A sign these days that winter is fading into the past is that Marvel hero characters are back in action on the big screens throughout the world. Get ready for more movie chaos and heroism as summer approaches.
Having been offered recent updates on Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and Thor — still wrestling with family issues — it is now time for Steve Rogers to grace the screen, hence “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
The title is misleading, making it seem like Captain America is the winter soldier instead of the hero’s latest nemesis.
The story picks up about two years after all the superheroes banded together to thwart the total destruction if New York, as shown in “The Avengers.” Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is living in Washington, D.C., and still employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. even though he has concerns that all the power and weaponry the agency has amassed may be a threat to the very freedom it is designed to protect. He is even more alarmed by the new Project Insight, three massive Helicarriers that are linked to spy satellites and designed to preemptively eliminate threats.
While out jogging, he meets and befriends Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a former pararescue war veteran now serving as a counselor for those with post traumatic stress disorder.
When a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel is hijacked by Algerian pirates, Captain America and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) are dispatched with a team to recover the boat. There, Rogers’ trust issues deepen when he sees that Natasha has another objective that S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) had assigned without Captain America’s knowledge.
But before Captain America can brood any more about being out of the loop, things go horribly wrong. Fury is attacked and has to find refuge in Rogers’ apartment and after giving Steve a USB flash drive with some key data, he is gunned down.
Meanwhile, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), in the top echelon of S.H.I.E.L.D., is pushing for the initiation of Project Insight amid resistance by the World Security Council. Redford’s Pierce is one of those impeccably dressed, cool characters well positioned to disguise true motives under the shield (pun intended) of making the world safe. Rogers, warned by Fury not to trust anybody, refuses to divulge to Pierce the information Fury gave him, thus Captain America is now a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D. and finds himself in mortal peril at just about every turn.
His only allies are Natasha, apparently taking a break from hanging out with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner in “The Avengers”), and Sam Wilson.
The Winter Soldier in the title is an assassin who has been on a tear for decades, something like a Manchurian Candidate project programmed to kill with no conscience.
Understandably, Captain America has to learn to trust Natasha, and with Wilson declaring loyalty to the cause, the trio must overcome massive odds to prevent whatever horrors are being cooked up. A lot of this has ties to Steve’s past and brings up personal issues — as if saving the world is not enough to occupy his time.
The brothers Anthony and Joe Russo (“Arrested Development”) get their first chance to direct a Marvel superhero action fest and do a credible job with the battle scenes while also falling into the trap of using handheld cameras for the one-on-one fighting sequences, making them hard to follow.
Overall, “Captain America: The Dark Soldier” is another satisfying Marvel adventure, boosted by the charm and chemistry between Evans, Johansson and Mackie. And as is the custom with Marvel, audiences must sit through the entire credits to get a glimpse of what is coming soon.