by Coop Cooper
It seems the trend of Marvel attempting to top previous superhero films continues with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. This ambitious attempt to expand on the Captain’s mythology and continue to tie it in with other Marvel properties, especially the upcoming “Avengers 2”, is another giant leap in quality and scope. This new effort is not only overwhelming successful, it could be the best Marvel Comics film so far.
When we last left Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) he was saving New York from an alien hoard with the help of the other Avengers. Now Rogers works directly for S.H.I.E.L.D. as their top operative with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as his partner. When he witnesses his agency put people in jeopardy to ensure its own interests, Rogers develops trust issues with his superiors, particularly Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who is preparing to launch a new global defense system with questionable moral implications. When Fury postpones the defense system launch due to suspected security breaches, a mysterious assassin known only as ‘The Winter Soldier’ appears and attempts to destroy Fury and Rogers. Rogers’ is forced to go on the run with Black Widow to discover who is pulling the strings of The Winter Soldier and why they want him dead.
This film features the most complex characters and plot of any Marvel film to date. Not just Cap, but every major character gets a transformative and satisfying story arc or at least a substantial dramatic moment to draw upon. Captain America finally shows his full potential as a leader, a superhero and a emotionally developed character.
The plot itself is intricately layered like a spy thriller, exposing larger and more sinister reveals as it progresses. In fact, the villains’ ultimate plan is far more dire and destructive than any Marvel film to date. It also has grand implications for all future Marvel films and how their plots interweave throughout the franchise. The only thing odd about this story is how more easily it could have been resolved if only one of the more powerful members of the Avengers had intervened. For all practical purposes, that should have happened (how come Tony Stark isn’t one phone call away?) but I suppose that would be too easy for Cap.
This film introduces a few new and interesting characters. Anthony Mackie plays Sam ‘Falcon’ Wilson, a new casual friend of Rogers’ who coincidentally happens to be a former military pilot of an experimental tactical winged suit. Robert Redford plays the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s bureaucratic oversight committee, Alexander Pierce, and Frank Grillo plays S.H.I.E.L.D. tactical commander Brock Rumlow who eventually becomes the deadly Cap nemesis known as ‘Crossbones’.
There are also many rewarding cameos by minor Marvel comics heroes and villains in “Captain America: TWS” who could potentially become important in future films, including: Batroc the Leaper (Georges St-Pierre), Dr. Arnim Zola a.k.a. ‘MODOK’ (Toby Jones), Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and even a quick, offhanded mention of ‘Doctor’ Stephen Strange. If this trend of adding new characters continues, “Avengers 2” could have more characters than “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” combined.
This film could also have a loose tie-in with “Guardians of the Galaxy” in August which happens in the same universe as Captain America, but most definitely not on the same planet. More likely “Guardians” will have a direct tie-in to the storyline in the future “Avengers 2”.
What’s not so clear in the Marvel Universe is how the events in “Captain America: TWS” will affect the fledgling TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” which started off very shaky but has only now found its footing over the last few episodes. It could send the show careening off in strange and interesting directions, or potentially destroy it completely.
This superhero movie is phenomenal. Personally, I can’t wait to see it again.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars