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  • Jared Huizenga

‘Winter Soldier’ Bucks the Marvel Sequel Trend

He may not have Iron Man’s money or wit, Thor’s hammer or flowing locks or the Hulk’s rage and tattered clothing (those are good things, right?), but with the release of his second stand-alone movie in the Marvel Universe, there’s one thing that Captain America can hold over the rest of his Avenger cohorts … a sequel that surpasses the standards set forth by the first movie.

Let’s face it, “Iron Man 2” and “Iron Man 3” were not on the same level as “Iron Man.” “Thor” completely blew “Thor: The Dark World” out of the water. And Ang Lee’s “Hulk” (yes, I know it’s not technically a part of THIS Marvel Universe), was significantly better than the 2008 “The Incredible Hulk” reboot.

It’s not to say that those movies were bad or not at all enjoyable, because they all were – just not as much as their predecessors.

But good old Captain America – the World War II hero turned popsicle turned modern day hero – seemingly gets better with age.

After a solid, albeit a little boring (at times) origin story with 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the Captain returns to face a whole new set of adventures in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

This time out, Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has to deal with a world that’s advanced seven decades pretty much without him; a painful past that includes old friends Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan); and a well-meaning, yet meddlesome co-super hero Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) that seems almost as focused on finding the now nearly 100-year-old shield-wielding hero a suitable mate as she is on thwarting crime.

Oh yeah, he’s also got to deal corruption within S.H.I.E.L.D. and the powerful, yet mysterious assassin known only as the Winter Soldier.

Can he trust Black Widow? Can he trust S.H.I.E.L.D. director Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford)? Or for that matter can he even trust Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who told him to not trust anybody?

I could look more in-depth at the story here, but let’s be completely honest: most people aren’t rushing out to see Marvel Studios productions for the story. They’re going for familiar characters, big visual effects and – most importantly – a good time. And that is exactly what Captain American provides this time around.

The storytelling (both in terms of visuals and the actual story) is brisk and easy to follow. The cast is solid and likeable (except for those super hateable bad guys). And despite its 2-hour and 15-minute running time, “The Winter Soldier” remains fun and interesting throughout.

It’s the perfect summer movie … even if summer is never going to arrive.

★★★★ of ★★★★★

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