Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Staggeringly Satisfying
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not simply a good Marvel movie, it is not just a great superhero movie, and it is not only a spectacular action movie. It is all of the above, and one of the best multi-genre films I have yet see. To quantify my feelings here, let me start by saying I am not a big fan of Captain America. I thought the first movie was entertaining, but overall incomplete and unsatisfying. I never grew attached to the character in the comics because I always saw him as pandering, or gimmicky.
The Winter Soldier succeeds in presenting a character driven espionage thriller that happens to have superheroes, and super villains. Those superheroes being; Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and the super villains being The Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan), and Hydra. Drawing from Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier storyline, the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, effectively meld so many elements to create the film I wonder if they needed to use massive flow charts to keep track of everyone, the plots, and sub-plots, and ammunition. I was genuinely impressed with the job they did, particularly the character work, and leaving some very smooth edges for the future films to fit in place. They constructed a story that is accessible, and entertaining while keeping the massive and often complex plot from becoming overbearing or stagnant, it is writing that definitely warrants more attention.
After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” in theaters April 4, finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy–the Winter Soldier.
What Markus, and McFeely, along with Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, have accomplished in this film is to present Steve Rogers/Captain America as a fully formed character. This is a very good thing because he is not trying to discover who he is, he is not trying to come to terms with being a man out of his time, and he has settled on his role in the world, for the most part. This frees up much needed screen time for punching and shield flinging. It also allows Steve Rogers to be more than the awkward super hero in the room; he is finally able to be the dynamic and interesting role he was created to become. This is primarily evident in the vibrant interactions he has, such as the running on and off conversation with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow about finding someone to date, also the sometimes-poignant conversations with his new friend Sam Wilson/Falcon about their common experiences in the military. Where they also excelled was the continued lack of development of Natasha Romanoff, and Nick Fury. Keeping Black Widow, and Fury wrapped in a shroud of unknowns keep the roles dynamic and exciting. This is unfortunately also, where they briefly get stuck. Without giving anything away, which is hard to do so please forget the convoluted and vague nature of the following statements, Fury and Romanoff occasionally fall into cliché deus ex machina territory. Which can be a fun place to visit, but it is also an easy place to leave characters to drown.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an enormous amount of fun. It should delight fans of the original comic storyline, and fans of the film franchise. The investment from the previous films is minimal so not being caught up on the 7 previous films should not diminish much viewing pleasure. 9.5 out of 10