“How do we know the good guys from the bad guys?” — Sam Wilson a.k.a Falcon
This latest installation of Captain America’s franchise surrounds us with such question, yet, this film gives you no easy answer for it along its 130++ minute duration. As usual, Captain America is not going to be any Marvel film (The First Avenger has shown how unique Cap’s style is). Surprisingly, it leaves Marvel canonized taste of humour and goes the serious way—with a more complex plot that deviates usual comic-based film.
The Winter Soldier focuses on Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America (Chris Evans) and his surprising “side-kick”, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as they reveal secrets behind S.H.I.E.L.D. and unveil an uncanny conspiracy involving men of S.H.I.E.L.D. This organization works on the Project Insight, a defense system using battle-planes that will eliminate world’s potential threat even before they move. While this project causes frictions between Cap and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), this film hasn’t even revealed the title.
The real Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is introduced during the chaos as a perfect match for Cap. Initially, I thought putting a super-villain among a triumph of adversity is a blunder—yet, I was wrong. The Winter Soldier is a perfect distraction for Cap’s investigations. Assisted by Black Widow and Sam Wilson a.k.a Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Cap faces the most intriguing conspiracy hidden between the fancy universe of Marvel.
Decision to put several poles of conflicts in one franchised movie looks so risky at the beginning; yet, as the film goes, I can see very clearly that the plot is not only well-structured, but it is more conflict-driven. During the first and second act, the plotting and the pacing are tight—as we are kept busy thinking who the real mastermind of this conspiracy is. With sufficient portion of action and investigation, the first two acts is gripping and thrilling (a new kind of Marvel’s work, isn’t it?). However, nearly the end of the film, The Winter Soldier turns dull as it falls to usual Marvel over the top ending that doesn’t fit the atmosphere felt until the climax.
No wonder, Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2 definitely expands and enriches everything there with details beyond conspiracies. It’s no surprise that films in Phase 2 are familiar with twists (let’s save The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and Loki in the end of Thor: The Dark World), The Winter Soldier adapts this one too with poignant twists and turns that I decide not to give spoilers here. It has gone beyond usual spionage taste that labels the S.H.I.E.L.D. in the beginning.
As it introduces lots of new characters, including sympathetic Falcon, who is sympathetically portrayed by Mackie, and Alexander Pierce—terrific Robert Redford, this film marks the return of some old (or forgotten) characters from The First Avengers, which become a little sentimental, and The Avengers. Yet, the spotlight of this film is trio Cap, Black Widow, and Nick Fury. It’s not about getting used to the present time anymore, it’s about how Cap’s nature to lead works in the present time and present threat. We can also see another side of Black Widow and Nick Fury more personally here—so let’s call it The Avengers 1.5 after all.
The Russos take the challenge from Kevin Feige, the boss of Marvel, with their own swagger. Yet, it shows that Marvel Studio is prepared to risk everything in a movie (which is not Iron Man). So, The Winter Soldier has become the darkest film in MCU so far (even darker than The Dark World—but don’t compare it to Watchmen in another universe). It’s a complex conspiracy thriller that defines superhero film in lots different area as it is structured from beginning ’till the end. The Winter Soldier sets a high point for The Avengers in a not so Marvel way.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Adaptation Running Time: 136 mins Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Ed Brubaker (Concept), Joe Simon, Jack Kirby (comic book) Starred by: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo
TRIVIA: The same as other Marvel films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier adopts mid-credit scene and post-credit scene. The former involves Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Clue? Click here with your own risk. The latter involves Sebastian Stan as… Clue? Click here. So, don’t get too hasty to leave the cinema, if you don’t want to miss them.
TRIVIA: Even if you miss them, a blog-friend of mine will help here! Click!
TRIVIA: If you’re lucky enough, you’ll see “The path of the righteous man” in the epitaph of our character. Everyone knows that this a biblical line quoted by Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. If you know what I mean.
TRIVIA: Kate a.k.a Agent 13 a.k.a Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) is Cap’s eventual lover. She is closely connected to the love of Cap’s life Peggy Carter.