Marvel titles just keep coming! And this entry into the Marvel-evrse shows that the world and its characters are continuing to grow, and that, as of yet, the studios aren’t sacrificing story for spectacle.
Chris Evans returns as super-soldier Steve Rogers in his first solo mission (that we’ve seen) since the events in New York depicted in The Avengers.
Still trying to find his way in the modern world, Rogers continues to see everything as right and wrong, a perception that seems decidedly out of step with the current state of the world and the governments and companies that are vying to run it.
As such, the further we get into the film, despite its set pieces, which are loud, and wonderfully orchestrated, the film’s darker and political undertones are there for examination from the start.
SHIELD is implementing three new top of the line helicarriers, with new repulsor lifts (thanks to Stark Industries), and they’ve all been outfitted with top of the line weaponry, but when information Rogers and Agent Natasha ‘Black Widow’ Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) recover and share with SHIELD runner Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), indicate that there may be issues with the new project, called Insight, they soon find themselves in a political maelstrom as old enemies are revealed, and danger may be closer to home than they think.
With the aid of veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), the group find themselves pitted against a massive enemy force, led by the mysterious Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).
There are a couple of ideas in the film that are frightening because they can be perceived as true, current, and incredibly relevant, the stripping away of civil rights under the guise of protection against manufactured fear and using algorithms to predict future behavior and designate targets and threats before they become active. All of this comes down to the wresting of control from the people to a few ‘elite’ who want to have power, and set up their own manner of rule.
But the best villains are the ones that you can understand the motivations of, or their point of view, and the villains of this piece have one that resonates.
Yes, it’s all cloaked in a massive superhero story, but that fight for freedom is all there.
The chemistry between the two veterans, Rogers and Wilson adds a lot of camaraderie to the film, and the duo work really well together, both are survivors of war, and though generations apart, that shared experience forms a bond and its evident in the actors’ portrayal.
Johansson has a larger role to play this time around, and we also get to see that while she may work with Captain America, she’s not above following her own directives and orders, as illustrated in the opening sequence.
Robert Redford, much like Jackson, brings an added gravitas to the film, and, honestly, it’s always good to see him on the big screen.
Also present in the film, Cobie Smulder’s Maria Hill makes a couple of welcome appearances, and Jenny Agutter as a member of the World’s Council is back as well!
In terms of the expanding Marvel Universe and trivia, I loved the mention of Stephen Strange, a character we haven’t been introduced to yet, but Marvel fans no doubt recognized it… Doctor Strange. When enemies are being targeted, on the screen, for a moment, you can see not only the president being targeted, but Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Stark Tower. Natasha wears a necklace with an arrow, for her relationship with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Department H gets a mention, which though they are under different studios, ties the Avenger universe in with the X-Men universe (that’s where Wolverine got adamantium bonded to his skeleton). And of course, there’s a grave stone featured at the end of the film, with a very familiar piece of dialogue from another classic film, but I won’t share more than that, because, you know… spoilers.
This one is a lot of fun and can be watched just as a big action film, or one can delve into the political conspiracy thriller overtones and their reflections on society… either way, I enjoyed the hell out of it, as well as the Stan Lee, and Joss Whedon cameos…
Now the wait for Avengers: Age of Ultron really begins… Of course there is still Guardians of the Galaxy to help expand the Marvel Universe while we wait.