After the disappointing Thor sequel, Marvel released the follow-up to the penultimate film of Phase One. Following up with a couple more Avengers after the Battle of New York, Captain America: The Winter Soldier features Cap and Black Widow working together to uncover a mystery surrounding an assassination attempt on Nick Fury. They find out that all is not what it seems inside S.H.I.E.L.D., and must stop the looming threat of Hydra.
The best way to describe this movie is to first, maybe not confine it to the category of superhero movie. It has superheroes in it, but they’re rarely dressed up and kicking bad guy ass. Most of the time, our heroes have to spend time uncovering more info regarding Hydra. They go on the run and do end up beating up a bunch of people. That being said, directors, Anthony and Joe Russo know how to handle a film like this. It doesn’t need mindless action to keep fans intrigued and interested. Its story does that all on its own, thanks to the writing and the characters, as well as the overall tendency to keep it real in terms of political fear and care for loved ones.
One of the film’s best aspects is the thick layer of intrigue and suspicion. It builds up throughout the whole movie, leading to a grandiose and satisfying climax. This is not your average comic book movie. There are heroes and villains, but for a while, you aren’t really sure who is on which side. This makes for a more grounded approach to a film that, in a sense, can be described as a political thriller. There are plenty of moments where the motives for the characters are questionable. However, then the film throws a twist at you. This gives you the full grasp of the world and characters. You can understand how Cap feels about Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce. You get that he’s lived (and still lives) in a world where it’s hard to trust people in the position he’s in.
This film definitely has more emotional depth to it as well. The story of Steve Rogers is one filled with tragedy. The fact that he never got to grow old is quite bleak. What makes it even more heartbreaking is watching him interact with the aging Peggy Carter, and remarking that she still owes him a dance. Watching him relive memories throughout the Smithsonian exhibit is also a memorable scene. Tackling emotional complexity at this level is something not seen often in comic book movies, which makes the film’s depth and perception of events much more realistic and enjoyable.
The action sequences in this film are phenomenal. They’re filled with tense, up-close moments with the villains, and the heroes’ ways of handling enemies adds another layer to their characters. Cap is shown taking out his enemies both stealthily, while also bringing them down with sheer force at points. Black Widow is much more of an up-front person, surprising her foes and them blowing them away with precision. Nick Fury’s a total badass, while also being smart and careful with his actions. The cinematography in each of these scenes adds a stunning layer of intensity to the action. This makes it even more frenetic and entertaining.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is more than a stellar follow-up to The First Avenger and The Avengers. By showing us that everybody has a dark side and that holding back the truth is sometimes necessary, it saves itself from being too much of what sequels tend to be nowadays: more of the same. It’s different in many ways, and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t need unrealistic amounts of bad-guy slaying to keep viewers invested. It has a truly gripping and memorable story, and that’s more than enough to satisfy fans.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.