Marvel steps in the right direction with Captain America: The Winter Soldier

By Garrett Strothernew-captain-america-the-winter-soldier-poster-lands-155226-a-1391176951-470-75
Staff Writer

Superheroes generally stay away from politics, a practice meant to keep the audience entertained and engaged. Sure, Iron Man and even The Dark Knight himself grapple with the occasional politician, but it is nothing that brings any real additional drama or commentary. This is where Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, breaks the traditional shoot-em-up mold and offers up something fun as well as smart.

While the politics may carry some weighted commentary (movies cannot have clear political stances in the 21st century! Who does he think he is? Captain America? Wait…) they bring a whole other side to the Marvel universe even if a bit predictable.

But do not think they hung action lovers out to dry. The film includes the now-staple headache inducing, over the top, Avengers-esque violence that we have come to expect without seeing any real body count, but even that is kept to a minimum. The movie shines with its intelligent action sequences which seem more like something out of The Bourne Identity than Avengers 1.3: The Search for More Money.

Even as Cap’s shield bounces off of henchmen like a bouncy ball on crack and magically back into his hand, the movie avoids any shaky camera work or ludicrous sound effects, and in turn keeps your mind completely in the story.

On top of these action sequences and politics, the principle characters raise the bar as far as complexity goes. Good old Captain America, played by Chris Evans back for his third run as the character, continues to struggle with the adjustment to finding himself in the modern day and the movie has time to play with pop culture references and Cap’s brave new world to a deeper level that The Avengers was too crowded to properly provide.

Also reprising her Avengers role is Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, an ex-KGB spy turned SHIELD agent. This character is perhaps the biggest surprise in the movie, as she comes into her own as an actual character rather than the shallow eye candy which she has previously been portrayed as.

Supporting players also bring fun to the cast, even if the characters are a bit simplistic. Samuel L. Jackson continues being the cycloptic curmudgeon Nick Fury, now joined by Robert Redford as the two try to run SHIELD in the age of technology. Cap also befriends an ex-soldier, played by Anthony Mackie, who gives the Captain his first real friendship in his new life.

And as far as the Winter Soldier goes, there is not nearly enough of him to be the title character. Maybe something more like Captain America: Forced Avengers References?

Overall, Winter Soldier is a fun action movie with the characters we have come to expect as well as a few new faces. It is not the best Marvel movie, not living up to the original Captain America, but perhaps what makes it stand out in the Marvel universe is that it leaves the audience with something to think about beyond the post-credits scene.