Times certainly have changed since Captain America first appeared on the pages of Marvel Comics way back in 1941, but the evolution of superheroes like the Captain, and Batman, and Superman et al has kept them up to date. Weapons that were only fantasies have become stark realities, often more mind-boggling than the original fantasy.
Any long term fan of the Marvel American hero won’t have much trouble identifying the latest version, Steve Rogers in the flesh, battling a complicated and often confusing array of villains from all directions and aided by an equally complicated and confusing array of agents and agencies. The plot line is downright dizzying if one is not familiar with all that led up to current affairs, but it’s worth the effort to sort it out.
Fans will know that Captain American: The Winter Soldier is the continuation of The Avengers series, and involves the re-awakening and re-adjustment of the Captain after he’s spent about 70 years on ice. In this fast-paced, violent and untrusting world his beliefs and loyalties are tested to the limit; the film offers a great deal more to digest than one would expect, much more exploration of character and motivation and ultimately, human values.
The Winter Soldier himself is an exceedingly complicated character; he’s Captain America’s mortal foe but he’s got some moral issues of his own – more than your average robotic type anyway. In this film bad guys and good guys are not so clearly defined that you can spot them immediately; they all exhibit at least some of the characteristics of a ‘normal’ human being.
Based in Washington, D.C. at the Triskelion, a gigantic glass-walled structure on the Potomac River that houses the Avengers’ organisation S.H.I.E.L.D, some of the action is shot in D.C., some in Cleveland (for monetary reasons, namely a tax credit). It’s fairly clear that this is about America and its values and its current atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia regarding the government and politicians in general and federal snooping in particular.
The plot has plenty of twists, turns and surprises, one of those being the identity of the Winter Soldier.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the film stars Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, but the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/the Soldier) is not as important to the film as the name implies. The Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury and Anthony Mackie as Falcon have a lot more acting credits going on.
Peripheral but crucial roles are played by the likes of Robert Redford (as the senator of questionable morals, Alexander Pierce) and there is more ‘real’ action than special effects, which helps make the film more credible. Captain America: The Winter Soldier premiered in London on 20 March as a box office hit; it opens in U.S. cinemas this week.