Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe picks up with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) a.k.a. Captain America, as he struggles to embrace his role in the modern world. Under the authority of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Captain America is forced to face a new threat from old history – the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier – as S.H.I.E.L.D. is subverted by its enemies. But when Rogers acts on Fury’s warning to trust no one there, he is branded as a traitor by the organisation. Now a fugitive, Captain America must get to the bottom of this deadly mystery with the help of the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and his new friend, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Captain America isn’t a Marvel superhero that I particularly like; out of the fantastical team, he certainly has the least personality. So before watching this sequel, I re-watched the original Captain America film and realised that Cap may be the least powerful, funny, attractive, and self-obsessive, but he’s got a great story. It was hard to vamp up a character set in the 1940’s when we had the likes of the charming Iron Man and mythical Thor to compare him to, but what Captain America has that these two don’t is honour and duty; he should be the character we find ourselves relating to most, as he’s an everyday man in the modern world, who sets out to stand up for his country and do what’s right for the good of everybody. So that makes up for a lot.
As a sequel, The Winder Soldier is far better than its predecessor. Again, the first film was set in the past, in the slums of war with less technology and big city lights, so there was no glamour to hide behind (even if it had one of the better character developments because of this!). Here, we see Captain America jump to the present and working with the S.H.I.E.L.D. we all know. Massive weaponry, futuristic gadgets, and faster vehicles, The Winter Soldier is certainly kicked up a notch. With Black Widow as his sidekick, who massively helps in the departments of flirtation and comedy, Captain America is finally brought up to date and speed with the rest of the Marvel cast, with his setting and supporting cast helping to bring out that personality he tries to keep under wraps.
The action is, as always, on top form, and the hints of comedy and romance are handled excellently, as to be expected. Marvel has perfected this quality of creating an all-rounded blockbuster so it was no surprise that The Winter Soldier blew its audience away. But with Captain America having this political influence and a duty to do right, we are presented with a more meaningful story and substantial plot. It’s not just about loveable villains and blowing things up this time, it’s about making a difference in the wider context. Captain America may be my least favourite Marvel superhero still, but I have a lot more respect for him after this.