I’m willing to accept most things in the silly, cartoony world that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — the sequel to the 2011 movie —and all the rest of these Marvel Avenger movies inhabit.
I’m willing to accept the seemingly infinite number of secret (sometimes underground) hideouts and safe houses the characters take refuge in, and I’m willing to accept the myriad cool, convenient gadgets — such as a digitized version of the “Mission Impossible” face disguise — that the characters pull out at the last minute.
But I have trouble accepting that, after Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” in 2012 — in which Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and others finally joined forces to become an established superhero team in the cinematic universe — there would be another individual “Captain America” movie.
I find it so amusing that for a film that’s mainly about teamwork, Captain America doesn’t have his newfound teammates to rely on. This also goes for the other individual superhero movies that have come after “The Avengers,” like “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World.” And so, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is a passable piece of superhero entertainment, but not much else. It is better than “Thor 2,” and it doesn’t feel quite as hurried as the first “Captain America.”
The source material is inherently patriotic and pro-American, but the tone of “Winter Soldier” feels especially patriotic and chiefly pro-military.
The movie actually gets off to a pretty good start, addressing the theme of reintegrating — on the part of veterans — back into society, something that can be difficult to do. In the case of our red, white, and blue shield-throwing super-soldier Steve Rogers (aka Captain America, played by Chris Evans) it’s extremely difficult.
Rogers is a soldier without a time period. As you will remember from the 2011 film, he became Captain America during World War II, and after defeating an evil Nazi guy, he became frozen in ice and unthawed in the present day so he could fight with the other Avengers in Whedon’s movie.
In “Winter Soldier,” Rogers hasn’t been able to fully shake his past. There’s an endearing scene between him and his now-elderly love interest from the first movie and another scene where he goes to a Captain America exhibit at a museum. This is a natural way to deepen this character, but it would have worked even better had this movie come before “The Avengers.”
But before too long, Rogers gets double-crossed by the government organization S.H.I.E.L.D, which initiated the Avengers program, and “The Winter Soldier” turns into another fugitive-on-the-run action movie involving a flash drive, an evil German organization (no, not Nazis) and another super-soldier called The Winter Soldier, who’s connected to Roger’s past.
It’s Captain America and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D member Natasha Romanoff (sexy and snarky Scarlett Johansson) against the world — it’s too bad there isn’t a team of superheroes they can call on. But there are the Avengers! The S.H.I.E.L.D organization is being compromised, and one of the main Avengers is being hunted — in Washington D.C., no less — and Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk are nowhere to be found.
Sadly, it simply comes down to “ The Avengers: Age of Ultron” currently being in production, and all of the Avengers can’t be together in a movie that isn’t an official “Avengers” team movie.
That is the main problem with this ever-growing, intertwining superhero world: Since The Avengers have already come together and formed a unified team, these subsequent individual movies feel sort of pointless now and somewhat undermine the spirit of teamwork this franchise so strongly promotes.
However, the rest of the movie provides entertaining bits here and there, and I did like the playful, chummy relationship between Natasha and Steve, but overall, there aren’t any real major surprises, simply because this never-ending franchise and its “think three or four movies ahead” tactic has mostly eliminated that element.
“Captain America 3” has already been announced, which tells you how much the studio cares about this one. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” is simply a mildly entertaining, big-budget episode in this massive-budgeted TV series. Fans and general audiences will love this movie, but by the time “Avengers 2” and whatever else comes next, this movie — like so many of the others — will be mostly forgotten.
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