Captain America, especially to those unfamiliar with the comic series, has often been seen as a goody-two-shoes boy scout akin to Superman. While the first film and even Avenger’s Assemble didn’t exactly do much to tackle that image, Captain America: The Winter Soldier adds more character to Steve Rogers than people realised was there.
The story so far…
Anyone unfamiliar with the first film may wonder what’s going on. It’s definitely a film that needs a greater context to be enjoyed, and thankfully the style has been fairly consistent within the Marvel movies so far, so at least you know what to expect. To summarise it all quite simply, however: something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Not so cut and dry
The first film was very black and white in terms of characters and motivations. Winter Soldier breaks this mould in several ways on both sides. While Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) stands his ground throughout, his allies don’t. Not above manipulation both of the foes and friends, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and co are the antidote to this.
I really am struggling to say why I loved the second film without spoilers, but the crux of the matter is that I liked where the story went. It plays about with opposites really well – I think you’ll understand what I mean once you have seen the film.
I do feel that perhaps the film got a bit mixed-up in portraying the point of several McGuffins in the film,
one in particular eventually didn’t seem to have a real purpose beyond revealing the identity of one of the bad guys. The film also presented a lot of loose ends and I do feel that us UK film viewers have just been fudged by Channel 4, because of them deciding to seriously hold back on keeping up with US screenings of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is of course not the filmmakers’ fault, at the same time it’s a pretty big issue for international audiences, and has seriously led me to question keeping the events of the films tied in with the events of the TV series. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable watch.
The greater good
But what is most stand out, is that unlike the recent Thor 2 film, this really is Steve Roger’s story – both the consequences of his past and the choices of his present. Apart from being heavily involved with S.H.I.E.L.D that is, but then that’s pretty much where it ended in the first film. In fact, if I was forced to come up with one criticism with of this film, it’s that it doesn’t really deal with the consequences of the Avengers Assemble film. I would even go so far as to say that it could almost be set before it. While Tony Stark had to deal with PTSD and Thor had to deal with an incarcerated Loki and a peeved Jane Fonda, Steve and Natasha seemed to have had their world far less rocked.
Balancing action with a pleasant degree of character growth and a world that’s not so clear cut, the film is a superb improvement on its predecessor. The story evolves fairly naturally and keeps you guessing quite a bit. Although the one about Nick Fury was plainly obvious to me – just in a audience pleasing sense .
Oh, and as always, stay until the end of the credits. Not the bit near the beginning of the credits, but the actual post-credits scene. It has actually made me more interested in Avengers: Age of Ultron .
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out now in the UK and out in the US on 4 April. The reviewers bought their own tickets.