‘Winter Soldier’ kicks off blockbusters with a bang

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is following the course of Marvel Studio films preceding “The Avengers” by making the allies and villains more interesting and the overall plot more complex.

“Fantastic Four” actor Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America in the film, which focuses on Steve Rogers (Evans) taking on the compromised S.H.I.E.L.D and former-friend-turned-Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).

The storyline takes a darker turn than the first film’s as the hero not only adjusts to the 21st century, but also faces the inability to trust anyone in a world where “you need to keep both eyes open.” With covert agents planning on bringing an end to all possible threats by global euthanasia and an end to freedom, Rogers has only a handful of people to trust.

Like blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Winter Soldier” increases the violence and near-death experiences, keeping audiences on the edge. The fight scenes, specifically those featuring Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bucky and Cap, are some of the best I’ve seen thanks to fight choreography that looks like a gymnastic routine.

The theme of deception furthers the suspense among viewers. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have a firm grasp on luring audiences into a sense of knowing and then blindside them, except when it comes to the identity of the Winter Soldier, thanks to advertisements releasing information on Stan’s reprisal.

While the film is a Captain America film, the writers make the antagonists and allies lesser than Rogers. Instead, directors leave audiences desiring more of Stan and Johansson.

Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo miss the opportunity to give one of Marvel’s most interesting characters more background. Stan’s portrayal of the Winter Soldier, especially during his interactions with Rogers, is remarkable, despite him saying few words and acting primarily with his eyes and actions.

Johansson’s acting cannot be forgotten, as she exposes Black Widow as more than an emotionless spy by cracking jokes and being sympathetic. Johansson proves to audiences that female characters in action films can be high in demand and more than over-sexualized eye candy or a pointless love interest by being physically, mentally and emotionally strong.

The lack of romance makes the film stand out from action films like “The A-Team” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” It’s unrealistic to have a protagonist distracted by romance, and the writing team acknowledges this by building up loyalty and trust instead of romance.

“The Winter Soldier” surpasses the first film as the actors remember to make the characters sympathetic, and the writers deliver a well-written script with a few comedic moments, while never losing the seriousness of the plot.

-Caitlin Chappell