A universe like no other – Some may be wondering just where we are at in this Marvel Cinematic Universe that started back in 2008 with the first “Iron Man”? It’s a fair question when you start to count up the number of films that have been released since that first one. That number has reached nine with the addition of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which has already earned $476 million worldwide in just 10 days according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Add that total to its predecessors and the overall box office balance for the group is over $6 billion. That’s ludicrous and almost unbelievable, but numbers do not lie and here prove what a great idea it was to tie all these films and characters together. Plus there’s still more to come with “Guardians of the Galaxy” later this summer and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” next year; so if you fell off this Marvel train, jump back on with a film sure to get you fired up.
The story here…which takes place two years after the events in “The Avengers” follows Steve Rogers and his new position within S.H.I.E.L.D. One where he was called upon to go help agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) free hostages aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel taken over by pirates. Midway into the mission though, Rogers uncovers why Romanoff was really there. Turns out, there’s an undercover operation known as Insight, where three Helicarriers are linked together to hopefully prevent any future threat. And Romanoff was taking the data to support that, only when Director Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts to access it, he is unable to get through firewall. A short time later while in route to meet with a contact of his, Fury’s car is ambushed by assailants led by a new threat dubbed the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Somehow he manages to escape and get to Rogers’ apartment where he warns that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. After handing Rogers’s the flash drive with the data Romanoff stole, the Winter Soldier arrives and guns Fury down before disappearing into the night. Unwilling to withhold the information that was trusted to him by Fury, Rogers is branded a fugitive and begins a new mission of bringing down those responsible leading to wild and all too revealing conclusion that only Marvel can pull off.
Who’s in it? For those fans’ that have watched all the films before and after “The Avengers,” you already know, but it’s still fun talking about them for those that don’t. And here, it all starts and ends with Captain American himself, Chris Evans. This guy has truly taken this role as his own which quite honestly still surprises some people and even Evans himself. "At the time, I remember telling a buddy of mine, 'If the movie bombs, I'm f’—ed. If the movie hits, I'm f—ed!' I was just scared. I realized my whole decision-making process was fear-based, and you never want to make a decision out of fear. I can't believe I was almost too chicken to play Captain America," Evans told Entertainment Weekly. But, after initially turning down the role three times, Evans finally agreed on a six-picture deal the role, which I think has made his career. Sure, he’s not perfect, but I think given the role of Captain America, he has managed to keep us all interested and wanting more. That’s all I care about, so I will look forward to what comes next in not only “Avengers: Age of Ultron” next year, but also in “Captain America 3” in 2016.
Fresh off her breakthrough role as Black Widow in “The Avengers,” Scarlett Johansson continues her streak of great performances here, supporting Chris Evans without issue. And what’s great is how her character keeps growing in this universe, which I hope one day might involve a film centered on her. Just a thought, but one I’m certain many fans would get behind given the untold backstory of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow. Other returning cast members include Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and the unflappable Samuel l. Jackson, who continues to be the glue that keeps all these films together. But, the surprise to this cast was Robert Redford playing Alexander Payne. From the first trailer I was intrigued to see what Redford would do in a blockbuster film like this and to no real surprise, he was fantastic, proving he can still pretty much do anything he wants in Hollywood.
Two’s a crowd – Whenever I see a directing duo like Anthony and Joe Russo here, I pause, due to the fact of how few times that actually works. Sure, the Coen brothers have made a career out of it, but they are pretty much the only duo you can come up with that gets the job done. Anyone else usually fails to create that much needed continuity behind the camera, but the Russo brother’s handled their business here. Yeah, I didn’t quite understand the thinking behind some of the early action sequences which felt a bit rushed and out of sorts making it hard to follow. But, that could be result of them coming from a primarily TV background, having directed numerous episodes of Community. Luckily as the film wore on, that was cleaned up some with more grit, which was a nice surprise. So, kudos to them and really managing this story as good as they did. Because at some point with all the action and special effects, losing the story is possible, but they didn’t which is key for this series and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Bottom Line – There’s no doubt a lot will be said about “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and its place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s a given, but what may not be said is how well this film connected with its predecessor and the bridge it has created to “Captain America 3” just two years from now.
CLICK HERE to read more from Marcus
CLICK HERE to see when and where this film is playing at a box office near you