It’s hard not to fall in love with Captain America. Even though the Avengers family consists of many good-looking, world-saving studs, none of the other heroes possess Steve Rogers’ old-school American chivalrous personality. Blonde hair, strong arms and six-pack aside, however, Rogers’ patriotic attributes alone will continue to cast a spell on Marvel fans in the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Not much has happened since the events of the first Captain America film, which ended with Rogers waking up from a 50-year nap. Though Rogers shows some progress in adapting to present-day society, he still seems out of place in the way he talks, acts and thinks. But it’s this same 20th-century mentality that makes him stand out from all the other characters and that will ultimately help him win his battle in what is the best film in the Avengers canon yet.
It all begins with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest invention: three satellites that are almost ready to be launched. In the first few scenes, Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, explains the capabilities of such technology to Rogers. Fury tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D., through the use of complex algorithms, will be able to predict people’s behaviors, which will allow the United States to prevent threats before they even occur. Being the freedom fighter that he is however, Rogers is not impressed with Fury’s plans and begins to question the surveillance of U.S. citizens. Left with few he can trust, Rogers teams up with the sexy Agent Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), otherwise known as The Black Widow, to find the traitor in their agency, all while struggling to stay alive.
Though the plot might sound predictable, don’t expect a typical superhero film with a linear story in The Winter Soldier. What makes Captain America’s second film so exciting is the surprises Marvel has in store for the audience. Just when the viewers believe they have deciphered the fate of the plot, something else entirely different happens. Marvel does not wait around for the viewers to get comfortable either. As demonstrated by — spoiler alert — the death of a main character within the first few minutes that will leave the entire theater in awe, unsure of how the movie or the series will progress with such a vital role terminated.
But the death of the character is balanced out by the creation of a new one: Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, goes from being a minor character, Rogers’ running buddy, to sidekick, joins the dynamic duo in bringing S.H.I.E.L.D. down. Moreover, Agent Romanoff’s history, which has been avoided in Iron Man and The Avengers, is mentioned briefly as well. The team’s operation will take Captain America back to the military barrack in New Jersey where he trained in the first film. The location of the barrack is not the only historical reference in the movie; Marvel also reintroduces many characters from the first film in unanticipated ways. Perhaps the biggest bewilderment of all is The Winter Soldier, an antagonist whose skills match up to Rogers’ supernatural fighting abilities. When his identity is finally revealed, jaws will surely drop.
What makes The Avengers a successful franchise is that it’s more than just a movie. Marvel has created an entire realm where its devotees’ favorite superheroes interconnect. Not only do these superheroes get their own individual stories, but they also get a chance to unite in The Avengers film. On top of all the movies is the television show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. These platforms combined make seeing The Winter Soldier essential for many moviegoers. Even those who do not favor Captain America should watch the film because it is a crucial component when making sense of the series. Minor details are used to remind the audience of these interplays: for instance, the Stark Industry stickers on some of the machines at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.
Parallels between the Marvel universe and reality help keep things interesting, too. The political and moral issue of spying on citizens has become a highly discussed subject in the tech world. To see it become a significant part of the movie helps merge the two worlds together smoothly.
Many fans have always been skeptical about Captain America’s superpowers. The serum did not make him immortal or invincible. If anything, it seemed like the only change after his extreme makeover was his post-puberty growth spurt and magically gained muscles. His shield, which he is seldom seen without, is also destructible in the comic books, leaving the so-called superhero with not much power. But in The Winter Soldier, the all-American heartthrob’s abilities become more evident during the action scenes, including one where he is challenged to fight without his iconic shield. But whether he has superpowers or not is not why his fans have stayed loyal to him, and definitely not why non-fans will fall in love with him in this film. The truth is, Captain America shows strength in times of weakness and this is why we love him.