Do you know who Bucky is? Do you remember a woman from the 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger movie who, now that we've shifted in time to present day, is deteriorating from old age and bad movie makeup?
I ask these questions because I don't know these things. The woman might be a love interest? (Although I'm not entirely convinced that Captain America is into women – I don't know what he is, and these movies would never go so deep as to tell me.)
Anthony and Joe Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the ninth film in Marvel's Avengers franchise, which began in 2008 with Iron Man. That is so many movies. By the time Ant-Man is released in 2015, this franchise will fill up 24 hours' time, about as long as a season of network television. (And speaking of television seasons, there's also Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which began airing in the fall on ABC). It's a long roll out of information to retain, and I'm not sure exactly what the payoff is, especially when it comes to a hero as bland as Captain America, who cuts through enemies like they're butter and has all the edge of a butter knife. I guess Chris Evans' juiced-up body is fun to look at?
These movies are loud, their humor is bland, the action is sometimes impressive but risk-free. The good guys win without variation. Here's—spoiler alert—as close as we've come to a surprise during the first 18 hours of this franchise: Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury is seemingly killed in the first act of Captain America: The Winter Soldier by rogue S.H.E.I.L.D. members part of a terrorist organization called HYDRA.
But then, we find out late in the second act that he, in fact, was not killed. Surprise! Captain America: The Winter Soldier has no balls. Just kidding, that's not a surprise at all (nor should his faked death actually have been a surprise in the first place, given that Jackson signed a nine-picture deal in 2009 ahead of Iron Man 2). See how fun being faked out is?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier's plot contains what amounts to vague lip service about NSA-like forces and Wikileaks-like answers. This seems to be wowing critics, even though Captain America and his team save the day before the movie can do anything actually useful like, say, show us what the invasion of privacy looks like from an omniscient vantage point. Privacy breach is a threat and sharing government secrets is just a convenient fix. That's all.
Before Winter Soldier comes to its inevitable happy ending, it ties itself up in knots so that secondary hero Falcon (Anthony Mackie) asks before the climax, "Hey Cap, how do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?" The movie throws up its own hands when Captain America responds, "If they're shooting at you, they're bad." OK, cool, got it.
You will probably see this movie regardless, because you are probably American and, as such, you probably like superhero movies and just want to sit back and enjoy having your ear drums shattered while snacking on some plot crumbs to prep you for the next Marvel movie (Guardians of the Galaxy, out in August). If for some reason you are on the fence, please ask yourself the following questions. If most of your answers are yes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the perfect way for you to waste about two hours and fifteen minutes of your life this weekend.
Do you like looking at juiced-up bodies?
Do you like seeing people get shot without bleeding?
Do you understand why Scarlett Johannson is showing up in this movie like she did Iron Man 2?
Do you know what any of the letters in S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for?
Are you excited for a new Stan Lee cameo? Will you cheer at it out loud when it happens?
Do you long for a movie that is lighthearted in spirit but favors quips over legitimate jokes?
Are the following attempts at humor funny to you?
- "Well, this is awkward," says Johansson's Black Widow after Captain America crashes through a room in which she's hacking (or something).
- "You're a lot heavier than you look." Captain America: "I had a big breakfast."
Do you like countdowns to mass destruction?
Do you like really close calls?
Do you want to see Scarlett Johannson in a lacefront?