I think it is safe to assume that further down the line, when future generations look back on these times in movies, they will think that this was a golden age for the art of the comic book-themed movie. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will definitely be a brick in the monument of this era, and rightfully so.
Picking up where The Avengers left off, Cap finds himself in the employ of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a soldier for justice alongside the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and under the watchful yet seemingly duplicitous eye of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). On the heels of new legislation being initiated by senior agent Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), things at S.H.I.E.L.D. are shaking up when an attack on Agent Fury by an unknown organization leads to the surfacing of a Soviet super soldier known only as “The Winter Soldier.” Captain America, accused of being implicated in the attack on Fury, is forced to go rogue and has to not only try to solve the mystery of the attack on Nick Fury, but also battle The Winter Soldier and to figure out how all of it is connected.
If the first Captain America installment felt like a war movie with a super hero interjected into it, this episode feels like a spy thriller with a few super heroes interjected in it. The movie works well with the formula of trying hard not to exonerate these characters too highly, choosing instead to show them as cogs in a greater machine. Sure, they’re bigger than your average cogs, but they’re cogs nonetheless. Captain America, as a figure, tends to be one dimensional; he’s a good guy harkening from a simpler time and he just wants to do what’s right. Given this, the decision to intertwine both the Black Widow and the Falcon into a storyline that focuses on Captain America works really well. As an espionage thriller, the story works very effectively on many levels. The political intrigue played out by Redford truly is gripping, more akin to the tone of a spy movie than a comic book one. Good, thoughtful writing and well played and choreographed action sequences round out the viewing experience of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, making this one of the best in the Marvel movie arsenal.
As a fan of the genre, this easily sits at the top of the pile for me. Captain America was never one of my favorite characters from the books, but the way he is treated by this movie shows the reasons why he’s an iconic figure in the universe as opposed to simply assuming so. The movie crackles along as it unfolds, each turn by exciting turn is drenched in suspense and fun, as well as its fair share of nerd ephemera that not everyone is going to catch. The movie doesn’t suffer from dizzying special effects but, rather, is enhanced by the effects that it does have, most notably in the finale flight sequences with the Falcon and Captain America fighting in the sky. From start to finish, the movie is a star spangled punch that will wow audiences everywhere while still remaining personally engaging with each and every fan of the books.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in Philly area theaters today.