It’s a well-known fact that as of last year, Marvel have dominated the comics-film market. Sure, DC have Batman and Superman but that pales in comparison to Marvel’s film pantheon. Each year, Marvel have been bringing very high quality films, and the first of 2014 has been the hotly-anticipated Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Captain America. Steve Rogers. Man out of time. Following on from the explosive events of Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers Assemble, Winter Soldier follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) a man with astonishing super-powers as he struggles to adapt to modern life. Having spent sixty years frozen in ice in the Arctic Circle, Rogers has missed a lot. However, he’s trying to keep busy by doing regular missions for SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, doncha know) and this is where we join Captain America, on a mission with Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) to defuse a hostage situation aboard a freighter. After the mission goes smoothly. SHIELD Director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is set upon by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), a ruthless and deadly assassin who will stop at nothing to get his mark. Fury manages to escape to Rogers’ apartment and inform him that SHIELD has been sabotaged, but the Winter Soldier catches up to him. After Rogers takes Fury’s dying warning to heart and begins to get distrustful of everyone around him, he is branded a traitor by the organisation, and along with Natasha Romanoff, he becomes a fugitive from SHIELD as the two try to work out just what has happened to SHIELD. After meeting up with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) who reveals his unique talent as a para-rescueman (complete with jet backpack and wings) and joined by Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) the quartet go up against the remnants of a sabotaged SHIELD, and Steve learns the truth behind the Winter Soldier…
With a star-studded cast and featuring some great performances, Captain America: Winter Soldier is the next in Marvel’s cinematic universe, and stands up well in context to its predecessors.
Winter Soldier brings together many influences from the character’s expansive comic book history and does an adept job at modernising it for today’s audiences. At its heart, Winter Soldier is a dark political thriller that just so happens to take place against a backdrop of superheroes and supervillains. This allows it to be enjoyed by both diehard comic fans and non-fans alike, but the insights and hints to the Marvel mythos allow for a deeper enjoyment for the diehards. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo stated that they wanted to use as little special effects as they could, which gave the film a perfectly raw and gritty feeling which fitted it perfectly. Despite the pair’s unusual history of directing comedy shows (the pair are more well-known as directing Community) they’ve adapted very well to the big leagues and bring a unique approach to the genre, and make some intelligent decisions in creating the film and making it look as good as it does.
With the script written by Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeeley channels many of the classically patriotic Captain America stories from the comic books and does an excellent job of bringing them into a paranoid, modern state. Marcus and McFeeley have succeeded in writing a deep, hugely engaging story. The characters all feel very well-rounded and realistic, and Marcus and McFeeley have done an excellent job on giving all involved characters a large amount of depth. The friendships and interactions that occur throughout the film feel natural, and the quality of the script is shown through the actor’s strong performances.
The performances from all of the cast were absolutely excellent, especially from such a big cast with many supporting characters having great turns. Scarlett Johansson smoulders as the femme fatale of the flick, and plays excellently off Chris Evans as the morally troubled good guy, and the two feed off each other’s energy to create painfully good on-screen chemistry. Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson works as the multi-layered fragile war veteran/total badass sidekick and his action scenes are really something to behold. Samuel L Jackson is the badass we all expect him to be (surprising no-one) but I found that I was more than pleasantly surprised by Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier. As well as doing some downright incredible action and fight scenes against Chris Evans, but the undertone of a fragile, crippled man who has suffered through extreme brainwashing. Even as a victim, the earnestness of his performance is something incredible to watch, and you find yourself being sucked into his character. Even the supporting cast were great, with Emily Van Der Kamp being quietly threatening and commanding authority as Sharon Carter.
In short, Captain America: Winter Soldier is a politically charged thriller for the modern age, which channels many socio-political issues that are such a hot topic in the modern world. With some incredibly tense moments and engaging story, Captain America: Winter Soldier has shot to the top of my Marvel favourites list.
If you’re a Marvel fan, I’d strongly suggest sticking around after the credits…
Oh, and Marvel? Black Widow film, pls.