Damn. This was good…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier does not disappoint

| Ceejay Bachus reporter |

Captain America is a hard nut to crack. In this film’s predecessor, “The First Avenger,” Marvel had a hard time trying to pin down the character and how he should be portrayed. This unearths an obvious snag in the idea of taking a man from the 1940s and placing him in the modern day among spies, angry monsters and an alien invasion.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is juggling a lot of plates. It’s the most direct successor to “The Avengers,” the narrative predecessor to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and is tasked with creating characters and storylines that have developed over the course of five films. It also has to finally cement Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers as a believable character. The film does all of these things perfectly.
Marvel Studios has churned out quality products at least twice a year. This is unusual but not unwelcome, as we get a bunch of really awesome movies – like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – with direct ties to one another that give casual viewers the same geeky chubs that comic book fans get when something kitschy from the source is used in the film.
Captain America is now working with the black ops division of S.H.I.E.L.D., assisted by the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). His loyalties are being tested frequently and his ideals often conflict with those of the organization that he’s given his life to. All the while, the events of “Avengers” have sent the government into a fervor, which has let to Project Insight, the PATRIOT Act on super steroids.
After a violent falling out, Cap and the Widow become fugitives hoping to put an end to the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. while a ghost from Steve’s past comes back to bite him in the ass.
“The Winter Soldier” is the action debut for Joseph and Anthony Russo, a duo known for directing “You, Me & Dupree” and a few episodes of “Community.”
The screenplay, by Stephen McFreely and Christopher Markus, borrows heavily from the source material. They pull not only from Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” storyline, but “Man Out of Time” from the same run, a seminal ‘80s Marvel spy story, “Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D,” and various other Cap stories from the past 40 years to craft a single story that justifies Rogers’ inclusion in Marvel’s films, but also tears down the walls that the studio has been building for itself since 2008’s “Iron Man.”
The third act of this movie is so jaw-droppingly ballsy that it will literally change all discourse related Cap and every character and story arc that has been introduced since that first Iron Man outing.
The performances are fantastic; Evans, Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson remain Marvel’s best decisions since the casting of Robert Downey Jr. The standout comes from Anthony Mackie as the winged military vet Sam Wilson/The Falcon. Mackie’s turn as Falcon fulfills the comic relief and he is an instantly believable action hero in his own right. Also: big ups to Marvel for including their very first black superhero in this film (Falcon first appeared in “Captain America,” #117 in 1969).
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is an impeccably paced, well-thought out, expertly realized game changer of a superhero film that at once grounds the Marvel cinematic universe and bursts the door wide open for endless possibilities.
It’s Marvel’s best solo outing since “Iron Man” and surpasses that film on almost every level. Marvel’s got big plans on the horizon and if it can keep delivering films like this it will remain THE major player in the superhero genre.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to its head and affect the quality of the material – because with great power comes great responsibility.

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