Film Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier has become the top-grossing April release of all time in North America bringing in $224.9 million domestically and making $645.2 million globally. But is it really worth the hype or is it just another mediocre movie to add to Marvel’s ever growing library?

With Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige recently revealing that he has ‘a map of films reaching as far as 2028 on the wall of his office’ it seems that the megabucks Marvel movie machine will not be going anywhere for the foreseeable future, with plans for two Avengers sequels and one apiece for Thor and Captain America in the next five years alone. With this in mind those seeking more than the bright, fun and (let’s face it) predictable superhero films of recent years, such as the delights of a dark crime thriller like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, may be waiting a while yet.

But let’s not be too hasty, for the latest marvel creation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, under the direction of the Russo brothers, cements Marvel’s more recent winning streak,  delving into the murky depths of subterfuge, espionage and politics; not quite reaching the majesty of the Batman franchise but nonetheless packing a powerful and refreshing punch.

While the first film certainly delivered, with intense character portrayals and internal struggles, set against the ever fascinating backdrop of World War Two, this second installment amps things up to the next level, with car chases matching the ferocity of such films as Bourne Supremacy, and exhilarating, brutish action sequences that rival the best of the scenes in the Avengers.

But more than that, Marvel finally offers us some gritty realism, with superheroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the magnificent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who finally gets properly into the Marvel Studios action, all grappling with real-world issues such as national security, civil liberty, and intelligence gathering. Johansson in particular is scintillating and is a perfect foil for the titular hero, her shades-of-grey worldview grating against his black and white vision of morality. The sombre integrity of Chris Evans is still not nearly as entertaining as the screen filling personality of Robert Downey Jr, but his role as the patriotic soul of the nation is none the less a great improvement on Marvel’s usual uninspiring characters.

Combine three-dimensional heroes with unexpected plot twists that owe as much to 1970s conspiracy thrillers as comic books, and brilliant casting, the pick of the bunch being Robert Redford, and you are left feeling that Marvel are finally heading in the right direction.

All in all then, the Marvel Franchises’ appointment of custodians Kevin Feige and Joe and Anthony Russo has worked and the inter-connected Marvel Universe they have created, with each film linked in a cinematic web, leaves audiences on the edge of their seats, waiting for the inevitable reveal at the end of the credits giving us an insight into what’s coming next.

Perhaps then, another decade of Marvel films is not too bad after all. What’s certainly true is that Captain America gives the image of flagging comic-book movies an adrenaline shot of relevance that cements Marvel’s current run of form. Long may it continue.

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