The Winter Soldier"
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Running Time: 136 minutes
Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with two entries that felt very self-contained. That’s not to say that some of the events of Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World won’t inform this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy or next year’s Phase Two capper Avengers: Age of Ultron in some shape or fashion but those sequels were intensely focused on the individual superhero’s trials and tribulations. Not Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This isn’t just a direct sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger—it’s the first Phase Two offering to deal specifically with the aftermath of the alien attack chronicled in The Avengers. The Winter Soldier finds Chris Evans’ Captain America still adjusting to life in the 21st Century. While he remains a dedicated S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, he doesn’t like the way Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury runs the agency in the gray. Cap misses the days of World War II when he knew his enemies and he knew the rules of engagement. There isn’t much time for reminiscing in The Winter Soldier. Fury’s assassination finds Cap and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow fighting back against an enemy organization that has infiltrated and gained control of S.H.I.E.L.D. Standing in the way of Cap, the Black Widow and their new ally, Anthony Mackie’s the Falcon, is the Winter Soldier, an assassin with Captain America-like strength, agility, and intelligence. Marvel has not made much of an attempt to hide the identity of the Winter Soldier, but I won’t reveal who plays him for fear of spoiling one of the film’s plot twists that has aBourne Identity-like quality to it. However, the Winter Soldier’s presence certainly helps generate much of the tension to be found in this Captain America sequel. Indeed, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo bring a Cold War-era paranoia to the proceedings which play on our post-911 fears. This is never more evident than in the casting of conspiracy thriller veteran Robert Redford as Fury’s friend and S.H.I.E.L.D. advocate Alexander Pierce. An actor of Redford’s stature could easily think he’s above it all when it comes to appearing in a superhero epic but Redford takes delight in subverting the All-American onscreen persona he has cultivated since the 1960s. There’s a delicious irony to watching Pierce face off against Captain America, whom he believes knows more about Fury’s death than he’s letting on, knowing full well that Redford would have worn Captain America’s uniform like a second skin in the 1970s. The uncompromising nobility Evans brings to the role of Captain America can easily be traced back to so many of the performances Redford has given over the decades. Redford isn’t the only welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the high-flying Falcon, Mackie quickly finds his place at Captain America’s side in much the same way Jeremy Renner did as Hawkeye in The Avengers. Also, Frank Grillo gets his nasty on as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Brock Rumlow, a.k.a Crossbones. Of the familiar faces, Johansson works hard to show the human side of the Black Widow, and the questions that The Winter Soldier raises about the ex-KGB agent’s mysterious past begs to be addressed in her own film. Jackson remains a dominant force as ever as Fury, and thankfully The Winter Soldier requires him to more than bark orders at every costumed crusader in sight. He gets his hands dirty, which is something we have waited to see for a long time. What the future holds for Cap and his allies remains to be seen. Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo go for broke not just in the way they stage some of the biggest and most impressive action sequences to be found in a Marvel film but also in changing the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The immediate effects of The Winter Soldier will be felt in the ABC TV series Marvel’s Agents of Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D, whileThe Winter Soldier’s end-credits stingers offer some hints of what to expect from next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and 2016’s Captain America 3. Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy will offer some immediate answers. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long wait to see how things shake out in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Aired: April 3, 2014
Web site: http://marvel.com/captainamerica