Horizon review: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”


Duncan Cooper

Last year, Edward Snowden shocked the world with astounding news of the NSA spying on American citizens. Our trust in government, already falling short for more reasons than one, plummeted even further as the story continued. The question of whether we were willing to sacrifice our freedom for security became one of the country’s hot-button issues.merica

In the latest addition to the Marvel universe, Captain America is faced with the exact same question. With no one to trust, hunted by the very organization he fights for, the world’s first superhero clashes with the uncertain and deadly world of the modern day in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.


The Plot:

Easily Marvel’s most complex film to date, The Winter Soldier boasts a mature storyline that hasn’t been seen since the smash hit Iron Man in 2008. Steve Rodgers’ old-school persona and beliefs are thrust into a world where security is the name of the game, and prevention is the key. With the invasion of New York in 2012’s Avengers, SHIELD has become more and more focused on preventing disaster instead of interceding during disaster. Under the orders of Director Nick Fury (Play by Samuel L. Jackson), SHIELD has been secretly building a trio of airships to protect the world, codenamed Project Insight. Capable with keeping the world secure at all times, SHIELD intends to eliminate threats to the world, before they materialize.

Needless to say, Rodgers’ old-fashioned morals clash with SHIELD’s new policy. “This isn’t freedom. This is fear,” he declares.

When an attack occurs on Fury’s life is initiated, Captain America is faced with a new enemy: The Winter Soldier, a mysterious foe that has been assaulting and killing targets across the world for nearly fifty years. Rodgers’ world unravels as he is attacked by the very organization he swore to aid. With the aid of Black Widow AKA Natasha Romanoff (Played by Scarlett Johansson) and the newcomer Sam Wilson AKA Falcon (Played by Anthony Mackie), the First Avenger must fight to uncover the truth, before he is found and killed.

The plot throughout is tense and mysterious, doing the audience no favors in revealing the next step. With multiple references to other works of Marvel, the film feels connected to the universe. Multiple twists and turns are littered throughout the film, making much of the film unpredictable.

However, despite the action, the shining moments of the film are the quieter, emotional moments that are beautifully created, and pull at viewer’s heartstrings. A few key scenes, such as Steve’s meeting with a dying Peggy, his first love; a meeting at a VA hospital involving former soldiers suffering from PTSD… The Winter Soldier is among the deepest, if not the deepest, films Marvel has produced. The only real complaint with the storyline is that the multiple threads the film reveals are not always followed to their end. However, since Marvel has multiple films planned all the way to 2028, this is a flaw that later films may fix.

 The Characters:

A great story requires great characters to get viewers invested in the film. If characters are not well-portrayed by competent actors, the struggle for good characters becomes even greater.

Thankfully, Marvel brings the very best it has to offer, with some of the best acting we’ve ever had in a superhero film. Characters bring the trademark hilarity and wit that has become a Marvel staple, but also bring a welcoming depth and thoughtfulness that excels. Captain America has been criticized for being a one-note character, but his steadfast morality and unwavering courage define the film.

The foil to Rodgers’ honesty and truthfulness, Black Widow is her typical secretive self, wily and a spy to the core. The modern world of secrets and security fit her personality perfectly, as her past remains much a mystery, just the way she likes it. But when the world she knows begins to collapse, the emotional walls she so determinedly upholds begin to falter, revealing a more gentle side to her normally cold personality.

One of the newest additions to the Marvel roster, Sam Wilson is the superhero Falcon, a former paratrooper and war veteran working at the VA. A man made wise by his experiences, Falcon is one of the tools for which the film speaks about some of the deeper issues it tackles. Occasionally profound, often witty, and extremely cool, Falcon is sure to become a fan favorite.

The Action:

Frenetic, intense, and beautifully choreographed, The Winter Soldier feels like an action-thriller of days gone by. In a cinematic world where CGI is the norm, this film makes a greater use practical effects, thrilling gunplay, and brutal hand-to-hand combat befitting Captain America. More action-packed than all but The Avengers, Winter Soldier possesses many a thrilling moment, and a brilliant climax that will leave audiences breathless and impressed.

The Last Word:

Marvel’s two previous films, Iron Man 3 and Thor 2, were two of the least critically successful films. Though they were successful at the box office, audiences were not impressed by the inanely predictable plot and outright boredom the two provided. Phase Two began with a stumble, and fans began to wonder if Marvel had lost their edge with Avengers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, takes the doubts and turns them on its head. The film is one of the most spectacular films in the Marvel universe, with blistering action to satisfy audiences, and a deep and provoking storyline to keep them invested. A web of moral complexity often unseen in comic adaptations, the film presents a thought-provoking tale that challenges all its viewers.