Captain America as Edward Snowden

By KTTH | April 7, 2014
Film Review Captain America The Winter Soldier

The second solo adventure of Marvel Comics’ most patriotic superhero features the twists and turns of a political thriller and the super-sized action sequences we expect with our comic book heroes – and it delivers both expertly.

But within this finely crafted film is a political message of moral equivalency that the Captain America of my youthful comics would not recognize.  It is a problem in many films these days; the idea that the true villainy in the world is the American intelligence apparatus.  The rogue U.S. government villain has been used so much lately, it’s become tired. The reason for this, I suspect, is political correctness.  It’s why the new Tom Clancy movie, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (2014), features a Russian Orthodox villain, why “Sum of All Fears” (2002) featured white supremacists substituting for the Islamist terrorists of the novel, and why in “24” (2001-2010) Jack Bauer spent more time fighting his own agency than any outside threat. It’s been going on for so long now, you’d think even Hollywood would find it stale.

With “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” this surrender to political correctness is more saddening because it’s such a finely crafted film in other respects; simple script changes to moderate its over-generalized statement would have made the film smarter, better, and more consistent within the Marvel Universe.

Acknowledging that power can be abused, and that a free society must watch for it, and exploring what those limitations on power should look like is worthy and intriguing. Preaching that a spy organization is equally dangerous led by either evil empires or the United States is just silly generalizing.  It’s putting Marvel heroes into live-action scripts.  At one point Captain America denounces the development of new technologies, not yet revealed to have sinister intent with the statement, “This isn’t freedom, it’s fear.”

At one point, Captain America and fellow Avenger, Black Widow, decide to pull an Edward Snowden, and reveal the secrets of this nation as well as the secrets of our adversaries on the Internet.  I pictured Ron Paul enthusiasts standing up and applauding, and it struck me as something intended to be profound, but was just plain self-congratulatory and silly.

Seeing Captain America in action is to see the comic come to life. His shield is more prominent, flung as a weapon, serving as armor, and giving Cap an edge against any foe. As Cap, Chris Evans delivers humorous lines, courage, and an aura of old-fashioned patriotism that isn’t easy to pull off.  Scarlett Johansson is captivating enough and she proves herself an equal partner to our main hero.  Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie is a welcome addition and serves to reinforce and remind the audience that Captain America is a soldier. Samuel L. Jackson has so much fun as Nick Fury that it’s now hard for me to see him without an eye-patch. And Robert Redford performs as if he’s in a serious political thriller rather than a movie with reanimated men, aliens and superpowers, which is to say he makes the perfect Washington insider who may or may not be a menace.

Twice in a row, Captain America movies have been better than expected, and that should mean Cap could expect many solo tours to come.

Due to violence and disturbing images, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is not for young children.

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