Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson & Scarlett Johansson Synopsis: “Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.” Runtime: 136 minutes Rating: 12A
“Are you ready for the world to see you as you really are? Look out the window, you know how the game works: disorder, war, all it takes is one step.”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is unlike any other movie Marvel have made so far. Of course, it’s a comic book movie full of pulpy moments, great action & features a heroic lead, but it’s also a hugely political thriller and one that could end up being seen as a turning point for the Marvel cinematic universe. Gone are the days when superheroes saved children from burning buildings or stopped them from falling into the Niagara Falls, no, now they take on international terrorism, combat arms dealers and try to stop aliens from taking over the world. Are we better off as an audience for this? Time will tell, but at the moment the current crop of superhero films, especially those Marvel based, are letting us enjoy a golden age of comic book cinema, where seemingly anything can happen and where things can change in an instant. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a part of that movement, and has proved once again that Marvel know exactly what they are doing.
After being reintroduced to us, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is sent on a fairly routine mission; board a hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel and rescue the hostages on board. While there, his partner on this mission, Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) is withdrawing information from the ship’s computer system. Rogers, being the goody two shoes he is, immediately questions Romanoff and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s motives behind the mission.
As anyone who has seen Avengers: Assemble or Captain America: The First Avenger will know, Rogers doesn’t like to be messed around and takes his complaint straight to his boss, Nick Fury (Jackson). It is there, at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ that Fury shows Rogers what they’ve been getting up to since the events of Avengers: Assemble. Deep underground, they have built three Helicarriers all with the ability to wipe out targets from long distance should they be deemed a threat by S.H.I.E.L.D. This sets in a motion a series of events that brings down Rogers entire world, one he may have just been getting used to as well, and that make him question who he can really trust these days.
Many people criticise Captain America for his idealistic look on the world, and see his self-righteous attitude as being a little boring. Where Thor is bold, Iron Man is cocky and The Hulk is simply raged personified, some can look at Steve Rogers and just picture a man who has no place among these characters. For me, this is exactly why he works as a character though. Because he is the moral compass of the group, and the audience too, we can see just how corrupt those around him can become and this murky world can become a little clearer with Rogers in it.
Alongside Cap, we have the likes of Nick Fury, Black Widow and Maria Hill all returning. We also get many new faces with the likes of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/The Falcon, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow and Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce all debuting. One could rightfully expect The Winter Soldier to have a bit too much going on then. What with all the new faces showing up and a story involving political intrigue, you could end up like Rogers, harking for the good ol’ days of one man up against an entire army. Directors Anthony & Joe Russo have managed it though, and somehow balanced out all the finer elements of the story along with the things we go to see these types of films for; action, action & action.
Luckily, action is high on the agenda here. There are plenty of one on one battles, shoot outs and punch ups. A particular highlight is the highway scene where our on the run heroes are tracked down by The Winter Soldier as he attempts to assassinate his targets. This culminates in a fantastic hand to hand bout of fisticuffs between Captain America & The Winter Soldier, showing Caps weakness in the face of a stronger opponent and maybe even hinting at a, possible, storyline to come? The Russo’s also favoured practical effects over CGI where possible, and that really comes across in a couple of the fight sequences.
This being the Russo’s first time directing a feature film was seen by many as a gamble by Marvel, much like it was with Iron Man 3 and bringing Shane Black onboard to replace Jon Favreau. How silly do we look now though? Once again Marvel have proven they know precisely what they are doing with their various properties, creating another film that is likely to be a box office hit and one that can satisfy Marvel buffs, as well as the more casual audience members.
The only question is, where do we go from here? I won’t spoil anything, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier poses a lot of questions about the future of the Marvel universe and where it goes from here. The great thing is that it’s opened things up even further and shown us that when a multitude of trailers and promotional pictures have been released, that Marvel can keep a secret or three and still genuinely surprise us.
In summary: A great start to the summer blockbuster season. Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows a studio at the top of their game, crafting a fine stand alone movie for the Cap, and also hinting at things to come in the future for the Marvel universe.