After the world-wide success of The Avengers, Captain America is back starring in his own movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who during World War II was turned into a super soldier by American scientists. He is faster and stronger than many of his opponents, and is also smarter and kinder– though he had those traits all along. Steve’s one weakness, it seems, is pop culture. Since, you know, he was trapped in ice for decades.
Steve is working for the law enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and at the beginning of the film his main concern seems to be catching up on everything that he missed while he was on ice (his list humorously includes Thai food, Star Wars, and Star Trek). Work is routine for Steve, and maybe even a little boring. He isn’t sure where he fits in this new world, and isn’t sure what his role should be. Should he be a soldier and follows orders even when his morals clash with his superiors’ plans? Or should he strike out on his own? And if so, what will he do with his life?
But then a character who has been a fixture of the Marvel movie universe for years shows up at Steve’s apartment after being attacked. This character entrusts Steve with a piece of technology (which Steve has no idea how to use since, well, he was asleep for decades) and tells Cap to trust no one. And then he dies.
Suddenly Steve has to question the motives of everyone around him. Does he trust the cute girl next door he flirts with over laundry (Emily VanCamp)? Does he trust his fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents when it seems very possible that a splinter cell inside the agency could be behind the murder?
Steve decides to trust his friend and ally Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). They go dark, going undercover in order to try and uncover the secrets behind who killed their colleague and friend. A new ally, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), helps them on their quest using skills from his time in the military. What they discover about S.H.I.E.L.D. is much, much bigger than any of them ever imagined. And when an integral person from Steve’s past resurfaces, now called the Winter Soldier, nothing will be the same.
Phew. Now. Let me start this review off by saying that I am a DC comics girl. I don’t read Marvel comics, but I find most of their films to be entertaining if not life changing. I’m not a big Avengers fan, but I loved this movie. Sure, the fight scene in the finale was way too long and reminded me way to much of the finale in The Avengers. But the real reason to watch this film, as with any Marvel film, is the characters.
I have to hand it to Marvel, the way that they have planned out their movie universe is amazing. Characters weave in and out of each film, and they have done a great job of uncovering the complexities and different facets of each main character’s personality. Steve Rogers is, as always, a fantastic character. He is funny, self-effacing, and a consumate hero who always strives to uphold what is right. But the real star of the show is Natasha Romanoff, who has always been a morally gray character. She has a checkered, violent past, and joined S.H.I.E.L.D. in the hopes of redeeming herself. She is tough, intelligent, sarcastic, and always a few steps ahead of everyone around her.
This film does a great job of revealing nuances of Natasha, who is finally (hopefully) getting her own film. She has to make big decisions about whether or not to do the right thing, even if it is detrimental to her personally. And can I just say, it is so, so refreshing to have a female star in a movie without being a love interest. Natasha and Steve have a deep, caring relationship, but it is most certainly a platonic one. A recurring joke throughout the movie is that Natasha is trying to set Steve up with other women. In fact, the relationship closest to a romance is the bromance between Steve and Sam Wilson.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film that respects its heroine and shows her to be complex, courageous, and witty– as well as beautiful. If there are a few shots that show off her physique in her uniform, there are also plenty gratuitous shots of Steve in his. Black Widow and the Cap are equals, even in that. Natasha makes the movie, which is so fun and enjoyable, a must-see because the respect that she is shown is so, so refreshing. Which is, albeit, incredibly sad. But it’s a step in the right direction. And when Black Widow’s movie comes out in theaters, I will be one of the first in line to see it. Even if I’m a DC girl.