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Captain America: The Watchdog Exemplar

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is available on DVD and Blu-ray next week, and it’s worth fighting for in the checkout line.

Following the invasion of New York City in The Avengers, the stars-and-stripes hero Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) continues to adapt to 21st century life. He runs early mornings on the National Mall, rides a Harley, and writes down arts and culture recommendations from people while he’s not out running strategic ops for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier2

Marvel movie poster

With his physical ability to skydive over water without a parachute and dispatch bad guys in the blink of an eye, Rogers seems comfortable and pretty good at what he does. That’s not actually the case, though, as Captain America’s honorable and straightforward qualities create friction with the secretive techniques of S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

In response to Rogers’ expressed lack of trust, Fury takes him on a tour of Project Insight, a set of flying aircraft carriers with tracking and weapons abilities that make Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal look like child’s play. “We’re going to neutralize a lot of threats before they ever happen,” Fury explains. “This isn’t freedom – this is fear,” Rogers sharply retorts.

He soon discovers  that Hydra, the radical Nazi science division from The First Avenger, is alive and well, and has managed to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. No one can be trusted, and on top of that, a deadly masked assassin with a metal arm appears that challenges even Rogers’ strength and determination.

Feels Cold (War)

The filmmakers openly acknowledged that they were aiming for a 1970’s Cold War thriller feel, and that comes across strongly. The Winter Soldier is perhaps the darkest of all the recent Marvel films, but it also has the best writing and depth of character.

Captain Rogers questions his involvement in a world where right and wrong are thoroughly confused. He struggles with the fact that he missed 69 years of history, and that his “best girl,” to whom he had promised a dance, had married and lived a full life without him. There’s also some well played romantic tension between Rogers, Agent Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and the cute nurse from across the hall who also happens to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

The Winter Soldier comes out on Blue-ray and DVD September 9. (Screenrant.com)

The Winter Soldier comes out on Blue-ray and DVD September 9. (Screenrant.com)

On top of being a well-rounded story, The Winter Soldier is a great film for liberty. Characters talk about the difference between freedom and security. The film’s villains exploit the possibility that “people will willingly give up their freedom for a more secure world” if you cause enough trouble.

Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a S.H.I.E.L.D. executive and the Hydra leader, suggests to the representatives on the World Security Council that perhaps they need some leader to oversee the leaders. Our heroes disprove that notion by relying on individual character to take down the infected organization. In a moving speech over the PA system, Captain America challenges all of S.H.I.E.L.D. to stand up for freedom even though they may risk their lives with Hydra assassins all around.

“Don’t trust anyone” is the rule of thumb for this spy game. It’s also good advice for Americans today. Captain Rogers and his team succeed by making S.H.I.E.L.D. transparent and subject to public scrutiny. Though we don’t have to worry about flying aircraft carriers in the real world just yet, our liberty still depends on everyone holding government accountable and taking personal responsibility for the price of freedom.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is gritty and intense for the superhero genre, but it’s a great story and a film that all Americans need to see.

Featured image: http://www.hdwallpapersdose.com/

Michael Kreuz

Michael Kreuz is a media production specialist, film and literature connoisseur, and Hillsdale College alum. Twitter: @mskreuz.

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