In Marvel’s “The Avengers,” the question of just how Captain America is relevant in today’s modern world was a recurring thought. The sequel to Captain America’s 2011 feature film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” finally answers that question.
A common point of contrast between the films of comic book giants, Marvel and DC, is that the latter (“Man of Steel,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy) tend to be grim in tone and strip away whatever fantastic elements are deemed superfluous. However, Marvel revels in and embraces the madness of comic books, distilling it expertly to the big screen.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” straddles the line between the two, blurring the divide between the miraculous and the sinister.
Early on, the audience gets to see conflicting crime-fighting approaches between Captain America (Chris Evans), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who is the Director of SHIELD, an intelligence agency in the film that is similar to the CIA.
Fury stands in awe of SHIELD’s newest project: three fully weaponized airships with the analytical capabilities to determine potential threats and the targeting to take them out.
Captain America, however, finds himself disgusted with the consequentialist attitude Fury possesses and verbally rebukes him.
The film, while taken at face value, is entertaining because it establishes a sense of political commentary that adds more value for viewers who recognize the real-world parallels — most notably the recent controversies behind the NSA’s surveillance tactics and the U.S. drone strikes.
Adding to Marvel’s newfound sense of “gravitas,” The films action sequences send the protagonists’ fate into uncertainty. The combat scenes are weighted by a sense of grimness, often feeling heavier than the superheroics of past films, where it seems the heroes were invincible and never in any real danger.
The Winter Soldier, an assassin and the villian of the film, reinforces this sentiment, acting more like a force of nature than a human being. He rarely speaks and when put on a mission, he executes it perfectly, with no care for collateral damage. The Winter Soldier brutally murders anybody in his path, often in savage ways.
There are, however, a few “uniquely Marvel” aspects to the film.
Most prominently, the sequel contains Marvel’s penchant for fan service. While not explicit, the events of this film retroactively affect other parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most importantly “Iron Man 2” and ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD.”
The film nods to more dedicated comic book fans as well — those who’ll recognize the name Stephen Strange and the two new superheroes revealed in the mid-credits scene.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” refuses to stick to one side of the realistic-fantastic spectrum, which is quite possibly the main factor for its success.
Outstanding acting, directing and screenwriting make this film a top pick for a night at the movies.