Very minor spoilers ahead; that said, everybody should see this movie.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the next installment in Marvel Studio’s “Avengers” series line-up. Not only is “Winter Soldier” a better film than the first Captain America film, but it holds its ground as one of the best stand-alone movies in Marvel’s ever-expanding Avengers movie universe.
Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, a patriotic super-soldier, Avenger and agent for the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD). SHIELD, an international espionage organization, fights for peace, but its new “Project Insight” begins to blur its good intentions and Captain America does not know who to trust. “Winter Soldier” looks closely at Captain America and the other members of SHIELD after the events of 2012’s “The Avengers” while introducing new characters and expanding on old ones.
It is clear from “Winter Soldier” that Captain America has gained some fighting experience over his years with SHIELD. The aliens in “The Avengers” did not give Captain America the chance to show off his skills, but in “Winter Soldier” Captain America has more moments of taking on multiple enemies at once, sending them flying in different directions in a dazzling display of super-soldier like moves. The clang as his shield hits enemies, combined with the comedic amount of air time some enemies get after being round house kicked in the face, yields action scenes that make me want to see it a second time.
These action scenes are topped with dazzling hand-to-hand combat between Captain America and The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier, a mysterious bionically augmented assassin, has a past that (without giving anything away) gives the Captain even more conviction in the fight.
Captain America has always been the paradigm of the ideal American man, but inside, he is troubled. This is especially visible in “Winter Soldier.” As Loki said in 2012’s mega-hit “The Avengers,” Captain America is a “man out of time,” and it is evident Captain America has trouble finding himself in the present day after fighting the evil Hydra during WWII.
Captain’s rigorous and honorable life is almost all he has left at this point. Agent Romanoff (Scarlett Johnansson) asks Captain America before a mission, “Did you do anything fun Saturday night?” Captain replies, “Well, all the guys in my barbershop quartet are dead, so, no, not really.” Moments like these, both big and small, are peppered throughout the film and flesh out Captain America, dignifying his actions that much more.
Captain America always fights for freedom, but it is harder and harder for him to see the right in some of SHIELD’s missions. “Winter Soldier” makes it clear that the bad guys of today are not as clear cut as they were back in Cap’s time. The grey areas between good and evil lead to the conflict of the movie. It is Steve Rogers’ unwavering resolve in these situations that makes him Captain America.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” does this inspirational character justice, giving a better look at the leader of The Avengers, and further raising the bar for super hero movies.
“Winter Soldier” is a movie that asks questions that can be paralleled in the real world. When do vigilance and surveillance become a threat to the freedom America is trying to protect? What could our government become? What would Captain America think about our America today?
Captain America continues to be the moral compass in the Marvel universe’s turbulent world, despite the extreme events in “Winter Soldier.” Who is to say that Captain America cannot do the same in ours?