Captain America: The Winter Soldier, better than the first?

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With the amount of superhero movies that are released in a given year, it is a challenge for each to remain original and relevant. Even the first Captain America film felt like the typical superhero origin story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier  doesn’t lack in originality or momentum.

The film stars Chris Evans as Captain America, or Steve Rogers as his friends call him as well as Samuel Jackson as Nick Furry and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. Winter Soldier takes place after the events of Avengers but is clearly a sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger as the film focuses on Steve Rogers character as much as it deals with the larger conflict.

What makes Winter Soldier unique is that the conflict draws on today’s controversial policies. The initial action of Winter Soldier kicks off after S.H.I.E.L.D (or strategic homeland intervention enforcement and logistics division) is infiltrated by an enemy group known as Hydra. Hydra now has access to massive air-ships, capable of  shooting specific targets from above, a clear analogy to drones. Yet the bigger  threat lies in  their access to obscene amounts of information on almost everyone on the planet, a nod to the NSA.

Captain America is not only trying to figure out why S.H.I.E.L.D has suddenly turned their back on him, Furry, and everything he thought was right, but he is also battling his own demons. He is still getting over the loss of his friend Bucky Barnes while also trying to track down the elusive winter soldier. The winter soldier has been stalking him and it is clear will stop at nothing to kill Captain America.

There is never a dull moment in Winter Soldier. From the moment S.H.I.E.L.D is infiltrated chaos breaks out and it is clear that anyone can die, no matter what their powers. When Nick Furry gives Steve Rogers the advice to trust no one it is not just Captain America and Black Widow who are launched into  paranoia but the audience as well.

The team of Captain America (Chris Evans) Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and, the new-to-the-screen hero, Falcon, (Anthony Mackie) are a homier group of superheroes than the avengers. There is definitely a sense that without the leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D,  they are slightly lost and confused, almost like a group of kids taking on world evil. This dynamic not only makes the stakes higher, but it makes for a lovable group of heroes.

Like any superhero film, Winter Soldier is packed with action. From Steve Rogers getting jumped in an elevator by a group of rebel S.H.I.E.L.D agents to Nick Fury speeding through the streets of Washington trying to escape assassination, the action is creative and exciting. Yet like most superhero movies, a lot of the action is unnecessary and superficial. It sometimes feels as though the action is preventing the movie from going more in depth about the meatier themes and ideas.

Marvel is famous for it’s post-credit scenes that give hints as to what is to come in the Marvel-verse. But even if you think it’s safe to leave after seeing the post-credit scene you’ll want to stick around because yes there is more. And for those who watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, marvel’s ABC TV show, there is the added fun of spotting where the movie and TV show crossover.