Marvel Studio’s second stand alone Captain America film starred Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Robert Redford.
Marvel has spent years building continuity between their films. Everyone fretted when Disney stepped in, but as a comic and movie fan this may have been a match made in heaven. Marvel’s The Avengers has been written multiple times in the box office record books and its multiple tie-in have nearly washed James Cameron’s Avatar away from people’s minds. Disney and Marvel films bring their “A” game with this sequel. As an audience member you can feel the chemistry and genuine background of the universe present in this film.
The Winter Soldier is a comic run from the masterful Ed Brubaker which has become a modern classic. Directors of this film knew that in order to re-create that epic on film would take the help of the industry and who other than Ed himself joined to help them craft this story and it shows. The comic and cinematic universes began to merge with this powerful sequel.
Anyone listening to the radio, watching the news, or in a class about political science knows about the current climate of American security policies, most of all terrorism and cybersecurity. With things like Snowden and Heartbleed flooding the news media everyday we are uniquely prepared for this type of plot. Captain America both as a character and as a film deals with those issues and how we, the citizens, fit into that equation.
Chris Evans returns in spades to relive the star spangled boyscout. His torment and struggles with the ghosts from his past as well as the deadly secrets of friends place this performance the best of his tenure in the role and perhaps of all of the characters in the 8 other Marvel films.
Scarlett Johansson makes her third appearance as the “sidekick” Black Widow, but this time played second fiddle rather than fourth or fifth a la The Avengers. This spotlight however brought to light some flaws in her characterization that had not been evident. These flaws worked very well in the film but would detract from future films if not addressed.
Anthony Mackie makes his first outing in the Marvel Universe an interesting one. His character, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, is introduced organically. Much about this character is left out or held off, but unlike many characters in this film and in that case any other Marvel film, he could not survive in a stand alone feature, even just a Marvel One-Shot or one of the upcoming Netflix serials. He hopefully will get more focus in the films to come, as he seems like a good addition to the team.
The Winter Soldier quickly dominates the film as he becomes the primary antagonist. His performance mainly toward the climax of the film is one of the driving reasons the film works as both as a great Marvel movie and a good political thriller.
Robotic arms, bird flight suits, and shield tossing in combat all sound like crazy ideas on their own, but all look perfectly normal in this film. Chris Evans and the special effects team, Lucas’s ILM (another Disney acquisition), clearly have learned from their previous outings as the shield wielding avenger. No one makes it look odd, even attaching it to his back or retrieving it during combat seems seamless. Winter Soldier’s robotic limb moves like a well oiled machine in every scene it is used in. Falcon’s top secret flight suit was the hardest to swallow but it flew here because honestly we have come up with stranger stuff for the military.
More so than anything else the visual effects department excels in fight choreography. The fight scenes in this film make even some martial arts movies look slow and pre-planned. Don’t trust commercials, they have slowed some scenes down and have cut up others as to not spoil the film. This is a feat of fight-filming at the very least, and hopefully this will carry over into the future Marvel studio films.
Overall EAO gives Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier a solid 4.5 stars and stripes out of 5!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe will never be the same.