Movie review: Captain America: the Winter Soldier

*WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS INSIDE. ENTER AT OWN RISK. 

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Last week, I went to Captain America with a couple of friends. As we are all self-confessed geeks, we`d been looking forward to this movie for quite a while. I`m glad to announce it did not disappoint.

Let`s start off with the basics:

The action scenes are dizzying and absolutely mindboggling. I do have one major epilepsy warning, as there is one scene that`s just lights flashing and lots of noise and flashing images. Consider yourselves warned. Other than that? In typical Hollywood blockbuster style, it was all very epic and amazing. The 3D was done quite well (I actually had to think for a moment if this movie was in 3D or not, since it was not obviously used at all), though I think the movie would have been perfectly fine without it as well.

Captain America himself is as righteous as ever. Though I have to say, people aren`t giving him enough credit. I saw a Dutch review saying that Steve is boring and unfunny and lacks internal turmoil. I wonder if they`ve been watching the same Steve Rogers as I have? The one I see is righteous, yes, but he does have a sense of humour and even more internal turmoil. What we see in Captain America 2 is a Steve who is absolutely unsure of his place in this world, who`s  considering giving up everything he fought for for so long because he doesn`t know what the right thing to do is anymore. He doesn`t even know what he wants to do, what he likes doing, or who to trust. It`s not only plenty of character development and the wanted internal turmoil, it`s of a type that I can wholly identify with, being at a similar point in life (albeit with an entirely different history, thankfully).

I was glad to see the return of Black Widow, and even more glad to see her get such an important part on the movie. It was nice to see the actual Natascha as well, instead of the characters she puts up while undercover. Turns out she`s very flirty and sassy. (“Does anyone know where the Smithsonian is? I`m here to pick up a fossil” while picking up Steve). There seemed to be a set-up for a solo movie for her, which gives me good hope for the rumours of her own movie to be true. Nothing`s confirmed as of yet, but a girl can dream, right?

I also absolutely loved Falcon. I definitely want to see more of him, and hope to see him again in future movies. Perhaps next time even in a bigger role?

Okay, now onwards to a deeper discussion:

The plot is amazing. It`s intriguing, complicated, and goes much, much deeper than I ever expected. I have to say: I love how Marvel is addressing new topics in Phase II. The first phase was obviously just an introduction, and now it`s time to up the game and go deeper. Where Iron Man 3 focused on the aftermath of the Avengers and the PTSD that comes with experiences like that, Captain America 2 is a study in psychology, in the differentiation between good and bad and trying to find your own place in the world when everyone around you tries to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. How far are you willing to go for what you stand for? Are you willing to stand up to or even betray your friends? And what happens when you don`t know if you`re fighting the right cause anymore?

An example of this is how the exact same words Fury/SHIELD used for Steve were also used by HYDRA for Bucky. This was a chilling moment in the film, a slap-in-the-face of who do you trust? Who can you really trust?

Despite Steve`s words that the best way to distinguish who is the bad guy is by finding out who`s shooting at you, the movie clearly shows it`s much more complicated than that. The world isn`t divided into black and white, there`s no easy scapegoat anymore, and Steve has learned the hard way that he needs to adapt.

That said, while the plot was absolutely amazing, there were also a lot of clichés in there that could have easily been avoided with a bit more creativity and a bit less “let`s blow shit up”. I`m all for blowing up things, give me all the explosions. But not at cost of the plot. I would also appreciate it if we get less of the whole dead-but-not-actually-dead thing that keeps happening in Marvel films. Like, please just don`t. This is Marvel, not Supernatural.

I`m also hoping we get more of Bucky/Winter Soldier at some point, since I didn`t feel like his part was really properly fleshed out. Sometimes I wonder if Marvel tries too hard to put many characters and a lot of explosions into one movie, and end up with not enough time to work on character development. Instead, they addressed a tiny bit of psychology and otherwise turned Bucky into another brainwashed mindless killing machine, which yes I do get is the point. But they could`ve done more with him. Alas.

Still, all in all Marvel is still upping their game, as they have been doing for a while. They`re exploring whole new ideas that are turning the superhero genre upside down (do we ever really know who the bad guys are? Is it as obvious and black/white as we like to believe? Do the heroes always know what`s right? Are they as perfect as we want them to be?), and I for one can`t wait to see what they`ll be exploring in the next films.

(The next movie up in the Avengers world is Avengers: Age of Ultron which is filming right now in South-Korea and is set to be released next year. Until then, there`s plenty of superhero movies coming with X-Men: Days of Future Past, Spider-Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and probably a whole bunch more that I`m forgetting right now. Who else is really excited?)

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