Christopher Armstead and Lisa Sue
'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'… Action Movie or Political Thriller? Simply by being able to pose this question should alert you that this is a superhero movie that aims for something a little different. I imagine if someone gave Edward Snowden 170 million dollars and asked him to make a Super Hero movie, it would look like something similar to this.
At the tender age of 95, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is getting a little more accustomed to the modern world, but what Steve is most comfortable with is being a blunt force object of destruction for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his agency S.H.I.E.L.D., as we see in this film's opening action opera where Captain America, The Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), and some other agents take down a vessel that is holding hostages. But while Steve Rogers is a patriot like few others, he's not merely some order taking Neanderthal and some of the things about this mission didn't sit well him, and he let Nick Fury know as much. Then Nick pulled back the curtain a little to show Steve what else S.H.I.E.L.D. was working on, and now Captain America is legitimately concerned about the direction his country is going in.
As it turns out, Nick Fury is a little concerned as well, and he lets his boss, Secretary Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) know as much, with the Secretary agreeing with director Fury's concerns. Not that this is going to stop a relentless squad of crazed mercs from trying to kill Nick Fury during Action Opera Sequence #2. This sequence is notable is that it introduces us to some cat with a sliver arm, Emo hair, and a Bane mask going by then name of The Winter Soldier who has been killing people of and on for the last fifty years.
Director Fury knows something is not right, and he also knows that he cannot trust anyone… except one guy. Fury gives Cap some critical info, tells him not to trust anyone, and watch his back. Advice Director Fury really should've heeded for himself.
What exactly is the info that Nick Fury gave Captain America? Well that's what everybody on the planet Earth wants to know, but Steve is taking Nick's advice to heart, if only because everybody on the planet Earth, at least in the intelligence community, is trying to kill him right now. But Cap's gotta trust somebody on this adventure so he tosses his lot in with the Black Widow, who we know is shaky at best on the trust front, and his new friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a Gulf War paratrooper who has his own set of nifty 'come in handy' type skills and who is completely down for the Captain America cause, because that's the way it has to be. You see when I started reading the comic book as little kid, it was called 'Captain America and Falcon' so these two have been together my whole life. Which I understand is neither here nor there in regards to this movie.
Then there's the issue of this Winter Soldier who looks like somebody Captain America might know. But how could that be since everybody Cap knows is long dead? Nazi's. I tell you. Regardless, there's a world on the brink and it's up to Captain America, Spy Chick and Flying Brother to save it.
Three things I'm throwing in there about 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' which was a fine film. First, about halfway through this movie, Steve Rogers finally gets around to visiting a ninety year old Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Considering he had a whole Avengers movie… don't wanna hear about having to 'save the world' or some other nonsense… and most of this movie, that's kind of uncool that it took that long, Steve. Second, after a brief misdirection kiss, Natasha asks if that was Caps first kiss in fifty years. Actually, I think Cap's probably still a virgin. Third, Natasha was born in 1984. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. She's supposed to be some kind of Ex-KGB agent. The KGB allegedly fell with the Soviet Union, so unless she was a seven year KGB agent, which I guess is possible, I'm gonna have to call her out on that one.
That irreverent nonsense aside, The Winter Soldier does some fairly amazing things for a comic book movie. For one, it goes to some pains to try to develop some of our characters. We learn a little about Nick Fury, we get deeper into the psyche of Steve Rogers, we get to learn about Sam Wilson long before he dons his Falcon wings, though Natasha Romanoff remains a little hazy, but I do believe this is by design. Second thing… the enemy… is us. Kind of. Yes, there's HYRDA and whatnot, but they aren't doing anything that we haven't given them the power to do which raises all kinds of issues towards the lengths we will sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of perceived safety. That some deep stuff for a comic book movie. Plus, I enjoy a villain who believes in the cause. Not evil for evils sake, but evil for what they honestly believe is for the good of mankind. That's what we got here. Our bad guy was almost remorseful that he had to kill millions, but it's hard to make a decent omelet without cracking a few eggs. These are some of the elements which helped make 'The Winter Soldier' a political thriller as well as a gonzo action movie.
But it's still a comic book movie so the action better be outstanding, and the action in 'The Winter Soldier' was pretty darn good. Captain America can't fly or anything, and he doesn't have ridiculous super strength so there were a lot close quarter fist to cuff battles which were very 'real world' and also very thrilling. Not that Cap can't do some seriously amazing things. Just ask that super SHIELD harrier jet thingie what Captain America can do. And of course it closes out, as expected, with the clock ticking down to triple zero and the fate of freedom at stake with enough explosions to almost make Michael Bay weep with envy. While this is probably the weakest part of the movie, can they really end any other way?
With 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Disney / Marvel comes through with a very solid entry to their universe to make up for a relatively lackluster outing from 'Thor: Darkworld', before they both return with 'Age of Ultron'. The fanboy locked inside cannot wait.
Marvel's gone and done it again. Like clock work, every 6-8 months, it doesn't seem to matter which super hero is there, who's directing, but marvel has found a winning formula to smash box office records. The first Captain America probably rated in the middle of the movies up to the Avengers- it wasn't Iron Man but it also wasn't The Hulk. What was remarkable about the first movie was the transformation of Steve into Captain America. The origin story now out of the way, and the evil Hyrda Syndicate firmly established, Captain America was free to be him. Question is- what kind of person, what kind of movie would Captain be? Like Chris, these nagging questions seem to be at the heart of The Winter Solider- some existential crisis, that anyone living in today's complex world could relate to.
First and foremost is that Captain has always been a loyal solider, and follows orders. It is this mentality that perhaps has Captain taking more of Director's Fury's call than say Iron Man, where there is the real potential of Fury getting an unfavorable reply. Fury relies on his trusted solider, and in return all the Captain expects is some trust. Isn't that the foundation of any good team, trust? When going into battle, each solider has to trust that their platoon, battalion, or squad has their back, and that they have their team's back. A team that has secrets starts to unravel, and Captain doesn't like the compartmentalizing Fury does. He feels that undermines the team dynamics. Fury's paranoia proves to be well founded, leaving Captain wondering who to trust.
Cap goes and sees Agent Carter, which leads to a weird tableau of a 95 year old who looks in his 20s reminiscing with the actually 90 something Agent Carter. I can't really fault Steve for not seeing her, the Battle of NY was pretty consuming, then there's the clean up. Then the next fire to put out, blah blah blah. Don't weep for Carter though, word is she's getting her own show. But through the awkward age scene, we start to see Cap question some fundamental beliefs. Does he still want to be a solider? Can he still follow orders? The trailer would have you believe, that Cap is being called on once again to shape the future, but now he wonders, what is it all for? After some elevator theatrics, car chases and shocking twists, Captain has two people he can rely on, Black Widow and The Falcon. Together they remind Cap that while today may not be perfect, the promise tomorrow may bring is worth saving.
When the villain turns out to be Bucky, Cap's ability to complete the mission is in question. Will he have what it takes to defeat The Winter Solider? "Even when he had nothing, he had Bucky" The Bucky he knew did die on the bridge in WW2, this robot Hydra version has no recollection of his childhood friend, and therefore has no qualms about completing his mission to destroy Capt. When faced with such a dilemma, how many of us would make the call that Cap did? That was truly heroic, that despite everything that Cap had been through, he still believed his friend Bucky was in there and wouldn't kill him. That's the kind of person Cap is, someone who still believes in the goodness of others. So yes, in the end, what is so harrowing about this movie is that we have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us. Each time we pre emptively strike, that belief in others wanes and we're allowing evil to be more powerful.