Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment/Sony Pictures

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
| Published May 9, 2014 |

By Lori Garrett
Thursday Reviewcontributor

I’m getting a little bit of a late start on my spring/summer blockbuster movie viewing, which found me getting to the theater to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier a month after its original release.

Perhaps I waited so long because I have a love of indie films and tend to shy away from hugely popular action packed movies. Or maybe it’s because, even though I am a big nerd and love comic books, I have never been a particular fan of the Captain America franchise (he’s a bit too much of a goodie-two-shoes for me, I prefer my superheroes to have a dark side). Whatever the reason, I regret not watching it sooner. In fact I had to study up on it by watching the first Captain America film, as I had yet to see it. Winter Soldier was much better than the original one, not that it was bad, but it was more of an introductory story. This has a lot more depth.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place two years after the “Battle of New York,” which was one of the main focuses in the Avengers movie. Black Widow and Captain America have become more or less friends, though their differing personalities do provide conflict and distrust. They are sent on what Captain America believes to be a rescue mission, only for him to discover that Black Widow is along for a completely different assignment. Through a series of events, they find themselves on the run from just about everyone and needing to lay low. They seek refuge at the home of Sam Wilson, a character introduced earlier in the movie.

Chris Evans (as Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Cobie Smulders (as Maria Hill), and Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury) all reprise their Marvel appearances, but I would almost have to say that Anthony Mackie stole the show as Sam Wilson/Falcon. See, as it turns out, Sam Wilson is a former para-rescueman with the military, and is highly trained in aerial combat using special equipment. He is Falcon, the first African-American superhero, originally appearing Captain America #117 in September of 1969. He partners up with the two fugitives to try and take down the mysterious Winter Soldier. The movie also stars Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier.

The good thing about these action films is that they are long. This one, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, clocks in at a little over two hours and fifteen minutes, allowing for a lot of storytelling. You get a good feel for the characters, and moments are allowed to land instead of hurrying along to the next scene. This second film in the actual Captain America franchise has more drama and character development than the first one. Though there is still plenty of action, there is more heart and set up for future installments.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a negative thing to say about this movie. Marvel Studios is doing a pretty good job of updating these characters for today’s audience. The casting, writing and direction were superb, and the action sequences were well planned and executed. The main difference that I noticed from first to the second film was that there was a lot more hand-to-hand-combat in this one. I always found it interesting that even though both teams were created by Marvel and take place in the same universe, that the Avengers seemed to rely on weapons and the X-Men were more about their super powers. Most of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. members so far introduced do not have overt super powers, with the exception of increased strength and/or intelligence, which are usually the result of science rather than abilities they have had since birth. (Thor, of course, is an exception, but he’s a god, so he doesn’t really count).

Marvel Studios has also become known for the “stinger,” an extra scene during the credits to give a hint about something or someone appearing in their next film. I was excited to see that this one revealed who would be playing twins Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch in the next Avengers movie, which is scheduled to come out next summer. But there will be plenty of great movies to watch between now and then.