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Captain America is not one of the more interesting superheroes in the Marvel film universe. This was clearly evident in the first Captain movie. His only special power is the ability to throw a special shield that allows him to knock out enemies from afar while moonlighting as a professional Frisbee player (idea for a spinoff?). But to Marvel’s credit Captain America: The Winter Soldier focuses more on developing a story resulting in a more intriguing movie. Even though we are constantly getting oversaturated with superhero movies and getting close to superhero fatigue, Marvel uses different styles and genres in each of its franchises. The first Captain played more like an '80s action movie. The current sequel incorporates elements of political thrillers and mystery/crime movies.
Winter Soldier takes place shortly after The Avengers where the Captain is still getting used to life in the 21st century and getting over the often mentioned “New York” event. Chris Evans returns as Captain Steve Rogers along with Scarlett Johansson who has a much more prominent role as Black Widow. Also back is the unwavering Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. By now all of these actors are very familiar with their roles and are having fun playing out many young children’s dream. Some new faces pop up including Robert Redford who is the head of Shield, Alexander Pierce, and the on the verge of being a huge star Anthony Mackie who plays Rogers’ new friend Sam Wilson.
After a slew of events involving espionage and a secret enemy group that infiltrates Shield, Rogers goes on the run and is wanted for murder and treason. The Captain must find out why he is being framed for murder, otherwise he might also end up joining the growing list of the deceased.
There are many villainous beings in the film but the primary one is the Winter Soldier who has a silver arm that gives Rogers some trouble to say the least. The Winter Soldier does have a connection with Rogers but other than that reveal, the Soldier doesn’t have much to do except punch things. The filmmakers could have at least given him more than five lines.
There still remains a few inherent problems with these movies. For starters it seems strange that with Captain going through all of this turmoil some of his Avenger friends can’t stop by and help him out. However, there would probably be a pricy fee for Robert Downey Jr. to stop by. These Marvel movies have become very predictable and formulaic, but still entertaining.
I’m bringing this up because there is a certain character that is killed early on in the movie. When this event took place I thought to myself that there is no way this character will stay dead. Without trying to give away too much, my prediction was right. This character is too important to the entire Marvel universe to be killed in such a half-hearted way. This in turn made me ponder about how much we really root for these characters. If the ultimate sacrifice is death and that is taken away as a possibility, then the inevitable victory for the good guys isn’t quite as sweet. Of course we go see these movies because we know the protagonist will save the world at the end and because all these actors are signed on to make two, three or ten sequels, nevertheless, if there are no stakes for the lead character there will come a point when we stop carrying.
Since none of the main characters are in much danger getting killed off, it makes all of these single superhero movies seem meant to only be a stepping stone to the next film. There is a constant build up and it is never ending. Recently news came out that Marvel has all of their movies planned out up to the year 2028. If this is in fact true than it seems that all of these movies will build up to something that will never seem worth it, and that payoff may be that they stop making them, although that probably won’t happen for a very long time.
But getting back to this particular movie, the mystery and whodunit factor is what drives this movie. Sure there a plentiful amount of fight scenes and things blowing up which are never fully satisfying but is the reason we go to these movies, but it is the story that keeps us engaged, and it is a relatively intriguing one, that is for a Marvel superhero movie.