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Captain America: A Good Man, Not A Perfect Soldier

Ty Sheedlo |
April 3, 2014 | 9:36 p.m. PDT


Captain America is back. How does he stack up to the versions before him? (Marvel).
Captain America is back. How does he stack up to the versions before him? (Marvel).
It’s right in his name, plain as the star on his shield. Captain America. He’s an American superhero. But, putting it lightly, America has changed since World War II: Internet, the Civil Rights Movement, the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D); that’s barely scratching the surface.

The world that Steve Rogers knew is a memory confined to Smithsonian exhibits and history books. The juxtaposition between the America of old and our modern America is a theme that 2012’s "The Avengers" toyed with, and one that "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" fully embraces.

READ MORE: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Actors Exhibit Stellar Performances

Our introduction to the ‘Star Spangled Man with a Plan’ in 2011’s "Captain America: The First Avenger" is as a weak, unhealthy young man, but one who would never run away from a fight. His patriotism is eclipsed only by his loyalty and sense of right and wrong. After several unsuccessful attempts to join the army, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is selected for a program to create a new breed of soldier. He becomes a symbol, a captain, a super-powered Uncle Sam.

And with his first foray into battle, Cap is a cowboy, the quintessence of the American hero. His punches are reminiscent of 60s westerns, but he trades John Wayne’s ruggedness for an incorruptible moral code. He wars against Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving): head of Hydra, Nazi, and psychopathic super villain, whose base of operations is located in the side of a mountain. It’s something out of Connery’s Bond. Joe Johnston’s film is explosive, fun, and most of all optimistic. Now, that optimism is gone. 

If "The First Avenger" is a war film, then "The Winter Soldier" is a political thriller. The pure, distilled liberty of the 40s is forgotten. Today, the price of freedom is high. We live in a world where security plays the trump card, and Joe and Anthony Russo are not afraid to shy away from discussing the issue. Their film acknowledges real life issues of privacy without becoming heavy handed and lessening the action; like "Bourne" with an injection of super soldier serum. And in the field of espionage, it is important to not trust anyone; as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) states, “You have to keep both eyes open.”

Luckily, Cap is eyepatch-free and now works directly with S.H.I.E.L.D protecting America from threats before they happen. The action of the film is more visceral, hard-hitting, and modern; cowboys no longer exist. The script is as sharp as the violence, balancing humor and drama with finesse. As Steve discovers the secrets behind our favorite fictional government organization, the audience witnesses him and the world around him evolve. He’s still fighting the same villains, but the war has changed. 

Reach Contributor Ty Sheedlo here.



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