I never understood what a political thriller was before Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out. For those of you who do not know, a political thriller can be summed up like this: the basic plot of the film has an ordinary man pulling an innocent thread which leads to a mess of corruption. The corruption usually is political or governmental in nature. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Cap investigating a tanker hijacking that eventually leads to significant shift within himself that is felt for years to come.
This is one of the first comic book movies I can remember that started to expand what a comic book movie really is. Before this movie, most comic book movies followed the idea of action driving the plot instead of character development. While the action does have a big place here, it isn’t what truly drives the plot.
Chris Evans returns as Captain America/Steve Rogers. A few years after The Battle of New York in Avengers, we find that Cap is now working for SHIELD and trying to protect peoples’ freedoms. In Avengers we saw that he survived the crash at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, and was skeptical of SHIELD and Nick Fury. When we first meet him here, we find that not only is he working for SHIELD, he is trying to catch up on the things that he missed while being frozen, too.
There is a line in the film from Nick Furry where he says that SHIELD takes the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be. This line shakes Cap to the core and shows the relationship that Fury and Cap have at the start of the film, one of the pessimist and the optimist. Another character that moves along the shift of Cap’s character is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. As they work together to unravel the central mystery, Cap not only learns more about Black Widow, but he learns about himself, too. It’s these dynamics that show why he fights and what he truly believes in, and how solid of a foundation he has. And that he won’t give up on his friends.
The story behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a serious one of political intrigue and government corruption. The real challenge is to keep it serious but, at the same time, make sure people have fun with it. This is done with the use of humorous interactions between some of the characters. The biggest running gag is of Black Widow trying to find Cap a date.
Then we have Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson. While more of a secondary character in this film, he does bring a good amount of comedy to the story. Within serious situations like the final battle, he is able to bring the film back down without destroying the significance of the scene. And the gag at the beginning of the film where he keeps getting passed by Cap while on his run is a fun introduction to his character and his personality.
I haven’t watched this film in probably two years before this marathon leading into Avengers: Infinity War. I remember it being good and one of my top five MCU films but I forgot just how much I enjoyed the characters. While the action is good, that’s not really what draws me into a film. It’s the character the developments that really do it for me. When a film makes you care about its characters and the problems they face, that is when you truly have an amazing film on your hands.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t have graphic violence that would take out the younger demographic. Though there are some themes that might go over their heads that the older audience will be drawn to. Overall, I would say this is a film that the whole family can enjoy and one I would definitely recommend for everyone not just fans of comic book movies or the MCU.