Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Yeah, I Liked It More Than The Avengers

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There, I said it…and I loved The Avengers! You all know my Loki love and I would put this film, The Winter Soldier, on top of my Marvel  movie list. Chris Evans, who I praised after seeing Captain America: The First Avenger, is the ideal performer for the role and reminds us, yet again, of this fact with his most recent, and evolved, portrayal of Steve Rogers – Captain America himself.

He is Captain America, dang it!

He is Captain America, dang it!

Now, The Winter Soldier has been in theaters for over a week, and I have no intention of giving any spoilers away here. I figure if you haven’t seen the film by now, you either are going to soon or have read/heard enough to know that a lot of things happen in this film that move towards Avengers 2. The Hail Hydra memes are a pretty big clue at any rate. What I would like to focus on is the story and what makes this movie the best of the Marvel films to date.

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The Avengers was a spectacular ensemble piece, with a fantastic story full of action, pause, and humor, it’s a bit overwhelming. This is by no means a complaint. What Marvel and the people they hire as directors, writers, producers, etc do well is transfer the excitement of a comic book to the medium of film. The Avengers is an awesome film (full of my Precious, Loki, aka Tom Hiddleston)! The story is large because it has to be and that is the appeal of the film itself: all the threads, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, coming together to make a ginormous tapestry.

Seriously...any movie he is in is a good, if not great, film. That just shows you how good Chris Evans is. Chris Evans makes me wavier - SLIGHTLY - on my Loki/Tom Hiddleston love.

Seriously…any movie he is in is a good, if not great, film. That just shows you how good Chris Evans is. Chris Evans makes me wavier – SLIGHTLY – on my Loki/Tom Hiddleston love.

Where Thor: The Dark World (another film I enjoyed immensely) followed the Avengers with another lofty story with a scope that encompasses all of the nine realms, The Winter Soldier is grounded in reality. You may be saying to yourself, “sure, Staci, a story involving a super soldier who was frozen, thawed, helped save the world from an alien invasion led by a god, is grounded in reality.” Well, it is and that’s part – a big part – of why I rate this movie so highly.

Set after the events of New York (The Avengers), Captain America is no longer the wide eyed, following orders without question, individual he was when he first enlisted. Over the course of his battles in WWII, the shock of reviving into a world he doesn’t recognize, and seeing the compartmentalization of truths, half-truths, and out right lies by S.H.I.E.L.D, Cap finds himself questioning what he’s doing and, more importantly, who he is doing it for.

It is important to note that Steve Rogers does not ever question doing the right thing. What he begins questioning is what is “right.”

These guys, though, they had some things they wanted to discuss.

These guys, though, they had some things they wanted to discuss.

The film opens with a mission where Cap is only given part of the information. He is, rightfully, annoyed at “cleaning up” Director Fury’s messes and becomes even more disillusioned with his role at S.H.I.E.L.D. when he discovers that the rescue mission he was on, wasn’t the only mission Fury had planned (enter Scarlett Johanssen’s character, the Black Widow). After Cap calls Fury out on his not telling the whole truth, Fury, in turn, shows Cap Project Insight – a level 10 project involving three new heli-carriers and a weapons system that can eliminate threats to world security, thus eliminating future conflicts/attacks/etc before they happen.

This is where Chris Evans, as Captain America, says probably my favorite line from the film:

“This isn’t freedom. This is fear.”

After all he has seen, after all he has been through, Cap still believes – BELIEVES – that freedom, and all it entails, good and bad, are worth more than any supposed security monitored by a single group of people – fallible people. Maybe he just knows that there isn’t such a thing as security provided for all by a few? Maybe he sees the potential for absolute power corrupting absolutely? I don’t know. I do know that at that line, delivered with the weight it deserved lighted in my brain, like a signal in the night.

Grounded in reality.

In a world where video monitors the movements of a public, programs flag searches by people online or books purchased/checked out of libraries, and the fear of being spied on by ones own government are real, reported concerns, Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits a raw nerve. That’s what I love about comics/movies/novels/Art – those mediums can show us reflections of what are concerns in our world – global, local, or personal – in a way that promotes thought without hitting you over the head with a message….all the time….okay, sometimes, it’s a violent smack to the face with a message, but not here.

Here, Captain America is us – just someone trying to figure out his place in a world that has become very large and, at times, scary. While he is willing to go out and do what he feels is right to help others, there are some lines he won’t, and cannot, cross. Captain America is our moral compass here, making sacrifices for the greater good in order for people to make decisions for themselves. He wants to allow people the choice to be what they want to be, but understands that with those choices come consequences. On a smaller scale this is reflected in his and Natasha Romanoff’s (Black Widow) relationship and how it grows from two people being polar opposites with regards to unquestioning obedience to two people finding a middle ground in a world full of black, white, and shades all along the greyscale.

Working on some issues.

Working on some issues.

Now, it’s taken me a few weeks to work out this post with the intent of not giving away much of the plot (plenty of writings about that already) and focusing on why I enjoyed this film more (even by the slightest margin) than the Avengers. At the end of the day, it boils down to the story, the acting, and the thoughts provoked. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is entertaining and action packed. The cast is well rounded with new comers to the Marvel Universe, Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce) and Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) being, in my opinion, perfectly cast in the roles as new friend and villain (you have to watch/read to see which is which). Let’s not forget to mention Sebastian Stan who plays his part so very well. What part, you ask?

Just….just go watch this awesome film…you’ll not be disappointed.

I'm not even getting into the comic. (I love it too!)

I’m not even getting into the comic. (I love it too!)

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