Thursday, April 3, 2014

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

It is hard to talk about the movie Capt. America- The Winter Soldier without feeling like you are going to have to throw in some spoilers, and no doubt there will be critics and reviewers who will do that. Some may not even be aware that the information they share will be spoilers unless they are very familiar with the Marvel Universe movies and the Marvel Comics universe.
 Comics fans are going to be very pleased with this movie. Chris Evans continues to prove he was the right choice for Steve Rogers as he shows our favorite super soldier struggling to know where he stands in this new world he is in. "It's not so bad," he tells Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie). "The food is better. Back in my day we boiled everything." But deeper for Steve Rogers are the questions of why he became Captain America and why did he and the Howling Commandos fight Hydra? Did the victory they won still have an impact today- culturally, socially and politically? Or has the world in general chosen to hand over liberties and freedoms in exchange for a sense of security and safety?
  Despite being the "Boy Scout" of the Marvel Universe (in comics and movies), Steve/ Captain America shows he really is a super soldier. The speed and intentional ferocity that Cap hits opponents with was reminiscient of the early books by Jack Kirby who drew the character with a reckless, no holding back abandon. There is Cap on a motorcycle versus a SHIELD attack plane, Cap versus a round from a grenade launcher, Cap versus an elevator full of trained and armed operatives, Cap versus a missile, Cap free-falling into the ocean from a plane, Cap versus a ship full of pirates, Cap versus Batroc and of course, Cap versus Winter Soldier. Throw in several instances of Cap versus gravity and you appreciate the durability, smarts and courage Cap has. The movie also showcases just how important the shield is to Captain America.
 Winter Soldier gives us our first looks at several key characters to the modern Captain America stories- Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter, Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, and Brock Rumlow, the man who will become Crossbones.
 Arnim Zola's return is a clever nod to the design of the comics character, and the movie is full of "easter eggs": mentions of Tony Stark, Iron Man, Howard Stark, and Stark Industries run through the movie. One agent mentions Stephen Strange. Nick Fury makes a passing reference to Dr. Bruce Banner. The old SHIELD logo and acronym appear in the movie, and the Avengers get a mention as well. 
Black Widow has become Cap's right-hand partner at the start of the film. The two are an interesting dynamic with Cap trying to be true to his ideals and do what is right in this new world, and Natasha trying to find her real identity after so many years of having to make herself into whoever she has to be. There is an underlying spark of potential romance, but... Sharon Carter is in the movie but is really underutilized. She gets a passing conversation with the Captain and starts a Mexican standoff, but really her introduction in this film just sets the stage for future appearances.
 Perhaps the most emotional and haunting scene is Cap visiting a very old and frail Peggy Carter. "I've lived a full life," she tells him. "My only regret is you didn't get to live yours."
 Robert Redford nearly steals the show and gets much more screen time than I was expecting. His role as SHIELD's diplomatic secretary and head of the council that oversees SHIELD (and Nick Fury) becomes central to the action of the movie.
 For those looking to find things to discuss after the film, there are questions raised about loyalty and trust, does "what is right" ever change or is it absolute, what things require sacrifice, and what is the price of freedom contrasted with the cost of security are just a few things to get you started.
 There is plenty of  violent action with hand-to-hand fighting and explosions but very little blood, very little in the way of harsh language, no sex or nudity. Instead there is a solid storyline that moves things along, has plenty of surprises and is very satisfying in the end. See it, It is well worth the price of a movie ticket!


  1. Good review. These movies just keep on getting better and better, which shows us why Marvel is so dominant in the first place.

  2. I agree. I think Marvel figured out awhile ago to quit treating the comics as "dumbed-down" material that needs to be refined for movie audiences. A comic book is a movie on paper, and if costumes and superpowers resonate and sell in that format, then why throw it out for the movie?
    Thanks so much for reading and especially for commenting!