‘Captain America 2’ surpasses the original

For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I will warn you ahead of time: this article features heavy spoilers for the newest installment into the franchise, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Do not read ahead if you have not yet seen this film and do not wish to have your world rocked and possibly shaken to its very core.

Now that that’s all taken care of, I feel free to discuss this movie, starting with the flaws — because there are so few of them.

The Winter Soldier returns as a villain in Marvel movie. (AP Photo)
The Winter Soldier returns as a villain in Marvel movie. (AP Photo)

Here were my beefs with this flick: it has a few comic book movie clichés (Samuel L. Fury fakes his death, an old villain returns from the dead as a computer villain and Captain America’s old friend Bucky Barnes comes back from the supposed-but-not-confirmed dead as the amnesia-plagued titular antagonist), the new character’s jetpack wings are not terribly realistic and Cap’s iconic shield bounces off way too many things perfectly.

With the flaws out of the way, I’m going to begin gushing, because I loved this movie.

I saw “Captain America 2” as I have the last several Marvel movies: with my roommates on opening night as a last-minute rally. This experience was a bit different from the others, in that when we arrived at the theater an hour before the show started, we found ourselves the only ones in line. There wasn’t the buzzing, hyperactive atmosphere that had accompanied the last three Avengers-related films, possibly because the first Captain America movie in the franchise had seemed like filler, something the studio had to do so that he could appear in “The Avengers.”

So settling in, my hopes for this movie were not particularly high, despite the amazing trailers. I was just hoping this movie would be decent, a good way to fill in the gap between Avengers movies, much as the prior two Phase Two Marvel movies had done.

Two-plus hours later, I was raving about how great this movie was. It had everything that the first Captain America movie had lacked: our hero was torn between his morals and loyalty (ultimately deciding that he was loyal to his morals), he had partners who were almost as awesome at stuff as he was, the entire plot made sense and included no bogus plane-flying-into-a-glacier devices and, most important of all, we got to see Captain America just straight up pummel dudes. A lot of dudes. Basically a quarter of the movie involved Captain America beating people up, in the best way possible.

Evans and Johansson bring the fury in ‘Captain’ sequel. (AP Photo)
Evans and Johansson bring the fury in ‘Captain’ sequel. (AP Photo)

As for the plot itself, Marvel really outdid itself on this one — the movie involves a massive splinter cell within S.H.I.E.L.D, essentially the governing body of the Avengers combined with the world’s most insanely huge spy network. The cell is made up of the new and far deadlier version of Hydra, the enemy operators from the first Cap film, which has invaded and taken over most of S.H.I.E.L.D. and threatens the world with massive heli-carriers equipped with tons and tons of explosives. Using only his own personal shield, new hero Falcon’s jetpack-wings (Falcon is awesome at life, by the way), Black Widow’s super-spy skills and Fury’s hidden eye, Cap has to take down a global conspiracy and three massive warships.

And it all works beautifully.

The best parts, though, are the battles — when Captain America and the Winter Soldier finally throw down, the audience gets the evenly-matched fight with the barely-superpowered Captain we’ve wanted since the first movie. I won’t even spoil how amazing those sequences are, you’ll just have to see the movie yourself.

So, if you’ve been on the edge about seeing Cap 2, let me tell you this: If you don’t like superhero/Marvel movies, don’t bother going. If you do, prepare for the best Marvel movie since Avengers, and I cannot give much higher praise than that.

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