As of this writing, “Captain America: Civil War” is a little less than two months away. It will be the third film starring the title character of Captain America. The new trailer got me thinking about the movie proceeding it and that is “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. The entire reason that I am anticipating this film more than “The Avengers” or “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is becaus of The Winter soldier. It is arguably my favorite film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise.
The film picks up about a year after the events of The Avengers and so Steve Rogers/Captain America has been in modern times for about that time and he has adjusted well enough but he is still a man out of time and without a figurative home. He works for S.H.I.E.L.D. but he is not comfortable with all the secrets that goes with espionage. He seemingly has no social life as he always “busy” and the times we see him during his free time, he stays to the past. Something I felt was lacking in the MCU films was character.
There are plenty of characters but if they are not the main character, it can get somewhat iffy. We see through Sam Wilson, a random jogger who just happens to be ex military, connect with Steve and relate to his disconnect with society. We later learn that Sam works at the VA and helps military personnel with PTSD. It’s not overt but it is clear that Steve Rogers suffers when he is not in a combat situation. Black Widow, Steve’s Avengers teammate and seemingly his field partner in S.H.I.E.L.D. missions, constantly asks him about his dating life and is trying to get him out there. Steve also visits an elederly and Alzheimer’s afflicted Peggy Carter as she was the one who got away and she lived a life while he never got to and seemingly does not know how to. His personal life never dominates the screen but it is a constant theme throughout the movie. Can this man find semblance of stability?
Blending into this is Steve’s job as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He is no longer in a clear “good guy vs. bad guy” type of war. He does not know who he has to fight. S.H.I.E.L.D. is also implementing a new program where they can figure out who the enemy is first and strike before. Steve struggles with this as he does believe in protect first, strike after. The constant fighting in the shadows is starting to drag on him.
Things only pick up for the titular hero when an old enemy, HYDRA, returns and also an old friend, Bucky Barnes, but Bucky is no longer as he remembers him. Instead he has become the brainwashed and near unstoppable assassin Winter Soldier. The return of these things from his past and giving him some sort of purpose reinvigorates Captain America and he brings along Black Widow and new friend turned battle buddy Sam Wilson aka The Falcon along on the ride.
Chris Evans completely sells the idea that he is Steve Rogers/Captain America. He is a man out of time and a man without purpose. There are shades of the character that he was in “The First Avenger” but from the war to being thrust into the future, he has evolved into something more. The one thing that remains are his scruples and that is what carries the film. Captain America has a moral code and strict rules and nothing will change that. While it may be frustrating to others and can come off as one dimensional, the movie shows that the world needs people like that.
I love movies based on comic books and particularly superhero movies. That being said, I can only say that I truly think “The Dark Knight” is arguably one of the greatest films of all time. That was until April 2014. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a masterpiece of a film.