UK Release: March 28th 2014 (previews 26th and 27th)
Marvel Studios massively successful production line continues with ‘CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER’ with Chris Evans returning as the title superhero, along with fellow heroes of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Acting as Cap’s first solo outing (phase 2’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is more the companies gambit here) after 2012’s ‘Avengers Assemble’, this films sees Cap dealing with coming to terms with what type of world he is living in today. Set to a backdrop of Washington DC (something which Marvel Studios should be praised for as each of these different films is being set in different places), this takes a norm from the usual Superhero fopa and instead, the directors of The Russo Brothers place it into a mould of a political conspiracy thriller.
It isn’t just the setting which has changed, the Captain America character has changed too. Critics of both his costume in 2011’s ‘The First Avenger’ and 2012’s ‘Avengers Assemble’, also commented that the ‘’clean-cut’’ hero is very boring, he isn’t dynamic enough, even in ‘Avengers Assemble’, when he acts as the audiences eyes into the super group. The Captain we get here in ‘The Winter Soldier’ is more ‘bad ass’, from the get go you see him smack pirates off a boat, you see a man who has just the same amount of skills of that of Jason Bourne, and most importantly he has these ‘’clean -cut’’ ideals being broken down by the lack of trust by his state, this again streams into this political conspiracy thriller set up. And it is far play to Marvel Studios to do something out of the normal, and not only address the critics, but also do something which has never been attempted before. This whole political conspiracy thriller aspect runs riff throughout the film. There is the mystery of who is ‘The Winter Soldier’ (however if you read the comic books the whole twist will be ruined like with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’), and also the whole idea that SHEILD, the ‘’connecting tissue’’ of all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is corrupt and the mysterious Alexander Piece could hold the key. And this is it, the biggest draw in all this is the casting of Piece himself, and that is Robert Redford, a man arguably in his younger day could have played Captain America himself. What I find interesting about Redford’s casting is that he is a Republican actor, and to see him play a shady bureaucrat really is something of a big achievement here. When Redford comes on screen, your mind instantly thinks of ‘Three Days to Condor’ and ‘All the President’s Men’, but mixed up with a bit of Cold War/Wikileaks paranoia. You do think does this something to do with the current state of big Hollywood film’s hating America?
Acting wise Evans works well as Cap. Natural charisma is there and has good interplay with both Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Johansson’s Black Widow at first appears very ’’ flirty’’ to Cap, however you soon realise that this is a surprisingly well registered and strong female character, who is using this ‘’flirty’’ act to get him back in the modern world. There has been lots of controversy about this, however you see her have the same amount of screen time as Cap, but also a character that is constantly helping and saving Cap. I think the over sexual photoshopped posters doesn’t help, as I believe that is the issue. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon on the other hand has a surprisingly good modern twist to his character which brings a likeableness to proceedings, however when he gets his wings to fly about on, he just becomes some poor imitation of Iron Man (a character which with the revelations which become apparent, you do wonder where he is in all this as it is to do with him as it is Cap). There is a good tone of subtle humour throughout between the three, Jenny Agutter gets an excellent role and Marvel fans there is some very interesting Marvel Easter Eggs placed in there including one about a certain strange Dr………
There are downfalls to all this, the films does descend in the second act into silliness as the tension and tone of a political thriller loosens. The end battle sequences, I couldn’t help but think ‘Star Wars’ throughout, and there is very much identical fight scenes being played out here, as with what happened in ‘Thor: The Dark World’. The plot point of the hero getting attacked by the enemy on his home soil is also played up yet again like with previous three Marvel Studios films. The story at times also feels like it’s making it up as it goes along to help try tie up loose ends from the phrase 1 films, even by reintroducing Garry Shandling’s Senator from ‘Iron Man 2’. Also The Winter Soldier character doesn’t deserve the credit he gets in the film title as he is hardly in it much and us underused. However there is ripples in this film which will not just effect summer 2015’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe on a whole. This should bring enough interest to critics who might think this whole superhero film thing has gone over its expiry date, and certainly brings a more unpredictability going forward. ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ gets a salute from me.