‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ sets high bar for upcoming summer movies

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Captain America is an important hero for the modern age. He doesn’t represent our country as it is, but as we wish it could be. He’s noble and idealistic, both worthy of trust and quick to trust others.

Steve Rogers, Captain America’s alter ego, embodies one of the last bastions of optimism in a genre that is increasingly defined by brooding and cynicism.

If Captain America is our nation as it should be, then S.H.I.E.L.D. is our nation as it is. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds our star-spangled hero becoming disillusioned with his current employer. Their secretive methods began eating away at his conscience during “The Avengers,” and S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have only gotten worse.

When S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury begins to suspect that his organization has been compromised, Rogers must quickly discover who he can trust and who is out to kill him. He joins forces with both old friends and new to take down whoever is pulling the strings.

Marvel’s track record when it comes to stand-alone movies is debatable, but few people would argue that Marvel doesn’t know how to pick its actors. Rogers, played by Chris Evans, is one of the few comic book heroes that hasn’t become overshadowed by his alter-ego.

Scarlett Johansson continues to impress as Natasha Romanov, also known as Black Widow, and newcomer Sam Wilson, played by Anthony Mackie, fits into the proceedings quite nicely.

The film wisely juxtaposes Captain America’s unwavering idealism with Black Widow’s harsh pragmatism. There’s a decent amount of time dedicated to the budding friendship between these two. In this world, people you can trust are few and far between.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a bit of a hybrid film, with all the intrigue and paranoia of a political thriller mixed with all the action and explosions of the superhero genre. The combination works surprisingly well. It serves to keep audience members on their toes throughout the film, constantly second-guessing characters and their motivations.

The film is easily the most socially relevant of the Marvel movies. At a time when many people have lost faith in their government, the film begs the question of whether or not security is worth the price of freedom.

For all its social commentary though, this is first and foremost an action movie, and a finely crafted one at that. Captain America and Black Widow are some of the most limited heroes in Marvel’s repertoire, which means that the filmmakers had to work that much harder to make their fights interesting. Unfortunately, the film occasionally comes down with a case of the shaky camera hands. However, the action is still fluid, kinetic and incredibly satisfying for the most part.

Rather ironically, the weakest link here is the Winter Soldier, Captain America’s most threatening enemy himself. It is difficult to discuss his flaws without spoiling the story, but suffice to say, a lot of effort went in to making him a personal villain for Captain America. However, the film develops the Winter Soldier’s character so little that his origins end up feeling contrived and his mere existence seems unjustified by the time the credits roll.

Cynics might argue that this film is just a movie-length trailer for the sequel to the movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” to be released in 2015. In a sense, they would be right, especially when it comes to the two post-credits scenes.

It is a shame that no Marvel movie is permitted to stand on its own anymore. That said, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a welcome change of pace for the genre. It manages to work its way into the upper echelon of Marvel’s superhero movies.

Connor Kelley is a junior in accounting. Please send all comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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