We now enter the third film in Marvel’s Phase 2 entry of films. The first one being “Iron Man 3” (2013) which was decidedly mixed however an entertaining feature that aimed high but didn’t quite hit that mark. The last one was “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) was a very impressive entry in the series and among Marvel’s best. Now we come up to “Captain America: The Winder Soldier.” The last “Captain America” film, “The First Avenger” was among the weakest of Marvel’s films. Armed with two directors, and the returning writers from the first film and the latest “Thor”, the movie looked solid. But I don’t think anyone will be prepared for just how good this film actually is. This is a masterpiece filled with intricate story telling that twists and turns and leave you on the edge of your seat with incredible action and terrific acting, this is easily the best entry in Marvel’s catalogue and that includes “The Avengers.”
Steve Rodgers, now in the present day, struggles to find his place in the contemporary world as his values of old clash with the ones of the new. While something grave and sinister threatens S.H.E.I.L.D. and along with a new one from the long dead Soviet Union, the Winter Solider.
Where the film shines the brightest is the deeply thought out and intricate writing. When you’re watching the film you’re never quite sure where they are going to go next with it, it is completely unpredictable. The movie doesn’t waste to much time jumping into the thick of it. Through a serious of twists and turns you’ll be questioning everything. Who is on whose side? What is S.H.E.I.L.D really about? Then for non comic book readers, who is the Winter Solider? Everything moves along nicely, answering nearly all of those questions. The script is smart and just when it seemed like they were falling into “bad guy’s exposition” clichéd, they flipped it before it went too far down that road.
One of the best things about the script is it never loses focus on its title character while bringing others into new territory that we haven’t seen before. Black Widow is written beautifully and makes me believe that Marvel has long term plans for the character. Nick Fury is featured and given a lot more to do than past entries. Falcon is a nice new addition and develops him into a surprising well rounded character. Robert Redford comes in and steals some of the show and gives a shinning performance. Is he good or bad, many will be asking as revelations will come about his mysterious character.
Another layer the script brings to the big screen is a sense of social commentary, that isn’t present in many superhero films. The state of today’s politics gets examined and such things as the question of freedom vs. security and also fear as a weapon of the government. None is ever decided as the morally right one. Even when Captain America takes his stance he is never deemed the “correct one”. The film really lets the viewer to make their own minds up and it never gets preachy.
One of the many building blocks that moved this film is directors Anthony and Joe Russo. Manly known for directing episodes of “Community” this is new territory for them. Who would have known how well they fit for this big budget action film. They are a significant upgrade from Joe Johnson. They seem to know how to direct the action scenes but also dial it down for a more intimate scene. The action sequences they filmed in this may be some of the best ever in superhero film history.
One of the most interesting parts of the film is the tone. This doesn’t feel like a superhero film at all. Prior to the release, the filmmakers described this would have a more 1970s political spy thriller type of feel and the directors weren’t kidding. Much like “The Dark Knight” felt more like a crime drama than a superhero film, this most certainly feels like a Tom Clancy spy thriller. Not once was I thinking superhero and it helps with the fact that Captain America is for the most part human. The gun play is intense and the stakes are high, people do die and Cap can’t save every one. It gives the film an edge over other superhero films.
Up until now Marvel Studios has had a lackluster in memorable villains. Loki is about all that have. Winter Soldier could be finally the next great villain for them. With the costume design lifted straight from the comics, he is menacing and wonderfully portrayed by Sebastian Stan. However for a film with “Winter Soldier” in the title, it is curious to see the lack thereof that character. Of course a large portion of the plot revolves around him however strangely he is absent. If I had to nip pick at something , that could be considered a weakness of the film. I would have like to have seen more of him.
Chris Evans once again returns as Captain America and defines the character again. This is far better than any of the performances he has given before as Cap. Scarlett Johansson steps up her game big time as Black Widow. She gives her character far more depth than previously had, much more then the sexy assassin that she is known for. Samuel L. Jackson is what we’ve come to expect from Jackson by now. Newcomer Anthony Mackie is a nice addition to the cast, whom all around give more than solid work as Falcon.
Here is another form proof that we are probably living in the golden age of comic book films. It seems like consistently we get so many good comic book films and now “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has a lot to live up to. This is easily among the best superhero/comic book movies of all time and trumps anything Marvel has done in the past including their crown jewel, “The Avengers”. Everyone involved should be proud and am very excited now for “Captain America 3”, something I didn’t think I would be saying.