marvel films while honoring its comic heritage.
Though the political plot within The Winter Soldier might have some movie goers feeling cold, it’s still a great stand-alone superhero movie, and a rock solid entry in the ongoing Marvel cinematic universe. And that is certainly worth saluting.