Captain America’s first movie had him playing up the role of public servant, popular/ist hero boosting America’s morale during a major World War. Unfortunately, the movie — in some sort of Inception-like twist of a movie within a movie — played itself, churning out montages, a half-baked second half, and an anti-climactic battle with archvillain Red Skull that ultimately served its purpose by delivering the Captain to the modern age just in time for Avengers. The good ol’ Captain deserved more — so much more — and it’s finally here. The sequel, Winter Soldier, leaves no room for doubting Captain America’s inclusion alongside superheroes Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk in the star-studded and powerful Avengers. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have elevated Steve Rogers’ status far above just being an embodiment of ideals or a figurehead. In this, the greatest of Marvel movies, Captain America shines thanks to a relevant plot, intelligent scripting, and adept direction that doesn’t settle for your standard summer blockbuster.
Coming to terms with the modern world, Captain America still holds fast to the ideals and beliefs of yesteryear. As a member of the Greatest Generation, Rogers (Chris Evans) is man enough to admit mistakes were made, but the quest was for freedom — not fear — which becomes an issue when he sees to what lengths America will go to protect itself. An attempt on S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) life upends everything and causes Rogers, the Black Widow Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and newcomer Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to join forces to take on a familiar enemy embedded deep within Fury’s organization.
The fight becomes especially personal for Rogers when he goes toe to toe with another super soldier — a metal-armed assassin known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Fighting for country without knowing who to trust proves difficult, and there’s a lot of twists and turns as secret identities are revealed, affiliations are chosen, and new villains are introduced. Through it all, the plot stays the course with brilliant action choreography, tense sequences that increase the drama, and great character development that brings some of Rogers’ history full-circle. Captain America: Winter Soldier is a comic book movie done right, and what the film team has done is build up Captain America’s battle prowess by letting him loose. The parkour sequences with shield tossing don’t feel routine, and the plethora of melee combat scenes never feel stale. A movie like this should be taught to all aspiring filmmakers hoping to take comics from page to silver screen — it builds on the essence of popular characters, brings them into a world worth inhabiting, and unleashes them for full effect without dumbing it down. It’s a movie that makes you want to believe in superheroes, and then you realize it’s not the shield or the serum that counts. It’s the length we’ll go to protect our friends. That’s the kind of thing you’d find in a comic, and this is the kind of movie that will bring geeks and movie-goers together for a round or two of an anthem.
Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson