on 22 November 2015
Chris Evans is back as the first Avenger in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This time around, everyone’s favorite red, white, and blue boy scout teams up with Black Widow and new partner The Falcon to stop a mysterious villain from the Captain’s past from destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside. Is this movie better than The Avengers or will fans be disappointed as many were with Iron Man 3 and Thor 2?
After defeating Loki in the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers better known as Captain America heads back to Washington D.C. to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division). He trying his hardest to fit in, but is still having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the modern world. He’s trying to catch up with history, music and pop culture in order for him to feel like he fits in. Every time someone brings up an important topic that he’s never heard of, he jots it down in his little notebook to check off later.
Ultimately Steve is still a soldier and works hand in hand with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to defeat criminal and terrorist threats on a global scale. On a recent mission, Cap is tasked to rescue hostages on a ship in the middle of the ocean along with an elite Strike Team and Black Widow. The mission is a success, but Steve feels lied to as Colonel Fury had an ulterior motive and mission for Black Widow. Steve wants to protect the United States, but is tired of being Fury’s janitor.
Meanwhile a new threat has surfaced. A mysterious figure that many people don’t even think exists executes a flawless attack on Nick Fury that leaves him critically injured. Nick escapes his ambusher to give Captain Rogers a special flash drive containing top-secret information. He also informs Steve that S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised and to trust no one. With the help of Black Widow, Steve goes on the run and into hiding from the government to find out what secrets are on the flash drive. He also recruits an airborne para-rescue trooper named Sam Wilson who specializes in sonic flight using an advanced winged backpack known as the Falcon Project. Can Captain America, Black Widow and The Falcon defeat this mysterious mercenary known as The Winter Soldier or will a secret society have bigger plans to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.?
A couple of years ago, Marvel Studios did the unimaginable and granted the wishes of every superhero fan by taking their popular characters from solo origin movies and teaming them up to save the Earth in The Avengers which instantly set box office records all over the world. That was Phase I of the franchise. Currently Marvel and Disney are filming the second Avengers movie, but in the meantime they are releasing all of the Phase II set up movies. Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World hit theaters in 2013. Personally coming off the geeky adrenaline rush that is the Avengers, I felt pretty disappointed with the Phase II movies thus far. When I saw the trailer for the Captain America sequel, I got pumped up by how cool it looked, but apprehensive since I didn’t feel the other movies delivered. Well I am glad to report that not only does Captain America: The Winter Soldier elevate Marvel movies to the next level, but it’s the best superhero movie that’s come out since The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
The whole film is great, but who really makes it spectacular is Chris Evans as Steve Rogers or Captain America as comic fans know him as. This is the third time for Evans to play the character and he just gets better and better. Evans does a tremendous job emulating the perfect boy scout. Evans is completely charming when he needs to be, but when duty calls, a switch is flipped and he becomes an efficient commander. I loved how the movie dealt with Steve trying to catch up on all the things he missed out on since being frozen for seventy years. He carries a notebook and writes things down to learn so he doesn’t feel awkward anymore when people are talking over his head. He learns who Steve Jobs is and the differences between Star Trek and Star Wars. He also loves the internet. What makes the character so special is the same thing that made him the perfect specimen to become a super soldier in the first place, he believes in standing up for the little guys against bullies and tyranny. It’s this ideology that Cap lives with that causes tension between him and Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fury believes in creating titanic weapons and displaying them in plain view as a show of force deterrent, where as Rogers sees it as pointing a gun at someone’s head and calling it protection. Fury lives by an end justifies the means mentality while Captain America believes in the punishment coming after the crime. This is how the movie introduces the characters to the audience in a post “Battle of New York” Marvel era.
For this movie Chris Evans looked like he was in the best shape of his life. You could also tell he did heavy training at hand to hand combat. He’s not just punching and blocking like a boxer. He’s performing spin kicks and parkour type combat maneuvers like a mixed martial artist. One of the coolest fight sequences is the elevator scene when Steven takes out about twelve highly trained agents. What was really cool was how much his Vibranium shield was implemented in the fight choreography.For those who don’t know what Vibranium is, it’s a fictional metal that can absorb any type of impact which in turn strengthen’s the metal. Cap would throw the shield at one bad guy, it would ricochet of walls, then Cap would dispose of more henchmen, then just lift up his hand to catch the shield. One scene even had Cap using the shield to deflect bullets at other mercenaries. If you thought that Captain America was a goofy character with a silly shield in the previous movies, then this flick will definitely change your mind. I feel with this performance, Chris Evans has now elevated Captain America as one of the most popular Marvel characters in the same way Robert Downey Jr. made Iron Man cool.
The supporting cast of good guys include returning cast members Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury along with Marvel Universe newcomers Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Robert Redford as Secretary Alexander Pierce. Johansson and Jackson continue to do a good job as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents linking all the Marvel movies together. Johansson is as lethal as she is beautiful and Jackson as always is a bad ass M-F’er. Fans have been waiting for Falcon to hit the big screen and Anthony Mackie does a great job. He’s not really a character that deserves his own movie, but is still strong enough to not be Cap’s sidekick, but his partner. Sam becomes Steve’s right hand man, and when you see the movie, you’ll understand why I say exactly that. He has a super slick flight suit jet pack that can expand and retract metallic wings on command. He wasn’t that great at hand to hand, but he made up for it with amazing combat aerial skills that were showcased during the movie’s finale. Falcon’s wings were so cool, they seemed like they were more maneuverable that Iron Man’s suit. And finally Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce brings a certain professionalism and experience to the film that only a man of his caliber can add. He portrays a perfect politician. He’s charismatic and wise. He also has this way about him that you’re not exactly sure if he is good or bad or what his intentions are for S.H.I.E.L.D. until Steve can unravel the mystery.
You can’t have a great hero unless you have a villain that challenges him in every way. That threat is The Winter Soldier portrayed by Sebastian Stan. I have to say that The Winter Soldier is probably of the coolest villains I’ve seen in a long time. He is an expert at hand to hand combat. He’s a master of weaponry. And he’s got a mechanical arm that is so powerful that even the durability of Cap’s shield is barely able to withstand the onslaught of devastating attacks. He also walks around with a fearless swagger. He barely says anything because he lets his action speak louder than his words. But what makes his an awesome antagonist is that he’s not only physical threat, but an emotional one as well when Steve finds out the The Winter Soldier is his childhood friend who he thought died in World War II. This leaves Steve with a hesitation that can jeopardize everything. I know a lot of the ladies have crushes on Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but he’s got competition now with Sebastian Stan. I heard a few ladies swoon when he hit the screen. He’s got his heavy metal rocker hair, emo eyes makeup, and chiseled good looks. Guys want to be him, and the ladies want to be with him. He’s just an all around amazing Marvel bad guy. The Winter Soldier doesn’t want power. He’s doesn’t want wealth. He’s like a Terminator who won’t stop until his mission is complete.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an awesome Marvel movie because both non-comic readers and hardcore fans will be highly entertained. You don’t even have to watch any of the previous movies to enjoy this one. Don’t get me wrong, viewing The First Avenger and The Avengers will help with backstory and character development, but this movie works great on its own merit. It’s a cool action thriller filled with political espionage with an adult theme that mirrors today’s worldwide fear of terrorism and how governments overstep their bounds to monitor and defeat threats claiming it’s merely protection for its citizens. I’d say this movie is like a really cool superhero version of the Bourne identity. Marvel fans will love all the references throughout the movie. It was cool to hear certain names and situations mentioned by the characters in conversation. I won’t spoil it, but one character from the first Captain America movie returns in a more true form to his comic counterpart. I thought it was really cool. Of course it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie if Stan Lee didn’t make a surprise cameo, so be on the look out for a pretty funny appearance.
Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier truly is an epic film from beginning to end. It has awesome fight and action scenes that are more realistic than over the top gratuitous. It’s got a great story that’s intriguing for casual audiences and not watered down for hardcore comic fans. But most importantly it’s got fantastic performances from an all-star cast. This is not a movie full of Michael Bay explosions and bullets to cover up a weak plot and even weaker characters. The summer blockbusters have started early in the spring, because this Russo Brothers’ spectacle has set the standard so high this year, that for the rest of 2014, all action and superhero movies will be compared to it.
After personally being disappointed with Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, I was hoping Marvel would step up its game with Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a Phase II set up movie for Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m happy to say that this political thriller knocked it out of the park. Chris Evans was fantastic as Captain America, Anthony Mackie as Falcon was a great addition to the team, and Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier was an incredible villain. It’s hard to match the epicness of The Avengers, but it’s still an extremely strong and entertaining superhero flick. Only caution is that the movie may not be for little kids as some of the violence may be too intense and the political aspects may be uninteresting. My screening was in 2D, but other than a few effects, I don’t really see an advantage to a 3D viewing. I know you really don’t need my recommendation, because you are going to see it anyway, but make sure you stick around for both end credits cut scenes. One is about midway through and the other is at the very end.