There’s a moment in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) stands in a glass elevator, waiting for it to descend. He has just left a meeting with Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a higher up at SHIELD, the Marvel cinematic universe’s intelligence and covert ops outfit. The night before, an ally of Rogers had told him to trust no one shortly after taking three rounds from a sniper’s rifle.
As Rogers stares at the floor in pensive contemplation, the shot is framed so that over his shoulder, in the medium distance, is the Watergate, that symbol of conspiracy and executive nefariousness. This shot is immediately succeeded by a brutal, ten-on-one fight in the very same elevator, a knock-down, drag-out struggle in 20 square feet of space.
The juxtaposition is no accident. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo want you to know this isn’t your average popcorn comic book flick, the battles and bluster and bad guys notwithstanding. Rather, they’ve made what amounts to the biggest-budgeted paranoid thriller of all time.
The Winter Soldier opens with Captain America, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) strike team retaking a tanker from a team of mercs. Rogers is a one-man SEAL Team Six, getting the drop on a dozen pirates with little more than his caroming shield and his Super Soldier Serum-enhanced strength. He’s constantly in motion, playing all the angles so as to take out bad guys with brain-rattling rebounds.
All is not as it seems, however. The Black Widow has been tasked by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to gather secret intel from the ship, which serves as a launching pad for a satellite that will control a trio of SHIELD helicarriers. These super-weapons are capable of killing anyone in the world at any moment from a great distance.
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