The latest Marvel release picks up the famed story of Steve Rogers and though it doesn’t revolutionise the super-hero genre it certainly makes some interesting points to distinguish it from some of Marvel’s other recent endeavours..
Captain America has always been an interesting casestudy when it comes to superheroes, particularly because he’s not as ‘super’ as the others, and this is evident in the Avengers film. But Captain America is more than a superhero, he’s a foot soldier, a patriot, and a symbol, this is something that the screenwriters of the Winter Soldier honed in on.
Being primarily restricted to ground combat, the Winter Soldier packs its action sequence with expertly choreographed martial art scenes, echoing the slick skirmishes seen throughout the Bourne trilogy. On top of this, intense car chases and the tactical operative takeover of a ship (eerily reminiscent of an old Call of Duty map) cause the film to strongly adopt the action genre alongside the superhero one. One positive of this, of course, is that it makes the film look more real, certainly something that Marvel has lacked especially considering the chilling realism of the Dark Knight trilogy.
The original conception of Captain America in the comic books dates back to 1940 as a consciously political creation and response to Nazi Germany. Captain America served as a collective symbol of all things American, in the first film this is quite obviously dealt with, but in the second a much more contemporary and pertinent route is taken. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is looking to deploy highly advanced machines to not only eliminate human threats but anticipate future threats. Evidently a form of modern dictatorship and there lies the link to Nazi Germany, but the more interesting point is addressed throughout the film. The theme of lies, secrets, and surveillance (especially in political settings) is heavily present throughout the movie (the setting of Washington D.C instead of the usual New York), no doubt a nod to the NSA scandals and how it’s a breach of American freedom and liberty. The filmmakers have updated Captain America from fighting the contemporary threat to the U.S in the 40s to fighting a modern problem that may not manifest itself physically but it equally challenges the American ideology.
Though the film bears many strong points, along with the CGI for the most part, Captain America did need the help of Falcon and Black Widow both in the film’s chain of events but also in a narrative sense. Anthony Mackie’s introduction as Falcon was another smart movie by the creators, both he and Rogers find solace in one another as they hang on to their respective pasts. Robert Redford’s casting as Alexander Pierce was categorically good, but the Winter Soldier himself proved to be an apposite antagonist.
Overall, not what I expected, a good watch and a step in the right direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The prequel scene in the closing credits was interesting food for thought as well.
Another facet of Steve Rogers’ character in this Marvel universe is his personal life, throughout the movie Black Widow teases him about a love interest which he always shrugs off with some kind of wry response. The personal identity and life of a superhero makes up half of their character, but Rogers’ half is 80 years in the past and there’s nothing to show for it, hence the choice of Bucky as the villain being an excellent choice. The one person that hasn’t changed since his previous life lives and breathes in front of him but has been manipulated into his enemy. It’s a Shakespearean clash between the two, one that could maybe be assimilated to Harry Osborn and Peter Parker’s, which finishes in dramatic fashion.