Captain America is back! The World War II hero who helped save the world in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers has returned, once again fighting to save the world. Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson all reprise their roles working for the fictional defense organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In an exciting change of pace from every superhero movie ever, New York City is not the setting of the intense skyscraper-destroying action that has come to be expected from the genre. Instead, it is primarily set in Washington D.C. The movie begins with a scene to reassure everyone that Captain America and the Black Widow (played by Evans and Johansson, respectively) are still capable of taking out any number of enemies, with minimal assistance from the team of soldiers sent to back them up.
At this point, the movie picks up the theme of the government having a hyperactive role in ensuring the “safety” of the entire planet, as seen in 1984 or Eagle Eye. S.H.I.E.L.D. has developed a fleet of massive airborne ships to eliminate threats before they happen, a frightening prospect for the free world. When control of these weapons falls into the wrong hands it is up to Captain America to save the world, and fight the mysterious Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superhero sequel. The pacing is different from the first one—any sequel to a superhero movie has to be in order to be successful. In the first film, Captain America went through the transformation of becoming a superhero and underwent the trial and error of saving lives. Any following movie can no longer have the buildup of a hero growing to his full potential.
In a sequel, the buildup has to come from something else. The new Captain America does this well by having the villain slowly evolve. It is not until well into the movie that the ultimate plan of the antagonists becomes clear. In the original movie, Captain America was fighting the Nazis, so there was little for the movie to build upon that audiences weren’t already aware of.
Marvel has once again created an impressive film. Like all of the movies in the Marvel Studios universe (Iron Man, Thor, and so on) the production quality is fantastic. The visual effects are incredible, designers added a massive tower to Rosslyn and it seemed to actually belong there (though us frequenters of the GUTS bus know it’s no architectural marvel, pun intended). Throughout the movie there were car crashes, explosions, and all sorts of new technology which were all up to the expectations that have come to be expected of Marvel movies. Though these stunts and gadgets seem to be getting more and more ridiculous, it is still fun to see Marvel create them on the big screen.
Ultimately, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fun continuation of the Marvel Universe. Its beloved characters return and the movie is entertaining. While it is certainly no Iron Man, it succeeds in producing shocking twists and the occasional laugh. If you’re a big fan of the Avengers, and you liked the first Captain America you should definitely see it. Still, if you want more than just a cheesy, average superhero movie you might be better off saving your money by waiting for the DVD release.
This article originally appeared in the print edition of The Georgetown Voice. The online version can be found here.