For Reel


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
April 17, 2014, 2:19 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Anthony & Joe Russo
4 Stars
Captain America - The Winter SoldierHollywood has been favoring brooding superheroes ever since the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It comes as some surprise, then, that the most spirited and jingoistic character of the bunch has given the comic book genre its most provocative series. Whereas the first Captain America film questioned the role of propaganda and the dangers of nationalism, this second installment places the Cap (Chris Evans) in the present day in order to discuss 21st century geopolitical ethics. What makes this interesting is the purity of our hero’s code–the most old-fashioned thing about Cap is that he believes in right and wrong, whereas modernity is very much defined by moral shades of grey. That a product of the 1940’s is so opposed to this country’s surveillance and military tactics is a declaration that America has failed on the promises that it made to itself a generation ago. Beyond the attempts to be politically subversive, perhaps the best thing this installment has going for it is Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who up until now has been a forgettable addition to Marvel’s behemoth franchise. She’s witty, intelligent, and not as gratuitously sexualized as she has been in previous appearances. In fact, the friendship between the Cap and Black Widow seems fairly shocking in the world of this type of assembly-line, corporate entertainment–though there is the occasional moment of sexual tension, it is first and foremost a business relationship. In fact, a running joke sees Black Widow suggesting that Cap ask out a number of women–a pattern which suggests that screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are poking fun at the expectation that their hero needs a present romantic interest (his old flame from the first installment (Peggy Atwell) only appears in one scene).

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