I’ve said it here before; I’m a Marvel fanboy. I love superheroes. I always have. I’ve loved nearly all of the Marvel flicks so far (except maybe Thor and Iron Man 3), but in particular I absolutely adored Captain America: The First Avenger.
Of all the pre-Avengers movies, the thought of a Captain America flick made me worry, knowing what I did about the character and origin. “How are they going to take our adored ‘Cap’ and make him accessible to a modern audience?” I asked myself. Well, as it turns out, the answer to that question was “perfectly.” It was absolutely beautifully done, it hit all the right notes, and I’m honestly not sure they could have made a better movie.
Now, fast-forward three years, and I’m seeing trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and worrying pretty hard about it. “Why, this looks like just another G.I. Joe,” I said to whomever was unfortunate enough to be subject to my semi-regular upcoming movies ramblings that day. “Will this tarnish my favorite of the current Marvel cinematic heroes?”
“Dude, shut up and wait for the movie,” is probably how the person responded, and appropriately so. The Winter Soldier nailed it, consistently and throughout. It was not without its flaws, but it’s more than safe to say that this movie was almost, if not as good as the first, which, based on the above statements, is really saying something.
It features Chris Evans again as Steve Rodgers, a.k.a. Captain America, a short time after the events of The Avengers. While it spends some time with him adjusting to life in 2014, it quickly becomes a military/espionage story of S.H.I.E.L.D., the intelligence agency featured in previous Avengers flicks. So as not to spoil the plot too much, it focuses character-wise on Cap and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and plot-wise on the agency, outside-threat, inside-threat, and conflicting morals/viewpoints between the 40’s and modern society.
Samuel L. Jackson, returning as Nick Fury (Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.), got a lot more screen time than I was expecting, which pleased me. His character expanded a bit, but they let Cap and Black Widow hold the show. A surprise to some was seasoned actor Robert Redford showing up as Alexander Pierce, a senior official at S.H.I.E.L.D. This odd paranoia sets in when classic, well-known, seasoned actors are signed on for Marvel movies. I can’t help but think, “after all the hardcore serious movies, the dramas, the westerns, the two Academy Award wins, isn’t it a bit weird for him to switch gears to talking about Iron Man and Captain America?” Naturally, my fears are unfounded, as he embodied the role thoroughly.
Actually, the acting was pretty solid all around. The lines were delivered believably, though Johansson gave me pause a few times (however, it worked for her character, so I was cool with it). One problem, however, was the predictability. Without too much insight, I saw most twists coming and knew where it was going. Naturally, being a Captain America movie, I’m not entirely sure this is a bad thing, as I believe it works with the character’s retro 40’s theme, but this could be an issue for some.
The action sequences – of which there were many more than previous iterations – were well done if not a little rough visually. The shaky-cam and quick cuts got a little grating as I kept wishing they’d stop, do a wide-shot, and let me just watch the fight. That in mind, however, The Winter Soldier had some of the best action of the series so far. Not the best, but some of the best, for sure.
If I had more room here, I could go on, detailing the finer plots and points of the movie, speculating on their next moves, getting into the deeper meanings behind certain characters and sequences, but in the interest of remaining spoiler-free and (somewhat) concise, I’ll leave it here with this note: See this movie. If you didn’t like the first one, see this movie. If you loved the first one, see this movie. If you liked The Avengers, see this movie. If you’re enjoying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel TV show… Well, you get the point.
And remember, kids, it’s a Marvel movie. Stay after the credits for a bonus sequence!