Regarding the just-released film "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," there's a good chance you're thinking, "Not likely." But wait.
Regarding the just-released film "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," there's a good chance you're thinking, "Not likely." But wait. Two items for your consideration — well, perhaps more.
Of course, if you're a fan, then you're a member of the choir, and the only question you're asking is how does this film, third in a series, compare to the previous two. Well, it's a winner. Perhaps the best thus far. The writing is solid, meaning there is some nice character development, the plot is, for a film of this genre, complex and engaging, and, of course, this incarnation delivers some wildly improbable action sequences (assume spectacular CGI: cars flipping, lots of gunplay, Cap's shield in play, and parkour chases) that thrill. Captain America (Chris Evans) even kisses the girl. Once. No matter that he is in need of some practice, and no matter that the girl is Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow.
The Winter Soldier's identity is a surprise, and it quickly becomes clear that the bad guys are inside and not outside the tent, meaning the outfit that Cap works for, S.H.I.E.L.D., the antiterrorism agency, has been compromised. By whom, and why, Cap and cohorts are determined to discover.
Remember that he has just been thawed out, having been cryogenically preserved and thus missed a good chunk of the last half of the 20th century, to include its popular culture, and still assumes that the world is as it was in the 1940s, when the bad guys were easy to identify, and he was recruited and perfected to fight the Nazis' juggernaut. He's still catching up with this new world (he's also 95 years old).
Agreed, if you've read this far, you may still be a hard sell. But if you're a lover of movies in all forms, from "Nebraska" to, well, "The Winter Soldier," then it might be interesting to give some thought to exactly why superheroes have been such a compelling part of our entertainment culture, actually dating back to 1917.
Reality is that in any discussion of superheroes as an archetype, you have to begin with the demographics of the audience: boys (usually), pre-teen and teen, who wiggle and strain under the influence and tutelage of parents while feeling decidedly at the bottom of the food chain regarding decision-making. They, naturally, find these super-charged characters more than appealing. Many are techies, supremely aerobatic, possess superhuman abilities (flying is very cool), are often disguised as nerds (Peter Parker and Clark Kent), have a strong moral code, wear nifty costumes, often masked (caped crusaders such as Batman; even the Lone Ranger and Zorro fighting for truth and justice), their identities unrevealed, have a tricked-out base of operations, and an interesting backstory (how they acquired their powers). The permutations for character development and story lines are endless, as DC and Marvel comics have demonstrated. And the past two or more decades (the renaissance of comic book movies) have, with the advent of CGI, been a thing to behold. Kids love this stuff. Harry Potter on steroids.
As an aside: When I was a kid, my mother made me a Captain Marvel cape — orange with silver trim and a lightning bolt on the back. She dropped that cape over my shoulders and I was transformed. She watched me run out of the house with an expression on my face that gave her real concern. She imagined me standing on the peak of the garage roof, ready to launch, convinced that all I had to do was leap out into the void and jump over tall buildings, fly faster than a speeding bullet, and find this one kid who was pushing me for my homework and give him a good whupping.
Such is the thread that has run through our popular culture for almost a century, gripping the imaginations of generation after generation. Movies such as "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" serve only to continue the tradition. Unless it doesn't, and then you'll stick with "Nebraska."