Capt. America v. the New World Order: The good, the bad and the ugly sides of Captain America, The Winter Soldier.
It’s big. It’s dumb. Its explosions are one louder. It feels a bit like The Avengers, which is not such a bad thing. The thing about Cap is that he’s an overgrown, science-enhanced Boy Scout. He always wants to do the right thing, no matter the cost. He’s got an innocence that’s sort of dischordant considering all the violence.
The Winter Soldier film is an allegory about the shadow government, the US deep state, the bowels of intelligence where Nazis were imported after WW2 to go to work supposedly in the service of America and its values. What’s good about this is that it’s true. It happened. Operation Paperclip gets a mention, although not much detail makes it into the final cut of these things.
In the Marvel World we have S.H.I.E.L.D. rather than the intelligence establishment, those alphabet soup agencies. It’s all a bit more super than that.
But the traitors are in our midst. They’re entrenched in power, inside the deep state. They are ruthless Nazis wearing our uniforms, flying our drones, inciting wars in our name. This is the main metaphor that provides Captain America with a foundation to its story. Our real values are not the values of those people, including those real people who appear on our very real televisions. The metaphor works, even if the film heads off the rails into silliness.
The Winter Soldier character himself, the assassin, is an interesting twist. He’s shooting Russian-made weapons, but he’s no Russian. He’s one of our own, actually Captain America’s boyhood pal, remade, reforged into the evil version of American power projection. He’s the covert assassin beyond the law, unstoppable and responsible for a slew of international crimes. This ties into the theme of the deep state, the Nazi state within the intelligence community that many people would recognize as a reality.
Well, physics is of no concern here. Fall off a skyscraper. Whatever. At that point, it doesn’t matter what happens anymore. Nothing is going to alter the trajectory the screenwriters and producers have preordained, because physics is out the window. It sucks the tension and suspense right out of the thing.
The ending, reconciling with Winter Soldier, also fell flat. Cap just gives up, and it’s a blah anti-climax that felt cheap.
He had a chance to go further with Black Widow as well, but nothing materialized. We had a kiss, a tactical kiss, and nothing more. It was broken wide open to explore Black Widow and Cap more, but the need to blow some more shit up pressured the thing.
Cap, the boy scout, and yet he’s a party to torturing a suspect. He lets Black Widow do it — gutting my view of her. And yet, it’s played for a laugh. Torture is a laughing matter in a movie about a spandex clad guy in red white and blue. Does anyone on the project have any sense? He’s supposed to be the good guy, but more than the good guy, the ultimate expression of lost American values. The torture question is no joke. It’s a felony war crime. Are these people taking their cues from principle, law and American history or from whatever sludge is selling on the other networks?
The actual plot was a bit of an ugly pretzel, too. Not sure everything added up.
In the end, it’s worth about 3.5 stars for the positive messages concerning deep state covert abominations. We don’t tolerate Nazis and policies of murder. I just wish it would have been a bit more grown up about it.