Directed by: Joe & Anthony Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout
Marvel Studios’ productions already include eight feature films and a television show; rumor has it that the group has plans laid out for years to come. They are playing a very long game, which gives them a lot of time to develop characters and focus on making each film as good as it can be, knowing that they have a lot of room for storytelling.
The latest entry in the franchise is “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which brings us the continuing story of Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) trying to find his place in a world completely different from the one in which he was raised while also coping with all the challenges of a superhero movie plotline.
In “The Avengers” we got to see Rogers clash with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) over the organization’s secrecy and willingness to do shady stuff to get jobs done, and “The Winter Soldier” carries that forward. Rogers is used to a world where distinguishing between the good guys and the bad guys is simple. In the modern world, that’s just not the case anymore. When things change suddenly and he doesn’t know who he can and cannot trust, he finds himself thrown together with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), a spy so experienced and skilled at subterfuge that it’s almost impossible to know who she really is or what her underlying agenda(s) might be.
Gratifyingly, Rogers and Romanoff’s relationship grows and changes without becoming romantic. This is a movie about two very different people learning how to trust each other and work together. Having a story where the main character is a man and his primary ally is a woman where they have an entirely platonic relationship is refreshing in a big Hollywood production. It helps that both Evans and Johansson are superbly cast and very talented, not to mention that they both have years of experience with their characters.
Since, at its heart, “The Winter Soldier” is a spy film, it’s difficult to discuss the plot in any detail without spoiling surprises. Let’s just say it’s a solid plotline that delivers plenty of opportunities for action and excitement. It also introduces Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who was the first mainstream African-American superhero when he debuted in Marvel Comics back in 1969.
In a lot of ways, “The Winter Soldier” is more serious than the other Marvel movies to date, but it still manages to have a thread of humor in amongst the intrigue. You don’t need to have seen the other films Rogers shows up in to appreciate this one, but the film will be a richer experience if you have. Plus, the other Marvel films are awesome and well worth seeing, so if you haven’t seen “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “The Avengers,” treat yourself to them and then go see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”